I'm describing native Hawaiian songs as part of a research project. The songs are sung by a single performer without instruments.

We transcribed the song into stanzas and now see a number of patterns relating to the length of those stanzas (alongside their melodies) and are describing them for a paper.

What is this kind of study called? I can't find any domain known for "song structure"...


5 Answers 5


Unless the class is intended for a specialized purpose, the study of musical structure is referred to as Form & Analysis. Form & Analysis is not relegated solely to song forms, but all types of music. Other types of analytical approaches to musical form relate to a more specific, almost specialized analysis. For example, Small Form Composition, Sonata-Allegro Form, or perhaps analysis of a single composer.


I guess the term you're looking for is Musical Form. Excerpt from the wikipedia page:

The term musical form (or musical architecture) refers to the overall structure or plan of a piece of music, and it describes the layout of a composition as divided into sections.

Here's an ebook on Musical Form and a physical book on Amazon.


In form and analysis, the technical term for songs that are organized into stanzas (or verses and choruses) is strophic form. Your songs may be in a type of strophic form.

From the Wikipedia article:

Strophic form is the term applied to songs 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.


How about morphology ?

Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape".

This is the word we use in Greek when we study song structures. For instance, using a morphology book, you could study the structures used in a Fugue, a sonata etc.

  • The link doesn't have a music morphology section Nov 24, 2015 at 10:36

Musicology, analysis of music. In this case, you might want to say ethnomusicology.

  • "Ethnomusicology" typically focuses on non-musical aspects of music that influence the music. The OP is looking for song structure, specifically. Nov 25, 2015 at 2:49
  • @jjmusicnotes - Do you like this better? Musicology of traditional Hawaiian music? Nov 25, 2015 at 2:59
  • I cannot tell if you are serious... Nov 25, 2015 at 5:34

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