JAZZ: Scott DeVeaux, W.W. Norton & Company

RUNNING TIME, 3:26

So the 32-bar form, as I say, the A section is a complete statement. I like to use "Somewhere over the Rainbow" because thanks to the movie everybody knows that particular tune.

[Deveaux plays a section of "Somewhere over the Rainbow."]

And it ends on the tonic; it's very peaceful. We have a sense of that as a complete statement. That is an eight-bar section; it's a – eight bars is a very recognizable length. It's a chunk of time that is, in which something can happen, but it's very regular – because you know it's two cubed, right? Two-ness, two to the maximum. You then repeat that exactly.

Some AAB-AB tunes do not necessarily repeat it completely exactly; sometimes it ends with another half cadence and sometimes it ends with . . . ok. But basically you're repeating that exactly with new words. And then you end up with something completely different.

[Deveaux plays a section of "Somewhere over the Rainbow."]

Then you're back home and then you hear that sense of return. That is the impulse behind the AAB, AB form, that you have the idea of a statement that makes sense, worth repeating, and then the bridge. How it is that you move away from where you are and come back then to the tonic, feeling like – phew, I'm finally back home again. And you can do this in any number of ways. I would say probably the most dramatic contrast to that that people using this textbook are going to encounter is:

[Deveaux demonstrating on the piano.]

"So What" is already in AAB form. And all it is is reducing it to its bare minimum.

[Deveaux demonstrating on the piano.]

It's the most minimal AAB form – it's really quite an ironic, interesting ironic commentary on AAB form that Miles Davis composed this completely spare version of it. But it's all the same structure that's being used. As I say, you can fill up the structure with any kind of tune that you want, any kind of harmonic progression. What you have to recognize is not the harmonic progression but that sense of moving away from what you're doing and then returning to it.