An Extensive Encyclopedic Music Dictionary

An Extensive
Traditional and Folk Music
Encyclopedic Dictionary

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(Section G2)


Grand pause-annotated by two slashes, //, it indicates a stop in the music in which the players wait until they are directed to continue. If one is playing a solo then he would decide when to continue.


Grandpa Jones (1913- ) (Louis Jones) a Kentucky banjo player who began in radio work in the 30s. He learned frailing banjo in the late 30s and in 1942 joined a quartet called The Brown’s Ferry Four - the other members were Travis, Merle and the Delmore Brothers. He also worked with Kincaid, Bradley in the 30s (it was Bradley who mainly invented the Grandpa image). From 1969 to 1992 he was a regular on the "Hee Haw" TV show. He wrote and recorded "Eight More Miles to Louisville", which was also recorded in the 60s by Kweskin, Jim. After Hee Haw, he continued to perform with the Grand Ole Opry.

Grand Gran, big.

grat see greet.

Grave-Grave (Italian: slow, solemn) is used as an indication of tempo and mood, meaning slow and serious.


Grazioso-Grazia (grace) forms the Italian adjective grazioso, used as an indication of expression and of tempo, particularly in the 18th century.

great clef (also "great staff", "grand clef") the bass staff and treble staff together, as in piano notation.

Great Folk Scare see folk revival.

gree (Scot.) prize, first place.

Greek modes see mode.

Green Grow the Rashes-O a song by Burns, Robert and not to be confused with the song below.

Green Grow the Rushes-O aka "The Dilly Song", this is said to be of Cornish origin and was once used to teach the Creed. Some songbooks say that the meaning of the lyrics has been lost, leaving us with only a pleasant but cryptic ditty to sing around the campfire, but the "Oxford Book of English Traditional Verse" gives an explanation, which follows the lyrics below: "I’ll sing you One-O, green grow the rushes-O.What is your One-O?One is one and all alone and ever more shall be so.I’ll sing you Two-O, green grow the rushes-O.What is your Two-O?Two, two, the lily-white boys cloth-ed all in green-O,One is one and all alone and ever more shall be so.(continuing in a like manner, adding a number each time)Three for the rivalsFour for the Gospel makersFive for the symbol at your doorSix for the six proud walkersSeven for the seven stars in the skyEight for the eight bold rangersNine for the nine bright shinersTen for the ten commandmentsEleven for the eleven who went to heavenTwelve for the twelve apostlesOne = GodTwo = Christ and John the BaptistThree = the MagiFour = the EvangelistsFive = "possibly the Hebraic pentagon... but possibly thefive wounds of Christ."Six = those who carried the waterpots at the feast of CanaSeven = the Great Bear or the planetsEight = the ArchangelsNine = either the orders of Angels or the joys of MaryTen = self-explanatoryEleven and Twelve = the Apostles (eleven without Judas)

Greenbriar Boys see Herald, John.

Greensleeves nope, Henry VIII didn’t write it. It was first published in 1580 and may be much older than that. It’s been around in various guises, including bawdy versions that probably would have had a simplified melody (one still around today as the song "Shepherd, O Shepherd, Will You Come Home"); the lovely setting we know today has been attributed to lutenist John Dowland (1562-1626). It was sung in the 17th century as a Christmas song with the words "The old year now away has fled, the new year now is enter-ed"; this is a waits carol, and the version in the "Oxford Book of Carols" (dated 1642 and listing the music as traditional). It reached its second-lowest point with the genteel lyrics Bert Lloyd Lloyd, A.L. called "ghastly": "Alas, my love you do me wrong..." and bottomed out with the current gooey version played at Christmas time (the "What Child Is This" lyrics were written by William Dix in the 19th century).

greet (UK) to cry for, insist on. Also "grat", particularly as a past tense.

