ABAB and ABAC Song Forms

The ABAB or ABAC song form is another structure found in jazz and musical theater. A great example of ABAC is Put on A Happy Face (Adams/Strouse 1960), from the musical Bye Bye Birdie.

A Gray skies are gonna clear up,
Put on a happy face;
Brush off the clouds and cheer up,
Put on a happy face.
B Take off the gloomy mask of tragedy,
It’s not your style;
You’ll look so good that you’ll be glad
Ya’ decide to smile!
A Pick out a pleasant outlook,
Stick out that noble chin;
Wipe off that “full of doubt” look,
Slap on a happy grin!
C And spread sunshine all over the place,
Just put on a happy face!

The ABAB form is less common but has been known to work in some of The Great American Songbook such as Fly Me to the Moon (Howard, 1954).