Glossary

A - EF - JK - OP - TU - Z

I chord chord built on the first degree of the scale; known as the tonic.

IV chord chord built on the fourth degree of the scale; known as the subdominant.

V chord chord built on the fifth degree of the scale; known as the dominant.

A A B A form the most common 32-bar popular song form, referring to melody and harmonic progression (but not text). Each portion is eight bars long, with B, the bridge, serving as the point of contrast. A = statement, A = repetition, B = contrast, A = return.

A B A C form the second most common 32-bar popular song form, referring to melody and harmonic progression (but not text). Each portion is eight bars long, with the A section returning in the song’s middle. Can also be considered A A' form.

accelerando a gradual speeding up of tempo.

acid jazz a form of contemporary music created by DJs in the 1990s, relying heavily on samples taken from jazz recordings from the 1950s and 1960s.

alto saxophone one of the most common saxophones used in jazz performance, smaller and higher-pitched than the tenor.

arpeggio the notes of a chord played in quick succession rather than simultaneously.

arrangements composed scores for big bands, with individual parts for each musician.

arco a stringed instrument (such as the string bass) played with a bow.

art music a form of music with high aesthetic standards and social prestige, created by professional artists for a welleducated public and insulated from the commercial world.

atonal music with no key center.

augmented chord an unstable chord made up of two major thirds; found in the whole-tone scale.

avant-garde jazz a modernist style of jazz exploring new methods that radically oppose existing traditions; among the elements of jazz undermined by the avant-garde are rhythm, harmony, melody, structure, instrumentation, manner of presentation, and politics.  

backbeat a simple polyrhythm emphasizing beats 2 and 4 of a 4/4 measure (rather than 1 and 3).

ballad (1) a slow, romantic popular song; (2) a long, early type of folk song that narrated a bit of local history.

bar see measure.

baritone saxophone the largest and deepest saxophone used in jazz performance.

bass in the rhythm section of a jazz band, an instrument—string bass, electric bass, or tuba—that supports the harmony and plays a basic rhythmic foundation.

bass clarinet a wind instrument pitched lower than a standard clarinet.

bass drum the large drum front and center in a jazz drum kit, struck with a mallet propelled by a foot pedal; it produces a deep, heavy sound.

bebop A style of modern jazz pioneered in the mid-1940s; it has become the basis for most contemporary jazz.

bell the flared opening at the end of a brass instrument.

bent notes see blue notes.

big bands large jazz orchestras featuring sections of saxophones, trumpets, and trombones, prominent during the Swing Era (1930s).

block chords a homophonic texture in which the chordal accompaniment moves in the same rhythm as the main melody.

blue notes notes in which the pitch is bent expressively, using variable intonation; also known as blue notes.

blues a musical/poetic form in African American culture, created c. 1900 and widely influential around the world.

blues form a twelve-bar cycle used as a framework for improvisation by jazz musicians.

blues scale the melodic resources for the blues; includes simple pentatonic and diatonic scales combined with blue notes.

blue third the lowered third degree of the scale, featured in the blues.

bongos in Latin percussion, an instrument with two drumheads, one larger than the other, compact enough to sit between the player’s knees.

boogie-woogie a blues piano style in which the left hand plays a rhythmic ostinato of eight beats to the bar.

bossa nova "new flair"; Brazilian form of samba music.

bottleneck guitar guitar played with a glass slide over the finger to create a glissando effect.

bow a string instrument, such as a string bass, played by drawing a bow with horsehair across the strings; also known as arco.

brass instruments wind instruments, some of which are indeed made of brass, that use a cuplike mouthpiece to create the sound.

break a short two- or four-bar episode in which the band abruptly stops playing to let a single musician solo with a monophonic passage.

bridge (release) the middle part (or B section) of 32-bar A A B A form, which connects, or "bridges," between the A sections; it typically ends with a half cadence.

broken octaves a form of left-hand piano accompaniment that alternates the lower note of an octave with the higher one.  

cadence stopping places that divide a harmonic progression into comprehensible phrases. See half cadence, full cadence.

cadenza a classical-music word for a monophonic solo passage that showcases the performer’s virtuosity.

cakewalk ragtime dancing featuring syncopated rhythms.

call and response a pervasive principle of interaction or conversation in jazz: a statement by one musician or group of musicians is immediately answered by another musician or group.

changes jazz slang for a harmonic progression. See rhythm changes.

Charleston rhythm a dance rhythm from the 1920s, consisting of two emphatic beats followed by a rest.

chart a shorthand musical score that serves as the point of reference for a jazz performance, often specifying only the melody and the harmonic progression; also known as a lead sheet.

