Hans T. Zeiner-Henriksen

The Analysis of Groove in Contemporary Pop Music

How the groove is formed is often of major importance in popular music. Contemporary pop songs are heavily influenced by club music with a strong steady beat as a rhythmic foundation. The groove is mostly formed by the interaction of rhythmic patterns to this steady beat, bringing tension and variation by pulling away from the steady beat. A groove is mostly evaluated according to how it makes us want to move, and since a musical analysis seeks to reveal important aspects as to how the music works, a possible corporeal response is central for this analysis. Metaphor theory (Zbikowski 1998) and entrainment and dynamic system theory (Clayton 2013) are applied to understand the cognitive processes that are at work.

Excerpts from contemporary pop music will be used in this presentation with a demonstration on how an analysis can reveal certain qualities of the groove. Sonograms are used to display components that are not easily notated; pitch movements of sounds, dynamic variations, the effect of side-chain compression, and vertical structures (up and down relations).