word definition
ragtime A non-improvised, notated late 19th-early 20th century style of piano-based music characterized by its syncopated, distinctive so-called "ragged" right hand movement on the keyboard; an influence on and direct precursor of early jazz; a piano style with stride left hand and highly syncopated right hand; ragtime was composed music.
range The gamut of pitches from low to high that a voice or an instrument is capable of producing.
real book Fakebook (see fakebook).
rent party A gathering in one's home for which an admission fee is charged in order to raise money to pay the rent or other bills.
rhythm The pulse or pattern of beats of a given piece of music; the element of music dealing with time.
rhythm changes The chords ("changes") of George Gershwin's I Got Rhythm; an adjective describing a contrafact based on George Gershwin's I Got Rhythm (as in rhythm changes tune, e.g., Anthropology, Oleo, Moose the Mooch, etc).
rhythm section The musicians in the band whose primary function is to provide and maintain the pulse, rhythm, and feel of the music as well as its underlying chord structure; the rhythm section consists of piano, bass, guitar, and drums.
riff Short fragment of melody, usually repeated many times.
sampling Consists of digitally recording acoustic, synthesized, or previously recorded sounds for the purpose of electronically manipulating them (e.g., changing pitch, changing timbre, looping them, etc.); in acid jazz, entire musical phrases from old albums are often sampled then resynthesized as the basis for new recordings.
saxophone A musical instrument in the woodwind family. The sound is produced by blowing into a reed mouthpiece.
scat singing A vocalist's improvisatory device whereby he/she sings in nonsense syllables rather than lyrics as a means of approximating an instrumental solo; vocal improvisation (note: listen to Ella Fitzgerald singing How High the Moon on the album The Complete Ella in Berlin).
segregated Racially separated.
sit in Musician's slang for performing with a group.
slide guitar (AKA bottleneck) A method of guitar playing that produces a gliding sound by pressing a metal bar or glass tube against the strings.
slur Connecting two or more notes smoothly with no additional attacks.
soli A melody which is played in harmony by a section rhythmically together (e.g., a sax soli).
solo The passages of a tune during which one musician improvises within the context of the tune; that person is known as the soloist.
speakeasy A nightclub which operated illegally during Prohibition. Many musicians found employment in speakeasies.
specific chord symbol Symbol indicating the specific notes to be included in a chord, e.g., Cmaj9 indicates that the chord contains C E G B D, Cmi11 indicates C Eb G Bb D F, etc. (although a specific chord symbol is able to indicate the notes that should be included in a particular chord, it does not indicate any particular voicing).
spiritual Music with a religious theme.
standards Familiar, well-established popular or jazz tunes; those songs which through widely repeated performance have become part of the standard jazz repertoire.
stock market Place where investors may purchase "shares" or small increments of a business.
straight ahead Term used to suggest a manner of playing which adheres closely to the tradition of jazz, as in played straight, moving in a straight forward manner; also used as a stylistic designation related to mainstream (see mainstream) playing; acoustic jazz based on the hard bop tradition and sensibilities.
straight-eighth Groove in which the underlying beat is comprised of non-swung eighth notes, i.e., eighth notes are even in length (eighth notes played on downbeats or upbeats each receive exactly 1/2 of the beat.
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 (to cause feet to tap and heads to nod); an irresistible gravitational buoyancy that defies mere verbal definition. 2. A way of performing eighth notes in which downbeats and upbeats receive approximately 2/3 and 1/3 of the beat, respectively, providing a rhythmic lilt to the music. 3. A stylistic term to designate a jazz form that originated in the 1930s with the advent of the big bands (as in Swing Era).
swung-eighth Interpretation of eighth notes in which notes played on downbeats and upbeats receive 2/3 and 1/3 of the beat, respectively, providing a rhythmic lilt (swing) to the music.
syncopation The accenting of beats that are not naturally accented; the accenting of "upbeats."
tempo Refers to the speed of the underlying beat or pulse of a piece of music.
timbral Relating to tone color (see timbre).
timbre The quality of tone distinctive of a particular singing voice or musical instrument; tone color.
tonal Music that is based on the traditional major or minor scales; the entire system of all the major and minor keys.
trombone A large brass wind instrument. Pitch is changed by moving a slide.
trumpet A musical instrument in the brass family. Tone is produced by blowing into a small mouthpiece.
tune Any song or composition that is part of the jazz repertoire.
turnaround A short melodic or harmonic passage usually comprised of a I VI II V progression (or variation thereof) that returns (“turns around”) to the beginning of a section or top of the form.
twelve-bar blues A popular form for jazz compositions usually consisting of three 4-bar phrases (the first two phrases are often somewhat identical with the third phrase contrasting the first two).
unison The note or passage played exactly the same (pitches and rhythms) by two or more musicians.
Urban League An organization that works to end racial discrimination and increase economic and political opportunities for blacks and other minorities in the United States.
vamp One chord (or a brief chord progression) which is played over and over; a numerously repeated section of music, usually two or four bars in length.
verse A composed set of music and words that serves as introductory material to a song, lyrically setting up the story (usually rubato -- rarely played by jazz instrumentalists but occasionally sung by jazz vocalists).
virtuoso An outstanding musician exceptional on his/her instrument; a musician with masterly ability, technique, and/or personal style.
voicing The particular order of notes in a chord (e.g., E Bb D G is a 3 b7 9 5 voicing of a C7 chord).
West Coast jazz Usually refers to cool style jazz.
work song A song sung in the same rhythm as a task being done. Groups would sometimes sing together to keep the workers moving at a steady pace.
Works Progess Administration (WPA) A United States government agency created in 1935 to provide paying jobs for unemployed workers.
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