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A CRITICAL REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF BEYONCE’S “FORMATION” A Critical Review and Analysis of Beyoncé’s “Formation”Amanda Gimera20078086MUSC 171R. MacKay April 20th2018
A CRITICAL REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF BEYONCE’S “FORMATION” On February 6, 2016, Beyoncé dropped her music video for what would be deemed one of her most controversial pieces to date. The following day, she took to the stage of Super Bowl 50 to perform her new single, Formation,for the highly anticipated halftime show performance.As a song and performance rooted in black liberation, Beyoncé faced harsh scrutiny for using her platform to advance her own political agenda (Duffy, 2016, p.1). For the purpose of this essay, I will be exploring both the musical elements and socio-historical context to which this piece is so impactful. I will explore several elements of music and explain how they are strategically utilized throughout this song followed by an analysis of the way in which this musical piece integrated itself into one of the most relevant movements of equality in modern day America. Formationfollows a standard strophic melody, with the verses and choruses predictably repeating in an ABAB format, A representing the verse and B representing the chorus (Module 2.2). The song format also includes a bridge following the final chorus, marking the closing outroto the piece. As demonstrated in Formation, the simplicity of a standard strophic form presents a landscape which allows for more versatility in the piece while still maintaining an appealing aspect to the listener. From personal opinion, the predictability of strophic form gives the listener something to look forward to and is something that I believe greatly contributes to the favorability and liking of the piece. The standard strophic form of this piece sets the framework for the various elements of music used throughout this song, most notably, dynamic and texture. 1
A CRITICAL REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF BEYONCE’S “FORMATION” Speaking in terms of texture, the use of electronically produced sound effects in this piece, build by adding one sound at a time, climaxing to the chorus, allowing for relative transparency within the verses of the song. The producer used layering of three distinct sounds, consecutively building up to the chorus. Formation intros with a repetitive horn sound in 4/4 time for the first two counts of 8, a second sound effect is then added on to this for the next 8 counts, building to the integration of a louder bass sound. The corresponding trio comes to a halt altogether as she states, “I got hot sauce in my bag swag,” (Mel TGenc, 2016) in which there is a brief silence, followed by a drum riff leading into a much denser chorus. Within the chorus, trumpet, chime and ringing tones come together to create a much more “packed” sonic landscape (MacKay, 2018, Module 2.2) in which it is difficult to distinguish each sound individually. However, the underlying trio of sounds from the intro still remain identifiable throughout.