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Rock Music Styles, 4/e
Katherine Charlton, Mt. San Antonio College


aeolian mode  See modes
amateur  One who performs something such as music for the love of doing it as opposed to performing it professionally for money or other remuneration.
AM radio  An early (pre-FM) form of radio using an amplitude modulation (AM) system of broadcasting; the system can be used over great distances but is subject to static and not capable of true high fidelity.
antecedent and consequent phrases  Melodic phrases that occur in pairs in which the first, the antecedent phrase, sounds incomplete and the second, the consequent phrase, brings the first to a final-sounding resolution.
antiphonal choruses  Groups of singers or instrumentalists that are separated by physical distance in performance and sing or play different material in response to one another.
aria  A dramatic song in an opera.
avant-garde  Very current, modern, and experimental.
backbeat  Beats two and four of a four-beat pattern, the accenting of which creates rock's basic rhythm.
backspinning  A hip-hop disc jockey technique foe turning or spinning the record back to the desired place.
ballad opera  Staged dramatic musicals in which spoken dialogue alternates with songs. Originally from Britain and popular in the American colonies during the eighteenth century.
baritone  (voice) The male singing voice in the vocal range that is between the higher tenor and the lower bass.
barrelhouse  A bar, or honky-took, originally with whisky barrels along the walls or used as tables; the boogie-woogie based piano style often played in such places.
bars riff  A low, short, repeated bit of melody, often played by the bass guitar, or by bass and lead guitar together.
bass  (voice) The male singing voice with the lowest vocal range, lower than baritone.
Beats  American writers and poets of the fifties and later whose works included social criticisms questioning the lack of individual freedom in American society, their followers were known as beatniks.
beat subdivisions  (even and uneven) The subsections into which a single beat is divided. An even subdivision involves two equal notes; an uneven subdivision involves three equal notes, often with the first two notes tied together, making a long-short subdivision.
bebop  A modern jazz style pioneered in the early forties by alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, pianist Thelonious Monk, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, and others. Bebop was more harmonically, melodically, and rhythmically complex than earlier jazz and was usually played by small combos of musicians with a great amount of technical- facility; also called bop.
bluegrass  A complex country style that developed from the early-twentiethcentury string bands; it was first called bluegrass in the mid-forties: A variety of instruments may be used to play the music, but a fivestring banjo and guitar are generally essential to authentic bluegrass.
blue notes  Notes that are lowered a half step or less. Early blues musicians lowered the third and seventh scale degrees, and bebop musicians lowered the fifth degree as well.
blues harp  A harmonica used to play blues; a technique called cross harping makes use of a harp played in a key one step or a fifth below that of the song, in order to have blue notes automatically available to the player.
Boogie-woogie  A rhythmic piano style that uses repeating bass patterns.
Bottleneck  A glass or metal tube that fits over a guitarist's ring finger or little finger and stops the strings of the guitar when it is slid up or down the instrument's fingerboard. Originally, the glass tube was the neck of a bottle that had been broken off and sanded down for use by blues guitarists.
Break  A technique in which instruments stop playing for a short period of time, allowing a singer or instrumental soloist to be heard alone.
Break Dancing  An elaborate and competitive form of dancing that started as part of the hip-hop culture in New York's South Bronx in the early seventies.
Bridge  (of a guitar) A piece of wood or metal attached to the body of the guitar to which the strings are attached or over which they pass.
Bridge  (of a song form) The contrasting, or B, section in a song form that has repeated A sections before and usually after the B. Also called release or channel.
Cadence  An ending of a section of a piece of music consisting of harmonies that give a sense of finality.
Call-and-Response  The practice of singing in which a solo vocalist, the caller, is answered by a group of singers., The practice is also used with instruments, but its origins are vocal.
Chicago Blues  A blues style that combined country and urban blues characteristics, recorded in Chicago during the late forties and the fifties.
