'A A B' Structure

A very simple variation on the standard 'AAAB' pattern that is cut a little shorter.

In this lesson you will be learning a new phrasing 'shape'. In level 1 you learned patterns that all fell into blocks of 2, 4 or 8 which made for nice logical parts and you are now most likely very comfortable with fill placement and general construction of these phrases. On this page you will be mixing things up a little by learning some three bar parts. The structure will be simple enough but it may take some adjusting to the different placement of fills. The phrase could be thought of as a straight four bar pattern with one bar of groove removed. In this lesson we'll start simple and only use two different sections and you'll get 2 bars worth of A (a groove) followed by a B (a fill). That structure will look like this:

A three bar phrase made up of 2 lots of A followed by a B.

This structure is used for various different reasons in songs and pieces of music. One reason would be that the singer has wrote the lyrics in a way that sits best over three bars of music. Similarly, the vocal part may fit nicely over two bars and a bar of 'padding' before the next set of vocals may work. It could also be the case that a riff or chord sequence just falls this way.

In terms of notation, if this phrasing idea is thrown in around some similar four or eight bar patterns, the line that is three bars long is usually made shorter. This helps keep the note spacing even across all lines and helps highlight the fact this short section falls within a shorter phrase.

Listed below are several example of this structure with a drum kit part applied. I have used a variety of different construction ideas but feel free to create your own parts. All patterns on this page are in the time signature of 4/4, separate lessons will be given for different time signatures.

Example 1

A three bar phrase made of two parts.

Example 2

A three bar phrase made of two parts.

Example 3

A three bar phrase made of two parts.

Example 4

A three bar phrase made of two parts.

Example 5

A three bar phrase made of two parts.


  1. Using the 2 minute rule, get all phrases up to a tempo of at least 130bpm.
  2. Create your own versions of these patterns based on the original phrase.