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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Music (M.M.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The srdc is a four-part phrase pattern in popular music consisting of four formal functions: statement (s), restatement (r), departure (d), and conclusion (c). In recent scholarship, the applicability and scope of the four-part pattern has been vigorously debated. The question of whether entire song forms, such as the AABA and verse–prechorus–chorus song forms, can be interpreted as large-scale SRDC patterns has become a primary topic of interest among popular music scholars. In this thesis, I seek to further the argument for the large-scale SRDC reading of the AABA song form by demonstrating the recursive potential of srdc structures in Golden Age musical theater songs. To do so, I survey the characteristic properties of 8- and 16- bar srdc patterns and 32- and 64-bar AABA song forms as they were observed in a corpus study of 89 songs. By highlighting the similar ways in which the srdc’s formal functions are expressed at multiple levels of structure within the surveyed 32- and 64-bar AABA song forms, I demonstrate why these song forms can be interpreted as large-scale SRDC patterns.

Chapter 1 introduces this thesis’s primary research question and surveys the relevant literature on the srdc and other related topics. Chapter 2 outlines the steps taken to assemble the corpus of 89 songs and assesses the srdc patterns and AABA song forms contained therein. Chapter 3 then discusses the results of the corpus study. Chapter 4 examines the structural correspondences between the surveyed srdc patterns and AABA song forms, using a model AABA song form that contains three nested srdc patterns. To conclude this thesis, Chapter 4 closes by discussing some avenues for future research.


First Advisor

Christopher White

Second Advisor

Jason Hooper

Third Advisor

Emiliano Ricciardi

Included in

Music Theory Commons