a cappella - Sung without instrumental accompaniment.
AABA - The most common popular song form.
accent - A note or tone that is given stress by volume or attack.
acid jazz - Music for dancing, first heard in the 1980s, that combines elements of soul jazz, funk, and hip hop, and mixes acoustic and electric instruments. (See also groove and club jazz).
ad lib - Also "ad libitum." A notation on written music that gives the performer freedom to vary the notes or tempo; in jazz it typically means to improvise freely.
air check - A musical radio broadcast that was originally recorded for distribution to other stations; radio broadcasts that people have recorded off the radio that are sometimes released commercially or bootlegged.
all-in - The last chorus (in older jazz), often louder and more vigorous than the rest, and played by the ensemble.
altered chord - A dominant chord that has the 5th or 9th raised or lowered by a single semi-tone.
alternate takes - The various takes recorded of a piece of music at a single recording session, that for whatever reasons were not chosen to be used. (A version recorded on a different day is not an alternate take).
arco - Playing a string instrument with the bow, instead of pizzicato.
arpeggio - Sounding the individual notes of a chord quickly, one at a time, usually starting at the lowest note.
arrangement - An adaptation of a musical composition. Arrangements may be as minimal as a bass line or as complex as a full orchestral score. An arranger may take such great liberties with the original piece that it becomes a new composition.
arranger - A person who writes arrangements.
arrhythmic - Without an obvious beat.
articulation - The style in which a tone is produced, i.e., with slurs, staccato, variations in volume, and the like.
atonal - Without a tonal center.
attack - The manner in which a tone is articulated.
avant-garde jazz - A term loosely applied to various forms of "experimental" jazz first heard in the 1950s, and their later offshoots, especially in the sixties and seventies (see free jazz).
ax - Also "axe." Any musical instrument.
back beat - A rhythmic device in which the second and fourth beat of a measure is heavily emphasized in 4/4 time. _Black Bottom Stomp_ (1926) Jelly Roll Morton & His Red Hot Peppers.
ballad - A slow song, usually of a romantic nature; sometimes used for any song of the AABA or similar popular song form.
bar - Also known as measure. A grouping of beats, that establishes the meter of a piece of music.
barrelhouse - An older style of piano, rough, loud, and appropriate to playing in noisy bars and dance halls.
bass drum - Also "kick drum." The largest and lowest-pitched drum of the drum set, and played with a foot pedal.
beat - A heard or felt pulse of a piece of music.
bebop - Also "bop." A style of jazz characterized by long flowing melodic lines, irregular accents, non-symmetrical written themes, and elaborated harmonies; first heard c. 1943.
behind the beat - Playing slightly behind the beat as articulated by the rhythm section or implied by the ensemble.
big band - An orchestra of more than 10 members.
bitonality - The use of two different keys at once.
block chords - A series of chords with wide voicings that move in parallel motion. (See also locked hands).
blow - To improvise (on any instrument); to play.
blue notes - (1) Pitches in the scale that can be flattened or sharpened within the blues scale; (2) tones that are bent or changed to increase the expressivity of the music, not simply to alter the scale.
blues - (1) A 12-bar form built on the I, IV, and V chords; (2 ) a scale with a flatted third, fifth, and perhaps a seventh; (3) a poetic form; (4) a way of articulating tones; (5) a set of verbal.
bolero - Originally, a Cuban mid-tempo form played by guitar trios; now more generally a slower and more sentimental form (Latin).
bombs - Irregular bass drum accents (typical of bebop drummers).
boogaloo - Also bugalú. A rhythm and blues and soul-influenced Latin form originated in the United States and characterized by elements of mambo and chachachá with an added back beat.
boogie woogie - A style of piano blues based on strong left hand eighth note figures. First heard in the late 1920s, but popular throughout the 1940s.
book - The repertoire of a band or singer.
boot it - To play with energy and excitement (early jazz).
bootleg - Recordings or made or sold without the permission of the performers or a recording company.
bop - See bebop.
bossa nova - A Brazilian jazz/pop music form derived from the samba (originated c. 1960), influenced by cool jazz, and usually played quietly, with minimal percussion.
bounce - A light, medium fast tempo piece (swing era).
box - A piano; a guitar.
break - A short suspension of rhythm or the flow of the music (usually of a four or eight beat duration) while the soloist or melody instruments continue playing.
