Genre Analysis (Punk)

Genre Analysis (Punk)
Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK


Due to the very aggressive nature of the genre most early punk rock songs retained a traditional rock ‘n’ roll verse-chorus form with a 4/4 time signature. The instrumentation of punk typically has a generic rock n roll formula which includes one or two electric guitars, an electric bass, and a drum kit, along with vocals.



To start off the use of fifth chords are very common within this genre. A fifth chord consists of the root note and the fifth. They are also referred to as “power chords” and is the building blocks of most early punk music.


Shown are four examples of fifth chords. Power chords are notated as a 5 or no 3. A C fifth chord would be made from the root  C and fifth G and annotated as C5 or G no3.

These chords inherently are played in lower to mid octaves with the basic root, fifth and root octave providing enough harmonics from the fundamental to create an aggressive and powerful chord. When played using an amplifier, distortion being applied to these chords create a very heavy metallic and drudge property to them which also provides most of the sonic characteristic of the genre.


Bass guitar lines are often very repetitive and plays the root notes of the guitar. These repetitive rhythm are mainly played with a pick due to the


Punk drums are inherently very violent and loud, often not including any sort of dynamics variety since the the kits are often played with a high velocity. rd-int-pun-rock-drum-beats-ex-5

Punk drumming features a very simple drumming pattern and does not deviate from its sole purpose of delivering a steady 4/4 backbone beat which compliments the chugging rhythm from the guitar. From the sheet music above the use of closed hihats is very prevalent in punk and is played eights. Also the simple pattern of “kick-snare, kick-kick-snare” is prevalent in most punk music.


Punk rock vocals are often are often shouted instead of musically sung in a traditional more melodic sense. The genre itself features very harsh vocals that reenacts more of the DIY nature of the production techniques. The simplicity of the lyrics provided a very clear message however the lyrics were often vague. Paired with the repetitiveness nature of the genre, it made sure that it was catchy and simple to remember.

I am an anti-Christ
I am an anarchist,
Don’t know what I want
But I know how to get it

The whole point of punk bands was generally not to write good music, just to create controversy and stir the youth with radical lyrics that they may or may not actually believe in.


Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.01.59 pmCompositionally, songs in this genre are very short in nature spanning from 2 minutes unto 3 minutes. For example, this song mainly shows of a longer composition within this genre.

This song follows many of the tropes that i have stated from the previous sections regarding its relation to rock and roll influences with a verse-chorus form. Even though there are many compositional changes within the song, the main chords and progressions dont stray away too much and is inherently repeptitive.

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