The 32-bar form, also known as the AABA song form, American popular song form and the ballad form, is a song structure commonly found in Tin Pan Alley songs and other American popular music, especially in the first half of the 20th century.
As its alternative name AABA implies, this song form consists of four sections: an eight-bar A section; a second eight-bar A section (which may have slight changes from the first A section); an eight-bar B section, often with contrasting harmony or "feel"; and a final eight-bar A section. The core melody line is generally retained in each A section, although variations may be added, particularly for the last A section.
Examples of 32-bar AABA form songs include "Over the Rainbow", "What'll I Do", "Make You Feel My Love", [ citation needed ]. Many show tunes that have become jazz standards are 32-bar song forms."Blue Skies",
At its core, the basic AABA 32-bar song form consists of four sections, each section being 8 bars in length, totaling 32 bars. Each of these 8-bar sections is assigned a letter name ("A" or "B"), based on its melodic and harmonic content. The A sections all share the same melody (possibly with slight variations), and the recurring title lyric typically falls on either the first or last line of each A section. The "B" section musically and lyrically contrasts the A sections, and may or may not contain the title lyric. The "B" section may use a different harmony that contrasts with the harmony of the A sections. For example in the song "I've Got Rhythm", the A sections are in the key of B♭, but the B section involves a circle of fifths series of dominant seventh chords going from D7, G7, C7 to F7. Song form terminology is not standardized, and the B section is also referred to as the "middle eight", "bridge", or "primary bridge".
The song form of "What'll I Do" by Irving Berlin is as follows:
|Name||Lyric from "What'll I Do" by Irving Berlin|
|A1||What'll I do when you are far away and I am blue? What'll I do?|
|A2||What'll I do when I am won'dring who is kissing you? What'll I do?|
|B||What'll I do with just a photograph to tell my troubles to?|
|A3||When I'm alone with only dreams of you that won't come true… What'll I do?|
Some Tin Pan Alley songs composed as numbers for musicals precede the main tune with what was called a "sectional verse" or "introductory verse" in the terminology of the early 20th century. This introductory section is usually 16 bars long and establishes the background and mood of the number, and is musically undistinguished, with a free musical structure, speech-like rhythms, and rubato delivery, in order to highlight the attractions of the main tune. The sectional verse is often omitted from modern performances.It is not assigned a letter in the "AABA" naming scheme.
The introductory verse from "What'll I Do" by Irving Berlin is as follows:
Gone is the romance that was so divine,
'tis broken and cannot be mended
You must go your way, and I must go mine,
but now that our love dreams have ended...
In music theory, the middle eight or bridge is the B section of a 32-bar form.This section has a significantly different melody from the rest of the song and usually occurs after the second "A" section in the AABA song form. It is also called a middle eight because it happens in the middle of the song and the length is generally eight bars.
In early-20th-century terminology, the main 32-bar AABA section, in its entirety, was called the "refrain" or "chorus". This is in contrast to the modern usage of the term "chorus", which refers to a repeating musical and lyrical section in verse–chorus form. Additionally, "verse," "chorus" and "refrain" all have different meanings in modern musical terminology. See the below chart for clarification:
|Early terminology||Modern terminology||Definition|
|Introductory verse or|
|Introductory verse or|
|The opening section, often 16 bars in length, which resembles recitative from opera.|
|Verse-refrain form or|
|The 32-bar section, composed of four separate 8-bar sections, taking the form AABA.|
|None||Verse||Any of the three individual 8 bar "A" sections|
middle 8 or
|8-bar "B" section|
|None||Refrain line||This recurring lyric line is often the title of the song (e.g. "Yesterday", "Let's Face the Music and Dance", "Luck Be a Lady Tonight").|
Though the 32-bar form resembles the ternary form of the operatic da capo aria, it did not become common until the late 1910s. It became "the principal form" of American popular song around 1925–1926,with the AABA form consisting of the chorus or the entirety of many songs in the early 20th century.
The 32-bar form was often used in rock in the 1950s and '60s, after which verse–chorus form became more prevalent. Examples include:
Though more prevalent in the first half of the 20th century, many contemporary songs show similarity to the form, such as "Memory", from Cats , which features expanded form through the B and A sections repeated in new keys.Songwriters such as Lennon–McCartney and those working in the Brill Building also used modified or extended 32-bar forms, often modifying the number of measures in individual or all sections. The Beatles ("From Me to You" (1963) and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (1963)), like many others, would extend the form with an instrumental section, second bridge, break or reprise of the introduction, etc., and another return to the main theme. Introductions and codas also extended the form. In "Down Mexico Way" "the A sections… are doubled in length, to sixteen bars—but this affects the overall scheme only marginally". The theme tune of the long-running British TV series Doctor Who has, in some incarnations, followed 32 bar form.
