Green’s Dictionary of Slang

music n.

also musick

1. (UK Und.) a term used among highwaymen to signify that an individual is a friend and must not be hindered on their journey; usu. in phr. the music’s paid.

[UK]Jonson, Fletcher & Middleton Widdow III i: You must pay your Musick, sir Where ere you come.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Musick. It makes ill Musick, of any unwelcome . . . News. . . . The Musick’s paid, the Watch-word among High-way-men, to let the Company they were to Rob, alone, in return to some Courtesy.
[UK]New Canting Dict.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Musick, the watch word among highwayman, signifying the person is a friend, and must pass unmolested.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

2. (Irish) the ‘tail’ of a coin [the ‘tail’ or reverse side of an Irish halfpenny or farthing bore the image of a harp].

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]M. & R. Lovell Edgeworth Essays on Irish Bulls 129: ‘Music!’ says he – ‘Skull!’ says I.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.

3. (UK Und.) a verdict of ‘not guilty’.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum.

4. (US) amusement, fun, lively speech.

[UK]Vulgarities of Speech Corrected.
[Aus]Sydney Herald 26 Oct. 2/4: Mr Rennie gave an immense number of examples of similar slang [...] music, for ‘fun;’ a good hand, for ‘dextrous’ or ‘expert;’ peckish, for ‘hungry;’ sticks, for ‘household furniture;’ seedy, for ‘poor;’ spliced, for ‘married’.
[US]Bartlett Dict. Americanisms (2nd edn) 285: Jim is a right clever fellow; there is a great deal of music in him .
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 618: Music is in many parts of the Union used as a synonym for fun or frolic, and hence, perhaps, musical means, in New England at least, humorous, funny.
[US]Century Mag. (N.Y.) 3907/3: Music, [...] diversion; sport; also, sense of the ridiculous [DA].

5. (US) gunfire.

[[UK]A. Lovell (trans. M de Thevenot) Travels I 225: With that another Volley of great and small Shot: When this Musick had lasted about an Hour, they continually Firing, and our Boys caling to them [etc.] ].
[US]C.W. Wills Army Life of an Illinois Soldier 327: Have heard no ‘music’ today [OED].

6. talking, esp. complaints or nagging.

[US]Bismarck (ND) Weekly Trib. 24 May 2/4: ‘Get out, you young vagabones,’ says the janitor [...] ‘Vagabone yourself,’ chimed Teddy, ‘an’ no music.’.
[UK]Manchester Courier 25 June 5: A Texas Mother-In-Law [addressing a policeman] Wanted to amperate my jaw, the little brassy whelp! [...] You had better find that son or thar’ll be music.
[UK]D. Stewart Shadows of the Night in Illus. Police News 5 Oct. 12/2: ‘You’re too quiet, an’ I must git some music out of yer. I think this rope’ll make yer sing’.
[US]G.V. Higgins Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) 17: Then the old lady starts the music about how I never stay home.

In phrases

face the music (v.)

1. to deal stoically with a problem or difficult situation.

[US]Congressional Globe 4 Mar. Appendix 324/3: There should be no skulking or dodging — [...] every man should ‘face the music’ [DA].
[US]Richmond (VA) Enquirer 27 July 4/3: Instead of [...] facing the music, the Whig coons thought it best to make as few tracks as possible.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 148: Here we are ole stud! Face the music!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Oct. 14/2: And the worst of it was that this prisoner on bail wasn’t possessed of that meekness and sense of decency which might reasonably have been expected to characterise a man about to face the music of a jury.
[UK]A. Binstead Houndsditch Day by Day 137: A rough injunction to his aged companion to ‘buck up and face the music’.
[UK]Magnet 7 Mar. 2: You’ll get off cheaper by facing the music at once.
[UK]C. Holme Lonely Plough (1931) 256: It’s I who will have to face the music for those lost lives when the bill comes in.
[US]C. Woofter ‘Dialect Words and Phrases from West-Central West Virginia’ in AS II:8 353: When the people find out what you have done, you will have to face the music.
[US]C. Himes ‘Her Whole Existence’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 103: Precious, let’s chuck it and go back and face the music.
[US]F. Brown Fabulous Clipjoint (1949) 15: I should get off, go home, and face the music. I’m just running away.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Sat. Night and Sun. Morning 65: He’ll just have to face the music.
[UK]J. Orton Entertaining Mr Sloane Act II: You won’t abandon me? Leave me to face the music.
[US]J. Lahr Hot to Trot 100: A lover can just [...] beat it; a husband has to face the music.
[UK](con. 1940s) D. Nobbs Second From Last in the Sack Race 42: My worst enemy couldn’t say that I am a man not to face the music when the chips are down.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 346: He was going to call Celeste when he got to Boston, tell her everything, face the music and, if she blew him out, it would be no less than he deserved.

2. to take one’s punishment.

R.G. White Works of William Shakespeare xxxiii: The bully rock is the man who does not give ground, who, in our slang phrase, ‘faces the music’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 July 12/3: When you become engaged to a ‘lord,’ or the son of a lord, don’t rush round to the newspaper-offices [...]. The lord, or the lord’s son, may elect not to face the music.
[UK]Marvel III:55 10: They were in for it now, and must face the music.
[UK]Gem 23 Sept. 21: I’d rather face the music a hundred times than go around in a blue-funk like that.
[US](con. 1915) C.W. Willemse Behind The Green Lights 200: It was a good thing for Joe that he was caught. He faced the music and he’s free to-day.
[US]B. Jackson Killing Time 171: So when we got to the prison Mr. Tom ask me if I was ready to face the music.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘To Hull and Back’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Come on, you can’t leave the poor old sod to face the music can you?
[UK]Guardian 8 Nov. 6: Jemima Khan faces music.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

music box (n.)

1. a piano.

[UK]C. Reade Hard Cash I 178: But just you hear her sing, that is all [...] Just smiles and sits to the music-box.
[Can]R. Service ‘The Shooting of Dan McGrew’ in Songs of a Sourdough 30: The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune.

2. a guitar.

[US]W. Guthrie Bound for Glory (1969) 250: ‘How’s it come ya ain’t packin’ yer music box with ya?’ ‘Hocked it last week.’.