Sandy Brown Jazz



An Alternative List of

Musical Definitions

for Jazz Musicians

Click on a picture and see what you get.



Arrangement - Coming to an agreement with other musicians about the way you have organised a piece of music.


Bar Queue


Bar Line - A measure of how many people turned up for the gig.



Max Boyce Barry Island


Baritone - Colourful Welsh island


Bongo - French for 'Good To Go'.


Can-Can - Musician's reassuring mantra.


Capriccio – A quick coffee.


Cha Cha - Tea for two.


Chamber Music – Music of convenience.


Chart - Musical notation to help musicians guage how far a tune is 'cool' or 'hot'


Concussion Idiophone - Knockout performance by a drummer beating together two items of percussion.


Da Capo - Ruthless bandleader who makes offers you can't refuse.


Whiplash Fletcher


Drone - Jazz played robotically rather than by a musician
e.g. as in 'Flying Home (by remote control)' or Angel Eyes in the Skies.


Free Jazz - Music that it doesn’t cost you any money to listen to.2


Galliard - Similar to a slim guitar player / pianist.


Slim Gaillard



Grave - Where musicians go to decompose.


Gregorian Chant – Impatient Gregory Porter Fans.


Harmonic - Mouth Organ with a note missing.


Harmony - Payment to a band after a gig





Head Arrangement - Creative mind over matter


Carmen Miranda



Hymn - Sexist term applied to a piece of religious music. Similarly the word 'Amen' is used rather than 'Awomen'.


a Lick - Using a Mouth Organ


Mancando - Jazz chauvinism. 3


Metronome – Busker of short stature on the Paris Metro.1





Modulation - Mad about Lambrettas, Paul Weller and The Jam.



Justin Bua Jazz Trio

picture by Justin Bua

Modulate - A young pretentious vegan jazz musician who arrives late to rehearsals wearing the suit from the night before.2


Nachtmusik - Term used by people who don't understand jazz. (as in: 'That's Nachtmusik!')


Obbligato - Student or Manager's fees.


Oboe - Wandering musician of no fixed abode.


Yusef Lateef



One Step - Predecessor of Hip-Hop


Orchestration – a musical arrangement cut off in its prime.


Austin Powers


Ostinato - a tomato eaten during the jazz flute solo
at the beginning of the Austin Powers movie.2


Overture - Passing from one soloist to another.


Perpetuum Mobile - People who don't turn their phones off during a gig.


Piped Music – Music indigenous to the Scottish Highlands and Dagenham.1


Piped Music



Pitch - Making a case to a club owner to book your band.


Pitching a product



Practice Pad - Drummer with a basement flat


Presa - Sign in musical notation that indicates that a Lester Young solo is coming.


Prima Donna - High quality kebab


Pulse - Way of telling whether the audience is still awake / alive.


Quadrille - Strange dance where participants get thrown out to sea with lobsters.


Lobster Quadrille



Quaver – Stage fright.1


Relative major and minor - Sister in the Salvation Army and brother who plays with the colliery brass band.


Guys and Dolls image



Rubato – Music for a foot massage.


Runs – after effects of a vindaloo.1


Sackbut - Bags' Groove (sometimes played by an early form of trombone).


Sforzando - Tune dedicated to Zando


Singspiel - Rap


Solo - A note by a single instrument or voice as far down the register as possible.


Bass and Baritone sax




Sonic Harmonic - Hedgehog with a mouth organ



Soprano - Gangster's girlfriend who wants to be a singer.


The Sopranos




Spinet - Skill acquired by DJs


Subdominant – Masochist.1


Suite - Praise for a solo or a piece of music.


Super Tonic - A tonic that comes with the gin already in it.


Gin and Tonic



Tarantella - A singing spider


Timbre - A warning cry best heeded when walking in the vicinity of lumberjacks. 3


Lumberjack Big Band



Tre Corde - The basis of rock 'n' roll.3


Status Quo


Tremolo - Member of Brian Poole's band.


Brian Poole and the Tremoloes


Triad – booking agency operating from Chinatown.1


Trill - Birdsong effect or an exciting piece of Irish improvisation.


Triple Tonguing - A Trio of Mouth Organs


Tuba - Instrument for playing Roots music





Xylophone – Small toy musical instrument often given as gifts to children who show their appreciation by playing it constantly, over and over, all day long; see also ‘drums’.


Yerba Buena – Spanish for ‘Good Grass’.1


Killer drug warning


If you would like to add to our list of definitions for jazz musicians please contact us.


1 - With thanks to Ron Rubin
2 - With thanks to Andrew Linham.
3 - With thanks to Dave Simms.

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Other pages you might find of interest :

Jazz Quiz
Name The Tune
Video Juke Box

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