Tag: music

dance scene

37 dances from the OED

Because the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) captures the breadth and variety of the English language, something that one can trace through its entries are cultural fads and crazes. With that in mind, we have picked out a sampling of some of the dances mentioned in the OED, some new, some old, some still popular today, […]

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jazz nicknames

How did jazz musicians end up with all those nicknames?

‘Old Blue Eyes’. ‘The Queen of Soul’. ‘Muddy Waters’. ‘The King’. Nicknames are an integral part of the history of popular music in the United States. They not only lend musicians a distinctive identity, but they also serve to create a sense of familiarity between musician and listener. Nicknames connect audiences to performers who, on […]

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baseball jazz

Jazz: an unlikely, but true, American journey

Two very American institutions are celebrated this month. Besides being Jazz Appreciation Month, April also marks the start of the MLB baseball season, which begins this year on 6 April. While at first glance the only thing that jazz and baseball seem to have in common is that both have been the subjects of Ken Burns […]

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alps

From Guido of Arezzo to The Sound of Music: the history of do re mi

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the film adaptation of The Sound of Music. This year’s commemorations of the event include a music festival in Salzburg, a story in Vanity Fair, screenings of the restored film in the US, and a medley of songs from the film performed by Lady Gaga at […]

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Photo via Flickr/Jason Persse

Dr. Dre and the language of gangsta rap

The hip hop world knows Dr. Dre as one of its most skilled producers and as a significant mentor to other prominent rappers – including Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and 50 Cent – but not as one of the genre’s most significant wordsmiths. However, Dre’s influence on the vocabulary of English is enormous even despite his […]

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country

Dolly Parton: a musical career expressed through language statistics

Here at Oxford Dictionaries we often refer to the Oxford English Corpus in our work. By consulting statistical analysis of a vast database of billions of words of English captured from the wild, our lexicographer colleagues can spot new words and usage patterns that they might not otherwise have encountered. It is a fascinating resource […]

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sax

How the saxophone got its name: an A-Z of instruments

6 November is World Saxophone Day, apparently. It’s the anniversary of the day the inventor was born – we’ll share his name a little later. We thought it was a good opportunity to produce an alphabet of interesting instrument names, from accordion to zither. As far as possible, we’ve tried to stick to common instruments […]

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Sheet Music

Foreign words and musical notes

Anyone who’s ever had to learn to read sheet music will know what I mean when I say that it can sometimes literally be like learning another language. Besides parsing those tricky lines, dots, tails, and bars, there are also the snatches of foreign languages – mostly Italian, along with the occasional word of French, […]

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