Is Hound Dog ABAB? Surprising Answer

Why was Hound Dog so popular?

“Hound dog” was common black slang for a cheap gigolo. Leiber & Stoller were drawn to black music and style. They loved blues, jazz and R&B. They knew the music and the culture, which was the foundation of their songs.

What is the set of pitches on which a composition is based?

The chromatic scale is a set of twelve pitches (more completely, pitch classes) used in tonal music, with notes separated by the interval of a semitone.

Early 1900s Broadway songwriters adapted a 32-bar format (4 sections, 8 measures each) from British “ballad operas” and used its variations for more than 50 years. They usually threw out a long, slow-tempo introductory section called the “verse” and focused on the section called the “chorus.” Those terms have different meanings today. Some 32-bar song forms include:

By the 1960s songwriters had distilled popular music into three basic elements: a verse, a chorus, and a bridge (a contrasting segment of music). They perfected what is commonly called “Pop Song Form.” This formula was ideal for radio play and is still widely used today. The basic form is:

We’ll ignore the complicated history of form as applied to “classical” music and focus on song form as it is used in 20th and 21st century popular music.

Folk Songs often follow an ABAB form. This emphasizes folk’s focus on simple, singable songs. Often the chords don’t change between sections, only the lyrics. Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” is a prime example. So is Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”

Perhaps the first truly American pop song form was the 12-bar Blues. This powerful combination – that uses only three chords – fueled rhythm and blues and early rock for decades. Recognizable examples include Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” and Big Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”

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