Refrain

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A refrain (from Vulgar Latin refringere, "to repeat", and later from Old French refraindre) is the line or lines that are repeated in music or in poetry — the "chorus" of a song. Poetic fixed forms that feature refrains include the villanelle , the virelay , and the sestina .

Contents

In popular music, the refrain or chorus may contrast with the verse melodically, rhythmically, and harmonically; it may assume a higher level of dynamics and activity, often with added instrumentation. Chorus form, or strophic form, is a sectional and/or additive way of structuring a piece of music based on the repetition of one formal section or block played repeatedly.

Usage in history

In music, a refrain has two parts: the lyrics of the song, and the melody. Sometimes refrains vary their words slightly when repeated; recognizability is given to the refrain by the fact that it is always sung to the same tune, and the rhymes, if present, are preserved despite the variations of the words. Such a refrain is featured in "The Star-Spangled Banner," which contains a refrain which is introduced by a different phrase in each verse, but which always ends:

O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

A similar refrain is found in the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," which affirms in successive verses that "Our God," or "His Truth," is "marching on."

Refrains usually, but not always, come at the end of the verse. Some songs, especially ballads, incorporate refrains (or burdens) into each verse. For example, one version of the traditional ballad "The Cruel Sister" includes a refrain mid-verse:

There lived a lady by the North Sea shore,
Lay the bent to the bonny broom
Two daughters were the babes she bore.
Fa la la la la la la la la.
As one grew bright as is the sun,
Lay the bent to the bonny broom
So coal black grew the other one.
Fa la la la la la la la.
. . .

(Note: the refrain of 'Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom' is not traditionally associated with the ballad of "The Cruel Sister" (Child #10). This was the work of 'pop-folk' group Pentangle on their 1970 LP Cruel Sister which has subsequently been picked up by many folk singers as being traditional. Both the melody and the refrain come from the ballad known as "Riddles Wisely Expounded" (Child #1).[ citation needed ])

Here, the refrain is syntactically independent of the narrative poem in the song, and has no obvious relationship to its subject, and indeed little inherent meaning at all. The device can also convey material which relates to the subject of the poem. Such a refrain is found in Dante Gabriel Rossetti's "Troy Town": [1]

Heavenborn Helen, Sparta's queen,
O Troy Town!
Had two breasts of heavenly sheen,
The sun and moon of the heart's desire:
All Love's lordship lay between,
A sheen on the breasts I Love.
O Troy's down,
Tall Troy's on fire!
. . .

Phrases of apparent nonsense in refrains (Lay the bent to the bonny broom?), and syllables such as fa la la, familiar from the Christmas carol "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly", have given rise to much speculation. Some[ who? ] believe that the traditional refrain Hob a derry down O encountered in some English folksongs is in fact an ancient Celtic phrase meaning "dance around the oak tree." These suggestions remain controversial.[ citation needed ]

There are two distinct uses of the word "chorus." In the thirty-two bar song form that was most common in the earlier twentieth-century popular music (especially the Tin Pan Alley tradition), "chorus" referred to the entire main section of the song (which was in a thirty-two bar AABA form). Beginning in the rock music of the 1950s, another form became more common in commercial pop music, which was based in an open-ended cycle of verses instead of a fixed 32-bar form. In this form (which is more common than thirty-two bar form in later-twentieth century pop music), "choruses" with fixed lyrics are alternated with "verses" in which the lyrics are different with each repetition. In this use of the word, chorus contrasts with the verse, which usually has a sense of leading up to the chorus. "Many popular songs, particularly from early in this century, are in a verse and a chorus (refrain) form. Most popular songs from the middle of the century consist only of a chorus." [2]

While the terms 'refrain' and 'chorus' often are used synonymously, it has been suggested to use 'refrain' exclusively for a recurring line of identical text and melody which is part of a formal section—an A section in an AABA form (as in I Got Rhythm: "...who could ask for anything more?") or a verse (as in Blowing in the Wind: "...the answer my friend is blowing in the wind")—whereas 'chorus' shall refer to a discrete form part (as in Yellow Submarine: "We all live in a..."). According to the musicologists Ralf von Appen and Markus Frei-Hauenschild,