Gregorian chant plainsong used in the Christian church since it was accepted as a formal religion in the fourth century, though no notation of the music shows up until about the 9th century. Pope Gregory I (540-604) has his name firmly attached to the styles and the modes that are used, but musicologists doubt his actual influence. The stark simplicity can have a powerful effect; the chants have a simple unaccompanied melody, with harmonies that favor parallel fourths, fifths, and octaves, a harmony known as organum. The notation of the earliest chants used simple shorthand symbols ( neumes) around a single horizontal line, and with no indication of meter. Later the single line became four, and the neumes incorporated indications of the timing. By the 11th century, simple parallels had been abandoned in favor of various intervals in the harmony lines. The main melody, called the "cantus firmus", formerly at the top, could now be at the bottom, or even cross with the other melodies. In the 12th and 13th centuries, rhythm became more interesting with the addition of multiple harmony notes against each note of the cantus firmus; previously it had been note-against-note. It’s of interest that until the 13th century, the meter was always triple; duple meter was unthinkable. The idea was that triple meant perfection, partly from the religious aspect (the Trinity) and partly from natural philosophy (everything has a beginning, middle, and end). The chant, together with its four-line notation and neumes, is still in use today, unchanged from its medieval form. This is remarkable in itself, but less so than the persistence of folk music forms, which travel through time without imposed standards (see moldy figs, organum, or the last part of collectors for related comments). At present (1994) there is a best-selling CD of Gregorian chants by Benedictine monks - such a bestseller that there is even a parody of the recording: "The Benzedrine Monks", who do songs such as "We Will Rock You" and "Do You Think I’m Sexy" in the Gregorian style. The electric folk group Steeleye Span had a hit in the UK in the 70s with the a cappella chant "Gaudete". See also Guido d’Arezzo, who worked out a symbolic system for the pitches in chant singing.

grog 1. In general, any alcoholic drink. 2. In the British navy in times past, a strong alcoholic drink (often rum) diluted with water. In the late 18th century, lemon juice was added to prevent the scurvy that crippled many of the world’s navies. It could be truthfully said that grog won Nelson’s victories for him, since other countries hadn’t then found out how to prevent scurvy and often lost half their sailors to this vitamin deficiency. See limies. 3. A favorite subject for songs of good company - "Here’s to the grog, the jolly, jolly grog, here’s to me rum and tobacco..."

Grossman, Albert (1927-1986) co-producer of the first Newport Folk Festival in 1959, and later manager for Dylan, Bob, Peter, Paul & Mary, Butterfield, Paul, Ian & Sylvia, Lightfoot, Gordon, Havens, Richie, Baez, Joan, and others. See also Dont Look Back. The stuff of silly legends: writer Robert Shelton reported that Albert and Lomax, Alan got into a punchup at Newport 1965 because Albert felt that Alan (host of one of the blues workshops) had slighted the white blues of his client, Paul Butterfield. Nice to see that even the gods on Mount Olympus have trouble with folksong, definition.

Grossman, Stefan (1945- ) while checking out the Greenwich Village folk scene during the 60s, Stefan became a guitar student of Davis, Rev. Gary, Hurt, John and other guitar greats. He formed the Even Dozen Jug Band and has performed widely, including a stint on electric guitar for the band Chicago Loop. He is perhaps best known as an instructor, having published a record and book on blues guitar playing, and has written many tutorials for Sing Out! and Oak Publications. In 1973, he co-founded Kicking Mule records, a label for the folk guitar repertoire.

ground or ground-bass. syn. basso ostinato; a series of notes that is repeated over and over again in the bass, usually a part of a theme-and-variations.

gruel thin oatmeal porridge.

Grundbrechung. (Schenker: bass-arpeggiation) the fundamental bass-arpeggiation of a composition, normally the roots of I V I.

Grundgestalt. (Schoenberg: basic shape) a basic structural shape that is used as a building block for a composition; similar to a motive, but which abstracts the qualities of a motive, such as rhythm, contour, intervals, harmony, etc. The basic shape is usually formed in the first two or three measures of the work.

gruppetto (It.) see turn.
GSO Guitar Shaped Object, although the abbreviation can be adapted to any instrument. A deprecating remark about a notionally poor instrument: "That’s not a guitar - it’s a guitar-shaped-object."

Guabi, Guabi a South African folk song tremendously popular with folkies in the 60s and 70s, thanks to the recordings of Elliott, Jack and Kweskin, Jim. It’s a Zulu children’s song with a wonderful melody and addictive guitar fingerpicking, and was taken from the singing and playing of guitarist Sibanda. The song is about someone who teases his girlfriend by holding something behind his back and saying, "Guess what I’ve got." It’s an interesting mix of Zulu and French expressions, and this English transliteration and translation is from Andrew Tracy of the African Music Society thanks to the guitar tutorials of Traum, Happy: "Guabi, Guabi, guzwangle notamb yami, (Hear, Guabi, Guabi, I have a girlfriend)Ihlale nkamben’, shu’ngyamtanda (She lives at Nkamben, sure I love her)Ngizamtenge la mabanzi, iziwichi le banana." (I will buy her buns, sweets, and bananas.)If you’ve never heard the song sung before, the above is miles away from the actual sound of the African language. Such is the transliteration and its shortcomings. See also Click Song, Wimoweh.

guest set many folk clubs open the night with a two, three or four song set by visiting performers, of ability ranging from beginner to virtuoso. In other cases, the night will be opened by the residents. An open stage or "open mike" is made up of guest sets.

guid (Scot.) good. See also good-.


