Chinese Language Blog

Musicology (the Chinese Way) Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Culture, Vocabulary

Do you like listening to music? (你喜欢听音乐吗?- nǐ xǐ huan tīng yīn yuè ma)

I don’t know about you, but I really like listening to music (我非常喜欢听音乐 – wǒ fēi cháng xǐ huan tīng yīn yuè)

Well, what kind of music do you like? (你喜欢什么音乐 – nǐ xǐ huan shén me yīn yuè)

To help you build your music related vocabulary, here are a few ways you could answer that question:

I like (我喜欢 – wǒ xǐ huan)…

  • rock music (摇滚音乐 – yáo gǔn yīn yuè)
  • pop music (流行音乐 – liú xíng yīn yuè)
  • jazz (爵士 –  jué shì)
  • rap (说唱 – shuō chàng)
  • country music (乡村音乐 – xiāng cūn yīn yuè)
  • blues (蓝调 – lán diào)
  • electronic music (电子音乐 – diàn zǐ yīn yuè)
  • heave metal (重金属音乐 – zhòng jīn shǔ yīn yuè)
  • classical music (古典音乐 – gǔ diǎn yīn yuè)
  • reggae (雷鬼 – léi guǐ)

While we’re at it, here’s some more useful music related vocabulary:

  • singer (歌手 – gē shǒu)
  • band (乐队 – yuè duì)
  • song (歌曲 – gē qǔ)
  • album (专辑 – zhuān jí)
  • instrument (乐器 – yuè qì)
  • concert (音乐会 – yīn yuè huì)
  • music festival (音乐节 – yīn yuè jié)

I know you like listening to music, but can you make music?

Can you sing? (你会唱歌吗 – nǐ huì chàng gē ma)

Can you play guitar? (你会弹吉他吗 – nǐ huì tán jí tā ma?)

To answer affirmatively, simply say “(I) can” (会 – huì), and to answer negatively, just add the character 不 – “(I) cannot” (不会 – bú huì).

In addition to learning basic vocabulary, you should familiarize yourself with Chinese instruments. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered here. Check out some of these past posts about traditional Chinese instruments:

If you’re into music festivals and concerts as much as I am, and you enjoy hilarious stories, you might as well go ahead and read some of my more entertaining posts about some Chinese music festival experiences:

  • Yi Xian Music Festival Part One: Read about our ridiculous journey out into the middle of nowhere for a music festival, which found us sleeping in a KTV bar.
  • Yi Xian Part Two: Finally in Yi Xian, we set up camp in a dirty parking lot, and convinced people to buy beer for us in exchange for photos.
  • Zhang Bei In Music Festival Part One: A 6-hour bus ride finds us out in the countryside of Hebei province for a summer time music festival.
  • Zhang Bei Part Two: Cultural differences, late night dance parties, and people eating french fries with chopsticks.

If videos are more your thing, here’s a little highlight reel I made from the In Music Festival:

Whether you are into traditional Chinese music, or the more modern sensation of C-Pop, listening to music can help you understand a lot about Chinese culture and can also improve your language skills. So what are you waiting for? Listen to, play, sing along, and dance to some Chinese music!


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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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