accent: To emphasize a beat or series of beats.
Afro-Cuban jazz: A clave-based, mostly non-vocal music that integrates modern jazz practice and style with the rhythmic elements of Cuban folkloric music.
arrangement: The organization of a musical work for a given ensemble; determines which instruments play when, what harmonies and what rhythmic groove will be used, and where improvisation occurs.
arranger: Someone who creates arrangements for musical ensembles.
bar: A musical unit consisting of a fixed number of beats—also known as a measure.
beat: The basic pulse of a piece of music; the unit by which musical time is measured.
bebop: A style of music developed by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and others in the early 1940s and characterized by challenging harmonies and heavily syncopated rhythms that demanded a new standard for instrumental virtuosity and impacted every subsequent style of jazz.
bent note: A note that is seamlessly raised or lowered generally a half step away from the diatonic note; also known as a blue note.
big band: A style of orchestral jazz that surfaced in the 1920s and blossomed as popular music during the Swing Era (1935–50). Also: any ensemble that played this type music (i.e., a band consisting of a brass, woodwind, and rhythm section that played carefully orchestrated arrangements).
blues: African-American music, developed in the South during the mid-1800s, that became the foundation of most American popular music.
blues form: A harmonic progression that typically consists of 12 measures, divided into three sections of four measures each. Often, the first section is a call or question, the second section repeats the question, and the third section resolves the question. The most basic blues form uses just three chords, though there are numerous variations.
bossa nova: A musical style developed in the 1960s that combines elements of cool jazz with Brazilian music and features complex harmonies, a steady straight-eighth-note groove, and sensual melodies.
brass: A family of musical instruments that includes trumpets, trombones, tubas, and French horns.
break: An established pause in the form of a tune during which an improvised phrase is usually played.
call and response: A musical conversation in which instrumentalists and/or vocalists answer one another.
chord: Three or more notes played at the same time, creating one sound. The harmonic structure of most songs is composed of a progression of different chords, on which soloists improvise.
chorus: A song form played to completion. When a musician solos, he or she may improvise several choruses in succession.
collective improvisation: Improvisation by two or more musicians at the same time; also known as polyphonic improvisation. See improvisation.
composer: The creator of a musical composition. See composition.
composition: A musical idea, generally including melody, rhythm, and harmonic structure, created by a composer.
cool: A style of playing characterized by spare lyricism and a relaxed demeanor. First inspired by the understated style of saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer in the 1920s, cool jazz became widespread in the early 1950s.
cornet: A brass instrument very similar to the trumpet but possessing a darker sound.
crescendo: A gradual increase in volume.