Dissertation Index

Author: Endrinal, Christopher James Scott

Title: Form and Style in the Music of U2

Institution: Florida State University

Begun: April 2007

Completed: April 2008


The purpose of this study is to examine the formal designs and stylistic characteristics that U2 employs. It is my contention that, in addition to business savvy and commercial promotion, U2’s sustained success has been a result of stylistic originality and musical complexity.

The research in this dissertation is three-tiered. First, it identifies the salient sonic characteristics that distinguish U2’s music from the music of other bands. Second, using those characteristics, it examines the various formal organizations U2 uses throughout their catalog. This step requires analysis of each section’s function and relationship to surrounding sections as well as to the song as a whole, which entails detailed examination of several elements including harmony, melody, lyrics, instrumentation, timbre, recording and production techniques, rhythm, meter, and motivic content. Third, I provide detailed analyses of several songs across the band’s career to demonstrate how U2 constructs songs and how each member incorporates his own unique musical perspective into these formal designs.

This study adopts a hybrid outlook on form and formal process, one that combines aspects of several different theories of form with original analytical strategies. I employ both “bottom-up” and “top-down” approaches to formal construction, graphical analysis in the form of electronic waveforms and spectrographs, as well as linear reductive meth-ods, and traditional rhythmic, metric, melodic, and harmonic analysis.

Keywords: U2, form, style, rock, popular music,


CHAPTER 1 U WHO?: An Introduction to the Band

CHAPTER 2 HOW TO DISMANTLE U2: Review of Literature and Analytical Methodology

CHAPTER 3 INTO THE HEART: General Style Characteristics

CHAPTER 4 CRUMBS FROM YOUR TABLE: Song Sections and Formal Types

CHAPTER 5 LIKE A SONG: Complete Analytical Examples



Dr. Christopher Endrinal
Department of Music
University of Massachusetts Lowell
35 Wilder Street
Suite 3
Lowell, MA 01854-3083

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