bridge - The third group of eight-bars in a thirty-two bar chorus (see popular song form); also known as the channel, the middle-eight or the B-section.
brushes - Drum sticks with wire brushes on the end, sued to produce a quieter, scratching sound.
call-and-response - An antiphonal pattern common to jazz and all African American folk music, with a "call" played by a soloist and "answered" by the ensemble.
chachacha - Also "chachachá." A mambo and/or danzón-derived rhythmic style and dance form (Latin).
changes - A series of chords; the harmonic structure of a piece of music; the chords for a particular melody.
charanga - Originally a Cuban orchestra of a flute, violins, and rhythm section, now more often with brass instruments added.
chart - A musical arrangement.
chase - A series of short musical passages (trading fours or twos) played by several players at a fast tempo.
Chicago style jazz - A style of small band jazz popular in Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s that derived from New Orleans style, but emphasized greater solo space, fixed ensembles, and a more prominent role for the rhythm section.
chops - Technical ability; the lips of a brass player.
chord - The simultaneous sounding of three or more tones.
chord progression - See changes.
chorus - The refrain or the main body of a popular song. See popular song forms.
chromaticism - The use of all 12 tones of a scale.
circle of fifths - A series of twelve perfect fifths that circle back to the original tone.
circular breathing - A technique used by wind instrument players and singers to produce a continuous stream of notes without stopping for air. (The air is inhaled through the nose simultaneously while the mouth continues to produce musical sounds.).
clave - A five-beat pattern that underlies all salsa music.
claves - A pair of wooden sticks used to play the clave pattern (Latin).
coda - The conclusion to a piece of music that functions like a summing-up, or an afterthought. A short coda is called a tag.
collective improvisation - Simultaneous improvisation by several musicians (most often heard in early jazz and free jazz).
combo - A small instrumental group of fewer than ten musicians.
comping - The pattern of rhythmic placement of harmony used by keyboardists and guitarists while accompanying soloists.
conjunto - "Combo": a band of guitar, tres, bass, bongos, trumpets, piano, percussion, and three vocalists, first formed for playing in Cuban carnival (Latin).
contrapuntal - See counterpoint.
cool jazz - A jazz style characterized by moderate volume, quiet rhythm sections, low vibrato, and sometimes improvised counterpoint; c. 1950s. (See also West Coast jazz.).
coro - "Chorus": the two or three-voice refrain sung against a montuno.
coro/pregón - Call-and-response between soloist and the coro (Latin).
counterpoint - Independent improvised or composed melodies played against each other.
cross rhythm - The simultaneous use of two or more different rhythmic patterns; a basic feature of most African American musics.
cut/cutting/carving - To outplay other musicians, usually in a jam session.
danzon - Also danzón. A 19th century Cuban dance derived from European contredances; a musical form usually played by a charanga (Latin).
descarga - A Latin jam session.
dirty tone - A description used in the in the 1920s and 1930s for horn players with a rough, noisy tone quality.
Dixieland - Also "Dixie." A term popularly applied to players (especially from the North) who continued in the New Orleans' jazz tradition.
double - The ability to play more than one instrument.
double-time - A doubling of tempo in the melody while the accompanying instruments remain at the slower tempo; or all the instruments doubling the tempo together. This is a common rhythm device in ballad playing.
down-home - Music that is honest, folk-like, and possibly funky.
downbeat - The first beat of a measure.
drone - Another name for pedal point.
drum set - Also "drum kit." A collection of drums, cymbals, and various other percussion instruments played by a single drummer; includes a bass drum, tom-toms, snare drum, hi-hat cymbal, ride cymbal, etc.
dub - A copy of another recording.
dynamics - Different degrees of volume and intensity.
