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The Autotelic Groove: Self-Generating, Repeated Figures in the Music of Stevie Wonder

Hughes, T (2011) The Autotelic Groove: Self-Generating, Repeated Figures in the Music of Stevie Wonder Music Theory Online.

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Repetition occurs in many forms and on many different levels in American popular music, particularly soul, funk, and other dance-based genres. However, the most important use of repetition, aside from its role in creating form, is the repetition of characteristic musical figures referred to as “grooves.” Grooves can be divided into two groups, according to the mechanism by which their repetition occurs: An autotelic groove (from “auto,” or self, and “telos,” or goal) is one that strongly progresses toward its own beginning. That is, by some means it causes the listener to expect the beginning of the groove to follow its ending. Autotelic grooves are naturally cyclical. Exotelic grooves, however, do not progress toward their own beginnings, so they are not inherently cyclical. Autotelic grooves thus create a much more natural sense of flow when they are repeated than do exotelic grooves. This paper presents analyses of several autotelic grooves drawn from the music of Stevie Wonder: “I Wish” (1976), which is built around a two-measure bass ostinato; a harmonic progression from “Golden Lady” (1973); the two-measure electric piano part that forms the basis of “Living for the City” (1973); and the complex of clavinets and synthesized bass from “Higher Ground” (1973).

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors :
Date : 2011
Uncontrolled Keywords : music Pop
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 16 May 2017 14:49
Last Modified : 24 Jan 2020 13:23

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