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.

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.

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.

Galliard - Similar to a slim guitar player / pianist.


Slim Gaillard


Gregorian Chant – Impatient Gregory Porter Fans.

Harmonic - Mouth Organ with a note missing.

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

Metronome – Musically challenged busker on the Paris Metro.1




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

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 Quartet video


One Step - Predecessor of Hip-Hop

Orchestration – a musical arrangement cut off in its prime.

Overture - Passing from one soloist to another.

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


Piped Music


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.


Jean Simmons


Rubato – Music for a foot massage.

Runs – after effects of a vindaloo.1

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


Bag's Groove

Singspiel - Rap

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


Bass & bari sax duet


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




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.


Super Tonic



Tremolo - Member of Brian Poole's band.

Brian Poole and the Tremeloes


Triad – booking agency operating from Chinatown.1

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

Xylophone – Small toy musical instrument often given as gifts to children who show their appreciation by playing the stupid thing 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

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Other pages you might find of interest :

Jazz Quiz
Tracks Unwrapped
Tea Break

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