Allcock, Phillip James (2014) Analysing the Musical Style of Sir Elton John: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis aims to explore the musical style of Elton John by taking an interdisciplinary approach to popular music analysis. In addition to analysing Elton John’s musical style, the approach taken will itself be assessed to ascertain whether it can be beneficial for future research into popular music. The introductory chapter defines the key concepts and considers who or what Elton John is. With a career spanning over 45 years and in excess of 300 million albums sold, Elton John is a major popular music artist. However, the Elton John brand is not confined to popular music records. Elton John has been involved with films and stage shows, and he is a celebrity as well as a popular music star. Issues relating to gender have been relevant to Elton John throughout his career and provide appropriate contextualisation for an analysis of his musical style. These extramusical aspects are discussed in the two chapters following the introduction, and their impact upon Elton John’s role as a popular music artist is considered. Four periods of Elton John’s music career have been identified, and a case study from each period follows the chapters concerning gender and related issues and stardom and celebrity. Each case study draws upon established methods of music analysis, and evaluates elements of the music such as instrumentation, melody, and harmony, as well as instrumentation and how the listener interacts with the music. Both the recording and a sheet music score are used as the musical text. Their use is dependent upon which is most suitable for the specific analysis task. A range of computer software is used to produce quantitative data about Elton John’s musical style, and this complements the analysis undertaken using more traditional methods. The interdisciplinary approach taken enables an Elton John formula for writing pop songs to be devised. The thesis concludes by examining how Elton John’s musical style can be interpreted in light of the cultural issues highlighted, the effectiveness of an interdisciplinary approach, and how this research is situated within the wider popular music field.

Phil_Allcock_-_PhD_Thesis_Copy_for_Repository_April_2015.pdf - Submitted Version

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