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Unfortunately the inference when that term is used is that styles of music other than "classical" are therefore "illegitimate". Even the term "classical" can be vague and confusing in itself. The only solution I can think of is to not think too much when one hears the term. :)
 

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Unfortunately the inference when that term is used is that styles of music other than "classical" are therefore "illegitimate". Even the term "classical" can be vague and confusing in itself. The only solution I can think of is to not think too much when one hears the term. :)
I agree with the other posters that it almost always means something like "music drawing primarily from the Western Classical tradition".

However, I disagree with saxoclese's intimation that it may represent some sort of slur against other types of music. In my experience, it's a term used almost exclusively by jazz and session musicians. I don't think I've ever heard a "classical" musician refer to his/her music as "legit".
 

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That is because so very few of those "legit" types seem to Play wilder stuff.

"Legit" used to mean "reading charts". These days, so many RnB and jazz and rock horn players seem to be glued to charts. "Legit" evolves.
 

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Whoever may still use that term, I just think it is totally archaic.

Maybe some classical players thought that anything not classical wasn't legit.

Maybe some non-classical players (e.g. jazz or commercial) that could read thought non-readers weren't legit.

Either way I don't see place for that term these days.
 

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I've had people use this term in conversation in many different contexts; players who specifically play classical music, players who have reached a certain level of mastery or can cut parts in particular type of music, simply players who can read or sometimes players who are good sight-readers, etc.. When I first started learning clarinet years ago I was taking lessons from and old woodwind doubler who played everything. He called all the other orchestral woodwind instruments "legitimate instruments". A lot of those classically trained old guys who played bassoon, oboe, clarinet, and flute thought that way to one degree or another.
 

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I was introduced to the term in college. I switched from performance to Jazz my 2nd year. Opera, Bands Dept., and others looked down their noses at us pretty hard; we were sternly warned against using music stands that said "Band Dept" on them; I was fired from my work study job in the Bands Dept. because I scheduled Big Band (on guitar!) instead of Marching Band for my sophomore year. I let a buddy in Jazz Band II use the bari I had checked out from Bands, and when the Concert Band guy found out I was kicked out of it.

So I'd venture to say that at least back then, Jazz wasn't considered all that legit by the Music Department there.

[edit] I still have a music stand here in my studio that says Music Education Department on it. :mrgreen:
 

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It’s interesting to read the above characterizations of the term “legit” when applied to saxophone players. I’ll have to keep that in mind when I hear the term used to make sure I don’t misconstrue the intent of the speaker/writer.

I’ve always understood “legit” in its current slang usage for many things other than saxophone players. Something “legit” is exceptionally good, and the real thing; not some wannabe or poseur.

This, copied and pasted from the Urban Dictionary:

“legit
1. (adj.) A modern synonym for words such as "cool," "ill," "tight," or "dope." Used to describe a noun that is of a particularly excellent quality. The slang use of this term is slowly but steadily increasing in popularity.

2. (adj.) Authentic. see legitimate. ”
 

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'Legit' means exactly what you think it should; a player of symphony-type music - no pop, no blues, no jazz, no nothing. Legit. For real. Now at the risk of offering what seems to be a contradiction in terms, a legit player can and does 'step-out' to play in pit orchestras (like on Broadway) and legit players are often prized in these roles because they are such incredible readers and in such total control of their instruments. They also play jazz, rock and anything else sometimes but they remain at the core legit players. On the saxophone you most often encounter legit players taking part in saxophone quartets, etc. or doing solo performances. Conversely, many legit woodwind players play sax on the side in the more vulgar forms of music (more fun and it pays the rent) :).
 

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It’s interesting to read the above characterizations of the term “legit” when applied to saxophone players. I’ll have to keep that in mind when I hear the term used to make sure I don’t misconstrue the intent of the speaker/writer.

I’ve always understood “legit” in its current slang usage for many things other than saxophone players. Something “legit” is exceptionally good, and the real thing; not some wannabe or poseur.

