Every part of popular culture seems to have its own lingo, and music is no exception. Far from it. In fact, music industry slang is often a leader when it comes to altering our popular lexicon. One of the first ways people may learn of new lingo is by hearing it out of the mouths of their favorite musicians.
When it comes to music, rock band slang may be the coolest, and it’s the lingo that most quickly finds its way into popular culture. Even though rock music has been around for over half a century, a lot of its lingo still feels as fresh as it did way back when. If you’re joining or just starting a rock band, you want to make sure you sound the part. To help, here is some key rock band lingo that every new member should know.
Rock Band Lingo Terms
- Album: Also called a record or just “vinyl,” this word refers to a 12-inch vinyl disc with a groove that you play at 33 rpm (revolutions per minute) on a record player designed for this purpose.
- A&R: The record company representative. Stands for “Artists and Repertoire.”
- Arrangement: The way the music is set up for playing, including specific instructions for the vocalist and instruments.
- A side: Before CDs and streamed music, musicians would release hits as “singles,” smaller versions of the vinyl album meant to be played at 45 rpm. On these singles, there was room for one song on each side. The song the record company expected to be the big hit was the “A” side, while the secondary song appeared on the “B” side. Of course, you can’t always predict hits, and some “B” sides became some of the most well-known songs in rock. Famous B sides include: “We Will Rock You” by Queen, “Revolution” by the Beatles and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones.
- Bass riff: A short melody inserted into a song, exclusively for the bass guitar or for the bass guitar with a little help from the lead.
- Bridge: The bit of music that connects a verse with the chorus.
- Bubblegum rock: Catchy but mostly empty rock for kids, good for singing and dancing, not deep introspection.
- Demo: A sample recording that rock bands try to get to record producers to get a contract.
- Gig: A job.
- Gold record (gold disc): Awarded for selling a million copies of an album or single.
- Groupie: Fans of the band that follow them everywhere.
- Head chart: A spontaneously generated arrangement.
- Hook: A catchy melody that you can’t get out of your head.
- Jam session: When musicians randomly start playing together.
- Rock beat: The characteristic beat of rock music, emphasizing beats two and four in 4/4 time.
- Setlist: The list of songs a band plays during their performance.
- Vamp: Killing time during a performance by talking or playing out random little riffs.
Putting Your New Knowledge to Work
This is just a sampling, and you’ll probably learn more rock lingo once you brush up on your rock ‘n’ roll classics. Start at Record Head, where you can find your favorite rock bands on vinyl or CD, along with record players, stereos and all the electronic equipment you need to truly enjoy it. Our staff loves to talk music too, so you can drop some of your lingo terms and learn some new ones. We’ve got it all when it comes to music, so come pick some up today!