Standard (music)

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This article is about the musical term. For other uses, see Standard (disambiguation).

In music, a standard is a tune or song of established popularity.[1]

Because of the subjective quality and evolving connotation of the term, which songs are considered standards is nebulous. The term began being applied to musical works as the popularity of rock and roll increased dramatically in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Then, the term was used to describe songs that were not from the rock genre and especially to songs of the AABA form.

Presently, a general character of standards is that they have remained in popular currency for several decades, and that they are performed (or "covered," in the musical vernacular) by several different musicians or bands. Another common (but by no means definitive) use of "standards" is as a synonym for "crossover" - describing a work that "crosses", or is popular in, more than one genres.

The term can be compared to the use of the word "traditional" in folk music literature, though not all standards of folk music are traditional.

Examples of songs described in this wiki as "standards" (regardless of genre) include

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (6th ed.), Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-19-920687-2 

Further reading[edit]

Printed music
Books on the subject
  • Morath, Max. The N.P.R. [i.e. National Public Radio] Curious Listener's Guide to Popular Standards, series Grand Central Press Book[s] and also Perigee Book[s]. First ed. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, cop. 2002. xvi, 235 p. ISBN 0-399-52744-3