Chops  A term for what a musician uses to play his/her instrument and the technical facility needed to play it. A pianist's chops are his/her fingers, a trumpet player's chops are his/her lips and fingers.
Chord  Three or more notes played together.
Chord Extensions  Notes that lie beyond the normal three or four notes of a chord. These additional notes are dissonant to the basic chord.
Chromatic Passing Tones  A chromatic note that bridges between two notes of the diatonic scale and "passes through" as the melodic line moves from one of those notes to the other.
Classic Blues  A blues style of the twenties and thirties, in which female singers were featured as soloists with blues bands.
Claves  (pronounced CLAH-vays) A pair of wooden sticks that are tapped together to produce a hollow-pitched sound; claves are used in certain Latin-based styles.
Claves Beat  The rhythm pattern played by the claves in a rumba.
Closed Form  A composition, or set of compositions, beginning and ending with the same musical material.
Coda  An ending section to a musical work that functions to bring the work to a satisfying conclusion. Codas can be very short or extended with repetitions of earlier themes and occasionally some new material. The term coda comes from an Italian word for "tail."
Collective Improvisation  Several musicians improvising at the same time, creating a complex (polyphonic) texture.
Comping  An accompaniment style used on either guitar or piano that does not require that the strong beats of the measure be articulated.
Concerto  A multimovement work for a soloist, or small group of soloists, and a large group of players, generally an orchestra, in which the soloist is accompanied by the orchestra.
Conga Drums  Large, long drums, usually in pairs, used in the conga and other Latin dances.
Congo Square  An open area in early nineteenthcentury New Orleans where African American slaves gathered on Sundays to dance and play music. The music played at the dances was an early root of what developed into New Orleans jazz.
Contralto  (voice) The lowest female vocal range. Also called alto.
Contrapuntal Guitar Parts  Guitar parts that use counterpoint, or more than one melody at the same time.
Cool Jazz  A style of modern jazz developed by trumpeter Miles Davis, the Modern Jazz Quartet, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, and others. As the name implies, it is a style that is subdued, and it generally is played by a small group of instrumentalists.
Copyright  The exclusive right to control the use of an artistic work for the amount of time allowed by law.
Country blues  The earliest and simplest blues style, usually performed by a solo singer accompanied by simple guitar strumminwith occasional melodic fills.
Cover recording  A recording made subsequent to the original version: it may or may not follow the style or lyrics of the original.
Crescendo  A gradual increase in loudness, or volume level.
Crooning  The soft vocal style of Rudy Vallee. Bing Crosby. Perry Como. and others who tended to slide from one note to another giving the effect of warmth, intimacy, and sentimentality.
Cross-harp playing  The practice of blues harmonica players using an instrument in a key other than that of the song to aid them in playing blue notes.
Crossover  In country music. musicians who have expanded their styles to include pop music and playing techniques.
Cutting  A technique used by disc jockeys to segue one recording into another using a varispeed control on the phonograph to maintain a constant beat pattern through the change.
Cutting contests  Small group sessions where musicians try to outplay one another by demonstrating a stronger technique or by playing more inventive improvisations.
Dada  A movement in art in which frustration over the destruction of human life that took place during World War 1 was expressed by fashioning artworks out of trash or other material put together in a chaotic form.
Decrescendo  A gradual decrease in loudness or volume level.
delta blues  The country blues style of Robert Johnson and others who came from the Mississippi delta region.
Dobro  A steel-strung, guitarlike acoustic instrument with a raised metal section on the instruments soundboard, played with a sliding bar, invented in the twenties.
Dominant chord  A triad built on the fifth degree of a scale. In the key of C, the dominant chord is G-major, make up of the notes G. B. and D (also notated as V).
Doo-wop progression  The chord progression of a tonic (1) chord, a sub-median seventh (vi) chord. a supertonic seventh (iii) chord, and a dominant seventh (V7) chord. commonly used as the basis of fifties doo-wop songs.
