Anatomy of Songs


Canadian illustrator¬†John Atkinson¬†reveals the anatomy of different styles of songs… and he’s 100% spot on.

Anatomy of songs: blues.

Anatomy of songs: country.

Anatomy of songs: indie.

Anatomy of songs: pop.

Anatomy of songs: rock.

Anatomy of songs: bluegrass.

Anatomy of songs: rap.

Anatomy of songs: folk.

Anatomy of songs: jazz.

Anatomy of songs: punk.

Anatomy of songs: metal.

Anatomy of songs: classical.

Anatomy of songs: EDM.

Anatomy of songs: grunge.

Anatomy of songs: new age.


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  1. Techno

    • Anonymous July 28, 2014

      No way:
      Repetitive beat
      Repetitive beat
      Random famous quote
      Distort quote
      Crazy repetitive beat
      Pause (no sound) standard quote
      Crazy Repetitive beat, distorted quote and alarm at once
      Finish with a quote!

  2. Anonymous July 25, 2014

    Every one knows guitar solos don’t come first and blues songs go guitar complain complain guitar solo then complain. Duh

    • Anonymous July 29, 2014

      Listen to Carry on my wayward Son by Kansas.

    • Or “Life in the Fast Lane” by Eagles. Or “I Need a Lover” by John Mellencamp. Or more or less anything by Meat Loaf.

    • The guitar intros to Carry On My Wayward Son and Life in the Fast Lane are riffs, not solos. Big difference. Riffs are repetitive, melodic parts of the harmonic structure of a song played within a strict framework, and solos are placed in the middle of the song where the guitarist shows off his/her speed and dexterity in a prolonged improvisational section just after the 2nd chorus. The best way to tell the difference? Ask yourself this: is the vocalist singing over the part? If yes, it’s a riff.

    • @jabbermule It is a solo. By your definition there are no vocals. Solos do not have to be reside in a certain place within a song. I would guess that you have studied theory and therefore relegated your self function within a certain set of musical rules. As such you apparently are destined to live a world full of cookie cutter mainstream music.

  3. Beethoven's 5th July 26, 2014

    Oh yeah? Diagram my 30 minutes of perfect music out like this. Hah! Can’t do it can you?

    • Alex Droog July 26, 2014

      Drink milk… steal car… beat up tramp… fight with other gang… steal car… beat up own gang members… home invasion… brutal violation of writers wife… get arrested… get beaten by police… undergo Ludovico treatment… have eyes held open with clamps… beaten by more police… fall out of window in a bit of karmic justice… cut out a chapter of the book where you give up violence and grow up.

    • Violinist July 29, 2014

      I can, and I have! I have also held a page of the manuscript in my hand at the Eastman School of Music, and I’ve played the piece a few times too!

    • RAGE–snippets of acceptance mixed with more rage–sarcasm–fiery intensity–worlds longest coda.

    • @Alex Droog, I think you’re thinking a few years into the future, awaiting a ninth symphony.

  4. Frank Einstein July 26, 2014

    If you’re talking country music, you forgot me shooting myself in the head after about twenty seconds of that garbage.

    • If you’ll leave me an address I’ll do it for you.

    • Anonymous July 26, 2014

      I agree!

    • ProvingYourStupidity July 26, 2014

      Must be a child being that they’re speaking like that. Its as simple as changing the channel. You being so close minded shows me how bad this world is turning.

    • Yea, terrible world. **** freedom of expression/opinion eh? And your ridiculously awkward sentences make you sound just as childish. Lucky for me, I am a child, so I can say whatever I want!

    • Anonymous July 30, 2014

      Hellz yea! My thoughts exactly!!!

  5. It seems like 30% of country songs have this horribly fake feel good fade out like ‘do duh do do’. Once I started hearing it I couldn’t unhear it… it’s pretty much slayed my ability to listen to country stations.

  6. What about a mouth organ in the blues?

  7. Beethoven’s 5th…most classical works follow a pretty standard four (or five) movement scheme. So it’s easy:

    Allegro Andante con Moto Scherzo Allegro

  8. Anonymous July 26, 2014

    Obviously none of you idiot country music haters actually listen to country music. Its a lot more involved and a hell of a lot harder to write, let alone play. Any kid can learn to sweep pick scales on guitar, but none of the metal players… and I mean none, can play guitar with the likes of the country guitarists. But… all the good country musicians and play metal, pop, blues and rock. Which is pretty much what todays country musis is.
    Its truly unbelievable how ignorant people are. But I do have to agree with Bob. The ‘bro country’ rap and rock infused crap on the radio does make me change the channel. Do yourself a favor tho. Google Top Nashville Session Guitarists…

    • Anonymous July 26, 2014

      I can play country and guess what jackass? i play metal for a living. You braindead turd.

