Non-musician here. During some songs, all the instrumentals stop for a few beats but the vocals continue a capella. Then the instrumentals pick right back up. Is there a term for this specific type of short instrumental/a cappella break?

Take for example These Boots Were Made For Walkin’. At the end of the chorus, the instruments stop and the singer continues a cappella with “these boots are gonna walk all over you” followed by that iconic cello/bass bouncing down the scale.

  • Vocal break?...
    – Tim
    Oct 5, 2017 at 8:33
  • @Tim - I don’t know. Lol. Although I can carry a tune (have sung in choirs before) and played two years of trumpet in junior high in the 80’s, I am otherwise a non musician who majored in accounting. Haha.
    – iMerchant
    Oct 5, 2017 at 8:36
  • The term "a cappella" is used to refer to voice without accompaniment, so there can't be an instrument break with lyrics sung "a cappella". This is a form and analysis question, not a question of texture, which was the crux of your original question. The name for the section in question would depend on that section's function relative to the whole piece. Depending on it's location / function, it could be a verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, descant, intro, or outro, to name a few. Oct 5, 2017 at 10:57
  • @jjmusicnotes - So what is the name of the section identified in this particular song?
    – iMerchant
    Oct 12, 2017 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


There is a term in jazz music called 'Solo Break'.

A solo break is a short segment in which a solo is heard without accompaniment. Though this term isn't specifically aimed at vocals, I suppose you could use the it in the same way.

  • +1 That's exactly it. The general term for unaccompanied material by the soloist is cadenza, but jazz has its own more specific term, so that one should be used. Oct 7, 2017 at 6:34

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