Dorian mode  see Modes.
Double time  A tempo that is twice as fast as the tempo that precedes it.
Downbeat  The first beat of each bar.
Drone  A sustained tone over or under which other music is played. For example. a bagpiper usually plays a continuous drone over which the melody is played.
Dubbing (by disc jockeys)  Rhythmic patter-talk used by Jamaican disc jockeys while a recording was being played: also an engineering technique used to cut instruments or vocal parts out of a recording. Also called overdubbing: refers to the technique of adding instrumental, vocal. or other sounds to a recording that has already been put on tape. Dubbing requires a multipletrack tape machine (or two tape machines) to allow one track to be heard while the new one is being recorded.
Dulcimer (plucked and strummed)  A stringed instrument with the fretted fingerboard along the full length of the hollow body of the instrument.
Eight-bar period  A section of melody made up of two four-bar phrases that create a sense of completion.
Eighth notes  Notes that receive half the amount of time allotted to a quarter note.
Embellishment  The addition of new notes to a melody that serve to decorate or vary it.
Enharmonics  Notes that are actually at the same sounding pitch although they are given different pitch names. For instance, C# and Db sound the same but are notated differently and have different harmonic functions within chords.
Eurodisco  A funky, electronic type of disco music.
Existentialism  A twentieth-century philosophy that takes many forms, all of which stress the freedom and corresponding responsibility of the individual ac he or she relates to society.
Falsetto  A high male vocal range above the normal tenor voice.
Fanfares  Short celebratory passages played primarily by brass instruments.
Feedback  A naturally produced, sustained, distorted squeal created when high-volume sound coming out of an amplifier is taken in by the pickup on the guitar (or a microphone) and then fed back into the amplifier.
field hollers  Solo singing by African Americans while working in fields. Country blues most likely developed out of. or was greatly influenced by, this singing, which has been described as being rhythmically quite free.
fifth of a chord  The note that is the interval of a fifth above the root, or naming note. of the chord. In a C chord, the notes are C, E. and G and the fifth of the chord is G.
fifths  Intervals that are five notes apart in the diatonic scale. with the first and fifth notes both counted. A fifth above the note C is the note G. counting as C, D, E. R G.
fills  Bits of melody or embellishment played between sections of the main solo melody.
Five-string banjo  A banjo with a fifth string that is tuned higher than the fourth string and is plucked by the player's thumb. The fifth string is often used as a repeated drone or pedal.
flamenco  A very rhythmic and highly emotional dance music originated by the gypsies of southern Spain.
Flat-four beat  A four-beat metric pattern in which all beats receive equal accenting.
Flutter-tonguing  A technique that involves buzzing with the tongue while blowing into a woodwind or brass instrument.
FM radio  A form of radio invented in the early thirties, using a frequency modulation (FM) system of broadcasting. FM did not have the range of AM. and it was used almost exclusively by college and other noncommercial stations, until the late sixties. when demand for its clearer sound quality and stereo capabilities allowed FM stations to take the commercial market away from AM.
Four-bar phrase  four-bar section of music ending with a partial or total feeling of completeness, most often paired with another four-bar phrase to make up a complete period ending with a cadence.
Fourths  Intervals that are four notes apart in the diatonic scale. with the first and fourth notes both counted. A fourth above the note C is the note F, counting as C. D. E. F.
Frontline  The group of lead melodic instruments such as those used in early New Orleans jazz bands. usually including a cornet (or trumpet), a clarinet. and a trombone.
Fusion  A jazz style that is influenced by, or fused with, elements of rock music. including even beat subdivisions, electric instruments, and short riff patterns.
fuzztone  A distorted sound effect achieved by cutting through the speaker cone of an amplifier, playing a tube amplifier at a much higher volume than it was intended for, or using an electronic device that creates a controllable version of the sound.
Glissando  A sliding effect created by playing a series of musical tones in rapid succession.
