This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Thing To Do Today: vamp.

Vamp till ready is an instruction sometimes found on 1930s sheet music.

Now, although the 1930s were very much the era of the vamp, this doesn't mean you are to clag your eyes with mascara, dip your lips in blood, dress to display all your assets, and go out to conquer every heart (and wallet) in town.


Vamp is an instruction to a piano player to make up some music - anything he fancies - that will sound good as an introduction or accompaniment to a tune that someone else is playing or singing.

Although there's not necessarily any need to dress up as an early Tallulah Bankhead, every performer has to take pains with his appearance, whether it's donning a folk singer's throat-hugging jumper, or slipping on a conductor's waggling tails. Shoes must never be neglected, and nearly all of them, even the platform soles of an Abba tribute band, have vamps, which are the front part of a shoe's upper.

If the only platform shoes you can find have been past their best since 1975 then you can make them as good as new by giving them a revamping. 

Lastly, you can vamp a theme or story by rewriting it and jiggling it about until it links up together as well as it can.

So I have, and here it is.

Thing To Do Today: vamp. The dressing-up word comes from vampire; the doing-up and making-do word comes from the French avantpi√©, the front part of a shoe (which was often something patched).


  1. Hmm. My niece is currently listening to a band called The Vamps. Foolishly, I just assumed their name was something to do with vampires and, as their style is in no way vampiric, that they were just trying to cash in on the glut of vampire stuff out there at the moment in popular culture. However, your post has shown me that their band name could be referencing a number of things. Were they actually any good, it would warrant further research; as they're not, it doesn't.

    1. Oh, I don't know. They're pretty, and their music seems harmless and happy enough. It's fine as long as you don't go and listen to it properly.

      And they're pretty. Or did I already mention that?