A (Complete) Guide To Song Form & Structure Examples: AABA, AAA, ABAB, & ABAC

A (Complete) Guide To Song Form & Structure Examples: AABA, AAA, ABAB, & ABAC

Written by Cameron Mayo

Every song that you have ever heard is made up of some structure. In music, this structure is called form. The form of a is made up of sections of the music that are usually repeated in some manner. When composing a song, writers choose a genre of music which determines they will use.

Here are some common song form examples that you should be familiar with if you are aspiring to be a musician:

AAA Song Form

AAA song form, or One-Part song form, is one of the oldest structures in music. It originally appeared in the adaptation of poems. Composers set poems to musical themes to perform in front of royal courts. Also known as strophic form, in AAA the melody is repeated. Different words are sung each time the melody is repeated.

AAA is the perfect song form for story-telling.

The AAA song form is made up of different verses. In some cases, a refrain is added at the end of every verse. The refrain is a line that is repeated in the same place wherever the verse section of the melody is repeated. The refrain is often the title of the song or a major line in the lyrics.

Nowadays, we commonly refer to the refrain as the chorus of a song. 

AABA Song Form

AABA song form is the most common structure used in jazz music. It is one of the most popular American song forms, and was adopted by Tin Pan Alley songwriters. The Tin Pan Alley songwriters were an association in New York City in the early 20th century.

They featured some of the most famous songwriters of the era like Dorothy Fields, Sammy Cahn, Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Arlen, and Ira and George Gershwin.

The AABA song form is popular is other genres like pop and gospel music.

ABAB Song Form

In ABAB song form, the sections are usually 8 bars long. This song form normally begins with an A section of 8 bars, then the B section of 8 bars, after which the A and B sections are repeated.

One example of this structure is the song ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ sung by the famous artist Frank Sinatra.

A (Complete) Guide To Song Form & Structure Examples: AABA, AAA, ABAB, & ABAC

ABAC Song Form

The ABAC song form is similar to the ABAB song form. It starts with an 8-bar A section, then an 8-bar B section. However, in ABAC song form example, the structure returns to A section and is followed by C section instead of B.

The initial few bars of C section sound similar to B section, but in ABAC song form, the melody turns into something completely different.

This song form is very popular in stage musicals and movie theme music. One example of this song form is the composition ‘Moon River’ by the celebrated musician Andy Williams.

The C section in the ABAC song form begins off melodically, and lyrically it is similar to B section in ABAB song form. But the melody in the ABAC song form drastically changes from the ABAB song form after the C section, and the lyrics go off in a new direction.

Now that you know a bit about some of the building blocks that make a song, go ahead and give it a try! Click the button below for some extra tips about song writing.




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