A refrain is the line or lines that are repeated in music or in poetry — the "chorus" of a song. Poetic fixed forms that feature refrains include the villanelle, the virelay, and the sestina.
In music, form refers to the structure of a musical composition or performance. In his book, Worlds of Music, Jeff Todd Titon suggests that a number of organizational elements may determine the formal structure of a piece of music, such as "the arrangement of musical units of rhythm, melody, and/or harmony that show repetition or variation, the arrangement of the instruments, or the way a symphonic piece is orchestrated", among other factors.
Strophic form – also called verse-repeating form, chorus form, AAA song form, or one-part song form – is a song structure in which all verses or stanzas of the text are sung to the same music. The opposite of strophic form, with new music written for every stanza, is called through-composed.
The term blues ballad is used to refer to a specific form of popular music which fused Anglo-American and Afro-American styles from the late 19th century onwards. Early versions combined elements of the European influenced "native American ballad" with the forms of African American music. From the 20th century on it was also used to refer to a slow tempo, often sentimental song in a blues style.
Song structure is the arrangement of a song, and is a part of the songwriting process. It is typically sectional, which uses repeating forms in songs. Common forms include bar form, 32-bar form, verse–chorus form, ternary form, strophic form, and the 12-bar blues. Popular music songs traditionally use the same music for each verse or stanza of lyrics. Pop and traditional forms can be used even with songs that have structural differences in melodies. The most common format in modern popular music is introduction (intro), verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, verse, chorus and outro. In rock music styles, notably heavy metal music, there is usually one or more guitar solos in the song, often found after the middle chorus part. In pop music, there may be a guitar solo, or a solo may be performed by a synthesizer player or sax player.
"Nowhere Man" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles. It was released in December 1965 on their album Rubber Soul, except in the United States and Canada, where it was first issued as a single A-side in February 1966 before appearing on the album Yesterday and Today. The song was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. In the US, the single peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the chart compiled by Record World magazine, as it did the RPM 100 chart in Canada. The song was also released as a single in some countries where it had been included on Rubber Soul, including Australia, where it topped the singles chart.
Verse–chorus form is a musical form going back to the 1840s, in such songs as Oh! Susanna, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, and many others. It became passé in the early 1900s, with advent of the AABA form in the Tin Pan Alley days. It became commonly used in blues and rock and roll in the 1950s, and predominant in rock music since the 1960s. In contrast to 32-bar form, which is focused on the refrain, in verse–chorus form the chorus is highlighted.
In music, especially Western popular music, a bridge is a contrasting section that prepares for the return of the original material section. In a piece in which the original material or melody is referred to as the "A" section, the bridge may be the third eight-bar phrase in a thirty-two-bar form, or may be used more loosely in verse-chorus form, or, in a compound AABA form, used as a contrast to a full AABA section.
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Rhythm changes are a common 32-bar chord progression in jazz, originating as the chord progression for George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm". The progression is in AABA form, with each A section based on repetitions of the ubiquitous I–vi–ii–V sequence (or variants such as iii–vi–ii–V), and the B section using a circle of fifths sequence based on III7–VI7–II7–V7, a progression which is sometimes given passing chords.
In music, a section is a complete, but not independent, musical idea. Types of sections include the introduction or intro, exposition, development, recapitulation, verse, chorus or refrain, conclusion, coda or outro, fadeout, bridge or interlude. In sectional forms such as binary, the larger unit (form) is built from various smaller clear-cut units (sections) in combination, analogous to stanzas in poetry or somewhat like stacking Lego.
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"Ain't Nobody's Business" is a 1920s blues song that became one of the first blues standards. It was published in 1922 by Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins. The song features a lyrical theme of freedom of choice and a vaudeville jazz–style musical arrangement. It was first recorded, as "'Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness if I Do", in 1922 by Anna Meyers, backed by the Original Memphis Five.
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In music, particularly Western popular music, a post-chorus is a section that appears after the chorus. The term can be used generically for any section that comes after a chorus, but more often refers to a section that has similar character to the chorus, but is distinguishable in close analysis. The concept of a post-chorus has been particularly popularized and analyzed by music theorist Asaf Peres, who is followed in this article.
Although the Tin Pan Alley song-type continued to include verses, these most often were much shorter, sometimes serving as little more than introductions. The song became, in most cases and for most purposes, coextensive with the chorus. And, as was quickly learned within the time-restrictive environment of recording in the 1920s, the new Tin Pan Alley song, uprooted from the stage, worked best without its verses, as a fragment of expression that was somewhat fluid.
Verses were regarded as mere introductions by the 1920s, and today the verses of Tin Pan Alley songs are infrequently performed.