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Welcome to the Songstufff Glossary!
Find the meaning to common, and not so common terms in this broad ranging glossary. Covering a diversity of Music related terminology including Music Technology, Music Theory, Music Law, Acoustics, and Electronics, the Songstuff Glossary is an ever-growing collection. Everything from Absorption to Zero Level.
We're continually adding new descriptions, so if you have a suggested description please Contact Songstuff.
Glossary items are listed in alphabetical order. Please use the navigation block below to browse the glossary items.
New Glossary Listings
AAB Song Form
Also known as 12 Bar Blues Song Form is the most common blues song form. In 12-Bar song form an AAB pattern is used in both lyrics and melody (this is often set out in a 'question-question-answer' format) made up of three 4-bar phrases.
Coda is an Italian word for "tail". These are the closing lines of a song which brings it to a close. It is not uncommon for the Coda to include aspects of both Ad Lib and collision sections. The coda is an optional addition to a song.
Ad Lib is short-hand for Ad Libitum, which means "at will". Literally interpretted Ad Lib means "improvised".
An Ad Lib song section is usually within the coda or outro. In modern pop music the lead vocal is the only instrument that really performs an Ad Lib. Usually this takes the form of backing vocals holding down the main vocal part while the lead voice adds ornamentation in the form of vocal licks on top of that backing. This is done to really crank up the intensity of the piece. It can be used very effectively in conjunction with a collision. In a live situation a singer may choose to mention the location of the current gig, or refer to the crowd or some other customization of the lyrics.
Solo (Song Section)
Solos can be played within a middle eight section, but modern solos can be played using the chords and base melody (for melodic based solos) of any of the sections of the song, however a solo over the bridge or chorus chords is the most common.
A solo is a special song section designed to showcase an instrumentalist, or sometimes more than one instrumentalist. The solo section may use the verse chords, pre-chorus chords, chorus chords or bridge chords, or in blues derived genres a solo may be played over a standard backing chord progression.
For some pop songs, the solo performer echoes the same melodies previously sung in other sections of the song, or sometimes a solo instrumentalist will directly echo a phrase sung immediately before in a question-answer format.
In blues derived or influenced pop songs, the solo performers may improvise a solo.
A collision is a song section where different parts of music overlap with each other. Collisions do not tend to last very long, and usually they occur towards the end of the song. It creates tension and drama which makes it ideal to use during one of the later chorus sections. A common source of collision themes to collide with the chorus theme are the middle eight and the pre-chorus melodies.
A Middle-Eight is a specialist type of bridge section. In music theory, middle eight refers to the B section of a 32-Bar Song Form song, which is 8 Bars in length (hence middle eight). It has a significantly different melody, rhythm and harmony from the "A" section specifically, and the more generally, the whole song. It is the B in an AABA song, in an AB (Verse / Chorus) song the middle eight is usually placed after the second chorus.
Middle Eight sections usually use new chord progressions. It is called a middle 8 because it happens in the middle of the song and the length is generally 8 bars.
Middle Eights introduce a contrast with the rest of the song. Many early solos were played during the middle eight.
An interlude is a short sequence that often re-uses themes and feel from another section of the song. Literally an interlude provides, when needed, breathing space between sections of the song. Interlude sections are almost always instrumental as they literally provide space for a singer to breathe.
- It sets the initial scene of the song and gives the listener their first idea of what is to come.
- It establishes rhythm, tempo, instrumentation, dynamics, beat, key and atmosphere.
- Major chords give the song an up-beat feel
- Minor chords will portray a sad feel or feeling of loss.
- Often the introduction is an instrumental, usually featuring a variation of the main theme.
- Drums and percussion parts are sometimes used on their own to strongly establish the rhythm or groove.
- It can build a sense of suspense and anticipation, creating a feeling of release when the song steps down into the verse.
Arrangement wise, it isn't uncommon to have the lead singer sing the main hook of the song at a slower tempo, or a variation on the main hook may be sung by backup singers. This seeds the main melody in the mind of the listener. This can evoke a stronger reaction to the melody proper, when it appears.
In terms of chord progressions, introductions often:
- use one or more bars of the tonic chord
- Use a standard "turn around" progression for songs with a jazz or blues influence
- Use chord progressions from the verse, chorus, pre-chorus, bridge
This isn't often used in current popular music, although it was briefly popular with the American West Coast "Surf Sound" writers of the 1960s. A pre-verse was a particular link section that was used as an interlude between the Introduction section and the first Verse section.