[Dixielandjazz] Re: What is "riffing"

Burt Wilson futurecon at earthlink.net
Wed Feb 26 10:49:00 PST 2003

Dear listmates--
I was listening to Bing and J. Mercer sing "Small Fry" this morning and Bing does some scat and Mercer refers to it as "riffing." Also Louis, on "If I could be with you" (I think) exclaims: "Boy am I'm really riffin' it tonight." (or something like that.)

The thing is: I was raised to believe that a "riff" was a "Single repeated phrase, or strain." But it seems that the word has taken on all sorts of new meanings since then and even younger people today talk about going out and "riffin'" as in having a good time (used to be called "jammin'")

My question: what is the meaning of the word "Riff" (all jokes about "The Desert Song" notwithstanding.)

Burt Wilson
The Silver Dollar Jazz Band

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list