Jazz Appreciation Vocabulary
Improvisation- Music is created “in the moment” based on musical structure and style.
Syncopation- Rhythmic emphasis off the beat.
Striding- Stride Pianist’s left hand playing a bass/chord 2 beat rhythmic pattern.
Collective Improvisation- The entire ensemble is improvising.
Swing Feel- emphasis on 2nd & 4th beat, un-even division of the beat, drummer plays swing pattern (ding ding da ding), bass walks, piano or guitar comps.
Arrangement- A written score for an ensemble derived from an existing tune.
Composition- An entirely original piece of music.
Comping- Jazz abbr. for “accompany”. Typically used to describe improvised rhythmic/harmonic features in the rhythm section. Most commonly applies to the piano and guitar style developed during the Bebop era.
Walking Bass- The bass player is improvising a bass line derived from the musical scale and chord progression. Usually represented by a note playing on each beat of the time.
Chord Progression- A sequence of chords making up the structure of a tune.
Rhythm Changes- The chord progression from the popular Gershwin song “I Got Rhythm” which became a standard structure for many Bebop compositions.
The Blues- A standard 12 bar chord progression with a strong relationship between the I chord and the IV chord which was utilized as the structure for many Jazz compositions. Also used as the basis for much of Rock, Country, and R&B. Use of Blues scale.
Form- The organization of the music into phrases or sections making up the overall structure of the music from the beginning to the end of a tune.
Head Chart- A standard form used in small group jazz performance. Intro/Head/Chorus/Head-Out/Tag
Introduction- A brief section of introductory music leading up to the head. Could be derived from the tune or be different music.
Head- The principle written melody of a jazz tune.
Chorus- The solo section of a head chart where the musicians improvise melodies. The rhythm section typically accompanies utilizing the structure and form of the head.
Head Out- The return to the Head following the Chorus. Also known as Out Chorus.
Tag- A short ending section completing the form of a head chart, Could be derived from the tune, fade out, or could be different music.
Vamp- A repeated rhythmic idea. Often used as an intro or to accompany solos.
Turnaround- A short chord progression at the end of the form used to harmonically set-up the return to the beginning of the form.
Top- The beginning of each chorus. Also used to refer to the very beginning of a tune.
Riff- A recognizable or repeated melodic idea.
Scale- Organization of musical notes in an ordered group. Do re mi fa sol la ti do
Extensions- Additional notes added to the upper chord structure that create the unique sound color of Jazz. 9/11/13.
Voicing- The unique arrangement of notes in a chord.
Substitutions- Improvised use of chords as alternates, or in addition to the basic chord progression.
Atonality- Musical structures derived from other than traditional scale or harmonic systems. Often dissonant, experimental, and colorful. AKA playing “out” or outside.