For every sub-culture, there is a language all its own. From surfers (“Bra, I was scarfing up some tasty barrels when I got pitted…”) to early 90’s Hip-Hop (“What’s good in the hood? Ain’t no thang but a chicken wing. Word to your mother”). Alright, as a un-hip white boy growing up in rural New Jersey, that’s about as close as I can get to a 90’s Hip-Hop lingo.
So it stands to reason that Rock n’ Roll would also have a language all their own. Thanks to Premier Guitar, we are now allowed an exclusive insight into their colloquial tongue through their Dictionary of Musician Idioms.
So if you plan on conversing with these native speakers, be sure to study this list and practice saying these terms while strumming on your air guitar in front of your bedroom mirror. The last thing you want to seem like is a poser, should you attempt to engage in a dialogue. Also, if you can, try to get your hands on a T-shirt that says, “I’m with the band”. It’ll help make their jibes that much more humorous when they make fun of you behind your back once you leave.
The 2014 Premier Guitar Incredibly Limited Dictionary of Musician Idioms.
A Russian dragon: A player whose tempo tends to both rush and drag.
A reverse moose: A cool band with a very unpleasant front-person. (Explanation: On a regular moose, the horns are in front and the ass is in back. In some bands, it’s the reverse.)
A Rolex: A showy drummer incapable of keeping accurate time.
A third for a word: An unethical bit of douche-baggery where producers or artists say they want to rewrite your song before recording it. They then make an unnecessary, minor change and claim a large chunk of the writing and publishing shares for themselves. For example: “Robert, your lyrics are good, but not quite there. Let’s change it to ‘She’s leasing a stairway to heaven.’ That’s waaaaaaay better.”
Billy goat: A singer who often employs a very wide, fast, unpleasant vibrato.
Crossfade dissonance: A disagreeable harmonic discord caused by a musician combining improvisation with cannabis and alcohol.
Clams: Mistakes made during a performance.
One-man clam bake: A performance in which a single band member makes many mistakes.
Friday-night Red Lobster clam special: An entire evening’s performance replete with mistakes played by multiple band members.
Earn while you learn: An unrehearsed, paid gig that forces musicians to discern changes and arrangements in real time as they play.
Facebook foe/Twitter twat: A person who uses social media to post disparaging comments about your band.
Mixing by 2×4: When a front-of-house engineer simultaneously pushes all the faders all the way up, usually near the end of the show.
On/off dynamics: A musician who plays exclusively at full volume (often drummers and/or bassists).
Playing by Braille: 1.Performing on adark stage where you cannot see your charts and/or instrument. 2. Performing on a drunken stage.
Pitch approximator: A non-fretted instrument: a pedal steel, violin, or Dobro. Used in a sentence: “For the love of cheese, please turn off the pitch approximator in my mix. I’m trying to sing here!”
Wire and fire: When you have very little time for a soundcheck—only enough to plug everything in and then dial up the most basic mix before the show.
Plug and play: When you have no soundcheck, just a line check to make sure you’re getting signal to the front-of-house.
Plug and pray/throw and go: Throw your gear up on the deck while the crowd watches, plug in your guitar, and pray everything works.
Strong and wrong: When a player does not know how a song goes but jumps in boldly hoping this confidence will fool the audience.
Skeleton key: A pet riff or lick that a musician uses too often. Used in a sentence: “Sitting through John’s performance was particularly painful tonight. He used that skeleton key riff in every one of his underwhelming solos.”
Ab minor: What you get when you drop a piano down a mineshaft.
Source: Premier Guitar