Gospel  A Christian religious music. especially a kind that evolved from spirituals sung in African American churches in the South.
Griots  Oral poets in Africa who memorized and sang the story of their people's history.
guiro  A Latin American percussion instrument made of a hollow gourd with notches cut across the outside over which a stick is scraped.
Harmonics (natural)  High, clear tones produced by touching a vibrating string at a point exactly one-half, one-third, or one fourth its full length, then plucking or bowing the string at another point to cause it to ring. When the string has been touched at its halfway point, the harmonic produced is an octave above the pitch of the open pitch of the open string; when it is touched at a point at one-third its length the harmonic is one octave and a fifth above the open string: and a touch at one fourth the string length produces a harmonic two octaves above the open string.
Harmonies (artificial)  The same as natural harmonics, except that the vibrating length of a string is changed by its being pressed against a fingerboard. allowing for a great number of harmonics beyond the few available on open strings. Full melodies can be played in artificial harmonics.
High hat  A piece of drum equipment operated by the left foot where two cymbals. facing each other on a rod mechanism, can be made to open and close: can also be played with sticks or brushes either open, for a ringing sound. or closed. for a tight. crisp sound.
Hillbilly boogie  A protorock style of country music from the forties that used African American boogie-woogie rhythms and electric instruments.
Honky-tonk  A bar or saloon: the boogie-woogiestyled piano often played in such places.
Hook  A catchy melodic or rhythmic pattern that "hooks" or attracts the listener to want to listen to the rest of the song.
horn  (1) Generic term for any wind instrument, especially trumpet. trombone. or saxophone. (2) A brass instrument more correctly called the French horn.
Horn section  (1) The section of a jazz band that includes brass and woodwind instruments. (2) A group of French horns.
Hymns  Songs of praise, generally used to praise God in worship services.
improvisation  Spontaneous performance of music that has not been written or planned out in advance. based on a progression of harmonies and can involve; a certain amount of interplay among several musicians.
jazz rock  A rock style that includes a horn section somewhat like that of that in a jazz band, but smaller.
Jubilee  Fast and highly energetic types of spirituals.
Jug band  A small blue, country, or folk group that uses a whiskey jug as a bass instrument. sounded by the player blowing into the mouth of the jug. which serves as a resonator for the deep tone produced.
kettledrums  Large, bawl-shaped drums made nut of copper or brass with calfskin (or plastic) heads stretched across them and screws or pedals that the player uses to vary the pitch (also called timpani).
key  The name of the scale from which the melody and chords of a piece of music have been constructed.
Lip-syncing  Moving the lips to synchronize with a prerecorded song, Giving the impression that the song is being performed live.
major Chord  A chord based on a triad in which the bottom and next higher notes are a major third apart (four half steps) and the middle arid highest notes are a minor third apart (three half steps). A C-major chard contains the notes C. E, and G.
major Scale  A succession of eight notes in which the half and whole steps are ordered as follows: whale. whale, half, whole, whole, whole. half. The natural notes from C to the next highest C forma major scale.
maracas  A pair of rattles made of gourds or wood with small stones or beans inside.
mariachi band  A vocal-instrumental group of Mexican origin, consisting of strolling musicians who sing and play guitars and guitar-related instruments, violins, and trumpets.
marimba  A large, xylaphanelike instrument with metal tubes as resonators under wooden ban of varying length (tuned to specific pitches) that are played with mallet.
Melisma  An expressive and elaborate melodic improvisation sung on a single syllable.
mellotron  (From melody + electronic) An electronic keyboard instrument invented in England in the early sixties chat uses taped recordings of acoustic (often orchestral) instruments to recreate the sounds of thane instruments.
mento  A Jamaican folk music that combines a Cuban rumba with African rhythms. The name comes from the Spanish mentar meaning 'to mention:' referring to the subtle way the music and dance express personal complaints or social criticisms.
meter  The basic repeating pattern of accented and unaccented beats followed through a composition or a section of a composition. usually indicated by the time signature.
microtones  Intervals smaller than a half-step often used in non-Western music.
minimalism  An avant-garde style of composition based on systematically organized repetition of a minimal amount of musical material; also called systematic music.
