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"Combining seemingly incompatible musical elements": An Exploration of the Music of Jacob Collier

Kristin Sands
Kristin Sands
Faculty Adviser(s)

Jacob Collier, a five-time Grammy award winner, creates music that falls outside of the norm for popular music. Popular music can be defined as music that has been mass produced with the purpose of gaining a large following or attention. Songs that fall into this category have an expected form, contain relatable subject matter, are relatively short in length, have familiar instrumentation (drums, guitar, bass, synthesizer), and have a hook. In his compositions, Collier uses similar techniques and concepts, but also uses complex theoretical techniques, new technology, and fascinating instrumentation that are not commonly found in pop music. This led me to question how his music fits into the world of popular music. Through an examination of recent research on the history and styles of popular music, and a comparative analysis of the music of Jacob Collier and artists such as Dua Lipa, Nirvana, amongst others, this paper will show that Collier's music exhibits traditional popular music characteristics while also incorporating advanced compositional techniques not normally found in radio-friendly popular music.  


Kristin Sands grew up in Westfield, NC. They are completing a BA in music and have been an active member of the Wake Forest Marching Band throughout their time in college. They are currently interning with Classical Voices of North Carolina (CVNC), an online, arts-based journal, and hope to explore the world of music journalism in the future.