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Teasing the Korean

Standards In Unusual Forms

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What are some standards in unusual forms?

"I'm Old Fashioned" is in A-B-C-A, the final A being a variation.

"Moonlight in Vermont" is in A-A-B-A, but features six-bar A phrases rather than the usual eight-bars. 

"Lazy" by Irving Berlin is in A-B-C-D, perhaps the only example I've ever heard of a 32-bar pop song where nothing repeats.

"One for My Baby" features the second A section in a higher key than the first.

Lots of Cole Porter songs feature slight variations on the A themes as they are repeated.  

There must be hundreds of these.  What are some of your favorites?  

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Also, the lyric of "Moonlight in Vermont" is devoid of rhymes.

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12 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

Also, the lyric of "Moonlight in Vermont" is devoid of rhymes.

Yes.  It is in Haiku form, possibly the only (well known) pop song in Haiku!

"Alone Together" by Schwartz and Dietz is in AABA form, but the first two A sections are each 14 bars instead of the customary 8 bars. 

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Cole Porter's "Night and Day," if I'm not mistaken, is more or less AABA, but it is 48 bars.  The first two A sections are each 16 bars.  The bridge is then 8 bars, and the final A is an 8-bar variation one the second half of the earlier A sections. 

"Autumn Leaves" is 32 bars, but AAB.  The A sections are each 8 bars; the B section is 16 bars. 

Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine," if I"m not mistaken, is 96(!) bars, consisting of six 16-bar phrases:  AABACC.  Each A section features subtle melodic and harmonic variations.  The final two C section are similar to the A sections but melodically different.  Some may characterize it as an AABAAA form, with each A being different. 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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I'll Remember April is 48 bars: A-B-C-D-A-B with the last section a variation. I always thought it was A-B-A.

Harold Arlen was prolific at writing extra-long melodies, although Cole Porter did quite a few.

Since this is the musicians' forum, can I ask the musicians here: are songs like this harder to play than 32-bar AABA or ABAB songs? Or more interesting?

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19 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

Also, the lyric of "Moonlight in Vermont" is devoid of rhymes.

As is the Drifter's "There Goes My Baby", IIRC.

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6 hours ago, crisp said:

Since this is the musicians' forum, can I ask the musicians here: are songs like this harder to play than 32-bar AABA or ABAB songs? Or more interesting?

They can be more interesting.  Harder?  Not necessarily, although it is harder to fake your way through them if you don't know them well.  You can get lost in a tune like "Alone Together" if you go on autopilot.  Songs with longer forms like "Begin the Beguine" may require some advance discussion about how to handle the soloing.  The soloists are likely not all going to blow over 96 bars.

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That's what I thought. I'm not a musician but I can imagine getting lost in improvising on a tune that breaks the 32-bar limit.

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On November 28, 2017 at 0:39 PM, crisp said:

I'll Remember April is 48 bars: A-B-C-D-A-B with the last section a variation. I always thought it was A-B-A.

I would characterize it as A-B-A, each section being 16 bars. 

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So would I, but other sources disagree. Either way, it's a strange choice for improvisation, although a beautiful song.

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On 11/28/2017 at 4:24 PM, Teasing the Korean said:

They can be more interesting.  Harder?  Not necessarily, although it is harder to fake your way through them if you don't know them well.  You can get lost in a tune like "Alone Together" if you go on autopilot.  Songs with longer forms like "Begin the Beguine" may require some advance discussion about how to handle the soloing.  The soloists are likely not all going to blow over 96 bars.

Yes, more interesting, because, remember, "songs" and "jazz improvisation" stopped being a linkage of necessity a looooong time ago.

And before somebody says, well, look at what can be done with Rhythm changes, well yeah, look at what has been done, and not jsut that but with all standards - harmonies have been altered, superimposed, extrapolated, "everything that can be done has been done" is of course not literally true in the micro, but in the macro, yes.

I've said this for more than a decade now, but really - form is the final frontier, and the less "cyclical" form has to been, the more possibilities there are.

You know who wrote really great changes? Beethoven. And Richard Strauss.

Now, let's get people to improvise on forms like that. Not as easy as you might think, if only becuase most improvisors think in therms of basic song form or free improvisation. The former place too much of a demand on pattern-thinking, and the latter too many demands on formal-thinking. There are exceptions of course, but really, "jazz" is not "dead" imo nearly as much as it has rigidized itself into just a few ruts out of which nobody seems really incentivized to get.

But - imagine a writer/group who had like, really long melodies and variations and then improvised on that. MINGUS!

Now, how do you "cover" that? Probably best to no, that's how. But how do you THINK like that, imagine like that? Well, allow me to suggest that you do like Mingus, learn a lot, feel even more, and just be logical and insane all in the same thought.

Yeah, that's asking a lot, but so be it.

 

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Looking back at "Begin the Beguine," I think the final section is 20 rather than 16 bars, making it a 100-bar standard, if I'm not mistaken. 

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It´s not so hard if one section has at least 8 or 12 bars. Some tunes have 12 bars in the A section, but those 12 bars are not a blues. But it is easy to play this, "The best thing for you (is me)" is coming to my mind. I would have mentioned also "Conception", but this is not a standard I think. I play them both.

Playing "April" I must admit I didn´t even think about the form. Yeah, 48 bars ABA but this song is so much fixed in my mind it was one of the first jazz tunes I heard decades ago, so you improvise on it without thinking how many bars it has.

"Dear Old Stockholm" .... another example. Everybody knows that since I think everybody got some Miles from the fifties in his collection, so you hear it and hear it and anyway you hear the musicians improvising on it and can start your own chorusses if you choose to play it.

"Cheek to Cheek" is another. I think I had to play it once, I mean the changes cause it was a tune based on the changes of "Cheek to Cheek".

But it´s hard for me to play asymetrical bar numbers. That means a lot of listening until you know it , I mean in such a manner that you can blow your chorusses on it.

Maybe it´s easier if you blow if you have sheet and read the changes, but I try to avoid to have sheet when playing. Maybe I´m a bit old fashioned in that manner but I think it looks better on stage if you dont have to read music in front of the audience.

 

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