Written (2013-2018) in Nottingham, England, by Pops Coffee, a very old guy who got into traditional jazz late in life, with much to discover, learn and pass on.
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21 May 2013
Post 82: JUST A LITTLE HELP WITH MIDDLE EIGHTS
Hundreds of the songs (not counting the 12-bar blues) played by traditional jazz bands are structured in 32 bars. Sometimes there is a pattern of two sets of sixteen bars – each of the sixteen starting with similar notes.
But many tunes have a ‘middle eight’ – so-called but not really middle because they are actually the third of four sets set of eight bars. The tunes often have an A – A – B – A structure, in which the three A sections (each of eight bars) are very similar in melody and harmonic progression, while the B section (sometimes called the ‘release’ or ‘bridge’) has a contrasting melody and harmonic structure.
For the musicians, it is a tough job learning all these chord progressions and the middle eights can be particularly tricky and easily forgotten.
Fortunately there are some recurring patterns and it helps a little to familiarise yourself with these. Here are three of them. Please note: most tunes listed below have their own slight variations within these structures.