Music education always & always looking forward.

Prog & Pop Simultaneously: Changing Meter in Genesis's "Turn It on Again"

The equivalent of a few skipped beats here and there keeps people paying attention.

Although young students might know Phil Collins as the writer of a number of Disney songs, "Turn It on Again" is a tremendous example of changing meter and a great progressive rock example as well.  

“Turn It on Again” - Genesis

Intro: Prior to commercial success achieved by Phil Collins, former member Peter Gabriel, or the band itself, Genesis were quintessentially a progressive rock band, as evidenced on this song and throughout their 1980 album Duke. “Turn It on Again” reached #8 on the UK singles chart and propelled Duke to reach #1 on the UK Albums chart and #11 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It was one of many successful singles by Genesis in a career that spanned many genres, from melodic pop to progressive rock and later back to more palatable, commercially accessible pop. Genesis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

Analysis: The opening to the song is heard in inconsistent time signatures, including bars of 4/4 and 5/4, and when the initial riff is heard, the time signature alternates between 6/4 and 7/4 (which could be considered 13/4, although there is a sense of division as though there are two measures heard within the main riff). The chorus delves into cross-rhythm, moving into compound meter where the rest of the song is heard in simple (duple) meter. 

Considerations for Teaching: The song is written about a man who does little to nothing else but watch TV, considering the characters on television to be his friends. Both the subject matter and lyrical content are appropriate for classroom use.

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