What is song form?
Alive Drumming considers song form to be simply the number and lengths of the sections of the song.
Song Rhythm Tracks uses this information to arrange the rhythm track around the sections, so it is important to get the number and length of the sections to match your song.
Additionally, any section may be identified as a ‘bridge’ section where the rhythm will be at a slightly different intensity. More of that later.
Variation among performers
Occasionally there might be a lack of agreement as to the musical form of a popular song. So long as the way you play the song matches the number and lengths of the sections, all will be well.
Alive Drumming’s Song Form Naming Scheme and “Stick Notation”
In the “Stick Notation,” column of the table below, sections of music are identified by their length in number-of-bars and separated by a ‘|’ character. When they are followed by a ‘bridge’ section they are preceded by a ‘/’ instead. So, for example,
|Song Form |
|Song Form Stick Notation |
(a sequence of section lengths in the number of bars)
|no agreed name||4|6/8|4|6|
|no agreed name||10/4/8|10|
This “Stick Notation” scheme is an alternative to traditional naming such as “32-bar AABA”. Stick Notation allows for forms that have no agreed traditional name. Alive Drumming allows for both of these schemes, allowing users to use the one they prefer.
Above is an example of a complex user-defined form defined using stick notation. It is split into four (4), each with its own repeats. It is very unusual for a song to have such a complex form but such forms are accommodated by the app.
Example Songs with their Song Form
Here’s a list of some songs with their Song Forms described using Stick Notation.
|Song Name||Song Form|
|Fly Me To The Moon||16|16|
|Almost Like Being In Love||8|8/8|12|
|The Way You Look Tonight||16|16/16|20|
|All I Have To Do Is Dream||8|8/8|8|
|All the Things You Are||16/8|12|
|A White Sport Coat||16|16|
|Are You Sincere||16|18|
|Blanket On The Ground||16|16/16|16|
|Bye Bye Love||/19|16|
|Bye Bye Blackbird||8|16|16|3|
|Cemento, Ladrillo y Arena||8|16/8|
|Darn That Dream||8|8/8|8|
|Englishman In New York||8|8/8|
|El Guararey de Pastora||8|8/10/10|
|El que Siembra su maiz||20|20/8|13/8|13/8|13|
|El arroyo que murmura||12|12|6|
|Every Time I Roll The Dice||4|4|4|
|Hey Good Lookin’||16|16|
|Hello Mary Lou||8|8|
|I’m Gonna Be A Country Girl Again||4|4|4|4|
|I Get A Kick Out Of You||8|8|16/8/8|16|
|La Gloria eres tu||4|8|8|8|12|
|Leaving On A Jet Plane||16|16|
|Mad About Him, Sad Without Him Blues||4|4|4|
|Miss The Mississippi And You||16|16|
|My Foolish Heart||16|16|
|Moonlight In Vermont||6|6/8|8|
|My Favorite Things||8|8|8|8/8/8/8/8/8|
|Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen||8|8/8|
|The Way You Look Tonight||16|16/16|20|
|One Day At A Time||8|8|8|8|35|
|On Green Dolphin Street||8/8|8/8|
|Once I Loved||16|16/16|
|Oh, Lonesome Me||8|8|
|Ol’ Man River||8|8/8|8|
|Raining In My Heart||8|8/8|8|
|Samba for Carmen||16|16|8|
|Somebody Else On Your Mind||16|16|2|
|Song For Maura||16|16|
|Song For My Father||8|8/8|
|The Touch Of Your Lips||16|16|
|Yo no Quiero Piedra en mi Camino||8|8|
|You Never Can Tell||4|4|4|4|
|You Are Too Beautiful||8|8/8|8|
|You’ve Still Got A Place In My Heart||16|16/16|
|Why You Been Gone So Long||4|4|4|4|
|Well You Needn’t||8|8/8|8|
|Over the Rainbow||8|8/8|8|
|The Shadow of Your Smile||16|16|
Below is chord chart of the song, “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning” and the arrangement of this song shown on the Song Rhythm Tracks app’s player screen. You can count the bars on the chord chart, || 8-bars || 10-bars ||, so this is the 18-bar form, “8|10” as shown in the player. You can see it has been arranged with 3 x choruses and an 8-bar introduction and 6-bar ending.
User Sharing of Song Form within the iOS Mobile App
The Apple iOS App, Song Rhythm Tracks, also allows for the sharing of a Song’s track definition, which includes its Song Form. Press the pink ‘share’ button (square box with an up-arrow).
Sharing Your Song’s Form with the community
From the iOS mobile App, Song Rhythm Tracks’ main table of tracks, press the track’s ‘Share‘ button (square box with an up-arrow) to share your track definition with the Song Rhythm Tracks community.
Searching for a shared definition of a song’s form while defining your track
While entering a new track definition, first enter a name for your track and then press the magnifying glass search button. If a definition has already been shared with this same exact name, the shared song form will automatically populate in that entry screen. Try this with the track name, “Fly Me To The Moon“.
On the 4-bar phrases of 12-bar Blues and 16-bar Tunes
The 12 bars of a 12-Bar Blues are partitioned into 3 by 4-bar phrases. Although this is generally not considered the same as musical sections in show tunes forms of, say, 32-Bar AABA, we may consider it so for the purposes of describing the song form as interpreted by a drummer.
So any 12-Bar Blues may either use the song form, “4|4|4”, or the song form “12”. With the former form the 4-bar phrases will be more evident. With the latter, they are less likely to be so. It is a similar situation for the 4 x 4-bar phrases of 16-Bar Tunes.
With Song Rhythm Tracks, if you use the song form names of “12-Bar Blues” and “16-bar Tune” you will get the former form with the 4-bar phrases treated similarly to musical sections. If you prefer to have the latter form, use the stick notation instead, “12” for 12-Bar Blues and “16” for “16-Bar Tunes”.