A chord whos pitches are performed one after the other instead of simultaneously. Also called a broken chord.

Bent Note

A slight alteration of the pitch of a note for expressive purposes. It is used by both singers and instrumentalists, especially in blues and blues-influenced styles.
Blue Note
An African-inspired alteration of certain conventional scale tones.
Country Rock
A hybrid style that merged country music and rock. Country roc developed in the late 1960’s, chiefly through the efforts of Gram Parsons.
An instrument associated with country music, with the body of an acoustic guitar and a resonating device place in the sound hole. Like the steel guitar, the dobro is typically played horizontally, and the srings are stopped with a metal bar.
Electric Steel Guitar

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Invented in the early 1930’s, it soon replaced the dobro as the instrument of choice for lap guitarists.

Honky-Tonk Beat
A countrified two-beat: clear OOM-pah rhythm with a crisp backbeat.
Steel Guitar
An electric version of the Hawaiian guitar that has been a popular instrument in country music since the mid-1930’s. It rests on the performer’s knees or on a stand just The strings are stopped with a metal bar held in one hand and plucked with the other. A more modern and complex version is the pedal stell guitar, which may have several necks as well as foot-activated pedals and knee-operated levers that allow for changing the pitch or volume.
Two-beat rhythm
The division of the measure into two primary beats or accents; the rhythmic basis of the fox trot and other early syncopated instrumental styles.

Event song


A song that tells the story of a noteworthy event, often a catastrophic one. Event songs have a long history in folk and country music.
A second melody playing under the main melody
A song form in which two or more verses of text are sung to the same melody. A hymn is strophic.
Blues Progression

The defining chord progression of a 12-bar blues. Here is a typical version of the progression, measure by measure.




Pentatonic Scale
A scale with five notes per octave. Two pentatonic scales are used widely in popular music the Anglo-American pentatonic scale, heard in minstrel songs and some country music and the African American pentatonic scale, heard in blues and blues-influenced styles.
Thumb brush style
An early country guitar style in which the pereformer plays the melody on the lower strings and, between melody notes, brushes the chords on the upper strings. It was first popularized by Maybelle Carter.
Verse/Chorus Form
The most popular song form of the late nineteenth century. The verse tells a story in several stages (this section is strophic, i.e., different words are set to the same melody), whereas the chorus, which comes at the end of each verse, repeats both words and melody to reinforce the main message of the song. In early verse/chorus songs, the chorus was often sung by a small group, usually a quartet.
Acoustic instrumentation
Instrumentation featuring only acoustic instruments. (no amplifiers or electronically generated sounds)


An updated version of country’s old-time string band music. Bluegrass developed in the late 1940’s under the guidance of mandolinist Bill Monroe.
Chop-Chord style
In bluegrass, a mandolin accompaniment characterized by a heavy back-beat
Mountain vocal style
A term used to describe the vocal style of singers like bluegrass legend Bill Monroe; The "high lonesome sound."
AABA form
A four-part form in which the first, second, and fourth sections are identical and the third is different. AABA was the most widely used song form between 1920 and 1955.
1. A working class bar. 2. Country musicassociated with honky-tonks It developed around 1940 and was distinguished from other country music of the period in  its use of drums, a heavy backbeat, and electric guitar
A four beat thythm in which each beat is reinforced with a long/short pattern. Shuffle rhythms were most common in post-World War II jump styles and rhythm and blues.
Clave rhythm
The characteristic rhythm of Afro-Cuban music. It can be represented as:….


