Theory Made Easy - Time Structures 6

What is a Middle Eight ?

The clue is in the title - a middle eight is an eight bar section in the middle of a song.Often abbreviated to M8 .

Its function is to provide a break from verse/chorus and to possibly have a build up at the end so either a verse or chorus sounds "punchier" when it comes back in.

A traditional style middle eight would start on the IV chord ( F in the key of C ) and end on the V7 chord ( G7 in the key of C ).
It may well be introduced by a I7 chord ( C7 in the key of C ) giving the effect of a key change.

So for example a normal verse or chorus turnaround may go;

| C / F / | C / G7 / |

At the end of the verse or chorus before a middle eight it might change to;

| C / F / | C / C7 / |

A typical traditional middle eight in the key of C Major:

| F / / / | F / / / | C / / / | C / / / |

| F / / / | F / / / | D7 / / / | G7 / / / |

See this lesson for some more information
Almost all pop songs/ballads from the 50s and 60s would feature this type of middle eight ( not these chords but this style ) - in rock and jazz and more modern styles there may be different forms of middle eight ( or no middle eight at all ).

Some middle-eights defy the rules by having seven or nine bars instead of eight but would still be described as a M8 because they have the same function.

Although traditionally in song forms the middle eight only occurs once - this is by no means a rule so for example in some jazz styles instead of verse / chorus / verse / chorus etc. you might get verse / middle eight / verse / middle eight etc. instead.


Try to locate the middle eight section of a song.