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Article

Barry Kernfeld and Allan F. Moore

The underlying harmonic structure of the blues. In the broad sense, the term can refer to the harmonic basis of any piece called a Blues (an exhaustive survey of these progressions can be found in Dauer), but it must be noted that in an attempt to capitalize on the blues craze of the early 1920s, popular songwriters used ‘blues’ in the titles of pieces whose harmonies bear no relation to that of the blues progression (e.g. Limehouse Blues). In the narrow sense, it refers to a flexible, cyclic 12-bar structure, consisting of three four-bar phrases with the chord pattern shown in ex.1. Many variants of this pattern are possible: frequently IV is used in place of I in bar 2, or in place of V in bar 10. Country blues guitarists characteristically vary the rhythms of the basic progression, and sometimes maintain a tonic drone on the bass strings; in this case a blues harmonic progression may be intimated by the vocal and treble-string melodies....

Article

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 b in the form aaba...

Article

Changes  

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 1935. The longest-running British chart programme is the BBC television show ‘Top of the Pops’, transmitted weekly since 1964. Since the 1950s, a considerable number of local radio stations in the USA have based their programming solely on the records appearing in the national singles charts by adopting a ‘Top 40’ format.

The methods used to compile charts gradually increased in sophistication. For many years, telephone interviews were conducted with store managers who listed their best-selling recordings. In Britain in the 1960s this was replaced by a printed list of titles, sales of which store managers were required to register by placing a tick next to the title. With the introduction of bar codes on the packaging of recorded music and of electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems in the retail sector, it was eventually possible to link shop tills to a central computer for analysis. When such a system was introduced in America by the SoundScan™ company (...

Article

Fill  

Robert Witmer

[fill-in]

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 Riot grrrl, an underground feminist punk movement.

KRS’s first release was a spoken word split single entitled KRS-101 (1991), featuring Moon and Kathleen Hanna, lead vocalist of the band Bikini Kill. Later that year, KRS released a compilation album featuring Olympia-area bands including Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and The Melvins. Singles, compilations, and LPs by riot grrrl bands such as Bikini Kill, Huggy Bear, and Team Dresch were released by KRS throughout the early 1990s. Subsequent artists of note included Sleater-Kinney and The Gossip. In ...

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.

A remix can also be a radical reworking of an original track, leaving little of the original recording. The most famous of such release is producer Andy Weatherall’s 1990 remix of Primal Scream’s I’m Losing More than I’ll Ever Have...

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.

The riff came to the fore in the early 1930s in the Southwest tradition of orchestral jazz, where the influence of rural blues musicians was notably strong. Among the innovations of these groups was the ‘double’ or ‘compound’ riff, in which the brass and reed sections played separate riffs in counterpoint. As exploited by Bennie Moten and, from ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

A technique used to focus attention on a singer or an instrumental soloist. An ensemble or pianist repeats in rhythmic unison a simple one- or two-bar pattern consisting of sharp accents and rests, while the soloist takes command. Metre and tempo remain intact; only the texture of the accompaniment changes. An unusual instance in ragtime may be found in Scott Joplin's Ragtime Dance (1906). The technique is common in jazz; famous examples occur during Johnny Dodds's clarinet solos on King Oliver's two recorded versions of Dipper Mouth Blues (1923, Gen.; OK) and Louis Armstrong's trumpet solo on Potato Head Blues (1927, OK). A more recent type of stop-time occurs in urban blues and related popular genres where, in the four opening tonic bars of the 12-bar blues progression, the group places a heavy accent on the downbeat of each bar and then gives way to the singer....

Article

Gunther Schuller

(1) In jazz, a line played pizzicato on a double bass in regular crotchets in 4/4 metre, the notes usually moving stepwise or in intervallic patterns not restricted to the main pitches of the harmony. The style arose as the use of Stride piano patterns declined, and its first master was Walter Page in the late 1920s and early 1930s; it has since become lingua franca for jazz bass players, allowing them to contribute pulse, harmony and counter-melody simultaneously.

(2) In boogie-woogie piano style, a repeating left-hand pattern of broken octaves. See Boogie-woogie, ex.2.

(3) In Baroque music, especially early Italian, a term used informally for a bass line that moves steadily and continuously in contrasting (usually longer) note values to those in the upper part or parts; it is a particularly common feature of Strophic variations and was also used by Alessandro Grandi (i) in some of his motets. ...