Chicago style style of jazz in the 1920s that imitated the New Orleans style, combining expansive solos with polyphonic theme statements.

chord a combination of notes performed simultaneously.

chord clusters dissonant chords with closely spaced notes.

chorus (1) a single statement of the harmonic and rhythmic jazz cycle defined by the musical form (e.g, 12-bar blues, 32-bar popular song); (2) the repeated portion of a popular song, often introduced by its verse.

chromatic harmony complex harmony based on the chromatic scale.

chromatic scale the scale containing twelve half steps within the octave, corresponding to all the keys (black and white) within an octave on the piano (e.g., from C to C).

clarinet a wind instrument consisting of a slim, cylindrical, ebony-colored wooden tube that produces a thin, piercing sound.

classic blues see vaudeville blues.

classical music art music from the European tradition.

clave a Latin time-line pattern.

clusters see chord clusters.

coda Italian for "tail": a concluding section to a musical performance.

collective improvisation method of improvisation found in New Orleans jazz in which several instruments in the front line improvise simultaneously in a dense, polyphonic texture.

comping a rhythmically unpredictable way of playing chords to accompany a soloist; typically one of the variable layers in the rhythm section.

congas in Latin percussion, two tall drums of equal height but different diameters, with the smaller one assigned the lead role.

consonant the quality of a harmony that’s stable and doesn’t need to resolve to another chord.

contrapuntal adjectival form of counterpoint.

cool jazz a style of modern jazz in the 1950s that used a "cool," relaxed approach to timbre and experimented with such basic elements as form, texture, instrumentation, and meter.

coon song an early form of ragtime popular song that yoked polyrhythmic accompaniments to grotesque racial stereotypes.

cornet a partially conical brass instrument used often in early jazz and eventually supplanted by the trumpet.

countermelody in homophonic texture, an accompanying melodic part with distinct, though subordinate, melodic interest; also known (especially in classical music) as obbligato.

counterpoint polyphonic texture, especially when composed.

counterrhythm see cross-rhythm.

country blues an early style of blues, first recorded in the 1920s, featuring itinerant male singers accompanying themselves on guitar.

crash cymbal a cymbal that produces a splashy, indeterminate pitch, not unlike a small gong, used for dramatic punctuations.

crescendo an increase in volume.

cross-rhythm a rhythmic layer that conflicts with the underlying meter.

cup mute an orchestral mute with an extension that more or less covers the bell of a brass instrument.

cycle a fixed unit of time, repeated indefinitely, that’s used as the framework for improvisation in jazz.

cymbals broad-rimmed, slightly-convex circular plates that form part of the jazz drum kit. See also crash cymbal, highhat, and ride cymbal.  

decrescendo a decrease in volume.

degree individual notes in a scale (e.g., the first note of a scale is the first degree).

diatonic scale the seven-note scale most commonly used in Western music. See major scale, minor scale, Dorian mode.

diminished (or diminished-seventh) chord an unstable chord made up entirely of minor thirds.

discography the science of record classification.

dissonant the quality of an unstable harmony that resolves to another chord.

dominant a chord built on the fifth degree of the scale that demands resolution to the tonic chord.

Dorian mode a diatonic scale with an arrangement of half and whole steps (found on the piano white keys from D to D) that falls between major and minor.

double (1) to play more than one instrument; (2) to reinforce a melody with one or more different instruments.

double bass see string bass.

double stop on a bowed string instrument (violin, bass), two strings played at the same time.

double time a technique in which a jazz ensemble, especially the rhythm section, plays twice as fast without changing the length of the overall cycle.

downbeat the first beat of a measure, or bar.

dropping bombs a technique devised in bebop in which the bass drum plays strong accents.

drum kit (or drum set, trap set, traps) a one-man percussion section within the rhythm section of a jazz band, usually consisting of a bass drum, snare drum, tom-toms, and cymbals.

duple meter the most common form of meter, grouping beats into patterns of twos or fours; every measure, or bar, in duple meter has either two or four beats.

dynamics volume, or loudness.

electric bass a four-stringed guitar used in popular music, amplified through an electric speaker.

electric piano an electrically amplified keyboard, such as the Fender Rhodes, capable of producing piano sounds.

Ellingtonians musicians who played with Duke Ellington for years or even decades.

embouchure the shaping and positioning of the lips and other facial muscles when playing wind instruments.

extended chords triads to which additional pitches, or extensions, have been added.

extensions notes added to extend a chord beyond the triad (such as the sixth, seventh, ninth, or thirteenth).