Minor Chord  A chord based on a triad in which the bottom and next higher notes are a minor third apart (three half steps) and the middle and highest notes are a major third apart (four half steps). A C-minor chard contains the notes C, Eb, and G.
minor key  A tonal center hawed on a minor scale.
minor scale  A succession of eight notes in which the half and whale steps are ordered as follows: whole, half. whale, whale, hats; whale, whale. The natural notes from A to the next highest A forth a natural minor scale. There are a number of other farms of minor scales in which same of the intervals are altered, such as hour monic minor and melodic minor.
modes  Scalelike patterns based on church music formulas dating from the Middle Ages. The natural notes (that is, notes produced by pressing only white keys on the piano) from C to C produce a major made, or major scale (also called the ionian mode). The other modes are as follows: D to D, dorian: E to E. Phrygian-. F to F, lydian: G to G, mixolydian: A to A, aeolian (the natural minor scale); B to B. locrian.
Mods  Short for modernists; the Mods were a sixties youth subculture in England who considered themselves the wave of the future; they usually had jobs, wore trendy clothes, rode around on motor scooters (rather than motorcycles) and took amphetamines. (See also Rockers)
modulation  A change of key or tonal center.
monotone  Nonmelodic, repetitive singing of a single pitch.
motive  A fragment. or short bit, of a melody.
movement  A complete piece of music written to be played with other movements to form a multisectional musical work.
musique concrete  An avant-garde type of musical composition in which natural, acoustic sounds have been prerecorded on a tape that is altered to change the sounds for use in performance.
Muzak  A name for a commercial service that provides bland background music for use in public places or businesses.
neighboring tones  Notes that are not part of the chord with which they are played or sung, but that are one diatonic or chromatic step either above or below a chord tone.
Nonchordal tones  notes that are not part of the basic chord being played. The nonchordal tones may he dissonant with the chord, they may hint at another chord and create a bitonal color to the basic chord. (See also chord extensions)
octave  The distance between one note and the next note (higher or lower) of the same pitch name.
opera  A dramatic theatrical performance with orchestral accompaniment in which all or most of the roles are sung instead of spoken.
Operetta  A short opera, usually of a lighter nature than opera.
Orchestra  A large group of instruments (generally from thirty to a hundred or more players) that includes instruments from the string (bowed string). woodwind, brass. and percussion families, as well as piano, harp. and other instruments as required for a particular composition.
ostinato  A melody or melodic fragment, often but not necessarily in the bass, that repeat:; over and over through an entire piece or part of a piece of music. (From Italian. meaning "obstinate.")
overdubbing  The technique of adding more tracks of sound to a recording that has already been taped.
palyola  The practice of bribing disc jockeys to induce them to play particular recordings an the air.
part singing  The singing of hymns or other songs using multivoiced arrangements.
passacaglia  A form based an a continuously repeating chord progression and accompanying bass line.
patter-talk  Talking in rhythmic patterns: also called rap.
pedal-steel guitar  An electric version of the Hawaiian steel guitar that has a number of pedals that alter the pitches of the individual strings, is mounted an legs, and is played with a bar that slides along the strings; popular in country music.
