Learn Music Vocabulary and Music Idioms
Let’s start with instrumental music, which is played by an orchestra – a group of musicians. The leader of the group who controls the music is called the conductor.
There are three main types of musical instruments:
Percussion instruments such as the drums, cymbals, tambourine, and triangle;
Wind instruments such as the trumpet, flute, clarinet, and trombone;
And string instruments such as the guitar, violin, harp, and cello.
Some instruments play the melody – the main sound of the music. Other instruments play the harmony – the notes that complement the melody. The percussion instruments keep the beat (the rhythm). When an orchestra plays music in public, this event is called a concert.
Now let’s talk about singers and bands.
When a singer or band plays music in public, this can be called either a concert or a show.
Musicians who are not yet famous play “gigs” – that’s a slang word for a small performance. Bands also record albums (CDs). Each song on an album is called a track. Sometimes singers or bands release a single – that’s a CD with just one song.
When you buy a CD, you also get a little booklet with the lyrics – the words to the songs. A CD with all the music used in a movie is called the movie soundtrack. Finally, if a song becomes very popular and famous, it is called a hit.
music genre: a distinct type of music. Famous music genres include:
- classical music: music that is thought to be a part of a long, formal tradition. My dad is fond of classical music. He listens to Mozart and Beethoven every day.
- pop music: a genre of popular music. One of the most famous pop-singers in the history are Michael Jackson and Madonna.
- rock music: music that is based around amplified instruments, especially the electric guitar and electric bass, and is characterized by driving rhythms. My favourite music genre is rock. I adore such rock bands as Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Beatles.
catchy tune: a tune or a song that’s easy to remember and that you enjoy singing. I heard a catchy song the other day and now it’s stuck in my head.
elevator music: music that is played in places like supermarket or family restaurant. Almost always is very repetitive and annoying. Yesterday I heard a very annoying elevator music in the local supermarket.
live music: music performance in front of an audience. I prefer listening to a live music than to a recording. It’s much more emotional and energetic.
opera: a kind of performance in which actors sing during their play with music performed by an orchestra. I often listen to classical music and go to opera.
ringtone: sound that a cell phone makes when someone is calling. I set my favourite song as a ringtone on my cell phone.
rock band: musicians that play rock music. Last week I was on my favourite rock band’s concert.
tuneful: pleasant and melodious music or sound. I heard a tuneful choir of birds yesterday morning.
Dad! Stop telling me to be careful when I drive. You sound like a broken record! Little children often sound like a broken record and it annoys most people.
While I was explaining to the bus driver what had happened, the other passengers chimed in and gave their version.
When we were kids at school, multiplication tables were drummed into our heads.
My grandfather is nearly ninety but he’s as fit as a fiddle.
His visit to the trade fair was “fiddling while Rome burns” according to the strikers.
The dress needs a scarf or a necklace to jazz it up.
Let’s get out the tinsel, the fairy lights and all that jazz to decorate the Christmas tree.
He struck the right note with his future mother-in-law when he brought her a book on gardening – her favourite hobby!
go for a song: If something goes for a song, it is sold at an unexpectedly low price.
My grandfather loves playing the piano. He tickles the ivories whenever he gets the chance.
He shows a lot of authority but in fact it’s his wife who calls the tune.
He had no consideration for people out of work until he lost his own job; now he’s singing a different tune.
We are still fine tuning our new website and appreciate your patience.
He refused to blow the whistle on his boss for fear of losing his job.
Bob spent the afternoon washing and shining his car until it was as clean as a whistle.