Two cylindrical sticks about 1 inch in diameter used to tap out the clave rhythm.
A percussive instrument made by putting hanles on dried, seed-filled gourds; the shaking of seeds against the interior walls makes the distinctive sound.
1. A device to dampen or reduce the sound of an instrument, altering it in the process, Brass instrumentalists use a variety of mutes, including such "found" devices as toilet plungers and hats.
Reverse clave rhythm
A version of the clave thythm, in which the second half of the pattern comes first.
An afro cuban inspired dance popularized in the United States during the early 1930s.
A pair of shallow, single-headed drums tuned to different pitches. Timbales are a customary component of the percussion section of an Afro-Cuban band.
An instrument in which sound is produced by forcing air past redds through hand operated bellows. The accorionist changes pitch throuhg either a keyboard or buttons, located at ither end of the bellows mechanism.
In American popular music, an Americanized form of the Cuban rumba. It has a similar rhythmic feel but lacks the clave rhythm heard in authentic Afro-Cuban music.
A pair of small single-headed drums played with the hands. They are an integral part of an Afro-Cuban percussion battery.
A pitched percussion instrument. It has wooden bars laid out like a piano keyboard, with resonators under each bar. The bars are struck with mallets.
Conga drum
A large (2 feet 6 inches high), cigar-shaped drum, which is open at the bottom and covered by a drum head at the top. It is one of the essential instruments of Afro-CUban music and has been used in addition to or in place of drum sets durng the rock era.
A cowbell (a bell worn by cows) from which the clapper has been removed. It is widely used in AFro-Cuban music; two cowbells are part of the typical setup for timbales.
In Afro-Cuban music, the section of the song where percussionists improvise.
A latin dance fad of the late 1940’s and ’50s that combined the rhythms of the Afro-Cuban son with the horn sounds of big-band jazz.
In Afro-Cuban music, a syncopated accompanying figure, usually played on the piano, that is repeated indefinitely.
A syncopated bass pattern characteristic of Afro-Cuban music.
16-beat rhythm
A style beath in which the fastest rhythmic layer moves four times the speed of the beat: 4 times per beat X 4 beats = 16 beat rhythm. First popularized in disco and funk, it has been the most widely used style beat since the early 1980’s.
Bossa Nova
A samba based, jazz-influenced Brazilian popular-song style that became popular in the United States in the early 1960s.
A button acordion popular in Argentina.
Repeating a melodic idea at a higher or lower pitch.
An Argentine dance seemingly based on the habanera that has been popular in Europe and the United States since the 1910s. In the United States, it was the first of the Latin dance fads.
Bajo sexto
An oversized mexican twelve-string guitar that typically served as a bass instument in small groups, or conjuntos.
A Texan of Mexican ancestry; something, especially music, connected with Tejano culture.
Two groups of thin wires bound together to make narrow fans. Brushes are used by percussionists in lieu of sticks when a more delicate sound is desired.
Jump band
IN the late 1940s, a small band- rhythm section plus a few horns that played a rhythm-and-blues style influenced by big-band swing and electric blues. Saxophonist/vocalist Louis Jordan was a key performer in this style.
Bo Diddley Beat
A distinctive rhythm that is virtually identical to the clave rhythm
Time kept in the melody only.
Boogie Woogie
A blues piano style characterized by repetitive bass figures, usually in a shuffle rhythm.
Eight beat rhythm or Eight-to-bar
A rhythm that divides each beat of a four-beat measure into two equal parts.
A short(two to seven pitches), rhythmically interesting melodic idea.

According to Carl Perkins, a country take on rhythm and blues, performed mainly by white Southerners, that combined elements of country music with rock and roll.

Lead guitarist

The guitarist in a rock band who is playing the melody, the most prominent riff, or a solo.
The process of recording an additional part onto an existing melody.
A pop oriented R genre that typically featured remakes of popular standards or pop-style originals sung by black vocal groups.
Head rather than ches singing, used by a male singer to extend his range upward.
A song that remains popular well after its initial apperance; songs that live on in recordings, films, and live performances.
A division of the beat into three equal parts.
A slight oscillation in the basic pitch of a musical sound.
In twentieth-century popular music, a popular song performed at a slow tempo
A term coined by producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to refer to a song that told a funny story with serious overtones Stoller called them “cartoons”
Rock Beat
Eight evenly space sounds per measure- over a strong back beat.
Stop time
The periodic interruption of steady timekeeping by the rhythm section
Girl group
A term used to identify all-female groups.
Rebound backbeat