Pentatonic scale  A scale, or made, that has five notes corresponding to the natural notes C, D, E, G. and A, any of which may be the first note of the series.
phrase  A complete-sounding section of melody or lyrics, usually from two to four bars long.
phrygian mode  A sixteenth-century made composed of the natural notes from E to E. often used in Spanish flamenco music.
pickups  (1) One or more hates that lead iota a downbeat at the beginning of a musical phrase. 2) A contact micro phone or other device that converts vibrations into electric impulses that allows the sound to be amplified.
pogo  A punk dance in which people jumped up and dawn as if they were an pogo sticks.
poly phonic texture  The sound pattern created by two or more independent melodies being played or sung at the same time.
polyrhythm  Music in which mare than cane rhythm pattern is played at the same time.
pop song Form  The structure of rebated and contrasting sections of a sang in which each section (represented as letters when the farm is diagrammed) is usually similar in length and corresponds to an A A B A pattern or some variant an that organization.
power chords  The full and deep sound created by two notes that are a perfect fourth or a perfect fifth apart played together on the bass strings of an electric guitar with added distortion. The depth of the sound is created by the resultant tone, or combination tone, that is lower than the notes that are actually played. Power chords are used in most hard rock and heavy metal music.
Prepared instruments  Traditional musical instruments, usually ones with strings such as grand pianos or guitars, with items placed on, hung from, or woven between or among the strings to alter the instrument's sound. Items used can include bolts, sticks, cloth. paper, paper clips, folded pieces of foil wrap, or other things.
psalms  Texts from the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Psychedelic drugs  Drugs such as LSD that generally produce a loss of sense of time and dreamlike distortions of the senses.
Pub rock  An English "back to the roots of rock" movement of the seventies that reacted against large-scale, theatrical rock styles.
Raga  A scale or melody used in Indian music.
Ragtime  A type of music that used "ragged time," or syncopated rhythms; particularly popular between 1890 and 1915.
Recitative  A type of singing used in opera that is much less melodic than arias, and which often imitates the way the lines would be spoken. Sung to fairly simple musical accompaniment, recitative is often used for dialogue in opera.
Refrain  A phrase or period of text or music that is repeated several times within the course of a song or piece of music.
Resultant tone  A low note that is created when two notes of a perfect interval are played above it. Also called a combination tone.
Rhythm and blues  Called race music until the end of the forties, an originally African American popular music in which the backbeat was accented and beats were usually subdivided unevenly.
Rhythm section  The group of musical instruments that maintain the beat pattern and the harmonic flow of a piece of music. Rhythm sections include bass, drums, and guitar or keyboard instruments.
riff  A short melodic or rhythmic pattern repeated over and over while changes take place in the music played along with it.
ritard  A direction to slow down gradually.
Rockabilly  Music that combined honky-tonk country music with blues and rhythm and blues. Rockabilly bands in the fifties generally used electric lead guitar, acoustic rhythm guitar, acoustic (stand-up) bass, and drums. (The name is a combination of rock and hillbilly)
Rockers  Members of an English youth subculture in the sixties who wore leather jackets, rode motorcycles (not motorscooters). and identified with American rockabilly music. (See also Mods)
Rock steady  A Jamaican music that was basically a slowed-down version of ska,but it included a syncopated bass line. When sped up, rock steady became reggae.
root note of a chord  The note on which a chord is built and after which the chord is named. In a C chord, the notes are C, E, and G and the root note is C.
Salsa rhythm  Popular music from Cuba based on rhythm patterns from Africa.
Sampling  The practice of taking selected sections from previously recorded records and repeating and mixing those sections to create a background sound to accompany new vocals.
Saxophone  A woodwind instrument made of metal, but played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. The saxophone family includes. (from the highest in pitch to the lowest) soprano, alto. tenor. baritone, and bass. In addition to those are several others that are either rarely used or obsolete.
