Side A and side B


August 19, 2022

In music the term side A or side B (in English A-side and B-side) indicates the opposite recorded surfaces of a vinyl record or a cassette. The physical distinction between two sides does not exist on the most modern supports, but the term side B is still used in a figurative sense to refer to the passages of secondary importance by an individual or an author.


The origin of the name derives from vinyl records and supports on which it was possible to engrave on both sides and which often indicated on the label the words side A and side B (or side A and side B but also side 1 and side 2) . Furthermore, in the case of a single 45 rpm, the main piece is usually recorded on the A side while the one considered less important is indicated on the B side. Later, even for long playing 33 laps, the habit of defining the two sides in the same way remained, but in this case the most important pieces can be distributed over the entire medium without considering a more or less important side. With the diffusion of the compact disc, the physical distinction between two sides disappeared. With the advent of the Internet and legal download, the concept of Side A and Side B has gradually alienated itself even in its figurative sense, since the songs can be purchased individually from websites by eliminating the medium on which they were previously recorded. Some musicians, however, continue to produce their works on vinyl.

Double side A

On vinyl it may happen that artists decide to release a so-called double side A single. It is a single single, containing two main songs. Double Side A is a single in which both songs are engraved on side A and there is nothing on side B. This type of format was invented in December 1965 by the Beatles for their single Day Tripper and We Can Work It Out, which, in fact, were both recorded on one side only. Other musicians later followed suit (including the Rolling Stones two years later with Let's Spend the Night Together and Ruby Tuesday).

Double side B

Conversely to double side A (which has nothing recorded on side B), double side B contains two songs on this side plus one on side A, so three songs in total. These singles were introduced in the 1970s and were soon referred to as a "maxi single" (a term now used for a wider variety of formats), but a name that absolutely does not qualify them as an EP (extended play).


Qdiscs, on the other hand, are 33 rpm vinyls generally containing only 4 tracks (two per side) and in any case have the wordings A and B, an example is Renato Zero's Calore (1983).


The extended plays initially were 17.5 cm vinyl records at 33 or 45 rpm that contained more than two tracks or in any case tracks of above average length. The Official Charts Company in the UK has determined that an EP has a maximum length of 25 minutes with at most four tracks; instead in the United States the RIAA considers EP those media containing from 3 to 5 tracks and with an overall duration of the disc of less than 30 minutes. With the introduction of CDs, versions of EPs were released in this format. In the 2000s, with the diffusion of streaming, playlists of similar duration to that of vinyl EPs were created and, therefore, also defined EPs.

78 laps

The predecessors of vinyl records were 78s, generally made of shellac, used throughout the first half of the twentieth century. The first double-sided 78s were introduced by Columbia Records, in Europe around 1907 and in America in 1908, and were revolutionary also because the cost remained almost the same as single-sided records.

Computer science

The concept also applied to magnetic computer media, at the time when 5.25-inch or 8-inch cassettes and floppy disks were used (while 3.5-inch ones i