gangnam style analysis

This brilliant infinite looping version of Gangnam Style uses machine learning to join the similar points of the song to each other, and allows branching among them. It is slightly annoying, however, because the song does not start on the first beat, so all the bars are misaligned by one. I decided to redo the chart with the correct alignment and labeling, so here it is:

There are actually a few interesting things going on here.

1. The song is a little unusual in that it arguably has two distinct choruses. The, um.. equestrian dancing part, which I call the “breakdown,” serves as a second chorus. The two choruses are delineated by a shoutout of “oppa gangnam style.”

2. I also suspected that the red blocks (the most frequently recurring blocks) would be in the most memorable parts of the song. And which ones might those be? Turns out it is the phoneme [op]… While the phrase “gangnam style” is a close second in frequency, it seems to occur in variation, against a number of timbral backgrounds.

3. The third repeating form is significantly abbreviated, with verse and breakdown retaining only the second half of the form, and the chorus is omitted entirely. It’s pretty clear then that the chorus in this context serves mainly as a precursor to the breakdown, even though it can stand by itself.

The two-stage build-up of musical content and other innovations (for pop music, at least) make this a somewhat intriguing song.


  1. Liam
    March 13th, 2014 | 4:43

    Thank you for this. It is very insightful and interesting. I appreciate your effort.

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