From Telos to Anti-Telos: Rock and Pop Choruses, 1964–2019 (Drew Nobile, University of Oregon)

Event Date: 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019 - 3:30pm to 4:45pm

Event Date Details: 

Event Location: 

  • Music Room 1145 (UCSB)

Event Price: 


Event Contact: 

Adriane Hill
Marketing and Communications Manager
UC Santa Barbara Department of Music
(805) 893-3230
Drew Nobile
As part of the UCSB Music History and Theory Forum, Distinguished Lecturer Drew Nobile (University of Oregon) will present a talk titled "From Telos to Anti-Telos: Rock and Pop Choruses, 1964–2019" on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 from 3:30-4:45 pm in Music Room 1145.


The chorus has been the dominant feature of rock and pop songs since the mid 1960s. In this presentation, Dr. Nobile will trace the development of a particular type of chorus, which he calls the telos chorus. Telos choruses begin with a climactic arrival and plateau at a high energetic level, eschewing any internal trajectory and encouraging a significant amount of “rocking out” on the part of the listeners. Dr. Nobile begins by discussing the emergence of telos choruses in the 60s and 70s through their heyday in the dance-obsessed 1980s. He will move on to the expansion of the telos idea through the grunge and hip-hop movements in the 90s and 2000s, and ultimately to its subversion in EDM-infused pop of the current decade. Through examples from Bob Dylan to Nirvana to Taylor Swift, he will argue that form in rock and pop is not just a basic template for song design but an inherently expressive feature of the genre.

About the Speaker

Drew Nobile is a music theorist specializing in the analysis of rock and pop music. His recently completed book, titled Form as Harmony in Rock Music, presents a theory of form in 60s, 70s, and 80s rock songs. His other writings have appeared in Music Theory Spectrum, Music Theory Online, the Journal of Music Theory, and Popular Music. He is currently in his fourth year as assistant professor of music theory at the University of Oregon’s School of Music and Dance.


Drew Nobile