Radiohead’s ‘Pyramid Song’: Ambiguity, Rhythm, and Participation

Author: Hesselink, Nathan
Publication details: Music Theory Online 19.1.3 [13,500 words], 2013
Abstract: This article demonstrates how the confluence of ambiguity and rhythm in a pop/rock song creates a powerful force for audience participation. Focusing on Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song” (2001) as a case study, I document in detail the myriad ways listening audiences have made sense of its meter and how this knowledge has informed their interpretations of compositional intent. I conclude with further thoughts on the roles and possibilities of ambiguity and the directions it points towards mass participation and collaborative problem solving in the realms of aesthetics and music theory.