Rock & Jazz Clinic: Grooving in Form, Part 1: AABA Beats (VIDEO)

The excerpt below is taken from the complete article that appears in the July 2015 issue,
which is available here.

Rock & Jazz Clinic

Grooving in Form

Part 1: AABA Beats

by Mike Johnston

One of the first things you learn when you begin to play in bands is form, and one of the most popular song forms is AABA. Before we get into our lesson, let’s first define the traditional AABA structure.

The A part is the main section of the song—often referred to as the verse—and is repeated. The two verses are followed by the B section, aka the bridge, which is musically different from the first section. The bridge gives the song contrast before transitioning back to the final A section. The B section often provides contrast in lyrics, melody, harmony, rhythm, or texture. It’s also known as the middle eight, in reference to its placement in the form and the number of measures, or it’s sometimes called the release.

It occurred to me years ago that the AABA form might work just as well on a shorter time scale. What if each beat of a measure was treated as either an A or a B? In that instance you could have a groove where beats 1, 2, and 4 are considered the A section and beat 3 is considered the B section. This type of approach to beat construction proves to be most noticeable in slightly complex grooves, so in this article we’re going to work with a sextuplet pattern based on the paradiddle-diddle. Advertisement

The A section will be a paradiddle-diddle played between the hi-hat and snare. (Make sure to bring your right hand down to the snare on beats 2 and 4 to accentuate the backbeats.) For the B section, we’re giving you six options to begin with, but make sure to push yourself to create new B sections once you have these under control.

Be sure to check out the complete article in the July 2015 issue for more insight and practice suggestions. 

Learn more about the july 2015 issue