Jazz Dictonary

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Jazz Slang

Jazz Dictonary


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Ballad: A simple or complex slow piece of music or song usually romantic in nature, which generally uses the same melody for each stanza.

Bar line: A vertical line drawn down a music staff dividing it into bars or measures. Bar of music: A means of dividing music; also called a measure of music.

Bass (Brass): The member of the brass family sounding the lowest tones generally referred to as the bass trombone or tuba.

Bass (String): An instrument that is a member of the violin family , and called also a Bass Violin. The string bass is played either by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) or by slapping them with your hand (slap-bass), or by drawing a bow across the strings (arco).

Big band: An ensemble of ten or more players.

Block Chords: Usually chords with many notes that move in parallel motion, the melody notes are generally duplicated in the bass voice, thence blocking or framing the harmony or vertical densities. Blue tonalities or blue notes: The alteration of the third, fifth, and seventh tones of a major scale by a flatting or lowering them by microtones or a half step.

Blues: A important factor in the history of jazz from many points of view. It is reflected or represented best as being a feeling that encompasses many or wide spectrum of emotions. Stylistically, it was present in the beginning of this art form as early as the turn the century, probably much earlier; exemplified by such performers as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Hubert Ledbetter, Lightnin' Hopkins, Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, Robert Johnson (etc.). It has been and continues to be an influence on Jazz and Rock music. The majority of blues compositions structurally employ the IIV-I-V-I chord progressions or variants of those. Also a sad feeling, a slow pace poetry in the form of paired couplets in iambic pentameter, many lowered third, fifth, or seventh intervals. The tempo can also be moderate or very fast, as before stated it is represented more as a feeling.

Bombs: Spontaneous punctuations by the drummer. Usually played on the off beat.

Boogie Woogie: A pre-modern jazz piano style associated with Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons. It Is characterized by a repetitive left handed bass figure stating every beat by dividing it in to eighth notes of unequal value, (eight to the bar).

Bop (Be Bop): A style of jazz associated with Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dizzie Gillespie Bud Powell, Dexter Gordon, and Sonny Rollins and Sonny Stitt. Complex form of structured melodic and complex intuitive solos requiring a great amount of virtuosity and mental concentration.

Break: The portion of a composition in which all band members stop playing except the one who is improvising the solo. The tempo and chord changes are maintained by the soloist, but because the other members of the band have stopped it is called a break. Rarely do such breaks last longer than two or four bars.

Bridge: The name given to the third eight bar section in a composition structured in Sonata allegro form, A-A-B-A, The B section represents the bridge.




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