To play without written music.

fake book

A book of music that contains only the melodies and chord progressions of popular songs and well-known jazz compositions.

false fingering

A technique of altered finger placement that produces tones or density of sound on horns that are not available by orthodox techniques.


Short improvised passages behind a soloist or between sections of a piece of music.

flag waver

A spectacular (and usually up-tempo) piece of music (swing era).

flatted fifth

The lowering (by a half-step) of the fifth degree of a chord; a device especially associated with early bebop.

formulaic improvisation

The use of a wide variety of elements (including favorite licks or fragments, manipulations of intervals and range, interpolated phrases, etc.) in developing a solo.


Also playing in four. A form of rhythm organization in which all four beats are relatively equal. Four-beat was especially common in the swing era and afterwards, but was also found in earlier jazz.

Black Bottom Stomp, Jelly Roll Morton & His Red Hot Peppers (1926)

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free jazz

A cluster of jazz styles (post-1954) that minimize the importance of a fixed beat and a given harmonic structure, and emphasize the sound and texture of music.

Bending the Blend, Bergman/Braxton/Brotzmann (1997)

John Coltrane, "Vigil" (1965)

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front line

The horns; all the instruments but the rhythm section.


Also "funky." A loose term for music that draws from blues- or gospel-based harmony, rhythm, and melody; also (since the 1960s) a complex, bass and rhythm guitar-driven, sometimes three-against-four pattern, with horns used in rhythm patterns and shouted vocals.

Marcus Miller Band, "Rehab" (2007)

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A group of styles of jazz that merged post-bop music with soul, rock, and sometimes funk in an amplified form. First heard in the late 1960s in Miles Davis's In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew (when it was called "jazz-rock"), by the late 1970s jazz musicians such as Grover Washington and George Benson began to play a simpler, more direct music that was later more completely arranged and synthesizer-driven over a repeated bass line by groups such as the Yellowjackets and Spyro Gyra. Weather Report, a band formed by Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, took fusion to a more exotic, atmospheric level, while maintaining ties to earlier forms of jazz through extended solos and group improvisation.

Miles Davis at Montreux (1973)

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