The Arts A-Z


Abstract – uses a visual language of shape, form, colour and line to create a composition that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of visual reality.  Sassily Kandinsky was thought to be one of the pioneers of abstract art whereas artists such as Jackson Pollock was part of the abstract expressionism movement of the last century; creating some huge works.

Acid Jazz – also known as club jazz originated in the London club scene back in the late 1908s and is a combination of soul, funk, disco and jazz.  Original artists on labels such as The Night Trains and Galliano would appear at clubs like the WAG in Soho.  Then along came the likes of Jamiroquai and The Brand New Heavies which led to chart success.


Ballet – An artistic dance thought to have originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century.  It is performed to music using precise and highly formalised set steps and gestures and is a theatrical art form created by movement of the body that can tell a story or express a thought or emotion.  Some of the most well known works include The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Giselle and Romeo & Juliet.

Burlesque – Originally a show that poked fun at lowbrow society as a show for the upper class to go enjoy.  Burlesque originally had a set of rules including minimum costuming, sexually related dialog, witty remarks that were easy to laugh at and easy to follow entertaining skills.  More recently there has been a reemergence most probably thanks to Dita Von Teese who re-popularised this art form with a modern twist.


Calypso – An influential genre of music that originated in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago.  It joins infectious tropical rhythms with call and response lyrics that often speak of politics and social injustice.  The first calypso recordings were made in 1914.  Some of the greatest calypso artists include David Rudder, The Mighty Gabby and Calypso Rose.


Delta Blues is one of the earliest styles of blues music, which originated in the Mississippi Delta and hence why it is also known as the Mississippi Blues.  The vocal styles range from introspective and soulful to passionate and fiery.  Most is played acoustically with plenty of great guitar playing.  Delta style blues artists include: Son House, Robert Johnson and Charlie Patton.


East Coast Swing, a style of swing which is ballroom style with a stricter than usual attention to form.  It originated from the Lindy Hop and Savoy style or Hollywood style swing.

Expressionism – The movement, which started in Germany during the early part of the 1900s gave artists the opportunity to paint about emotion.  It could be anger, anxiety, fear or peacefulness.  Not a completely new idea however it was the first time this type of art had been given a name.  One of the most famous pieces is The Scream by Edvard Munch who made four versions of this picture.  One of them sold for over $119 million in 2012.


Finger painting – It’s not just for the children.  Finger painting is a form of painting intended to be applied with the fingers yet can also be applied with the hands and the lower arms. It is often associated with education and therapy.


Graffiti – The word Graffiti comes from the Greek word ‘graphic’ which means ‘to write’.  Graffiti was first found on ancient Roman architecture, although back then it was carved images on walls.  Most graffiti artists prefer to be called ‘writers’ and each have their unique ‘tag’.   Graffiti can range from colourful and artistic to a name in blank paint. There is a difference between graffiti and street art.


Highland Dancing – A form of competitive solo dancing.  It is thought the first Highland dancing competitions took place in Scotland back in 1780s and was introduced as entertainment between piping events and the dancers, themselves, were pipers.  All dancers were men.  Women wouldn’t compete until the early 20th century.  The Highland Fling was introduced in the early 1840s. The shoes worn are called ghillies.


Irish Folk Music is the generic term for music that has been created in various genres in Ireland.  It has survived more strongly against the forces of cinema, radio and the mass media than the indigenous folk music of most European countries.  By the 1970s Irish traditional music was influencing music in Europe and further afield in the US and Australia.


Jazz – A musical style that originated in the southern US at the beginning of the 20th century and was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions.  The modern drum set was invented by Jazz musicians.  Louis Armstrong, a trumpeter, band leader and singer, contributed greatly to the popularisation of Jazz and became known as the Ambassador of Jazz.  The first jazz player to play with a full orchestra however was Mary Lou Williams.


Khyal is the modern genre of classical singing of North India and is derived from the Arabic word ‘Imagination’.  It bases itself on a repertoire of short songs (two to eight lines) and is modal with a single melodic line and no harmonic parts.  A number of top Khyal artists include: Shruti Sadolikar, Bhimsen Joshi and Amir Khan.


Lacuna – This is a blank spot on a piece of art, which may occur in a painting when the paint has ceased to adhere to the support.  It could also be on a painted object such as a small ceramic sculpture that has been handled so much the surface colour has been lost.  It is normally created through wear and tear, and age, although sometimes is created intentionally.


Mixed media art – A broad definition that covers many arts and crafts, including collage, assemblage (both 2D and 3D), altered objects including books and boxes, handmade greeting cards, artist trading cards and tags, art journalling and book marking.