In German, the term, "Refrain," is used synonymously with "chorus" when referring to a chorus within the verse/chorus form. At least one English-language author, Richard Middleton, uses the term in the same way. In English usage, however, the term, »refrain« typically refers to what in German is more precisely called the »Refrainzeile« (refrain line): a lyric at the beginning or end of a section that is repeated in every iteration. In this usage, the refrain does not constitute a discrete, independent section within the form. [3]

In jazz

Many Tin-Pan Alley songs using thirty-two bar form are central to the traditional jazz repertoire. In jazz arrangements the word "chorus" refers to the same unit of music as in the Tin Pan Alley tradition, but unlike the Tin Pan Alley tradition a single song can have more than one chorus. Von Appen and Frei-Hauenschild explain, "The term, 'chorus' can also refer to a single iteration of the entire 32 bars of the AABA form, especially among jazz musicians, who improvise over multiple repetitions of such choruses." [4]

Arranger's chorus

In jazz, an arranger's chorus is where the arranger uses particularly elaborate techniques to exhibit his or her skill and to impress the listener. This may include use of counterpoint, reharmonization, tone color, or any other arranging device. The arranger's chorus is generally not the first or the last chorus of a jazz performance.[ citation needed ]

Shout chorus

In jazz, a shout chorus (occasionally: out chorus) is usually the last chorus of a big band arrangement, and is characterized by being the most energetic, lively, and exciting and by containing the musical climax of the piece. A shout chorus characteristically employs extreme ranges, loud dynamics, and a re-arrangement of melodic motives into short, accented riffs. Shout choruses often feature tutti or concerted writing, but may also use contrapuntal writing or call and response between the brass and saxophones, or between the ensemble and the drummer. Additionally, brass players frequently use extended techniques such as falls, doits, turns, and shakes to add excitement.

See also

Related Research Articles

In music, form refers to the structure of a musical composition or performance. In his book, Worlds of Music, Jeff Todd Titon suggests that a number of organizational elements may determine the formal structure of a piece of music, such as "the arrangement of musical units of rhythm, melody, and/or harmony that show repetition or variation, the arrangement of the instruments, or the way a symphonic piece is orchestrated", among other factors.

Strophic form

Strophic form – also called verse-repeating form, chorus form, AAA song form, or one-part song form – is a song structure in which all verses or stanzas of the text are sung to the same music. The opposite of strophic form, with new music written for every stanza, is called through-composed.

The term blues ballad is used to refer to a specific form of popular music which fused Anglo-American and Afro-American styles from the late 19th century onwards. Early versions combined elements of the European influenced "native American ballad" with the forms of African American music. From the 20th century on it was also used to refer to a slow tempo, often sentimental song in a blues style.

Thirty-two-bar form

The 32-bar form, also known as the AABA song form, American popular song form and the ballad form, is a song structure commonly found in Tin Pan Alley songs and other American popular music, especially in the first half of the 20th century.

Song structure is the arrangement of a song, and is a part of the songwriting process. It is typically sectional, which uses repeating forms in songs. Common forms include bar form, 32-bar form, verse–chorus form, ternary form, strophic form, and the 12-bar blues. Popular music songs traditionally use the same music for each verse or stanza of lyrics. Pop and traditional forms can be used even with songs that have structural differences in melodies. The most common format in modern popular music is introduction (intro), verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, verse, chorus and outro. In rock music styles, notably heavy metal music, there is usually one or more guitar solos in the song, often found after the middle chorus part. In pop music, there may be a guitar solo, or a solo may be performed by a synthesizer player or sax player.

Nowhere Man (song)

"Nowhere Man" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles. It was released in December 1965 on their album Rubber Soul, except in the United States and Canada, where it was first issued as a single A-side in February 1966 before appearing on the album Yesterday and Today. The song was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. In the US, the single peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the chart compiled by Record World magazine, as it did the RPM 100 chart in Canada. The song was also released as a single in some countries where it had been included on Rubber Soul, including Australia, where it topped the singles chart.

