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Gutbucket, hamfatter, and chops: the language of jazz

Today is International Jazz Day and to celebrate we’ve delved into the language of this musical movement to bring you our favourite words and terms. From bebop to vocalese via the more unexpected gutbucket and hamfatter, you don’t need to be a jive-talking hepcat to enjoy the language associated with this popular musical genre.

barrelhouse
an unrestrained and unsophisticated style of jazz music

bebop:
a type of jazz originating in the 1940s and characterized by complex harmony and rhythms. It is associated particularly with Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie

cat:
(especially among jazz enthusiasts) a man

chops:
the technical skill of a jazz or rock musician

cool:
(of jazz) restrained and relaxed

fake book:
a book of music containing the basic chord sequences of jazz or other tunes

gutbucket:
(of jazz or blues) raw and spirited in style

hamfatter:
an inexpert or amateurish performer, especially a mediocre jazz musician

harmolodics:
a form of free jazz in which musicians improvise simultaneously on a melodic line at various pitches

hepcat:
a stylish or fashionable person, especially in the sphere of jazz or popular music

jug band:
a group of jazz, blues, or folk musicians using simple or improvised instruments such as jugs and washboards

lick:
a short phrase or solo in jazz or popular music

scat:
improvised jazz singing in which the voice is used in imitation of an instrument

shuffle:            
a rhythmic motif based on a shuffle dance step and typical of early jazz, consisting of alternating crotchets and quavers in a triplet pattern

vocalese:
a style of singing in which singers put words to jazz tunes, especially to previously improvised instrumental solos