word definition
Afro-Cuban rhythms Beat patterns typical of popular music of Cuba.
arrangement The specific organization or performance order of a given composition (i.e., who plays what when).
arranger Musician who writes the parts to be played by a music ensemble.
atonal Music not based on a particular key or scale; dissonant music.
autonomous Not controlled by others or by outside forces.
autonomy The condition or quality of being autonomous; independence (e.g., jazz musicians have the autonomy to play chords any way they want).
avant-garde Jazz (usually atonal) not based on preconceived chord changes; jazz played in a freely improvised nature (but which is not entirely "free" as it generally shows evidence of a structure or blueprint); the term first came into widespread use in the 1960s to describe some of the more freely improvised music of artists such as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, their peer artists, and those who followed in their footsteps.
axe Synonym for instrument.
basic chord symbol Symbol indicating the fundamental vertical (chordal) sound of its related scale; any note from the related scale (except for any “avoid” tones) may be used in the pianist’s or guitarist’s chord voicing; the most common basic chord symbols are C (major), C7 (dominant 7 AKA mixolydian), C- (dorian), CØ (half diminished AKA locrian), Co (whole-half diminished), C7b9 (half-whole diminished), C7+5 (whole tone), and C7alt (diminished whole tone AKA super locrian); (please note that C7alt is written as C7+9 in the Aebersold Play-Along and Pocket Changes books).
battle of the bands Contest between two performing ensembles to determine which plays the best.
bebop A style of jazz identifiable by unusual rhythms, dissonance and lots of improvisation.
big band A jazz ensemble of 12 to 20 members, consisting of a rhythm section plus sections of trumpets, trombones and saxophones.
Black & Tan A night club with customers of all races.
blues A form of music introduced in the early 20th century derived from the African American work songs as principle source material; the most persistent characteristic form is a 12-measure pattern: three phrases of four measures each; related to the blue notes, i.e., the notes found "between" the keys of the piano; the lowered 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes of a major scale are often referred to as blue notes, having a "bluesy" sound common in blues compositions and performances.
bottleneck (AKA slide guitar) a method of guitar playing that produces a gliding sound by pressing a metal bar or glass tube against the strings
break (AKA stop time) During a tune this occurs when all the band members stop playing except the one who is improvising a solo.
cake walk A dance contest in Congo Square. The couple judged to have danced the best won a cake as a prize. The cakewalk was danced to ragtime music.
call and response A means whereby instruments or sections of instruments in a band or combo play a passage which is in turn responded to by another instrument or section; a musical conversation: one musician or section will play a short melodic idea and is answered by another musician or section.
calliope A musical instrument consisting of steam whistles, played by means of a keyboard.
change Synonym for chord (e.g., the changes of a tune = the chords of a tune).
changes Jazz terminology for chords (e.g., the changes of a tune = the chords of tune); a tune's chord progression.
chops Synonym for technique.
chord Two or more notes played at the same time; the music that accompanies the melody, setting the mood (AKA "change," i.e., the "changes" of a song are the chords that accompany the song); harmony.
chorus One time through the structure (i.e., the entire chord progression) being used to organize the music in a composition; one time through the chords of a tune; one time through the song’s form.
Civil Rights Acts of 1964 A United States law that bans discrimination because of a person's race, color, national origin, religion or gender. The rights protected include seeking employment, voting and the use of hotels, restaurants, parks and other public places.
coda Optional ending music that comes after the last chorus (see ending).
cognition The mental process or faculty of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment.
cognitive; cognitively Of, characterized by, involving, or relating to cognition (e.g., in the same way people converse, most jazz musicians improvise more intuitively than cognitively).
collective improvisation Concurrent improvisation by the musicians in a combo; two or more musicians improvising at the same time.
combo Same as small band or small ensemble (duo to nonet); an assemblage of musicians with a common purpose.
comp, comping Rhythmically interesting chording by the keyboardist or guitarist which provides improvised accompaniment for melodies (comes from the words to complement and to accompany).
