Glossary

Anticipation
Anticipations are notes that attack before the resolution of the beat.
Arrangement
Creating a left hand accompaniment to a melody or moving sections of a song around.
Bass Line
A type of accompaniment that is a single note at a time. Usually played legato.
Block Chord
A four-note chord. Same thing as a seventh chord.
Blues
A style of music. A chord progression that contains I7, IV7, V7.
Blues Scale
A six-note scale that works well over the Blues for improvisation.
Chord Changes
Same as a chord progression. An order of chords.
Chord Progression
The order in which chords move. There are numerous popular chord progressions.
Chord Root
The letter (with accidental) that is furthest to the left in a chord symbol. In A#-7, the root A#.
Chord Symbol
Everything to the right of the root in a chord. In Eb-7, the root is Eb, the symbol is -7.
Chords
Playing two or more notes at the same time. The letters and numbers found above melody.
Comping “comp”
Adding rhythm to chords to create a more interesting accompaniment.
Dyads
Two-note chords. R3, R5, R7 chords are dyads.
Downbeat
The first part of the beat. Every beat has a down and up part.
Fake Book
A book of lead sheets. A book of only melodies and chords; you make the arrangement.
Function
When analyzing notes, we often think of how they ‘work’ or function within a particular chord or key. Using the note ‘E’ for example, we know that it functions as the 3rd of a C Major triad. Or, it can function as the root of an E chord. Of course it can function or ‘work’ as something on just about any chord. It could be the 9th of a D chord or the #11 of a Bb chord. Analyzing the function of notes gives us a deeper understanding of how those notes can be used within chord structures.
Head
The melody of the song. Typically a jazz form is head-solo-head (melody-solo-melody).
Improvisation / Improv
Creating your own melodies from scales, rhythms and other ideas you’ve learned.
Jam Session
When people get together to play without prior rehearsal. People might be meeting for the first time!
Lead Sheet / Lead Line
A song with chords written above the melody line. No left hand arrangement!
Lick
A short melodic idea that you use for improvisation or as a “spring board” into your solo.
Modes
A scale starting on a note other than the first (i.e., C scale starting on D going to D- D,E,F,G,A,B,C,D).
Montuno
A syncopated piano vamp that repeats. Might be two (common), four, eight or more measures.
Open Improvisation
A section of a song where you can improvise for as long as you want.
Ostinato
A repeating pattern, usually in the bass (i.e., playing the 5th of the key on two and four only for a few measures).
Pentatonic Scale
A five-note scale. There are Maj and min pentatonic scales. One note away from a Blues scale.
Root of the chord
The tonic of a chord.
Root-3 Chords (R3)
Playing only the Root and the 3rd of the chord.
Root-5 Chords (R5)
Playing only the Root and the 5th of the chord.
Root-7 Chords (R7)
Playing only the Root and the 7th of the chord.
Seventh Chord
A four-note chord. A triad with the seventh of the scale added.
Shells
Playing only two of the notes of a chord (i.e., C-Bb is a R7 chord shell for a C dominant 7 chord).
Slashes
Notation written as / / / / to signify that chords should be “comped.”
Solo
Same as improvisation. Creating your own melodies while accompaniment is played in the left hand.
Tension
The notes that make up a chord we call chord tones. On a Cmin7 chord, these notes would be C-Eb-G-Bb. However, there are more notes that we can add to the chord to create a fuller, more complex sound. These notes are called tensions. You can not add just any note though. Tensions are often a whole step higher than the chord tones. So, using our Cmin7 as an example, a whole step higher than C is D, which is the 9th, F which is the 11th and A which on a minor chord becomes the 6th. When you become familiar with tensions, you will just start to remember what works on which type of chord. Check out the Piano Chords series to learn more about tensions.
Transposition
Moving a melody and chords to a new key. Used when playing with other instruments.
Triad
A three-note chord formed by playing the 1st, 3rd and 5th note of the Major scale at the same time.
Upbeat
The second half of a beat. Follows the downbeat. Anticipations usually occur on upbeats.
Vocalizing
Adding nonsense syllables to rhythms to make it easier to learn and perform them.
Voice Leading
When notes of one chord smoothly move to another chord.
Voicing
Arrangement of the notes in a chord.
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