Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Beatles "Yesterday" Classic Example of the AABA Song Form

John LennonCover of John LennonBy Leemanuel Hightire

The AABA song.

How many of you out there pay attention to song forms?

How many of you recognize the classic Beatles song "Yesterday" as being a great example of the AABA song form?

While it is modified a bit, it's definitely AABA. The other thing that's pretty incredible about the original song is that they get in and get out very quickly. It's a little over 2 minutes.

Now I know that these days, most songs live in the 3 - 4 minute time frame, but I'm really intrigued by McCartney and Lennon's efficiency. I think a great short song makes it more likely that you want to listen to it again and again.

Now if you're not familiar with the AABA song form, I'll tell you a bit about it. But a great way to learn is to listen to the Beatles song "Yesterday"

You do want to have some synergy between your music and lyric. Looked at from a straight musical idea/theme standpoint, the A sections would all be the same or very similar and the B section would represent either a "bridge" or a different musical idea/theme from the "A" section.

From a lyric standpoint the AABA song form is a series of verses. The "B" section often will represent a counterpoint to the lyric idea presented in the other section, but this isn't an etched in stone rule.

Similar to the "A-A-A" song forms, AABA lends itself to telling a story without having to interrupt itself to make room for a Chorus.

Most often the title is placed at the first line, last line, or both of each "A" section. Some very creative folks may even stick the title in the middle of the verse. And if you work the title into the "B" section again, all the better for you ... repetition being very important to having your song become memorable.

I'm sure that most of you are familiar with "Yesterday" so I won't write out the lyric here (besides I might need permission to do that), but notice how each "A" section verse begins and ends with the same opening words. In two "A" sections it's the word "yesterday" and in another "A" section it's the word "suddenly".

The "B" section of the song opens our eyes up to the reason for the singer's lament in the first two verses "why she had to go, I don't know" and ending with longing for yesterday. The title again appearing.

Now, this song does repeat the B section, so you could call it a modified AABA song, but this is a classic AABA song form and one that is worthy of modeling some of your own work on.

And when you strip away all of the cool sounds and fancy beats, it's important that there's still a song there. A melody that can be sang, and words with meaning. So, if you care about great songs, let Leemanuel become part of the soundtrack of your life.

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