I imagine it stands for "medium", but is it a tempo indication or does it mean something else/more? For example, how does (Med. Bossa Nova) differ from (Bossa Nova)? Some pieces also only have (Med.).



It's a tempo marking. There's no strict definition, but a medium tempo is often in the range of ~100-150 bpm.

The marking Med. Bossa Nova means to play a bossa nova groove/style at a medium tempo. The Bossa Nova groove doesn't always have to be played at medium tempo. For example, check out this fast version of Girl From Ipanema, which is usually played at a medium tempo. A song in a jazz Real Book with just Med (and no accompanying groove like Bossa Nova) will usually be played as a swing.

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    Just to follow up on some valuable discussion in other comments, a lack of tempo marking doesn't always imply Med. tempo. If a song is commonly played at two different tempos, it might not have a tempo marking when written up in the real book. – jdjazz Nov 4 '19 at 4:21
  • I've not come across 'med' as meaning swing. Surely 'med' refers to tempo - as in your answer - but swing is feel, not tempo. – Tim Nov 4 '19 at 7:25
  • possibly: medio tiempo – Brian D Nov 4 '19 at 19:45
  • @Tim, I agree completely! In the last paragraph, I'm basically saying that if the feel isn't marked, swing is a good bet :) – jdjazz Nov 4 '19 at 20:47

Just 'medium'. Meaning just as much (or just as little) as 'medium' ever does. A bit like putting 'mf' as a dynamic. (Except that some dynamic IS required at the start of a piece, a qualifier such as 'medium' isn't.)

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  • So in the case of (Med. Bossa Nova), what does it tell me about the piece that (Bossa Nova) doesn't? – Trillian Nov 3 '19 at 20:22
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    The tempo suggestion. – user63785 Nov 3 '19 at 20:35
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    That it isn't specially fast or slow. Or very little. I thought I made that clear in my answer? – Laurence Payne Nov 3 '19 at 21:05
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    If there was no Med, I'd also assume that it's not specially fast or slow. That's why I found it weird that sometimes it's specified and sometimes it isn't. – Trillian Nov 4 '19 at 1:34
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    Yeah. Not the weirdest thing jazz guys do, but weird. – Laurence Payne Nov 4 '19 at 1:50

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