dissonance: A harsh, disagreeable combination of sounds that can suggest unresolved tension.
dynamics: The variation and contrast of loudness and softness in a piece of music.
ensemble: A group of more than two musicians.
free jazz: A style of music pioneered by Ornette Coleman in the late 1950s that eschewed Western harmony and rhythm in favor of greater freedom of self-expression.
front line: Collectively, the primary melody instruments in a New Orleans band, namely the trumpet, the trombone, and the clarinet.
groove: A musical pattern derived from the interaction of repeated rhythms.
hard bop: A style of jazz characterized by intense, driving rhythms and blues-based melodies with a bebop sensibility.
harmonic structure: The pattern of chords for a song.
harmony: The chords supporting a melody.
head: The melody statement of a jazz piece.
horn section: A grouping of musical instruments in a band or orchestra that generally includes saxophones, trumpets, and trombones.
improvisation: The impromptu creation of new melodies to fit the structure of a song.
key: The central group of notes around which a piece of music revolves.
lyrical: Possessing a poetic and super-melodic quality.
melody: A succession of notes that form the primary musical statement of a song or composition.
minstrel show: A variety act of song, dance, comedy, and theater popular in the 19th century and performed largely by white actors in blackface.
modal jazz: A style of jazz based on Greek scales known as modes rather than on the chord changes standard to most jazz.