Gig (music)

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Jimi Mbaye performing live

Gig is slang for a live musical performance, recording session, or other (usually paid) engagement of a musician or ensemble. Originally coined in the 1920s by jazz musicians,[1] the term, short for the word "engagement", now refers to any aspect of performing such as assisting with performance and attending musical performance. More broadly, the term "gigging" means having paid work, being employed.[1]

The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians describes it as "a term commonly applied to a musical engagement of one night's duration only; to undertake such an engagement,"[2] (although the term "regular gig" is common in reference to a repeating engagement). The first documented use of this term in this way appears in 1926: Melody Maker 7 September 1926, with the story byline stating, "One Popular Gig Band Makes Use of a Nicely Printed Booklet."[3]

A gig can take place at a bar, club, larger venue, music theatre, a music specific venue such as an opera house or even on a street or town square. They can also be formal or informal such as being a ticketed event or something less structured such as busking.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Partridge, Eric; Dalzell, Tom; Victor, Terry (2007). The concise new Partridge dictionary of slang and unconventional English. Psychology Press. p. 288. ISBN 0-415-21259-6.
  2. ^ 'Gig', Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 6 Oct 2007), <> - Included in R. S. Gold: A Jazz Lexicon: an A-Z Dictionary of Jazz Terms (New York, 1964, rev. 2/1975 as Jazz Talk)
  3. ^ gig, pg.6 The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. 1989. Oxygen University Press. 6 Oct 2007