Neo Classical – A 20th century trend.  Current in-between the two word wars.

Nisiotika – A Greek folk dance, which comes from the Aegean islands.  The dance is accompanied by instrumental music.  The styles vary widely throughout Greece.


Oil paintings – oil paints were first used for the Buddhist paintings by Indian and Chinese painters.  The style did not gain popularity by the 15th century.  As its advantages became well known it began to be adopted in Europe, and now is known to be used to create masterpieces like the Mona Lisa.

Orchestra – A large instrumental ensemble, containing percussion and melody.  Used by composers to create extreme feelings through the mass of sound that is created and somehow all tangles in to a beautiful riveting sound.


Pantomime – A type of musical comedy stage which is designed for families, created in England it is normally performed during the Christmas and New Year season.

Peking Opera – Chinese theatre that combines music and vocal performance and dance and acrobatics.  It was popular in the Qing dynasty court, and is regarded as a cultural treasure of China.  Normally performed on a fairly empty stage the art form focuses on the performers.  The moment of the performers true meanings must be helped to be expressed through the music that accompanies it.


Quattrocento is a movement in the 15th century, which is influenced by the artistic styles of the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance.  the artists and sculptors incorporated more classic forms of the Roman and Greek sculptors.

Quickstep ballroom – Fast movement dance accompanied with upbeat melodies.  The quickstep can be danced at both formal and informal events.  Developed in the 1920s in New York.


Raku – Japanese pottery, generally used in Japanese tea ceremonies, most often found in the form of tea bowls.  Normally fired in a kiln, and then glazed, beautiful finishes create pottery which are often seen as works of art.

Reggae – Originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s, influenced by calypso and American jazz and rhythm blues and African music.  Offbeat rhymes and slow beats can be found throughout reggae music, and usually accenting the second and fourth beat in each bar.


Salsa – Originated from New York, the Salsa dance has strong influences from Latin America, particularly Cuba and Puerto Rica.

Surrealism – A movement that began in the 1920s well known for its artwork and literature.  Mixing dreams with reality, challenging pieces of work are created.  The illogical images are designed to confuse the viewer and pose questions about reality.


Tango – Originally from Argentina, this style of dancing has been adopted all over the world.  The name tango could originate from the Latin word ‘tangere’ which means ‘touch’.

Texas blues – A type of blues which has a style that includes more swing than other types of blues.  Blind Lemon Jefferson was one of the most popular blues singers in the 1920s.  He has been hailed as the ‘Father of the Texan Blues’.


Urban Folk – folk music tweaked with an urban, has a growing membership as the style becomes more widely listened to.

Ubiquitous gaze – Aterm used for the effect in which a portraits eyes seem to follow you around the room.  This is an effect of the perspective of the viewer and may be deliberate or a coincidence.


Ventriloquism – A person (the ventriloquist) changes his voice and move a puppet in conjunction with his speech so that it looks like the ventriloquist is not talking.  The only museum in the world of ventriloquial figures and memorabilia is called the Vent Haven museum in Kentucky, US.

Visual Arts – creations that we can look at.  Simple as that.  That would include drawings, paintings, sculpture, architecture, photography, film and even printmaking.

Vocal jazz – Jazz singing is when the singer can match the instruments.  Using different techniques to imitate the sound of instruments. Louis Armstrong brought this type of jazz to a wider audience around 1926.  then the technique became more popular.


Waltz – A smooth elegant dance performed between two pairs.  Dancers glide weightlessly over the floor and involve grand fluid movement, like solo turns and twirls.

Water colour – An elegant form of painting, water colours create a clean translucent look.  Often used to depict nature, this form of painting came to western artists in the late 1400s.  William Reeves sold the first water soluble dry cake watercolours back in 1780, in the UK.


Xote – A Brazilian music genre equivalent to the german schottische.  It is a dance for pairs or groups of four.  The word Xote comes from the German word for Scottish, the dance was introduced to Brazil in 1851 and was adopted among the upper classes during the reign of Emperor Pedro the second.


Yakshagana – A theatre form that combines dance, music and costume make up.  Resembling western Opera it is mainly found in the coastal districts of India.  Traditionally presented from dusk to dawn.

Yodeling – Singing that involves multiple changes of pitch in a single note.  This vocal technique is used worldwide yet began as a rural tradition in Europe.


Zouk – is a fast style of carnival music coming from the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Zelbekiko dance – A style of Greek folk dancing without strict choreography, which has evolved into a strictly masculine dance and is named after the Greek warriors of Anatolia.