EAI - Electroacoustic improvisation; a term that may be used to include such styles and processes also known as "reductionist," "Onkyo," "minimal," and "lowercase" improvised music.
ear, play by - Playing an instrument without written music.
eight-to-the-bar - Boogie-woogie rhythm.
extended harmony - Notes added to a chord beyond the octave, for example, 9th, 11th, and 13th chords.
fake - To play without written music.
fake book - A book of music that contains only the melodies and chord progressions of popular songs and well-known jazz compositions.
false fingering - A technique of altered finger placement that produces tones or density of sound on horns that are not available by orthodox techniques.
fills - Short improvised passages behind a soloist or between sections of a piece of music.
flag waver - A spectacular (and usually up-tempo) piece of music (swing era).
flatted fifth - The lowering (by a half-step) of the fifth degree of a chord; a device especially associated with early bebop.
formulaic improvisation - The use of a wide variety of elements (including favorite licks or fragments, manipulations of intervals and range, interpolated phrases, etc.) in developing a solo.
four-beat - Also playing in four. A form of rhythm organization in which all four beats are relatively equal. Four-beat was especially common in the swing era and afterwards, but was also found in earlier jazz.
free jazz - A cluster of jazz styles (post-1954) that minimize the importance of a fixed beat and a given harmonic structure, and emphasize the sound and texture of music.
front line - The horns; all the instruments but the rhythm section.
funk - Also "funky." A loose term for music that draws from blues- or gospel-based harmony, rhythm, and melody; also (since the 1960s) a complex, bass and rhythm guitar-driven, sometimes three-against-four pattern, with horns used in rhythm patterns and shouted vocals.
fusion - A group of styles of jazz that merged post-bop music with soul, rock, and sometimes funk in an amplified form. First heard in the late 1960s in Miles Davis's In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew (when it was called.
ghost note - A note that is fingered on a wind instrument but blown so lightly as to be inaudible; on a musical transcription, a note that may or may not be in the original.
glissando - Sliding or slurring from one note to the next quickly.
groove - A repeated pattern in the rhythm section most common in funk playing; a repeated rhythm pattern that creates the dominant feel of a piece.
guajeo - A riff played by the strings in a charanga, or the tres in a conjunto; also repeated horn lines (Latin).
half-time - A rhythmic device in which the melody continues at a fixed tempo while the accompanying instruments double the tempo.
hard bop - A loose term for a large variety of jazz styles that appeared after bebop in the 1950s.
harmony - Simultaneous sounding of two or more tones.
head arrangement - A musical arrangement made up (usually collectively) during a performance.
hi-hat cymbal - Two cymbals on a single rod that snap together when operated by a foot pedal.
hocket - The division of a melody into separate parts for different voices or instruments, resulting in a kind of cross-talk.
homophony - An individualized and loose form of unison, especially in early jazz.
honk - A low note played loudly on a reed instrument. (See also overblowing).
hot - Hot jazz (as distinct from the music of sweet bands or commercial music) was a name for early jazz.
improvisation - Music created in the moment of performance, without written scores or played from memory.
interlude - A passage connecting sections of a composition.
interpolations - See quote.
interval - The distance between two tones.
jam session - Also "jamming." The most informal of jazz arrangements, and one which depends solely on the shared knowledge of the players. It was once a common practice among jazz musicians, often occurring after hours, in clubs or spaces set aside for.
jive - Doubletalk; deceptive speech; fakery in playing; also once a popular name for the music during the swing era.
jump - Also "jump band." A sub-style of swing played by small bands in the late 1930s and 1940s that combined strong rhythms, riff tunes, blues, and pop songs. A precursor to rhythm and blues.
Kansas City style - Pre-swing and swing music from Midwestern and Southwestern bands that emphasized larger ensembles, saxophone sections, the blues, riff melodies, and strong walking bass.
key - A scale; the first note of a scale.
kick it off - To set a tempo and start a performance by "stomping" it off, or otherwise signaling it.
killer-diller - An exciting (or difficult to play) piece of music (swing era).
lay back - To create an effect by falling behind the rhythm.
lay out - To temporarily cease playing while others continue.
lead - The melody or top part of an arrangement; a part played by a lead trumpet, lead alto saxophone, etc.
lead sheet - A piece of music in its simplest form: melody, words, and harmony.
left hand/right hand - A distinction made by drummers' and pianists' for the use of different hands.
legato - Performing with a minimal break between tones.
licks - Short musical ideas that are regularly repeated in the improvisations of a particular soloist. See formulaic improvisation.