Scat (scatting)  A type of singing using nonsense syllables in a style that imitates instrumental improvisations commonly used in jazz.
scratching  A technique used by disc jockeys in which a record's rotation is rapidly changed from forward to backward repeatedly. to create a rhythmic pulse over which the disc jockey talks in a rhythmic patter or rap style.
secular  Nonreligious.
segue  The joining together, without pause, of two different pieces of music.
seventh Chord  A chord that includes a note that is seven scale degrees above the root note of the chord: for example, a G7 chord adds an F on top of the basic triad of G, B, and D.
shuffle beat  A rhythmic pattern based on uneven beat subdivisions in which a note is played on the beat and the next note is played on the last uneven subdivision of the beat, creating a "shuffling" rhythm.
sitar  A plucked string instrument from India that has frets, steel strings and gourds as resonating chambers. In addition to the strings plucked by the player, the sitar has a set of strings that vibrate sympathetically when notes to which they are tuned are played on other strings.
sixteenth notes  Note values of which there are four for every quarter note.
skiffle  A very simple British folk music that involved little more than melody and accompaniment by a strummed acoustic guitar, and rudimentary rhythm instruments such as washboards.
slapping bass  A name given to rockabilly bass- practice of slapping the strings against the fingerboards of their instruments as they played.
snare drum  A drum that has skins stretched across both the top and bottom of its shell, with metal snares set to rattle against the bottom skin while the drum is played. The sound of a snare drum is often associated with military bands. The snare drum is the drum most often used for the backbeat in rock music.
solo breaks  Short sections of music in which the soloist sings or plays alone while the accompanying instruments stop playing, or "break:" The breaks are usually no longer than one or two bars (measures) long.
sorrow songs  Slow, melancholy types of spirituals.
spirituals  American folk hymns and other religious songs that originated in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries and developed into gospel music.
Steel guitar  An American country instrument that developed from guitars brought by Mexican cattlemen to Hawaii in the late nineteenth century, but which were tuned to a major chord and placed across the player's lap; chords were changed by sliding a comb. a knife, or a steel bar up and down the strings.
stop time  A technique in which instruments play only on, say, the first beat of each bar while a soloist continues performing. There are a number of stop-time patterns: first and third beats. first and fourth beats, as well as patterns stretching over two or more measures (not to be confused with break).
street funk  A seventies funk style generally dominated by strong bass guitar lines, filled in harmonies by guitars or keyboards, complex rhythms from a variety of drums, a flat-four beat. and a party-like atmosphere.
string bending  A guitar technique used by many blues and rock guitarists in which the player pushes or pulls the string temporarily out of alignment, causing the string to tighten and the pitch to be raised.
String section  The bowed string instruments in an orchestra, consisting of violins, violas, cellos, and bass viols.
Subdominant chord  A triad built on the fourth degree of a scale. In the key of C, the subdominant chord is F-major, made up of the notes F A, and C (also notated as IV).
suite  In the eighteenth century, a multimovement work that was generally a collection of dances preceded by a prelude. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the term was also used for groupings of nondance compositions.
surprise cadence  A resolution to an unexpected chord.
surrealism  An artistic style that developed out of Sigmund Freud's writings about the unconscious mind and visions in dreams. Surrealistic artists painted scenes containing recognizable objects from the real world put into shapes and situations in which they could not actually exist or function.
Swing  A big-band jazz style of dance music popular during the thirties through the fifties.
Sympathetic strings  Strings that vibrate and sound as the notes to which they are tuned are played on another string, causing them to vibrate; sitars have a set of sympathetic strings.
Syncopated rhythms  Rhythms that do not fit an expected pattern of accents. Syncopations include the accenting of weak beats and the absence of accents (or even silence) on strong beats.
Synthesizers  Electronic sound generators (often keyboards) capable of modifying the sound generated.
Systematic music  An avant-garde style of composition based on systematically organized repetition of a minimal amount of musical material; also called minimalism.
