There is a slightly related musical direction, D.C. or da capo (Italian, from head), which means to go back to the very beginning of the sheet music and play to the end, typically ignoring all repeat signs.
as well as more general information such as
The form is an even more general and abstract concept dealing with the theoretical context in which the actual music is being played: the chord progression, its sections and other miscellaneous events such as kicks or time changes are all important information that the musician, or musicians, must keep track of and usually repeat many times (commonly eight to fifteen or more). The "form" does not include the melody to the piece, and as such there is a difference between knowing the head and merely knowing the form. Two important standard forms over which hundreds of heads have been written are the 12-bar blues and rhythm changes. There are also heads written based on the forms of other tunes, such as Charlie Parker's Ornithology, based on Morgan Lewis's chord changes in How High the Moon. So often on the bandstand at a jam session, though it is frowned upon, musicians can get away with knowing the form if they don't know the head.
Many fake books, some of which are considered standard literature among jazz musicians, exist containing anywhere from a handful to hundreds of charts like these, occasionally stretching into two pages and on rare occasions going further and requiring page turns. A song can be played in any number of ways from the head on any one of these charts for any length of time; all the music contains is enough information for the musician to understand the head (and extrapolate from it).
There are many, many heads which are considered part of standard jazz repertoire, and professional players are expected to know these tunes by memory and be able to perform them in a variety of ways on the spot. In this regard, the information associated with a head can be very wide-ranging and the information presented on the chart is really only the tip of the iceberg. Invoking the name of Sonnymoon for Two is invoking a history of performances, arrangements, tricks and variations upon what is really only (in this instance) a four-bar phrase, all of which constitute knowledge about what is ultimately called the head.
Jazz musicians often give each other the "head" or "top" cue by patting their hand on top of their head, which is usually meant to make sure everybody "goes back to the head," or starts playing the head again the next time the "top of the form" comes around. On the unfortunate occasion this may be due to confusion about "where" the top of the form actually is if the musicians get off-sync with one another, or a frantic attempt to regain composure and finish the performance, as playing the head to end a piece is default jam session protocol.
For a list of common jazz heads by author, see List of jazz standards.
Profile: John Lurie has worked with his band The Lounge Lizards, written music for commercials and movies, and created his own music label
Sep 29, 1999; 00-00-0000 Profile: John Lurie has worked with his band The Lounge Lizards, written music for commercials and movies, and created...
Growing Voice of Music's New National Treasure; ARTSFEST INTERVIEW Warwickshire Singer and Composer Roderick Williams Has Written Music for 1,000 Massed Voices Performing Tonight as Part of ArtsFest
Sep 09, 2006; Byline: By TERRY GRIMLEY According to the current issue of BBC Music Magazine, the world's best-selling classical music magazine,...