"Body and Soul" is a popular song and jazz standard written in 1930 with music by Johnny Green and lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton. It was also used as the musical theme and underscoring in the American film noir boxing drama Body and Soul.

In music, especially western popular music, a bridge is a contrasting section that prepares for the return of the original material section. In a piece in which the original material or melody is referred to as the "A" section, the bridge may be the third eight-bar phrase in a thirty-two-bar form, or may be used more loosely in verse-chorus form, or, in a compound AABA form, used as a contrast to a full AABA section.

"Many a New Day" is a song from the 1943 musical Oklahoma!, written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It was introduced by Joan Roberts in the original Broadway production. In the 1955 film, the song is performed by Shirley Jones and appears on the soundtrack album.

"Riddles Wisely Expounded" is a traditional English song, dating at least to 1450. It is Child Ballad 1 and Roud 161, and exists in several variants. The first known tune was attached to it in 1719. The title "Riddles Wisely Expounded" was given by Francis James Child and seems derived from the seventeenth century broadside version "A Noble Riddle Wisely Expounded".

"All the Things You Are" is a song composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics written by Oscar Hammerstein II.

"Ain't Nobody's Business" is a 1920s blues song that became one of the first blues standards. It was published in 1922 by Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins. The song features a lyrical theme of freedom of choice and a vaudeville jazz–style musical arrangement. It was first recorded, as "'Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness if I Do", in 1922 by Anna Meyers, backed by the Original Memphis Five.

Willow Weep for Me Original song written and composed by Ann Ronell

"Willow Weep for Me" is a popular song composed in 1932 by Ann Ronell, who also wrote the lyrics. The song form is AABA, written in 4
4
time, although occasionally adapted for 3
4
waltz time.

After the Ball (song)

"After the Ball" is a popular song written in 1891 by Charles K. Harris. The song is a classic waltz in 3/4 time. In the song, an uncle tells his niece why he has never married. He saw his sweetheart kissing another man at a ball, and he refused to listen to her explanation. Many years later, after the woman had died, he discovered that the man was her brother.

Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical training. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional or "folk" music. Art music was historically disseminated through the performances of written music, although since the beginning of the recording industry, it is also disseminated through recordings. Traditional music forms such as early blues songs or hymns were passed along orally, or to smaller, local audiences.

Need Your Love So Bad

"Need Your Love So Bad", sometimes known as "I Need Your Love So Bad", is a song first recorded by Little Willie John in 1955. Called a "unique amalgam of gospel, blues and rhythm & blues", it was John's second single as well as his second record to reach the U.S. charts.

A sentimental ballad is an emotional style of music that often deals with romantic and intimate relationships, and to a lesser extent, loneliness, death, war, drug abuse, politics and religion, usually in a poignant but solemn manner. Ballads are generally melodic enough to get the listener's attention.

Korean ballad, also known as K-ballad, is a style of music in South Korea. It became popular in the 1980s, and has influenced and evolved into many different music styles. It has roots in blues music.

In music, particularly Western popular music, a post-chorus is a section that appears after the chorus. The term can be used generically for any section that comes after a chorus, but more often refers to a section that has similar character to the chorus, but is distinguishable in close analysis. The concept of a post-chorus has been particularly popularized and analyzed by music theorist Asaf Peres, who is followed in this article.

References

  1. "Poems of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, inc. "Troy Town"". Archived from the original on February 25, 2004. Retrieved 2003-11-17.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, p.317. Seventh Edition. ISBN   978-0-07-294262-0.
  3. Appen, Ralf von / Frei-Hauenschild, Markus "AABA, Refrain, Chorus, Bridge, Prechorus — Song Forms and their Historical Development". In: Samples. Online Publikationen der Gesellschaft für Popularmusikforschung/German Society for Popular Music Studies e.V. Ed. by Ralf von Appen, André Doehring and Thomas Phleps. Vol. 13 (2015), p. 5.
  4. Appen and Frei-Hauenschild 2015, p. 4.