Tag  A short section of music added to the end of a composition to emphasize that the piece is ending. The term coda is also used for a tag ending.
tamboura  An Indian drone instrument.
tape loop  A piece of magnetic tape recorded and then cut and spliced to form a loop that continues to repeat the recording, creating an echo effect.
tape splicing  The technique of cutting apart and putting together pieces of prerecorded tape.
tempo  The speed of the beat of a piece of music.
tenor  (voice) The male singing voice with the highest vocal range.
texture  The relationship of melody to its accompaniment or to other melodies in a musical composition. The term is often used to refer to the relative thickness of the sound or to the type of compositional technique employed, e.g., homophonic or polyphonic.
theater organ  A large organ, designed to play background music in theaters, that is able to generate a variety of instrumental sound effects not usually found on an organ, such as drums, xylophone, and chimes.
theme  (musical) A melodic idea upon which a piece of music is based.
theremin  An electronic instrument that produces a tone that changes in pitch and dynamic level when the player moves his or her hands near its antenna and loop. The theremin was invented in the twenties by Leon Theremin.
through-composed form  A compositional structure that does not use the usual formal schemes of regular repetition and contrast but rather employs a more extended spinning out of new musical material, although individual, themes may reoccur.
timbre  (pronounced TAM-ber) Tone quality as it relates to the characteristic differences among musical instruments or singing voices.
timpani  See kettledrums
toasting  A Jamaican name for the rhythmic patter-talk used by disc jockeys.
tonic chord  A triad built on the first degree of a scale or mode. In the key of C, the tonic chord is C-major, made up of the notes C, E, and G. (Also notated as I.)
trading twos  (or fours) A term for a type of improvisation used especially by jazz musicians in which two or more musicians take turns improvising on twoor fourbar sections of music.
trad jazz  (traditional jazz) Dixieland jazz in the style played in New Orleans and Chicago during the twenties.
tremolo  (1) Fast repetitions of a single note. (2) Loud-soft undulations on a pitch; not to be confused with vibrato.
tremolo arm  A metal bar on an electric guitar attached to the bridge (to which the strings are fastened) that can be moved by the player to raise or lower the pitch of the strings to create an effect of vibrato; should more properly be called vibrato arm.
triad, or triadic harmonies  A chord that contains only three notes, each a major or a minor third apart from the next.
triple meter  A rhythmic pattern that accents the first of each of three equal beats.
triplet  A beat normally subdivided into two equal parts is subdivided into three equal parts.
twelve-bar blues  The classic blues form structured in three four-bar phrases drat follows a particular chord progression based on four bars of a tonic chord, two bars of a subdominant chord, two bars of a tonic chord, one bar of a dominant chord, one bar of a subdominant chord, and two bars of a tonic chord. There are many variations of this basic progression of harmonies.
two-beat bass  A style of bass playing often used in country music in which the bass plays the root note of the chord on the first beat of each bar and the fifth of the chord on the third beat of each bar.
unison  The use of more than one instrument or voice playing or singing the same notes at the same time.
urban blues  A blues style that developed in the big cities and was generally more sophisticated and played by larger instrumental groups than the older country blues style.
vamp  A repeated pattern, usually without a melody, that serves to fill time before the main melody enters.
varispeed control  A phonograph control that allows disc jockeys to vary the speed (and hence the pitch) at which a recording is played.
vaudeville  A type of live variety stage show that included songs, dances, comedy acts, and other types of general entertainment; popular from the middle nineteenth century into the twentieth century.
veejay  A "disc jockey" for video shows
vibrato  The repeated raising and lowe Sa pitch that produces an unduly in the tone.
voice box  Also known as a voice tube, the box plugs into the guitar and has a tube that attaches to the microphone stand for the guitarist to vocally affect the guitar timbre. The ElectroHarmonix Golden Throat and the lbanex VOC Talking Machine were two voice boxes available during the seventies.
walking bass  The line played by a bass player that "walks" melodically between chord tones instead of jumping from one chord tone to another.
western swing  A type of country music that developed out of the string bands. It was influenced by certain characteristics of jazz such as uneven beat subdivisions, syncopations, and the use of wind instruments in addition to the usual country instrumentation.
work songs  Solo or group singing along with the rhythm of the work being done by the singer(s).