Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Extended Arrangement

Genesis: The Cinema Show (Selling England By The Pound)

A rigorous definition of the musical form "suite" usually spells out 4 separate movements. In many ways related to the "medley", the suite often includes tempo changes (fast - slow - fast again....) whereas the medley can combine two or more songs of the same tempo. By definition, the suite would be a difficult format for rock groups focused on the 3-minute radio airplay format; however, a select few groups have managed to successfully and commercially pull of the feat of the extended composition that allows for this kind of variation and extended arrangement.

Genesis is rightly credited with more than one musical "suites". Rather than looking for Genesis pieces that are labelled as "suites:, I take a look here at an extended play Genesis song that incorporates numerous switches of tempo but is not ID'ed as a "suite" per se.

Genesis' 1973 album Selling England By The Pound corresponds to the height of their career. At this point in time, the band still included the combined creative talents of both Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins as well as Steve Hackett, Tony Banks and Mark Rutherford. Exactly half of the songs on the album well exceed the standard 3-miniute pop-radio play limit. Several of them segue from one into the next - as if part of a suite.

My choice here, The Cinema Show, showcases several distinct sections, if not a full suite. Starting out with a keyboard and vocal section, at about the 2 minute mark, the rhythm/tempo switches to a slightly more "pumping" style as the drums and bass kick in for about a minute. Again. at about 4:30, the keyboard and vocal section moves uptempo with the return of the drums, bass and guitar. At about 6:50, the druming doubles in time and then song enters a vigorous section with a well executed time signature change as the song heads through a vigorous section ending with a reduced accompanimnet and leads into the next song on the album: Aisle of Plenty.

The album is best listened to in its entirety. [buy the album]


  1. Cool.
    I love all things Genesis.
    Thanks for providing this resource.
    Can we have more, please?

    1. You're welcome.
      Have to confess this selection doesn't really abide by my original intentions here: it's good music but it ain't CC.