[Dixielandjazz] Re: What is "riffing"

lswain at penrose.com lswain at penrose.com
Wed Feb 26 14:01:28 PST 2003

> what is the meaning of the word "Riff"

I started with the on-line dictionary at m-w.com and found:

Function: noun
Etymology: probably by shortening & alteration from refrain
Date: 1935
1 : an ostinato phrase (as in jazz) typically supporting a solo
improvisation; also : a piece based on such a phrase
2 : a short succinct usually witty comment; also : BIT, ROUTINE

Function: intransitive verb
Date: 1948
: to perform a riff

For some of us, I also found:

Main Entry: osti·na·to
Function: noun
Etymology: Italian, obstinate, from Latin obstinatus
Date: circa 1876
: a musical figure repeated persistently at the same pitch throughout
a composition -- compare IMITATION, SEQUENCE

Larry Swain

L. R. Swain
Penrose, Inc.
http://www.Penrose.com        (781) 871-1225

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