Thirty-two-bar form  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The thirty-two-bar form, often called AABA from the musical form or order in which its melodies occur, also ballad form, is common in Tin Pan Alley songs and later popular music including rock, pop and jazz. Though it resembles the ternary form of the operatic da capo aria its popularity declined and "there were few instances of it in any type of popular music until the late teens" of the 20th century. It became "the principal form" of American popular song around 1925–1926, with AABA form consisting of the chorus or the entirety of many songs in the early 20th century.

Some Tin Pan Alley songs composed as numbers for musicals precede the main tune with a "sectional verse" that is usually sixteen bars long. The verse establishes the background and mood of the number, and is musically undistinguished in order to highlight the attractions of the main tune. The main tune is called the refrain or chorus. The sectional verse is often omitted from modern performances, and thus the refrain is often the only section remembered and heard.

In the refrain, the A section or verse forms the main melody and is harmonically closed with a cadence on the "home" or tonic chord. The B section or middle eight is also often referred to as the bridge and sometimes as the release. In it a simple modulation is commonly found and at its end it remains harmonically open, often ending on the unresolved dominant chord of the home key and so preparing for the return of the verse.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Thirty-two-bar form" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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