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English musical vocabulary Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in English Vocabulary

What is your favorite type of music – rock, pop, R&B, country, classical, techno? No matter what type of music you like the best, being able to talk about the music you like, or don’t like, is a good thing. After all, everyone likes to talk about music, right? Today I have a vocabulary building post for you with words about music to help you be better prepared to talk about your favorite music.

Live music.

Image by Xi WEG on Flickr.com.

First take a look at the lit of words below and see how many of them you already know, I bet there will be at least few.

number one
top ten

You might know what some of these words mean in general, but what do they mean when they are specifically related to music? Take a look below at this same list of words and definitions. See if what you thought the word meant, is really what it means.

airplay – the amount of time a song is played on a radio station, i.e. how often it is played
album – a collection of songs on a CD or record
catchy – a song that is easy to remember and sing
composer – a writer of music
concert – a public performance of music
hit – a popular song
instrument – a tool used to create music
instrumental – a song (or part of a song) that has no words
lyrics – the words of a song
live – music that is played in front of an audience
latest – the most recent music/song from an artist
musician – a person who plays a musical instrument or sings, as a hobby or as a profession
number one – the most popular song at any given time
record – a collection of songs; synonym to album
single – one song from a collection of songs or album
singer –  a person who sings songs
soundtrack – the music that accompanies a film or TV show
top ten – the top ten most popular songs in a particular genre of music at any given time
vocal(s) – the singing, or the words, in a song

Lastly, take a look at how some of these words are used in context.  See if you can figure out which words from above fit in the blanks below.

1.    The _____________________ to the new James Bond movie is amazing.
2.    I wish my favorite artist would get more ______________ on the radio.
3.    I am going to a __________ at the Rose Bowl this Friday. This will be the first time I see my favorite singer ______________.
4.    Phillip is an amazing ________________. I don’t know anyone who plays guitar as well as he does.
5.    This week’s ________ _________ songs on the local country radio station are all great, but the ___________ ____________ song this week is my favorite.
6.    That new song by Jay-Z is so _______________; I can’t stop singing it.




1. soundtrack; 2. airplay; 3. concert & live; 4. musician; 5. top ten & number one; 6. catchy

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.


  1. Stefanie:

    It makes me really happy that I already knew all this!
    And I think you made a mistake, or? You wrote “is a good things”, but musn’t it be “is a good thing” (singular)? Sorry, I don’t eant to be a grammarnazi! It’s just that I really love English and I want to learn more! But if I’m wrong, then I’m sorry!

    • gabriele:

      @Stefanie Stefanie,
      So glad to hear this post made you happy and reassured you in your English vocabulary knowledge!
      Yes, it looks like you did catch a typo of mine too! Thanks for letting me know. I’m going to fix it right now.