Ballads – a song form used often in folk music, which is used to tell a story that usually contains a moral or lesson.
Bebop - a style of small group jazz developed in the late 1940s, which featured fast moving harmonies, angular melodies, and highly complex rhythms
Big Band – large jazz ensembles (15-20 members) popular in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The term “Big Band” also refers to the era in which these bands were popular.
Bluegrass – a variation of country music featuring fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass guitar, and the five-string banjo that developed largely in the Appalachian region
Blues – a style of music that, at the turn of the twentieth century, began to form out of African American work songs, field hollers, and spirituals. Today, the word “blues” is used loosely and can refer to feeling sad or down, to any song played in a bluesy style, or more specifically, to a song that follows a blues form, which is a twelve-bar strophic song form.
Broadway Musical – a style of Musical Theatre, which integrated a cohesive plot with songs and dances that advanced that plot. Broadway specifically refers to the street of the same name in New York City that became known for this style.
Children’s Song – a type of folk song designed to teach a simple lesson. They are often simple to sing and easy to remember.
Contemporary Country – a mixture of rock rhythm sections and a singer singing with a country accent about many of the same topics that traditional country singers have used over the decades.
Contemporary R&B – generally refers to music with jazz, gospel, and funk roots that uses electronic instruments, drums, horns, and vocals.
Country Music – a term describing a broad variety of musical styles including Bluegrass, Hillbilly Music, and Contemporary Country. Generally speaking, most types of music that fall under this category originated in the American South (although it also encompasses Western Swing and cowboy songs) and features a singing style with a distinctly rural southern accent, as well as an instrumentation that favors string instruments such as the banjo, guitar, or fiddle.
Dance Music – music written for dancing. The instrumentation of various types of folk dance music varies with the style.
Dixieland – an early form of jazz developed in New Orleans during the turn of the twentieth century featuring syncopated rhythms, improvised solos and harmonies, as well as a common instrumentation that included trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, trombone, tuba, banjo, piano, guitar, and drums.
Folk Music – a term used to describe a wide variety of musical forms that developed within different cultures, often for different reasons. Folk music is often passed down not through written music, but orally from one generation to another.
Hillbilly Music – an early form of country music, Hillbilly Music was an alternative to the jazz and dance music of the 1920s and was portrayed as wholesome music of the “good old days.”
Honky Tonk Music – a country combo style that became quite popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Originally performed in saloons known as “honky tonks,’ many of the songs dealt with subjects associated with honky tonks such as infidelity and drinking.
Improvisation – the act of creating melodies and harmonies on the spot without reading the music off a page.
Minstrel Show – an American form of theatre developed in the nineteenth century and featuring white performers in blackface performing in a variety show, which depicted black characters as happy participants in romanticized versions of the American slave south.
Musical Theatre – a type of dramatic performance that tells a story through dialogue, with singing and dancing added to support and move the plot along.
New Orleans Jazz – (see Dixieland)
Operetta – a “light opera” developed in the nineteenth century that required classically
trained singers, but featured less complex music than a typical opera.
Protest Song – a type of folk song written to directly, or by suggestion, voice complaints about some injustice.
Ragtime – a musical genre developed near the turn of the twentieth century that featured syncopated rhythms. The style became nationally popular after being widely published as sheet music.
Rap – a form of spoken word delivered over a beat. It can be improvised or written out in advance.
Rhythm and Blues (R&B) – a term originally referring to music recorded by black musicians and intended for use by the African American community. The term has evolved throughout the years and encompasses several different musical styles, including soul, funk and now contemporary R&B.
Rock and Roll – a style of music that grew out of Rhythm and Blues and came into prominence during the 1950s. The style features a strong backbeat and often features electric guitar, bass and drums. The style is now known as “rock” has spawned many subgenres.
Sampling – a technique in which a clip of a preexisting song is isolated and looped, often as a background for a rapper
Scratching – the technique of improvising a rhythmic solo on one turntable over a beat Swing – a term used to describe the rhythmic bounce that characterizes the jazz style. The
term can also refer to the big band music of the 1930s and 1940s.
Syncopation – the act of disrupting the normal pattern of accents in a piece of music by emphasizing what would normally be weak beats.
Western Swing – a style of country music that developed in western cities and borrowed instruments from the dance band such as saxophones, trombones, trumpets, piano, bass, and drums.
Work Songs – a type of folk song devised to help groups of people perform physical work. The music usually uses the tempo of the work itself and was sung by lumberjacks, railroad workers, and prison chain gangs, among others.