History of Jazz Terms

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History of Jazz Terms
2015-05-04 23:26:02
jazz music vocab

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  1. AABA form
    the standard 32-bar form for many popular songs. AABA refers to the melody and harmonic progression (not the text, which can have a completely different pattern. Each portion of the form is eight bars long, with the bridge serving as the point of contrast. We can think of AABA this way: A = statement; A = repetition; B = contrast; A = return.
  2. atonal
    music that does not have a tonic, or tonal center.  Such music will sound dissonant to the average listener, but in fact the concept of dissonance or consonance simply doesn’t apply, since there is no “home key” to resolve to.  Pure atonality is rare in jazz, but musicians nevertheless often use free improvisation, which approximates atonality in its emphasis on elements other than harmony (timbre, melodic intervals, rhythm). Among jazz musicians, improvising atonal music is known as playing outside.Many avant-garde musicians prefer to use an atonal approach to their improvising.
  3. backbeat
    a consistent accent on beats 2 and 4 of a measure.  The backbeat produces a rhythmic layer that contrasts with the usual accenting of beat 1 (the downbeat) and beat 3 in the underlying meter.
  4. ballad
    a slow, romantic popular song. One example is the Miles Davis Nonet version of "Moon Dreams."
  5. block-chord texture
    a subset of homophonic texture in which the pitches of the accompanying harmony move in exactly the same rhythm as the main melody.  Block-chord texture is typically found in big-band jazz
  6. boogie-woogie
    a blues piano style in which the left hand plays a rhythmic ostinato (i.e., repeated pattern) of eight beats to the bar.
  7. bridge
    the middle part of an AABA form — i.e., the "B" part.  (Musicians sometimes also call it the "channel.") It usually serves as a contrast, and typically ends with a half cadence.   Its function is to connect, or “bridge,” between the "A" sections.
  8. break
    a brief passage (usually 2 to 4 bars) in which the prevailing texture (whether homophonic or polyphonic) is interrupted by monophonic texture.
  9. cadence
    stopping places that divide a harmonic progression into comprehensible phrases. Cadences that end with the tonic chord are known as full cadences, while those that end with the  dominant chord are known as half cadences.
  10. chord substitutions
    substituting one chord, or a series of chords, for harmonies in a harmonic progression.
  11. comping
    playing chords in a rhythmically unpredictable fashion as accompaniment for an improvising soloist.  Comping is an important way for the harmony instruments in the rhythm section (e.g., piano, guitar) to add a contrasting rhythmic layer.
  12. conga drums
    In Latin percussion, two tall drums of equal height but different diameters, with the smaller one assigned the lead role.
  13. countermelody
    (also known as an obbligato). In a piece whose texture consists clearly of a melody with accompaniment (i.e., a homophonic texture): a countermelody is an accompanying part with distinct, though subordinate, melodic interest. If the melodic interest were not subordinate, the texture would be polyphonic: two or more melodies of more or less equal melodic importance.
  14. counterpoint
    two or more melodic lines of equal importance (i.e., polyphonic texture), especially when composed.