Last year, Rihanna's "Work" sent us into a spiral of discussions for days about where the tonal center was in that song, and what key it was in. People on the internet still can't agree. Regardless of that, we examine the ways that music theory (in the European classical sense) can still be relevant in today's popular music, and how we need to adapt its contours and constructs to be able to fit new musical languages inside.
In this most recent post to MusicThinkTank, Ian Temple dives into the relevance of music theory in the modern age as explored through the lens of Rhianna's "Work".
"This is a pattern we wrestle with a lot when trying to analyze modern music. As musicians, so much of our music theory training consists of learning rules that were developed to describe classical European music. But modern music operates very differently in a lot of ways — from a greater focus on loops, to more rhythmic complexity and syncopation, to less harmonic complexity, and other key differences."