Congo Square The area in New Orleans where musicians met for social activities and to play music.
contemporary jazz A somewhat mixed designation that has been used to describe modern or current-day jazz styles, as well as the more instrumental pop-inclined sounds also known as "smooth jazz."
contrafact A jazz tune based on an extant set of chord changes, usually from a standard; the result when composers use the chord structure of a given, established composition to write an entirely new composition: common examples include Oleo (based on I Got Rhythm), Donna Lee (based on Back Home Again in Indiana), Ornithology (based on How High the Moon), Hot House (based on What Is This Thing Called Love), and Dig (based on Sweet Georgia Brown).
cool jazz Style of jazz identified by relaxed tempos and open space in the melody.
cornet A type of trumpet.
Creole Louisiana residents with African heritage mixed with Spanish or French ancestry.
cutting contest a "one-upmanship" jam session during which players compete for gigs, respect, and acclaim by trying to outdo one another; the applause from the audience is the barometer used to grade the players and choose the winner
depression Decrease in business activity for an extended period of time.
dissonance A harsh sound.
Dixieland Early instrumental jazz band music. The name given to New Orleans style jazz when it began to be played in Northern cities. This style of jazz is also known as New Orleans style jazz, Chicago style jazz or traditional jazz.
dynamic range The expanse between the softest and loudest passages of a piece of music; the expanse between the softest and loudest notes capable on a particular instrument.
early jazz New Orleans Style Jazz (Dixieland).
Emancipation Proclamation Declaration by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863 that freed all persons previously held as slaves.
embouchure The position of the mouth in the playing of wind instruments.
ending Optional music that comes after the last chorus of a jazz performance providing a sense of finality (endings are either written by the tune’s composer or decided upon and inserted by the performers); common endings include a vamp, repetition of the last phrase, and a tag.
ensemble A group of musicians commonly known as a band or combo.
extant Already in existence; still in existence (e.g., a contrafact is a tune based on an extant set of chord changes).
Fair Housing Act An addition to the Civil Rights Act approved by Congress in 1968. This law prohibits racial discrimination in the sale and rental of all property in the United States.
fakebook Book containing lead sheets of numerous tunes (see lead sheet).
flute A long slender pipe-like instrument in the woodwind family that is played by blowing across a hole near one end.
form Refers to a composition's internal structure; the repeated and contrasting sections in the design of a composition; the tune’s harmonic (chordal) “blueprint;” common jazz forms include: AABA, e.g., Satin Doll; ABAC, e.g., On Green Dolphin Street; 16-bar tune, e.g., Blue Bossa; and 12-bar blues, e.g., Now's the Time; uncommon forms include AAB, e.g., Song For My Father; and AABC, e.g., Autumn Leaves.
free jazz A jazz style in which performers improvise without restrictions as to melody, harmony, or other musical elements.
funk Straight-eighth, medium tempo rock groove incorporating syncopated sixteenth notes against a steady, underlying pulse.
fusion Originally used to designate late 1960s-early '70s jazz which encompassed liberal use of rhythms and forms more closely identified with rock music, which was first called "jazz-rock;" the blending of jazz with other musics, particularly rock.
gig Synonym for job.
Great Migration The movement of thousands of African Americans from the South to the North beginning about 1910. They were looking to escape racism and find better opportunities for employment and lifestyle.
griot A member of a class of traveling poets, musicians, and storytellers who maintain a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa.
Harlem The best known African American neighborhood in the United States, located in Manhattan, north of Central Park. It has been a center for black business and cultural activities for more than sixty years.
Harlem Renaissance Time in American History (1920 to late 1930s) when African American literature, art & music began to flourish in New York City.
harmony Two or more notes played simultaneously and compatibly; the combination of notes into chords and chord progressions.
head The written melody of a tune (previously composed, not improvised), usually played as the first and last chorus in a jazz performance.
homophony Distinguished by a single melodic line with accompaniment (e.g., one musician improvising a solo with rhythm section accompaniment is an example of homophony).
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