    • Anonymous July 26, 2014

      I’d love to see alan jackson or dwight yokum shred out the Mr. Crowley solo. That’s right, they just shit their pants.

    • Anonymous July 26, 2014

      It’s “listen” to country music, not “hear” and you’re a complete idiot. Stop defending country by bashing other genres. Metal takes some extreme talent and country singers have the most beautiful live signing voices I’ve ever heard. People pick on country music because of people like you who defend it with ignorance.

    • Anonymous July 27, 2014

      Let me guess, you’re a “good ol’ country folk” type of person with a “good ol’ boys” mentality. You probably think that boots, worn out jeans, and an old flannel shirt with a day or two’s worth of grime built up on them is “professional attire.” You’ve probably never been to any learning establishment after you graduated High School (assuming you graduated), and even at said graduation, you probably had less than a 3.25 GPA. These assumptions have nothing to do with your statement; they are based on your composition. Your spelling is lack luster, and your grammar is atrocious. What’s more, you have no credible basis to your statements, which make them about as solid as arguing with a piece of 2-week-old bread. When you actually study music, or at the very least learn how to properly cite your points of reference in arguments to your case, come back and try again. Thanks for playing.

    • Anonymous July 27, 2014

      Well you’re obviously biased and dont know much about music or musicians in general. You gave no reason as to why it is hard to write a country song or why its harder to write than any other genre. I am a songwriter have been one all my life and besides the fact that playing guitar well has nothing to do with writing a good song (Cobain, Dylan etc) most good songwriters will be able to write a decent song in any genre in about the same amount of time. Its not any harder, just that some people dedicate their lives to playing fast double kick drums and blast beats (metal) and some dedicate theirs to playing slide guitar and playing super clean chords. Ive got 8 year old students writing songs in bands. there is nothing hard about writing music.

    • Anonymous July 27, 2014

      John 5

    • Anonymous July 28, 2014


    • Anonymous July 28, 2014

      I agree with anonymous but disagree with anonymous. I like diving in steamy piles of do-do as well.

    • Anonymous July 28, 2014

      Oh get off your high horse anonymous. You’re obviously so wrong. Obviously.

    • So a classical educated guitarist like Kirk Hammett, also Ranked 11th. on Rolling Stones Top 100 guitarists of all Time…. and that is just one among many!..
      I like Country, well some of it.. and i certainly like Metal.. as long as i can hear the lyrics.. anyway..
      My point is.. you dont know shit, even if your standing in it..

    • Anonymous July 28, 2014

      The Musicianship in Country is not “the problem” with Country Music. The musicianship is probably the only thing I respect.
      The Thing I hate about Country is the “Corney Vibe” “Super Cliche Lyrics” and mostly the Southern Drawl. It’s the delivery of the music that I can’t stand. People love country concerts for the Vibe, not the music, it’s like a dress up party for girls. Which is One other thing I admit to like about Country: The Ladies at Country Concerts, SUPER HOT. But Hot in a very satirical way, Cuz Country is one huge Joke.

    • Anonymous July 28, 2014

      I can play the bass line to any country music song with about 2 minutes of practice. You really don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

    • Anonymous July 28, 2014

      Country is cool. Pop country on the other hand…
      Skills or complexities in writing has nothing to do with whether I like a song or if I think it’s good… be it pop, rock, metal, country…a lot of today’s country is just bad. But, to each their own.

    • Somebody’s crushin on country…

    • Anonymous July 29, 2014

      Ever heard of a sense of humour..

    • bcividino July 29, 2014

      Obviously you have never heard of Devin Townsend. He can shred on the guitar with the skill of Steve Vai, can be a crushing metal vocalist or soar like opera and he has two albums heavily influenced by country. (Ki and Casualties of cool.) Or check out Tosin Abasi from Animals as Leaders and tell me that there is a country player alive or dead that can match him on guitar.

    • Anonymous July 29, 2014

      Country sucks. Dayown sayouth hillbilly crap.

