So I was thinking about my posts and I thought that you might want some clarification of the terms we might be using in our analysis of the bands. As musicians we tend to use certain terms to mean specific things and I often forget that some of you may have no idea WTF I’m talking about when I use a term like cat, tonic or pitchy.
Here is a short list of potentially confusing terms I may use in the future:
Key: The tonic triad, the chord, major or minor, which represents the final point of rest for a piece, or the focal point of a section.
Usage: “This song is in the Key of F# minor”
Tonic: The prevalent key of the song or the first note in the scale on which the song is based.
Usage: “That singer can’t seem to find the tonic.”
Drag: Slow down, decrease in tempo: (generally a negative term)
Usage: “That bass player is makin’ the drummer drag.”
Rush: Speed up, increasing tempo: (generally a negative term)
Usage: “That Bass player is makin’ the drummer rush.”
Playing in the front/back: playing the notes just in front or behind the actual beats as defined by the tempo.
Usage: “Although that Bassist isn’t rushing, he’s playing in the front and it’s making the drummer rush.”
Tempo: The speed or spacing of beats of a musical composition. also referred to as “The Beat“
Usage: “His beat was draggin”
Pitch: The frequency of a note.
Pitchy: This word is a colloquialism similar to Stephen Colbert’s “Truthy” meaning: it’s close to the pitch, reminiscent of the pitch, even hints of the pitch; but, it’s not quite the pitch.
Usage: “That singer was a so pitchy she even made the drummer drag.”
Perfect Pitch: The rare and innate ability of a musician to identify or sing a note without reference. This is so rare among rock musicians that most of them even question the existence of perfect pitch. All Jazz musicians possess this ability.
Usage: “I think she has perfect pitch.”
Metronome: 1. A mechanical device used to demonstrate or practice perfect tempo. 2. A percussionist who demonstrates an exceptional ability to maintain a steady tempo.
Usage: “That guy is a F##### Metronome!”
Click Track: An audio track of clicks that a drummer can listen to while drumming to keep them at a steady tempo.
Usage: “Is that F##### guy using a Click Track?”
Mercenary: Usually an exceptional musician who is not an actual member of the band or does not rehearse with the band but only plays for money and when the band has a high-paying gig or competition.
Usage: “They hired a mercenary for this gig.”
Cat: Musician et al.
Usage: “That Cat is stoned.”
et al: “and others” or “and elsewhere” from the Latin “et alibi” “et alli”
Alligator: 1. Audience member, 2. Non-musician
Usage: “Those alligators are hip to the lyrics.”
Cool: 1. Unaffected by chaos. 2. Good, nice, interesting. 3. Something neutral to say when you have no other intelligent response.
Hep Cat: Swing dancer or other person of significant “coolness” or unusual awareness.
Hip: Having knowledge of things, esp. “cool” things. The state of being “cool”
Usage: “That cat is hip.”
Hipped … to: Informing someone of something esp. something cool or relatively unknown
Usage: “That dude hipped me to the sobriety checkpoint on Garnet Ave.”
Harmony: Two or more pitches (or notes) that sound good together, also a note other than the melody, which when played simultaneously with the melody produces a pleasing audio effect. This is difficult to accomplish for most people.
Flat: 1. a pitch slightly lower in frequency that would normally be desired.
Usage: “That singer is flat, man”
2. A half tone lower than the note indicated. Represented by the symbol “b”
Usage: “This song is in E flat” (Eb)
Sharp: 1. a pitch slightly higher in frequency than would normally be desired.
Usage: “That note was sharp, man”
2. A half tone higher than the note indicated. Represented by the symbol “#”
Usage: “This song is in F Sharp” (F#)
Dissonant: Non-harmonic, not rhyming sonically, a sonic toothache.
Usage: “That cat’s car horn is dissonant.”
Muddy: Sounding muffled or consisting of excessive mid-range frequencies.
Usage: “Yo man, the mix is muddy.”
Bright: consisting of excessive high frequencies
Usage: “Yo man, the monitors are so bright, they broke up my kidney stones.”
Boomy: consisting of excessive low frequencies:
Usage: “Man, that bass rig is so boomy, it’s makin’ the drummer drag.”
Chutzpah: Hebrew for BALLS! Literally: “insolence,” “audacity,” and “impertinence.”
Usage: “That singer has a lot more Chutzpah than he has talent.”
Dig: 1. To like or agree with
Usage: “I dig what you’re sayin’ man!”
2. To understand
Usage: “I dig what you’re sayin’ man!”
The “Intro” or “Verse”: The introduction or lyrical set up of a musical composition, commonly “rubato.”
Rubato: 1. Not in tempo, having flexible tempo.
Usage: “I’m going to sing the verse rubato so lay out until the head”
The “A” section: “The Head” The first section of a song, often repeated frequently
Usage: “I’m lost, let’s go back to the ‘A’ section”
The “B” section: see “The Bridge”
“AABA“: Typical song formation of an “A” section, repeated, followed by a bridge, then a final repetition of the “A” section. This is similar to the basic structure of 99% of popular American music.
Bridge: A transition section between 2 parts of a song. Often a different melody, tonic or feel than the two parts it connects. Often the place where the singer comes back in after featuring an instrumental section or “improvisational solo”
Usage: “Take it to the Bridge!”
Solo: An individual composition often performed in the middle of a song where an instrumentalist gets to demonstrate their exceptional skill on their instrument, possibly even to express themselves musically. This can be a pre-rehearsed composition or can be improvised on the spot.
Usage: “That was a killer Bass solo, the drummer didn’t even drag!” (this statement is rarely if ever heard)
Woodshed: To practice. also “to shed” or “shedding”
Usage: “That cat needs to shed some.”
Cover Band: A band which plays a variety of popular songs that were written and recorded by various artists
Tribute Band: A band that plays tribute to one specific artist or specific era like “Rolling the Stones” or “The 80’s All Starz”
Impersonator: A person or band which tries to actually impersonate an artist. Sometimes the line between a tribute band and an impersonator can be blurry.
This is not an all-inclusive list and I reserve the right to misuse these terms whenever I deem it interesting to do so.