First, I am not sure whether it would be ok to ask a question like this in this category. If it is inappropriate, I'll erase it.

I bumped into Aaron Copland's saying, "... all American music could not possibly be confined to two dominant jazz models: the 'blues' and the snappy number."

I didn't know what "snappy number" was, so googled it in many contexts but still can't figure it out.

It seems like a genre of Jazz, as the word "snappy" suggests, but is also combined with the "number", which makes me more blurry.

Can anyone help me figure out what that is?

Thank you.


  • 2
    a "number" is a common way to refer to a song or piece of music, especially colloquially which matches with using the adjective "snappy"
    – katatahito
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 9:45
  • 1
    And snapping is something you do with your fingers, often in time with the music.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 12:00
  • Thank you, katatahito! Thank you, Hot Licks!
    – kimweonill
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 12:31

1 Answer 1


As has been pointed out in the comments, in the musical context, a number is a piece of music.


5 b (1) : a musical, theatrical, or literary selection or production
// The actors broke into a song and dance number.
(2) : routine, act
// The comedian's number had the audience laughing out loud.


Snappy is generally not a genre of music. It's more commonly a mood.


2 b : marked by vigor or liveliness


If we were talking about classical music, instead of jazz, we might use the term vivace (lively) in place of snappy.

In the quotation, Copland does seem to be using the term more broadly, and more or less as a genre description. He describes two modes of jazz: blues (down tempo) and snappy (up tempo).

This is not the way we would describe jazz today. Jazz and the blues are often grouped separately, and in any case, there are up tempo blues tunes and slow, non-blues jazz tunes.

  • Indeed. It makes more sense that you saw the two modes as "Down-tempo and Up-tempo". It really helped me a lot! Thank you so much!
    – kimweonill
    Commented Jul 7, 2019 at 16:13

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