Lesson 13: Form
The "Form Language"
When speaking about form, a unit is normally
The AAA Form
A modern pop song form is the strophic AAA form. A series of verses with identical music, but different lyrics in each, follow each other. Some of the earliest songs ever written used this form.
The ABA Form
A form used a lot in classical music is the ternary ABA form. We have a first section A, then a second section B, then the A section is repeated after the second section ends.
The typical performance of a jazz tune can also be looked at as being in ABA form:
The Verse - Chorus Form
Another modern pop song form is the binary AB form or verse - chorus form. In this two-part song form each verse with different lyrics is followed by an identical chorus part in the following manner:
verse - chorus - verse - chorus - bridge - chorusThis form is the most common in today's pop music. The chorus may be preceded by a distinct part called the pre-chorus. It is also very common to insert a bridge before the last chorus(es).
The Verse - Refrain Form
This form is common in older songs. The refrain is a short phrase appearing as the last phrase of every verse, as a conclusion. See the AAA form above.
AABA is the traditional 32-bar pop song form. This is very common in jazz, especially in the so-called Standards repertoire.
This form is also very common in jazz, especially in the so-called Standards repertoire. The C section is usually a variation on the B section, a different, more final ending.
This form is also very common in jazz, especially in the so-called Standards repertoire. In this form the C section usually is a variation on the A section but it could also be a variation on the B section.
This form is also very common in jazz.
In a through-composed composition there is no repeating unit, there is new material all the time. Common through-composed forms are ABC and ABCD.
The blues form in its purest form is 12 bars long and goes something like this ( in C):
|C7 | | | | |F7 | |C7 | | |G7 |F7 |C7 | |
The Importance of Form
When you have an idea for a tune, try different forms. If you have an A section and a B section, the tune will be very different in ABAB, AABA or AAB form - and if you come up with a C section you can try it in ABAC or AABC form.
© 2004 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.