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#139826 - 02/19/05 12:42 PM The etymology of the word "gig"  
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Marco Offline
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NC, USA
I'm a musician and I'd like to know
anything you might have as far as the history of this often used word-
(which means a paying job). By the way another word (or phrase) used by us
is "woodshed" or "woodshedding" which means to practice a lot! (I'm not sure
of the origin of this word either). Sometimes shortened to just "shedding"
which is not to be confused with "shredding" which is what rock guitarists
use for playing fast.



#139827 - 02/19/05 12:55 PM Re: The etymology of the word "gig"  
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Wordwind Offline
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Welcome, Marco!

I don't know about gig, but someone here will..or will research it for you.

For woodshedding, I can take an educated guess. When in the old days farmers went out to the woodshed, it was to chop felled, mostly seasoned trees into logs for the stove. It was hard work, it had to be done, and it was necessary to sustain life.

For a musician, woodshedding is getting the work of practice done, the working out of parts, difficult passages, desired effect, and so on, to lead to eventual performance. Woodshedding was analagous to the work in the woodshed for the farmer, difficult and demanding, but, oh, the resultant fire!


#139828 - 02/19/05 01:00 PM Re: The etymology of the word "gig"  
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TEd Remington Offline
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Or could also be going out to the woodshed to practice so as not to bother all the others in the household.

I know when my father told me to go to the woodshed it meant I was gonna get my butt blistered for something I'd done; had nothing to do with my musical abilities, which are somewhere down around 3 degrees Kelvin.



TEd
#139829 - 02/19/05 02:06 PM Re: The etymology of the word "gig"  
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Marco Offline
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Thanks for the nice welcome. And you couldn't be more correct, it is difficult demanding and long- especially for improvisational (jazz) musicians who need to cultivate a conversational command of their instrument. Charlie Parker perhaps the greatest genius of modern jazz was said to have practiced 15-20 hours a day for years to achieve his incredible virtuosity. Unfortunately he was fueled by not only his burning desire but also by narcotics. Which eventually led to his early demise (He was 34 but coroner reports put him at 55) Thanks for the email-



#139830 - 02/19/05 02:27 PM Re: The etymology of the word "gig"  
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Wordwind Offline
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I just checked American Heritage Dictionary on 'gig,' and there is a note: 'Origin unknown.'


#139831 - 02/19/05 03:44 PM Re: The etymology of the word "gig"  
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Capfka Offline
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One thing I can say about it is that it seems to have originated in the US but is now used universally (and even in other languages).

Tsuwm will no doubt be able to help you here.


#139832 - 02/19/05 04:03 PM Re: The etymology of the word "gig"  
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tsuwm Offline
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<sigh> on the spot again...

gig is a much overloaded term, used for everything from a spinning top, to a fishgig, to a military reprimand, to (specif.) a single engagement.

some of these senses stem from very old words. but all of the regular sources give "origin unknown" for our gig.

but one of our stalwart online resources goes into some detail on this:

Gig is an interesting word with a variety of etymologically unrelated senses.

The oldest sense is that of a top or other whirling object. It dates to c. 1440. The origin is unknown. The sense of top is the source of some other senses, such as a giddy or flighty person, fun, merriment, and a whim.

The sense of a light, two-wheeled carriage dates to 1791. This sense is a transference from the earlier sense. The motion of the carriage and its tendency to upset are not unlike that of a top. Also related is the sense of gig meaning a ship's boat. This nautical sense dates to 1790.

Gig can also mean a spear or harpoon, and it is a verb meaning to spear or stab, as in Gig'em Aggies. This sense originally comes from the Spanish word for harpoon, fisga. The Spanish word appears in English in 1565 as fisgig. An alternate spelling is fizgig and the word is also folk-etymologized as fishgig, a harpoon for stabbing fish. The clipped form gig appears in 1722.

This brings us to the most common sense, that of a musician's engagement or job. The musical sense dates to 1926 and first arose as jazz slang in the US. But the origin is not in music. The use of gig to mean a non-musical job or occupation dates to 1908, and the sense of a business affair or event is a year older than that. The origin is unknown, but it may come from the slang term gag. This dates to 1890 and means business method, practice, or behavior. All these sense are American slang usages.
{e.a.}

These last senses may be from, or be influenced by, an obsolete sense of gig. This sense of gig is a type of bet in a numbers game. It dates to 1847 and is an arbitrary use of the sense of gig as a carriage (a horse is another type of bet).

wordorigins.org by David Wilton
http://www.wordorigins.org/


#139833 - 02/19/05 04:31 PM Re: The etymology of the word "gig"  
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You know, tsuwm, after you'd had your say, I was gonna suggest Dave Wilton. But you beat me to it.

Welcome, Marco! Yours was an interesting question.


#139834 - 02/19/05 04:52 PM Re: The etymology of the word "gig"  
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This does surprise me I would have assumed a close connection with jig.


Jig (?), n. [OF. gigue a stringed instrument, a kind of dance, F. gigue dance, tune, gig; of German origin; cf. MHG. gīge fiddle, G. geige. Cf. Gig a fiddle, Gig a whirligig.]
http://machaut.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/WEBSTER.sh?WORD=jig


Main Entry: 1jig
Pronunciation: 'jig
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps from Middle French giguer to frolic, from gigue fiddle, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German gIga fiddle; akin to Old Norse geiga to turn aside
1 a : any of several lively springy dances in triple rhythm b : music to which a jig may be danced
2 : TRICK, GAME -- used chiefly in the phrase the jig is up
3 a : any of several fishing devices that are jerked up and down or drawn through the water b : a device used to maintain mechanically the correct positional relationship between a piece of work and the tool or between parts of work during assembly c : a device in which crushed ore is concentrated or coal is cleaned by agitating in water
- in jig time : in a short time : QUICKLY

http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=jig


The jig (sometimes seen in its French language or Italian language forms gigue or giga) is a folk dance type as well as the accompanying dance tune type, popular in Ireland and Scotland, and particularly associated with the former. It is a popular tune-type within the Irish dance music tradition, second only to the reel. It is transcribed in a time which is a multiple of three, 12/8 time for a 'single jig' or 'slide', 6/8 time for a 'double jig', and 9/8 time for a 'slip jig'.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jig


#139835 - 02/19/05 06:09 PM Re: The etymology of the word "gig"  
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that had been my thought as well, mav.

welcome, Marco! I'm bookmarking your site to explore later. excellent jazz materials!



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