[Smt-talk] music theory on slate

Dave Headlam dheadlam at esm.rochester.edu
Tue Mar 25 06:48:31 PDT 2014

Dear smt'ers: Can't vouch for the veracity of the actual analysis, but 
music theory is in the news on Slate.com, explaining the "genius of Katy 
Perry" (in a song which the author compares to Black Sabbath, Paranoid, 
of all things . . . ) --


by Owen Pallet (Owen Pallett is a violinist, composer, and songwriter, 
living in Montreal. He has an album titled In Conflict coming out in May.)

"In the days since Ted Gioia published his essay in the Daily Beast, 
alleging that music criticism has devolved into lifestyle reporting, 
with little or no attention paid to how the music itself works, I've 
been challenged by friends on Facebook to write a 'not boring' piece 
that explains a successful pop song using music theory. My bet is that 
it’ll be boring, but I'm going to do my best not to bore you!"

my favorite line: "And the gooey heart of the song, the 'skin tight 
jeans' bit, is rhythmically entirely straight, voice tumbling out of the 
tonic-focused cage of the verse and chorus, like long-hair from a 
scrunchie released."

Now I know how to describe those cool Beethoven codas to the sophomores!

Dave Headlam

Dave Headlam
Professor of Music Theory
Eastman School of Music
26 Gibbs St.
Rochester, NY 14604
david.headlam at rochester.edu


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