Lindy Hop - Also "Jitterbug." A popular dance that drew on a number of African American popular dances, including tap, the Charleston, the Texas Tommy, and others, and reached its peak in the 1930s and 1940s. It was a form of choreographed swing.
line - A melody; one of the voices, such as bass line or melody line.
lip - The strength and ability of brass players to execute music, especially high notes.
locked hands - A form of chord voicing for piano in which the left and right hands of a pianist moving together closely and in parallel, the left hand doubling the same chord played by the right. (See also block chords).
lydian - A major chord or scale with a raised fourth. The composer George Russell saw the lydian as the most important jazz scale and made it the center of his theory of jazz.
mainstream jazz - A name usually applied to the music played by musicians in the post-bop era who maintained a broad stylistic approach that was still in contact with earlier jazz styles.
mambo - A musical section added to the danzón form in the 1940s; a musical form with heavy jazz influence developed in the 1940s and 1950s (Latin).
matrix number - Numbers and letters stamped near the center of a 78 RPM recording indicate the number of the take on the record.
measure - A grouping of beats, which indicates the meter of a particular piece of music. (See also bar).
medium tempo - One of the three basic tempos of jazz, between ballad and up-tempo.
melisma - Melodic ornamentation by the use of more than one tone in singing a syllable.
meter - A grouping of beats based on their repeating patterns. The pattern of note accents and values for a section or the whole of a piece of music (see bar, measure).
microtone - An interval smaller than a half tone.
MIDI - Musical Instrument Digital Interface: An electronic standard by which musical information can be exchanged between synthesizers and computers.
modal jazz - Jazz played with slower moving harmonies; playing based on older modal scales, drones, or pedal points.
mode - The pitches within the octave that make up the melodic material of a performance or composition; a scale.
modulation - The change of key (or a change in rhythm) within a musical piece.
moldy fig - A 1940s modern jazz fan's derogatory term for a fan of traditional jazz.
montuno - A repeated two- or three-chord pattern on the piano played behind the coro and instrumental solos (Latin).
motivic improvisation - The use of a few short fragments or elements of melody in developing a solo.
multi-instrumentalism - Playing instruments of different types as a means of expanding a musician's creative possibilities.
multiphonics - A wind instrument or vocal technique by which more than one tone is produced simultaneously. (See also overblowing).
mutes, hats - Devices placed over the bell of a brass instrument for altering or softening the tone.
New Orleans style - Jazz that developed in the early part of the 20th century in New Orleans and rural Louisiana. These styles were variously characterized by collective improvisation, homophony, two-beat and four-beat rhythms, leads passed from one horn to another, clarinet countermelodies, tailgate.
new thing, the - A term first used to describe free jazz, c. 1961.
nonet - An orchestra of nine performers, or a piece written for such a group.
noodling - Improvising in a random and wandering manner.
nu-jazz (also electronica, jazztronica, future jazz, or electro-jazz) - A loose term for music that combines live instruments played in jazz style with electronic elements (especially those in the beat); a style developed in the 1990s.
obbligato - An accompanying melody played by an instrument that fills behind a vocal or another instrumentalist. (Singer Jimmy Rushing once said, "You know the obbligato the horns play behind the singer? Bebop is the obbligato without the singer.").
open voicing - Voicing in which the notes are widely spread.
organ chords - Basic chords, similar to those used in simple hymns.
ostinato - A melodic phrase that is repeated again and again in the same pitches.
outside/inside, playing - To play outside (or inside) of the expected harmonic framework.
overblowing - A wind instrument technique in which increased air pressure is combined with lip manipulation to extend the range of the horn and produce a variety of tones. (See also multiphonics).
pachanga - A rhythmic style and a dance developed in the 1950s and 1960s.
pantonal - Another name for atonality.
paraphrase improvisation - Decorating and reworking a melody or parts of a melody in different forms.
passing tone - A non-harmonic note that connects other notes that are harmonic.
pedal - Also "pedal point." A tone, typically a bass tone, that is repeated or sustained while the harmony changes. (See also drone and vamp.).
perfect fifth - An interval of seven semitones.
phrase - A natural break or unit in a melody line, similar in function to a clause in a sentence.
pickup notes - The notes leading into a tune or a chorus.
pizzicato - The plucking of strings with the fingers.
polyphony - Music of several different melodic parts that support each other.
polyrhythm - Simultaneous use of different meters.
popular song forms - The American popular song form derives from a long history of European folk song, theater music, and light opera, and was modified in America by Broadway musicals, African American folk songs, the blues, and other musics. The most common popular.
