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Syntagmatic structure (structure of syntax) is "the mode of time-awareness which listeners are placed" such as 'narrative', 'epic', or 'lyrical'. Narrative structures feature a realistic temporal flow guided by tension and relaxation, privilege difference, and "as diegesis, songs speak to or address us by organizing a particular stretch of time into a conscious experience, and an experience of consciousness" (Cubitt 1984, p.216). Epic structures tend to the opposite, privileging repetition, creating a mythic state of recurrence, and "emptying out" the subject (ibid, p.216-17). Lyrical structures lie in between and feature symmetrical open/closed and binary forms. (Middleton 1990, p.251 and 217)

See paradigmatic analysis.


  • Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0335152759.
    • Cubitt, Sean (1984).
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