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In popular music and jazz a term applied to a passage in which a formal transition is made. In popular music it is used of the penultimate section in the refrain of a popular song, leading to the final repeat of the opening section (section ...

Article

Changes  

Jazz and popular musicians’ term for a sequence of chords: for example ‘blues changes’, referring to a blues progression.

Article

Dave Laing

A list of songs or records graded in terms of popularity, generally measured in terms of record sales, radio airplay or both. The charts, also known as the hit parade, are regarded as important marketing tools by the record industry. The earliest charts (of sheet music sales) were published in American music trade magazines at the end of the 19th century. The importance of music for radio in the 1930s led to the introduction of chart programmes of which the most famous was ‘Your Hit Parade’, launched in the USA in ...

Article

Fill  

Robert Witmer

A short, usually rhythmic figure played in jazz and popular music at points of melodic inactivity or stasis (between phrases, choruses or solos, or during a sustained note) by one or more members of an accompanying group. Usually such a figure lasts no more than a beat or two. In improvised jazz and styles of popular music such as rock, funk and soul, fills are usually rhythmic embellishments played by the drummer or by other members of the rhythm section, and this has been transferred to the electronic dance music of the 1980s and 90s. In music for large ensembles with more formal arrangements, fills are typically played by entire sections: in the opening of Woody Herman’s ...

Article

Brooke Bryant

Record company. Based in Portland, Oregon, and Olympia, Washington, Kill Rock Stars (KRS) was started by Slim Moon in 1991. Moon ran the label until 2006, when his wife, Portia Sabin, took over as president. KRS primarily promotes music by local artists and has remained unaffiliated with a major label. The label describes itself as “queer-positive, feminist and artist friendly.” KRS and many of its artists have been closely associated with ...

Article

Lead  

The principal line, or player in a band or section of a band. In jazz the term is normally used of the principal line in each of the three wind sections (trumpets, reeds and trombones) of a big band, jazz orchestra or stage band; ‘to take the lead’ or ‘to play lead’ or simply ‘to lead’ means to play the melody or lead line. The lead singer in a rock or pop group typically sings the main melody, and the lead guitarist is responsible for solos and melodic statements....

Article

Lick  

Robert Witmer

A term used in jazz, blues and pop music to describe a short recognizable melodic motif, formula or phrase. Improvising jazz and blues musicians have at their disposal a repertory of licks, some of their own invention by which they can be identified, some borrowed from other players, and a solo may be little more than the stringing together of a number of such fragments. In some styles (e.g. slow blues) and for some ubiquitous chord progressions (e.g. I–II–V–I in major or minor keys) a common stock of licks is in circulation....

Article

Mix  

Will Fulford-Jones

A term used to denote the sequencing and mixing together of records by DJs to create a constant fluid stream of music. Until the 1970s, DJs in nightclubs linked consecutive records with chat and banter. However, the role of the DJ was revolutionized by Francis Grasso who invented slip-cueing. While one record is playing on one turntable, a second is cued up to its desired starting position on another turntable which is held stationary. When the second turntable is released its record starts immediately, producing an instant and synchronized switch from one recording to another. The DJ can also alter and match the speed of the two recordings, making a continuous seamless mix and the fading from one record to the other easier. By the late 1980s, as club culture grew in popularity with young people, many DJs had become more famous than the recording artists they played, and more still had moved into recording and remixing, both trends that continued well into the 1990s. During the early 1990s, record labels began to release mix albums, essentially 75-minute DJ sets released commercially on CD. Despite the ubiquity of the CD format in the late 1980s and 90s, new dance records were still released on vinyl for the benefit of DJs; despite other technological advances, the slip-cueing technique and the use of pitch control have remained integral to DJ mixing....

Article

Remix  

Will Fulford-Jones

A recording produced by combining sections of existing recorded tracks in new patterns and with new material. Remixes are found in many different types of popular music, but are most usually associated with club dance music. In their most basic form, remix records loop elements of an original dance track to create a longer version: usually the remix emphasizes percussive elements to suit club use. Most dance records released in the 1980s and 90s contained one or more remixes. They were released as 45 r.p.m. 12-inch rather than 7-inch singles: the extra playing time of the format suited both the extended remix versions and the needs of DJs looking to mix tracks in clubs....

Article

Riff  

J. Bradford Robinson

In jazz, blues and popular music, a short melodic ostinato which may be repeated either intact or varied to accommodate an underlying harmonic pattern. The riff is thought to derive from the repetitive call-and-response patterns of West African music, and appeared prominently in black American music from the earliest times. It was an important element in New Orleans marching band music (where the word ‘riff’ apparently originated), and from there entered jazz, where by the mid-1920s it was firmly established in background ensemble playing and as the basis for solo improvisation. Riffs also appeared in the accompaniments of many early blues, being particularly suited to their repeating structure. The conflict between an unvaried riff pattern and the changing harmonies of the blues progression became one of the most distinctive features of the blues and its derivatives....