post-bop - A general term for many developments in jazz after the 1950s.
press roll - A drum roll (borrowed from marching band drumming) formed by a series of double-strokes of the drum sticks; the press roll is often used to end a phrase, or bring in or help a soloist exit.
progressive jazz - Modern jazz (c. 1945-1955); also music associated with the Stan Kenton Orchestra.
pulse - The basic beat of a performance.
quadrille - Sets of dances popular in the 19th century, often said to be one of the roots of jazz.
quote - A fragments or motive from another song or another singer or musician's improvisation inserted into an improvised solo, sometimes for humorous effect or as ironic comments.
race records - Recordings produced in the 1920s-30s exclusively for African American audiences.
ragtime - A piano, vocal, and band music form (c. 1890 and later) with syncopated melodies played over regular rhythmic emphasis in a left-hand bass moving at half the melodies' speed.
refrain - The chorus at the end of every stanza in some pop songs (see pop song forms).
register - A name for different parts of a vocalist's or an instrument's range.
rhumba (or rumba) - A Cuban musical form of various styles (Latin) based on the son.
rhythm and blues - Also "R&B." The adaptation of blues to small bands with wind instruments, and the merging of blues with riff melodies, and pop songs.
rhythm changes - The chord progression for George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm"; commonly used as a basis for improvisation.
rhythm section - The instruments that function to provide the rhythmic foundation of a jazz group (bass, drums, keyboards, rhythm guitar, etc.) The contrast is to the saxophone section and brass sections).
ride cymbal - A medium-sized cymbal that produces a loud and shimmering sound, and is used to set the fundamental swing pulse of most jazz performances.
riff - Short repeated melodic phrases that function rhythmically and sometimes even to undercut the harmonic structure of a musical piece.
rim shot - The sharp, loud sound made by a stick striking the head and the rim of a snare drum simultaneously.
rip - A quick upward glissando up to an intended tone.
roll - A sustained sound on the drums produced by fast alternate strokes of the drum sticks.
run - A fast descending or ascending scale or line.
salsa - A hot, up-tempo U.S. blend of Cuban, jazz, Panamanian, and Puerto Rican musics.
sampler - An electronic device that allows an analog sound to be captured, digitally converted, and played back by an electronic instruments such as the keyboards or guitar.
scale - A succession of notes (usually a half tone or a whole tone apart), arranged in ascending or descending order.
scat - The use of vocables and syllables instead of words while improvising vocally.
second - The interval between two adjacent scale tones.
second line - The dancing crowd that follows a marching band in New Orleans; a rhythm associated with New Orleans street bands.
semitone - Half of the interval of a whole tone.
septeto - An Cuban orchestra developed in the late 1920s by adding a trumpet to a sexteto (Latin).
sequencer - An electronic device that stores a series of tones to be played back later. An entire performance or composition can be built up from such sequences that have been stored and manipulated.
sexteto - A Cuban orchestra from 1920 with tres, guitar, bass, bongos, maracas, and claves (Latin).
shake - Extreme vibrato on a brass instrument.
shed - Also "shedding." See woodshed.
shuffle - A rhythm used in earlier jazz, based on uneven triplets, and deriving from a dance step in which the feet move across the floor without being lifted.
slap-tongue - An popping effect created by striking the tongue against the mouthpiece of a reed instrument (early jazz).
smear - A rough, often loud slide away from a tone.
smooth jazz - A later development of fusion in which elements of rhythm and blues and pop music were distilled and refined by the formulas and constraints of radio to become bright and recognizable melodies (though ironically often recorded with audiophile sensibilities in.
sock cymbal - A large cymbal, often used for the heaviest accents.
solo - An improvised section of a piece of music by a single player.
son - A classic Cuban dance and song form originated near the turn of the 20th century and continued and varied in modern Cuban-derived pop music (Latin).
song form - See popular song forms.
soul jazz - One of the musics included under the name of hard bop (c. mid- to late 1950s). It uses speech-inflected tonality, folk, blues or church-based melodies and rhythms (frequently 6/8), the electric organ, and other elements identified with funk.
standard - An acknowledged, popular piece of music in the jazz repertory.
stock arrangement - A commercially published musical arrangement.
stop-time - A rhythmic device in which the accompanying instruments play a few notes of the rhythm with especially sharp accents, exaggerating the rhythm which, despite its name, does not stop. The "Charleston" rhythm is the most famous of stop-time figures.