    • Umm… You’re an idiot. Some of the greatest guitarists in the world play metal.
      Metal (which, by the way, I’m not a fan of) is the closest thing we have these days to Beethoven… They don’t just get up and start attacking the guitar strings… They full orchestrate every little detail and then PLAY THE MUSIC on REAL INSTRUMENTS… Not many… Including country artists, do that these days.

    • Anyonyamyous September 8, 2014

      Down with the confederacy!

    • Ann Onimous October 10, 2014

      Any Justin Bieber fans here?

      And then there are the people who are like “Hmmm… yeeees, I do recall discussing Bach in one of my collegiate music courses and we discussed the philosophy of his compositions *sips wine*”
      The comments are better than the actual image.

  9. Anonymous July 26, 2014

    I’m actually a huge One Direction fan but I cracked up at the “Pop” category. “Oh hey! It’s the song from Grease! Never mind, it’s One Direction.” “Oh yay it’s that cool song by The Clash…wait, never mind.” “Oh the Who I love this – oh. It’s that.”

  10. Anonymous July 27, 2014

    Good Indie doesn’t have banjo.

  11. Indie is Florence and the machine, 80s is lets do something new, and what about progressive rock?

    • Anonymous July 27, 2014

      Before they signing to a major label (Republic), Florence and the Machine were part of the indie scene. Now, she’s most definitely “major label pop” and has been for years.

    • We remember prog rock.

    • Anonymous July 29, 2014

      Prog rock often plays out like classic rock, just with weirder mathematical or trippy solos on guitar and drums. Sometimes the lyrics match indie.

  12. Progressive rock: 11 minutes of glorious unpredictability!

    • knockatize July 28, 2014

      Intro in 7/8 time
      Keyboard solo
      Time signature change
      Something medieval
      Time signature change
      Guitar solo (guitarist must remain seated)
      Time signature change
      Spoken-word passage
      Another keyboard solo
      Time signature change and return to start until song is at least 12 minutes long

    • Knockatize nailed it!

    • 21st century schizoid man August 1, 2014

      I like King Crimson.

    • Barney Rubble August 5, 2014

      Not quite, Knockatize: you forgot the sections where two separate instruments are simultaneously playing time signatures, the part where the Mellotron comes out awash in reverb (nearly drowning out all the other instruments), the reference to classic literature, the xylophone solo, the saxophonist’s attempt to inject an R&B solo into a Rachmaninoff-inspired groove… and eventually, a frenetic climax propulsed by the drummer playing paradiddles while stomping out the bass drum in double time. And the beautifully freaky voice.
      Listen to Gentle Giant’s live album “Playing the Game” and wonder how other musicians could even _remember_ how the song goes. Magic.
      Great musicians transcend genres. Most people think they listen to music because of the music: most often, they listen because of either marketing or past/present experience. If people realized they can be hypnotized by the lyrics in the songs they choose, they might choose different music.
      Can anyone chart Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” with at least six contrasting sections?

  13. Anonymous July 27, 2014

    | 12-16 bar melody | SOLOS FOR EVERYONE! | 12-16 bar melody |

  14. Anonymous July 27, 2014

    How did an article, meant to be a light-hearted joke making fun of various genres of music, end up with such serious and angry comments?
    Lighten up people!

  15. Rush. Keyboard or Guitar Intro > Deep, thought provoking lyrics about anything except relationships > wild guitar solo that changes signatures and chord progressions at least 12 times > More mind blowing sweet unpredictability > fade out or anthemic ending. Sweet

  16. Muffin man July 27, 2014

    Now try an ‘splain Zappa this way… you can’t.

    • Zombie Woof July 27, 2014


    • Anonymous July 29, 2014

      Drugs, more drugs, sobers up a second, drugs again, and then some more drugs.

    • Anonymous: Frank Zappa didn’t habitually use drugs, or alchol to excess, and refused to have habitual drug users or habitual drunks in his band. I know that’s not the persona he projected, but it was the practice of his life. (He did admit to trying weed a few times and deciding it wasn’t a fit for him.) Please don’t write him off as one more stoner – it’s not fair or accurate.
      As far as Country goes: I like David Allan Coe’s routine in “You Never Even Called Me …” about having written the perfect C&W song, and Steve Goodman’s pointing out that it wasn’t perfect, because he hadn’t mentioned trains, or trucks, or mom, or prison.
      Rest in Peace, Frank and Steve.

