Sylphie's Squizzes - Composers Who Don't Know When To Stop.

article by Zoe Disher , photo by Alamy

Learning intention:

I am learning to collect, analyse and assess information for a specific purpose so that I can further develop my research and presentation skills.

Success criteria:

  • I can explain what inspires different artists in the works they are producing.
  • I can make connections between purposes for standard song lengths and songs that push beyond standard expectations.
  • I can locate information relevant to my chosen topic and arrange it to be presented in a multimodal format.


After reading the article, watch the video Longplayer Is a Symphony That Will Play For a Thousand Years. Discuss Jem Finer’s explanation that the beginning of the new millennium was his inspiration for creating this piece. Ask students for their thoughts on the different purposes for the other long pieces of music in the article.

Inform students that when pop music started in the 1950s, there was a limit on how long songs could be due to the technology at the time. This meant that songs had to be around three minutes long to be able to be played on the radio, and this was important as radio play would largely dictate whether the songs would become a hit.

Explain that despite the changes in technology, three to three and a half minutes has remained the standard song length for decades and has influenced the level of radio play and success of pop songs. However, throughout that time there have always been artists who have pushed the boundaries of such time restrictions and have done so very successfully. There was a rise of this in the 1970s when music became more experimental, and the growing prominence of music videos in the 80s and 90s provided another way for artists to extend the length of their songs as videos became more theatrical.


Students should research popular songs that pushed the boundaries of time length in that period and collate relevant information into a multimodal presentation. Students should be free to choose appropriate songs that interest them, however some suggestions may include:

Donna Summer – I Feel Love

Taylor Swift – All Too Well

The Beatles – Hey Jude

Archie Roach – Took The Children Away

Michael Jackson – Black or White

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

Pink Floyd -  Shine on You Crazy Diamond

Rufus Du Sol - Innerbloom


Multimodal presentations should include:

  • A video or audio recording of the song
  • The song lyrics
  • The band or artist who performed the song
  • The composer of the song
  • The year the song was recorded
  • The time length of the song
  • Any interesting information about the song, such as the inspiration for writing it, or its meaning (dependent on what research information is available).
  • Students may also wish to include their reason for choosing this specific song (e.g. whether it has special meaning to them or there was something about it that resonated with them)