Storyville - The New Orleans tenderloin district in which some of the first jazz musicians played. (Storyville was closed in 1917 by the Secretary of the Navy.).
straight - A more accurate or "legitimate" manner of playing which sticks close to the original music; a notably "square" way of playing.
straight eights - Eighth notes played evenly.
stretch out - An opportunity to play as long as one wishes to.
stride - A style of piano playing (c. 1917-1930) with a strong left hand pattern that rapidly moves between bass notes and chords, and uses a wide range of pianistics to decorate melodies and create variations on themes.
stroll - A pianist strolls when he or she lays out and allows the rest of the rhythm section to be heard.
sweet band - A group that plays music that avoids jazz style (swing era) and plays it straight.
swing - (1) Playing with "swing eighth notes"; (2) a form of syncopation, specifically off-beat accentuation, putting emphasis just before or after an expected beat, or emphasizing an unexpected beat; (3) a style of jazz popular in the 1930s and 1940s played.
swing eighth notes - See swing.
syncopation - The accenting of weak beats; a momentary disturbance of a regular rhythm. (See cross rhythm.).
tag - See coda.
tailgate - A style of trombone playing in early jazz that emphasized bass notes and the ability to play portamentos or "slurs.".
talk - To "tell a story" or "say something" on an instrument: speech-inflected instrumental playing.
tango - An Argentine dance form and music with roots in the 19th century that spread across the world in the early 20th century and now exists in various forms and styles.
tape loop - A loop of recording tape that repeats a sound or sequence of sounds.
tempo - The speed at which a piece of music is moving.
third stream jazz - A form of music that uses both jazz and classical techniques and forms (especially in the late-1950s).
timbre - The quality of a tone or tones.
time - A general term for meter, but also the way in which drummers play meter.
tipico - "Typical," 'traditional," or "characteristic": a term used to identify popular forms of music with roots in the past of a number of Latin countries and regions.
tonality - Chords and their relationships; the organization of music around a single tone, the tonic.
tone - A single sound, its pitch, volume, timbre, and duration.
tone cluster - Three or more adjacent tones sounded simultaneously.
tonic - The key note of a musical piece; the first note of a scale.
top - The starting point of a chorus or a piece of music.
trad - A general term for traditional music, music of the 1900s to 1920s.
trading eights - Also "trading fours," etc. Soloists taking turns at improvising, playing for eight (or four, etc.) bars at a time.
transcription - An arrangement of a piece of music for an instrument or voice for which it was not originally intended.
tumbao - A repeated bass or left-hand piano pattern; various patterns usually played by the bongos. Along with the clave, the tumbao forms the basis of Cuban-derived music.
turnaround - Also "turn back." The short chord pattern just before the musicians must "turnaround" to play the same larger passage again.
turning the beat around - Also "turning the rhythm section around." To lose the beat, either by mistake, or to briefly heighten tension before returning to the beat.
two-beat - Also "playing in two." A form of rhythm organization in which the first and third beats of the bar are emphasized (particularly by the bass), often leaving the second and fourth beats silent, with a resulting "boom-chick" feel. Two-beat was.
up tempo - The fastest of the jazz tempos.
up-beat - One or more notes at the beginning of a melody that begin before the first bar line.
vamp - A repeated chord progression or rhythmic figure leading either into or out of a tune or composition.
verse - An introductory section at the beginning of some pop songs (especially older songs) that leads to the refrain (see Pop Song Forms).
vibrato - The rapid pulsing or wavering of a tone.
vocalese - Words set to a recorded instrumental solo improvisation.
voice - any melodic line, including bass line, melody line, and the inner voices between.
voicing - The placement of notes in a chord; the instruments that are assigned to those notes.
wah wah mute/pedal - A mute used to create a laughing or talking sound on a brass instrument; a device that creates those sounds on amplified instruments such as the guitar or the electric piano.
walk - Also "walking." A strong four-beats-to-the-bar rhythm (especially when played by the bass) important to swing playing, that usually spells out the notes of the chords being played.
West Coast jazz - A cool style of jazz associated with some California musicians in the 1950s.
whole tone - An interval of a major second.
woodshed - [also know as: shedding] Rehearsing or practicing alone.