Guido d’Arezzo (~995-~1050) a Benedictine monk who taught at the cathedral at Arezzo about 1025. Although he was not considered a musical theorist, he did an amazing job of codifying existing systems of scales, notation, etc. It’s said that he named the six notes of the hexachord scale after the first syllable in the first six lines of a hymn to Saint John the Baptist: UT queantREsonare fibrisMIra gestorumFAmuli tuorumSOlve pollutiLAbii reatumSancte Iohannes. The ut-re-mis became our do-re-mis; the missing seventh note was added to the hexachord in late medieval times (called "si" [from "Sancte Iohannes"], and later "ti"), and the "ut" changed to "do" (from "dominus") shortly after 1600. "Ut" turns up in the word gamut. He also developed a system for indicating the notes to singers by pointing to the joints of his left hand (the "Guidonian Hand" system). Signal systems like these are called chironomy. For more on the do-re-mis, see scale. In the 17th century, someone wrote that Guido was the "father of temperament", probably because he wrote on methods of deriving notes via string lengths of the monochord, but there’s no evidence of his being involved in any sort of scale tempering.

Guild a famous guitar brand, one of three US leaders along with Martin and Gibson. The company was founded in 1952 and has seen a number of different owners, with the latest (1996) being the Fender Musical Instrument Company. They have lines of both acoustic and electric models, and for a while, they produced amplifiers.

Guinchard, Rufus (1899-1990) Newfoundland fiddler and accordionist who began playing for dances at 14. He was relatively unknown until 1972, but soon began touring the world to play his fiddle music. He recorded three albums and has made a video of his life and music. He had an eccentric way of holding the fiddle, placing it across his chest and bracing it against his right shoulder.

guitar the guitar is a relative newcomer to folk music. Though it has a centuries-old history, being a relative of the lute, it was seen as a sort of front-parlor diversion in North America until the turn of the century, with the then-dominant instruments being the fiddle and the banjo. The appearance of low-cost guitars then made them the ideal rhythm instrument for the newly-emerging old-timey bands, and the country blues artists welcomed the versatility, economy, and portability. Pickers soon began to explore the instrument’s versatility. Today it’s the instrument of choice for general-purpose accompaniment (although the squeezebox is taking over). The folk version is almost always the six-string acoustic with steel strings, and usually the neck joins the body at the 14th fret for easier access to higher frets. A few play the classical guitar, which has nylon strings, but it requires a special skill in playing to avoid a dull plunky sound. For other guitar types, see acoustic, bass guitar, bottleneck style, Dobro, f-hole, Hawaiian guitar, high string guitar, National, pedal steel, slide guitar, tenor guitar. For related terms, see action, APG, cheat sheet, fingerboard, intonation, rasgueado, sound hole, sweep, truss rod. For some styles of playing, see fingerpicking, dead thumb, Travis picking, flatpicking. The usual tuning for all types is E A D G B E, with the B (second string) a semitone below middle C (this isn’t what sounds when you play from music - see notation, guitar). For some other tunings, see open tuning, modal tuning, slack tuning. Note that the usual tuning results in an instrument tuned in fourths, with a third between the third and second strings. The 12-string guitar is really just a regular guitar (usually larger) with six pairs of strings. It was relatively unknown outside of country blues until the folk revival, being played mainly by performers such as Leadbelly, Blind Willie McTell, and Fuller, Jesse. In the 60s, it was popularized by the playing of Seeger, Pete and the hit song "Walk Right In" by the Rooftop Singers. The Byrds used an electric twelve in their arrangements. The loudness and rich tones of the 12-string guitar make it a favorite. Unfortunately, some never learn that it can produce what Pete Seeger called "too much fat in the gravy". The loudness can become tiresome when it’s in the grip of the ham-handed. The 12-string is usually tuned E A D G B E like the 6-string, but the lowest four courses are octave pairs and the highest two are unison pairs. Occasionally the third pair is unison instead of an octave, and sometimes the bass courses use double octaves, though this is rare. Some guitarists tune the 12-string down one or two whole tones (or even more) to accent the 12’s powerful bass and relieve some of the considerable string tension for easier playing. There have been guitars made with other numbers of strings, such as seven or nine, no doubt based on lute tuning, but they are seen only occasionally (see Koerner, John).

guitarron see bass guitar.

Guitar-The modern concert guitar is a plucked string instrument generally with six strings. The instrument has a long history, in one form or another. In more recent times it became popular in Vienna in the early 19th century with the work of the Italian composer and guitarist Mauro Giuliani and in Paris with the Catalan Fernando Sor. In Spain it was, of course, the national instrument. The player Andrés Segovia had a strong influence on the form of the modern guitar, the repertoire of which now includes fine concertos by the composers Joaquín Rodrigo, Manuel Ponce, Villa-Lobos, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and others.

