Kind of Blue – Chorus’ Structure

Most part of jazz choruses have a very defined and simple structure, and usually fit in one of the following categories:

  1. 8-bar chorus: quite rare, the shortest you can find, usually just a short form of blues. Examples
  2. 12-bar chorus: basically the blues, very current harmonic structure. Miles Davis’ “Solar” is one of the rare examples of a 12-bar chorus that is not a blues!
  3. 16-bar chorus: relatively frequent. In the beginnings of jazz, most tunes had a 16-bar chorus: ragtimes (Maple Leaf Rag) or spirituals (Swing Low, Sweet Chariot). One can decompose them according to their melodies in two 8-bar phrases as well as in four 4-bar phrases. One can find tunes with additional 2 bars, such as “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home”. Rather than assuming there is a 18-bar chorus category, it is quite more often to understand these cases as 16-bar structures with 2 bars added in the end. Here are some examples of 16-bar tunes.
  4. 32-bar chorus: the most current structure, generalized during the 20’s. The chorus is decomposed in four very clear 8-bar phrases, and one can recognize some different forms:
    1.  32-bar AABA: the most frequent form, in which the 1st, 2nd and 4th phrases are identical and are called “A”. Only the 3rd phrase is different and is called “B” or “Bridge”. Examples.
    2. 32-bar ABA’C: also very frequent, in which there’s no Bridge. The 2nd phrase is different from the 1st, and the 3rd starts like the 1st but ends differently to present a new different 4th phrase, called “C”. Examples.
    3. 32-bar ABAB’ examples.
    4. 32-bar ABCD: not very common due to the amount of new material it demands for every 8 bars, especially for those composers so used to the AABA form. In this form, each phrase is different from the previous ones. Examples.
  5. 64-bar chorus: decomposed in four 16-bar phrases. Its commons forms are exactly like those from 32-bar chorus, but twice longer. Cole Porter composed many tunes with 64-bar chorus structure. Here are some examples.

Analysis: Kind of Blue (1959) – Miles Davis

The best-selling jazz record of all time is – naturally – a classic. Kind of Blue is usually the first choice if you would like to listen to a jazz album, and we’re not exceptions to that!

Miles Davis’ sextet is an all-star band that deserves a lot of focused listening:

This time, we’re gonna try to figure out the structure of each tune’s chorus. Of course, you can use your knowledge from my previous posts to analyze the tunes! Check out the links, turn on your stereo and let’s listen! You’ll get the answers just below the documentary, an extra for you to enjoy Miles Davis’ masterpiece in detail.

spotify:album:1weenld61qoidwYuZ1GESA

Spoiler:

  1. So What (Miles Davis): 32-bar AABA
  2. Freddie Freeloader (Miles Davis): 12-bar Blues
  3. Blue in Green (Miles Davis / Bill Evans): 10-bar (a unique one!)
  4. All Blues (Miles Davis): 24-bar Blues (basically a 12-bar doubled!)
  5. Flamenco Sketches (Miles Davis / Bill Evans): 24-bar modal tune (we’ll talk about it the upcoming posts!)

Hope you’ve enjoyed, this album is one my favourites and certainly THE FAVOURITE ONE for many! Feel free to ask questions, make some comments or give some suggestions! Hope to see you all next week!

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