This, copied and pasted from the Urban Dictionary:

“legit
1. (adj.) A modern synonym for words such as "cool," "ill," "tight," or "dope." Used to describe a noun that is of a particularly excellent quality. The slang use of this term is slowly but steadily increasing in popularity.

2. (adj.) Authentic. see legitimate. ”
I think context is important.

Among jazz musicians (in the US), its use is quite widespread as jargon for "straight" or "classical" music. These days, it doesn't seem to have much valence at all and it seems to function purely as shorthand for classical-ish music. I don't think there's any reason to get worked up about it.

That said, my understanding of its etymology (in agreement with datsaxman's suggestion) is that it actually originated as an ironically derogatory term against "legitimate" classical music, which was viewed as unhip (e.g., in much the same way that "straight" and "square" were used to mean "not hip").
 

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If its derogatory, its in your mind, not many others. Legit is just shorthand for legitimate and legitimate means no jazz. Any musician with any sense would have only great respect for the abilities, training and talent of the legit players.
 

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I think context is important.

Among jazz musicians (in the US), its use is quite widespread as jargon for "straight" or "classical" music. These days, it doesn't seem to have much valence at all and it seems to function purely as shorthand for classical-ish music. I don't think there's any reason to get worked up about it.

That said, my understanding of its etymology (in agreement with datsaxman's suggestion) is that it actually originated as an ironically derogatory term against "legitimate" classical music, which was viewed as unhip (e.g., in much the same way that "straight" and "square" were used to mean "not hip").
My sense has always matched saxoclese's interpretation - it's a backhanded slur against "illegitimate" vernacular musical styles.
 

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Well, I'm 54 and have been playing since I was 11 and without fail, the term/phrase "legit player" has always meant the player's chosen genre was classical music........period. I've used the term probably hundreds of times and have heard it used equally as much. Never an ounce of derogatory intent. On the flip side, I've heard "legit" players describe people who don't play classical/traditional music as "jazzers". Big freaking deal. Can we go at least 10 minutes nowadays without being "offended"?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for all the answers...I could just quote ALL the responses and say, "Yeah - That's what I thought."

It would seem it means what both the speaker and the listener think it means.

So if you once played classical music, and now play only polkas are you no longer legitimate or simply a bit odd?

If you can read music but find classical music boring, can you be in the club?

Some people have made the argument that saxophones do not belong in classical music. IT would seem that they believe the instrument itself is illegitimate.

And what if you play Bach on a saxophone while wearing a tutu? (even though you identify as a male) Could that possibly be considered legit?
 

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Whoever may still use that term, I just think it is totally archaic.

Either way I don't see place for that term these days.
I agree. And yeah, I realize that for the most part the term merely refers to those who play classical music. But I've never liked that term because any way you slice and dice it, "legit" in this context implies that any music that is not classical is illegitimate and therefore inferior in some way. Words have meaning and I refuse to recognize this as a legitimate term (pun intended) for classical musicians! I have nothing against classical music and in fact I think most of it is of the highest quality, but I don't place it above all other musical genres.
 

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[A]ny way you slice and dice it, "legit" in this context implies that any music that is not classical is illegitimate and therefore inferior in some way. Words have meaning and I refuse to recognize this as a legitimate term [...]
Yet I don't imagine that you get upset if someone calls a player that you regard highly a "bad mofo" or a "killer player".

Likewise, despite being left-handed, I don't get upset when people refer to technically skilled musicians as "dexterous" even if (mirroring your logic) it suggests that anyone who is not right-handed is inept and therefore inferior in some way. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Ok. What if you drive around in a really small car dressed as a clown playing circus music on a curvy soprano but you studied with Sigurd Rascher?

Legit or no?
 

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Ok. What if you drive around in a really small car dressed as a clown playing circus music on a curvy soprano but you studied with Sigurd Rascher?

Legit or no?
That depends. I.e.:

Does the circus music swing?

Is he a fancy cloune français, a tragic Pagliacci, or just one of those crass American clowns?

Where was the car made?
 
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