Gullah a creole language spoken in the Georgia Sea Islands, consisting of English mixed with words and phrases from African languages. The familiar word juke is from Gullah.

Gunning, Sarah (1910- ) a Kentucky singer from the coal-mining regions. She learned traditional ballads from her family and put the style to good use in her labor songs and songs about the area ("Girl of Constant Sorrow" is probably her best-known work). She was recorded by Lomax, Alan in 1937, and again by Folk-Legacy in the 60s. She performed at Newport in 1964 and has since played many major festivals. Her half-sister was Jackson, Aunt Molly.


gut at one time, strings were actually made from animal intestines. The word remains in occasional use, but now refers to nylon strings, except perhaps with period players. See also catgut.

gutbucket 1. See washtub bass. 2. A rough and ready jazz or blues style, like jug band or barrelhouse. Rarely used.

Guthrie, Arlo (1947- ) son of Woody, Arlo came to folk music through the legions of musicians who visited his father, such as Pete Seeger and Jack Elliott. He began performing (vocal and guitar) at various clubs in the mid-60s, but didn’t reach his peak of fame until a tape of the famous "Alice’s Restaurant" was played over and over in early 1967 by a NYC radio station. He performed it at Newport that year, and recorded it on an album for Reprise in the fall. A second album of his songs followed shortly, and then the film (see movies). He continued to perform, recording more albums for Reprise and Warner. In 1992, he moved his record label ("Rising Son") and newsletter ("Rolling Blunder Review") into the church used by Alice for the restaurant (it’s in Great Barrington, Mass., not Stockbridge). The building is also used as a center for AIDS sufferers and abused children. Arlo continues to record and perform, and recently (1994) had a part in Steve Bochco’s "Byrds of Paradise" on ABC TV, playing (of course) a singer-guitarist.

Guthrie, Woody (1912-1967) (Woodrow Wilson Guthrie) certainly one of the most famous folksingers in the world. Much has been written about him, so only a capsule bio appears here. The interested are referred to Joe Klein’s superb biography, "Woody Guthrie - A Life", Ballantine 1980. There is also a Woody Guthrie Web page with much related information; see Internet folk. Woody travelled the US extensively with people like Leadbelly, Seeger, Pete, Houston, Cisco, Elliott, Jack, and many others until his hospitalization in 1954; his degenerative Huntington’s Chorea ended his performing. He wrote about 1,000 songs up until then, with some of the best-known being "This Land is Your Land", "So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You" (originally called "Dusty Old Dust"), "Pastures of Plenty", "This Train is Bound for Glory", and "Dough-Re-Mi". His songs were always left-leaning and his sympathy toward the US Communist Party did him no good during the blacklist. See also People’s Songs, Almanac Singers, Headline Singers, movies. It’s difficult to overestimate the influence he had during the folk revival - he became an idol for many idealistic young folk musicians (including Dylan, Bob). Truly one of the great legends. On the other side of the coin, Fred Woods wrote in a record review in an August, 1977, Folk Review: "...some sort of revised judgement is overdue. ...the name of Woody Guthrie is equated roughly with God. For a start, Guthrie overwrote grossly with little or no self-criticism. ... Many of the songs are repetitive. His melodic structures were limited and often unimaginative. ... I believe that Guthrie has his present overblown reputation largely because he was a leading left-wing writer and the early stages (of the folk revival) were dominated and guided by the left wing." There’s some truth to Woods’ comments - if you were to play one or two Guthrie recordings out of context for young people today, perhaps they’d see him as limited and unimaginative. But the fact remains that Woody left a legacy of concern for other people and for injustices, plus not a few imaginative songs. Perhaps a dozen of his songs will remain in the folk tradition for all time, a remarkable record for any composer anywhere. Up-and-coming activists in folk music could do much worse for an idol than folk music’s most famous protest icon.

guttle (UK) to eat.

Guy, Buddy (1936- ) (George Guy) a Louisiana singer/guitarist who started playing Chicago blues in the 50s. He formed a band, often using a horn section, and travelled widely in the US and Europe. He recorded for Atco, Vanguard, Chess, and Artistic. He was joined by Wells, Junior in 1966. He continues to perform.

Gypsies itinerant people said to have come from northern India; they spread throughout Europe in medieval times. Researchers indicate that it’s difficult to say what really constitutes Gypsy culture, since they often adopted and adapted local customs and traditions, as in the flamenco music of Spain. The other music most associated with them is Hungarian.

Gypsy scale see scale.