The AABA Song Form

Judy Garland In 'The Wizard Of Oz'
Judy Garland in a scene from the film 'The Wizard Of Oz', 1939. MGM Studios / Getty Images

AABA is a type of song has an opening section (A), a bridge (B) before transitioning to the final A section. This song form is used in a variety of music genres including pop, gospel, and jazz.

Construction

The classic AABA song form can be illustrated as such:
A = 8 bars
A = 8 bars
B = 8 bars
A = 8 bars

You'll notice that it has 32 bars all in all. The first and second A sections are composed of verses which are similar in melody but different in lyrical content.

This is followed by the bridge (B) which is musically and lyrically different than the A sections. The bridge gives the song contrast before transitioning to the final A section.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are many AABA songs that don't follow the 8-8-8-8 format, for example, the song "Send in the Clowns" has a 6-6-9-8 format. Sometimes the songwriter feels the need to lengthen the AABA song form by adding another bridge and a last A section. This format can be illustrated as A-A-B-A-B-A. The second bridge may either be lyrically the same or different than the first bridge, at times it can also be an instrumental part. The last A section may also be a repeat of an earlier verse or an entirely new verse that gives the song a sense of completion.

Song Sample

AABA Song Form - "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

First A: Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
Second A: Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
B Section: Someday I'll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Final A: Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly...

AABABA Song Form - "Longer"

First A: Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean
Second A: Stronger than any mountain cathedral
B Section: I'll bring fires in the winters
Third A:Through the years as the fire starts to mellow
B Section: Instrumental
Final A: Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean (repeats the first A section)

Music Sample

Listen to a music clip of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland. Here's a song sample of "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg.​