In another group there is some discussion about the etymology of "earned his chops" as a measure of musical instrument ability. It appears to have been derived from the much older use of the noun "chop":
chop (chp) n.
1. An official stamp or permit in the Far East.
2.
1. A mark stamped on goods or coins to indicate theiridentity or quality.

2. Quality; class: first chop.

Can anyone here tell me when this term was first applied to musical instrument ability?
Thanks!
jc
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In another group there is some discussion about the etymology of "earned his chops" as a measure of musical instrument ... 2. Quality; class: first chop. Can anyone here tell me when this term was first applied to musical instrument ability?

It should be in the group archives, since I know we've discussed it.

Do you actually have some new piece of evidence tying this to the musical "chop," or is this just someone's speculation?

My recollection is that this could be traced back to slang for "mouth," then to the abilities of the facial muscles of players of trumpets and other wind-instruments. This would make the resemblance to the Oriental "chop" coincidence, which would be no great surprise, since there are hundreds of similar but essentially unrelated slang words in the dictionaries.

Best - Donna Richoux
In another group there is some discussion about the etymology of "earned his chops" as a measure of musical instrument ... 2. Quality; class: first chop. Can anyone here tell me when this term was first applied to musical instrument ability?

Hmmm. In my experience as an instrumentalist and choral singer for
40 years or more, it was first used on 13th May 2005 by somebodycalled JC Dill.
I'm familiar with the Hong Kong usage as an officel stamp, but not with "first chop".

David
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In another group there is some discussion about the etymology ... when this term was first applied to musical instrument ability?

Hmmm. In my experience as an instrumentalist and choral singer for 40 years or more, it was first used on 13th May 2005 by somebody called JC Dill.

"Musical chops" is a pretty standard expression denoting technical skill. It resides more in the world of "pop" and "rock" music, where technical ability is seldom taken for granted, unlike the world of academic music, where sans "chops" you're doomed.
Will.
Instrumentalist of 40+ years, but you don't want to hear me sing.
In another group there is some discussion about the etymology ... when this term was first applied to musical instrument ability?

Hmmm. In my experience as an instrumentalist and choral singer for 40 years or more, it was first used on 13th May 2005 by somebody called JC Dill.

FWIW, I sang in my school's chorus and madrigal group as a tenor back in 1962 and 1963, but that was some 470,000 cigarettes ago, so I wouldn't be fit for the job today.

Charles Riggs
There are no accented letters in my email address
Hmmm. In my experience as an instrumentalist and choral singer ... used on 13th May 2005 by somebody called JC Dill.

FWIW, I sang in my school's chorus and madrigal group as a tenor back in 1962 and 1963, but that was some 470,000 cigarettes ago, so I wouldn't be fit for the job today.

That's an excellent reason not to smoke. I would be bereft if I couldn't sing in a choir.

David
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Hmmm. In my experience as an instrumentalist and choral singer ... used on 13th May 2005 by somebody called JC Dill.

"Musical chops" is a pretty standard expression denoting technical skill. It resides more in the world of "pop" and "rock" music, where technical ability is seldom taken for granted, unlike the world of academic music, where sans "chops" you're doomed.

It's older than pop/rock, going back at least as far as swing and bebop. So stick it in the same box as "hepcat", "jam", "groove" and (the original) "funky". As to the etymology, no idea, but I somehow doubt Lester Young and the lads would have been especially familiar with Far Eastern customs practices.

Ross Howard
It's older than pop/rock, going back at least as far as swing and bebop. So stick it in the same ... idea, but I somehow doubt Lester Young and the lads would have been especially familiar with Far Eastern customs practices.

Someone reportedly called bebop "Chinese music" some sources claim that it was Louis Armstrong, others say Cab Calloway. (Google results are about evenly divided, but Satchmo wins by a bit.)
In another group there is some discussion about the etymology ... when this term was first applied to musical instrument ability?

It should be in the group archives, since I know we've discussed it. Do you actually have some new piece ... which would be no great surprise, since there are hundreds of similar but essentially unrelated slang words in the dictionaries.

The discussion was in February of 1998. I posted an MWCD10 entry showing the slang expression "chops" and its definition, but there was no date attached.

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
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