Glossary of Music Terms: Vamp

vamp is a rhythmic, harmonically simple, repeating phrase, usually two or four bars in length that can perform any or all the following musical functions:

  1. To act as an introduction to a song.
  2. To act an interlude within a song.
  3. To provide a solid background for improvisation.

In any case, a good vamp establishes both a solid rhythmic groove and a clear sense of tonality.