AABA Song Form

The AABA song form is found very often in old jazz songs, or what is known as The Great American Songbook. Think of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and similar artists.

This is where you have a first A section that is repeated once, then a different B section, and finally the A section repeats itself again. The words among the three A section are not always the same words, but the music is more or less the same chord progression with similar melodies among the three sections.

A good example of the AABA song form is Nevertheless I’m In Love With You (Kalmar/Ruby 1931).

AMaybe I’m right and maybe I’m wrong
And maybe I’m weak and maybe I’m strong
But nevertheless, I’m in love with you
AMaybe I’ll win and maybe I’ll lose
And maybe I’m in for crying the blues
But nevertheless, I’m in love with you
BSomehow I know at a glance
The terrible chances I’m taking
Fine at the start
Then left with a heart that is breaking
AMaybe I’ll live a life of regret
And maybe I’ll give much more than I’ll get
But nevertheless, I’m in love with you

Since these are such short songs, when most jazz bands perform these songs they often repeat the whole form (AABA) while a soloist improvises over the whole form, sometimes called the “head.” Then when the vocalist comes back in, he or she will sing the B section and end on the final A section.

Also notice how the title is sung as a refrain at the end of each A section. This is commonplace in some songs that use this form but is by no means the only way.