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Student Handout

Jazz in America Student Handout--Lesson Plan 2--Glossary

accompaniment: music that supports the melody; "background" music played at the same time as the melody

arrangement: the specific organization or performance order of a given composition (i.e., who plays what when)

beat: the underlying pulse of a piece of music; that part of the music to which you tap your foot

chord: two or more different notes played at the same time

chord progression: a group of chords played in succession

chorus: one time through the set of chords that accompany the melody of a jazz tune

form: the basic structure or "blueprint" of a piece of music

head: the pre-composed melody generally played during the first and last chorus of a jazz tune

improvisation: spontaneous invention within the context of a given tune; creating a new melody while performing; spontaneous composition; playing a solo extemporaneously

melody: a group of notes played or sung in succession (example: when a song is played or sung, the melody you hear is simply a group of notes one after the other)

note: a single pitch of music (example: if you strike a single key on the piano, that is one note)

steady beat: the pulse of a piece of music that is constant and unchanging (example: if you’re tapping your foot along to the beat of the music, it stays constant, not slowing down or speeding up)

swing: 1. To swing is when an individual player or ensemble performs in such a rhythmically coordinated way as to command a visceral response from the listener, such as causing feet to tap and heads to nod; when everyone in the band is in sync, playing together and really grooving along with a nice buoyancy, they are said to be "swinging." 2. A way of performing eighth notes where downbeats and upbeats receive approximately 2/3 and 1/3 of the beat, respectively, providing a rhythmic lilt to the music.

syncopation: the accenting of a normally weak beat or weak part of a beat; the accenting of "upbeats"

tempo: the speed of the beat (i.e., underlying pulse) of a piece of music
the thelonious monk institute of jazz
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