Music education always & always looking forward.

Fear & Confusion Expressed in Time Signature Changes: Changing Meter in XTC's "Great Fire"

In a song about love and fear, the shifting between 3/4 & 4/4 reinforces the emotional content.

More examples from XTC to use in the classroom to demonstrate changing meter and plenty of other items!  I might be a little biased toward XTC, but so be it.  They do so much in their music.

“Great Fire” - XTC

Intro: Although they have not toured since 1982, when guitarist and songwriter Andy Partridge developed a nervous breakdown, XTC has seen over 20 years of prolific creation, evidenced by the release of 13 studio albums as well as work on side projects (i.e. Dukes of Stratosphear, Fuzzy Warbles box set). “Great Fire” appears on the 1983 album Mummer by the band led by the British duo of Partridge and Colin Moulding.

Analysis: The change between meters in this song is fairly straight-ahead, beginning with a guitar ostinato, a single bass note on beat 1, and then the verses in 3/4 time, followed by a standard rock instrumentation pre-chorus section and chorus, and returning to 3/4 for the second verse. The song also contains a brief modulation, building up to a key change before the final repetition of the chorus in 4/4.

Considerations for Teaching: This song contains no inappropriate language, however, in the second pre-chorus, the line "no round of drinks could extinguish this," in reference to the titular "great fire." While it is unclear whether the band's name is associated with the drug, this song makes no reference to drug use.

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