  17. Um – this obviously refers to top charts of each genre, and not the entire genre. Wow – you genre snobs get butthurt real easy…

  18. name lame July 27, 2014

    Ladies and gentlemen, calm down! This is supposed to be satirical and making fun of different genres of music. Would you feel the same if The Onion published this?

  19. Anonymous July 28, 2014

    I love all genres of music except music

  20. Why can’t i comment

  21. Dieter Bohn July 28, 2014

    Reggae: Drumm-offbeet, Running bass, “Jah, Spliff, Ganja, Jamaica, Selassie-I, Irie-Ites”, Triole, Offbeet,

  22. What a garbage post. Not witty, nor funny, nor intelligent.

  23. BlairDean July 28, 2014

    Old country is fine but the anatomy for the new country this individual put up is pretty spot on. I personally play metal and can see the trends and I’ve gotta say…damn it guys. Stop repeating yourselves and do something different.

  24. Ever wonder how the world got into the mess it’s in? Just post an opinion, a joke, a comment about ANYTHING… and watch the arguments begin… And while we all argue over these trivial unimportant things, those in power just laugh at how easy it is to distract and divide us, and then they do whatever they want …if y’all recall … Nero fiddled… while Rome burned… fade to black.

    • Right… Pretty damn impressive of Nero to do that 1500 years before the fiddle was invented (and 800 years before the first ever bowed string instrument).

  25. I like some country. Gotta keep an open mind. Johnny Cash, Dwight Yokum, Alan Jackson, Hank Williams, Sr., dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn. I could go on. I like all kinds of music. I love Bob Dylan and Richard Thompson- my favorites. Dylan’s a big fan of country. He turned me on to some of these artists. Thanks, Bob!

  26. Wonder boy July 29, 2014

    Country is for christian redneck fanatics

  27. Thank you John. I love your image and laughed my pants off.

  28. I thought the anatomy of music diagram was hilarious! But I am saddened by the inability of so many participants to have a sense of humor about something as fundamentally subjective as music. Why so much hatred and animosity for strangers just because they have varying tastes?

  29. Classic country paved the way for rockabilly and later, modern rock. Assuming that because someone enjoys country or speaks in a Southern dialect is ignorant and narrow minded. (Any linguist will tell you it’s much closer to original King’s English than any other American dialect.) Oh, the irony and hipocrisy in stereotypes…

    • *Autocorrect correction: Classic country paved the way for rockabilly and later, modern rock. Assuming that someone is uneducated because he/she enjoys country or speaks in a Southern dialect is ignorant and narrow minded. (Any linguist will tell you it’s much closer to original King’s English than any other American dialect.) Oh, the irony and hipocrisy in stereotypes…

    • Manual correct August 1, 2014


  30. ZZ Bottom July 30, 2014

    “Anonymous” likes country music. If I admitted that, I’d do so anonymously, too.

  31. Anonymous July 30, 2014

    Seems People like the online arguing about jokes about music genres more than they actually like listening to music.

  32. How u spell anonymous July 30, 2014

    What exactly is the argument about? All music genres have shitty songs. But who cares ? What’s the point of arguing/belittling someone over the style of music they like. And being southern has nothing to do with it and shouldn’t even be in these comments

  33. anonymous July 30, 2014

    Music is music. I listen to all kinds. From Beethoven to rob zombie. From stomping tom to Mozart From darud to accapelo It is all music and each has there own taste. I listen to what ever makes me happy at the time. Even Leona Boyd classical. Let’s just say I appreciate the talent that each has as an individual. But I would not even try to compare one to the other. Different strokes for different folks

  34. Christian
    Part A – Word picture that includes something from nature
    Part B – Variation of a Bible verse that is still recognizable as being from the Bible
    Part C – Big build to show vocal range
    Goes like: A B A B A B C A B B (repeat 4-6 times)

  35. Most popular songs have a chorus that repeats between verses. These diagrams are badly conceived.

  36. What about bluegrass?

  37. A.P Carter of The Carter Family September 9, 2014

    There is good music and there is bad music of any and EVERY genre… except for today’s country. Country has turned to crap.
    Now a days good country is called bluegrass.

  38. Prog Rock: 12:34
    Weird etheric into, wizards/space/epic theme, guitair solo, weird etheric fadeout.

  39. James Demestihas May 18, 2017

    what? no Glamrock? Funk? Soul? Reggae?

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