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Vocabulary about music Posted by on Jun 22, 2011 in Culture, Music

hi everybody, today I want to indroduce some general vocabulary about music to you.  So, when we talk about music, we first have to seperate the different styles of music:

Klassik – Classical music

Pop – Popular music

Reggae – Reggae music

Rock – Rock music

Folk – Folk music

Hip Hop – Hip Hop

Heavy Metal – Heavy Metal

Jazz – Jazz music

Blues – Blues

By far these are not all the different styles that exist, but even here, you can see that the words are very similar in both languages. The reason is pretty simple: In German we use a lot of „Anglizismen“ (angliscisms). These are words that are just adapted from the English language and so they are valid in German as well. This happens often in contemorary words like internet, community, computer, meeting, overall…

But back to music. When we talk about classical music, we have a lot of words, that have their origin in Italian language and sometimes we have them translated in German:





da capo


How is this handled in English language?

When you think of the Notenlinien (staff), it all starts with a Notenschlüssel (clef) and the Vorzeichen (accidental) to declare the Tonart (key, tonality) of the song. And there are not only songs:

das Lied – song

das Stück – piece

die Oper – opera

die Arie – aria

die Operette – operetta

der Akt – act

die Rockoper – Rock opera (like Pink Flyod´s „The Wall“)

The different Tonlagen (pitches) are categorised as follows:

Bass – bass

Tenor – tenor

Alt – alto

Sopran – soprano

In modern music, it´s mostly about songs. And very often they consist of Strophen (verses) and Refrains (chorus). That makes them pretty easy to recognize and easy to remember.

When you go out to see a Orchester (orchestra) or Musikgruppe (Band) play live, this is called a Konzert (concert, gig). The Besetzung of band is very often like this:

das Schlagzeug – drums

der Bass – bass guitar

die elektrische Gitarre – Electric guitar

das Keyboard – Keyboards

der Gesang – Vocals

Of course there are a lot of other instruments as well. But this will be another blog post.

What are other vocabulary about music that you´re interested in? Feel free to start a discussion!


Some articles:

die Notenlinien

der Notenschlüssel

das Vorzeichen

die Tonart

die Strophe

der Refrain

die Tonlage

das Orchester

die Musikgruppe

das Konzert

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About the Author:jan

My name is Jan and I live in the south west of Germany. My profession is being a project manager at a company that creates digital media (first of all internet related things). This is my job since over a decade so I´m quite familiar with the web and its tools. Whereat today almost every school kid does. But that´s one of the main reasons why nowadays there are quasi no more limits in the internet and so it can be used for all imaginable types of things. For example learning languages! And that´s where we are at the moment. I first got in touch with Transparent Language when my family and I used to live in France a couple of years ago. I just had a break from work and by coincidence I produced some cultural videos in French. A few months later the whole blogging thing came up and I was lucky to be a part of it. So now my (second) job is to feed you with information, exercises, vocabulary, grammar and stories about Germany and German language. For being a passionate videographer I´m trying to do this more and more by videos. If you have any wishes or needs of topics that should be treated here, please don´t hesitate to contact me via a comment field. I´m open to your suggestions (as long as they are not too individual) and will try to satisfy your needs.


  1. Niamh:

    What are some good bands that sing in German? I looked at the top 100 radio songs in Germany a little while ago and 90% of the songs were the same English songs I hear in New York. Why do German kids listen to so much stuff they don’t understand as opposed to music in German? Just something cultural I guess, but it still surprises me…
    Anyway, I’d love if someone can good German artists besides Nena and Revolverheld. A blog about it perhaps? 😀

  2. Tânia Mello:

    Thanks, but one thing is missing : which one is der, which is das and which is die ? (o_0) We will need them to talk about music !

  3. Jennifer:

    Niamh, I’m in the same boat! Trying to find some good bands in German! I love Xavier Naidoo (R&B/soul) and Söhnne Mannheims, recently I found Tokio Hotel… they are a bit more pop/punk/rocker.

  4. Pia:

    Another area of music is world music. Recently I was listening to a Putumayo cd with a cute song on it called Anneliese die Kuh. This CD I bought for my 5 year old son, but turns out the music is really pleasant to listen to that I like to turn it on too.!!

  5. Jonathan:

    Christina Sturmer is a good German singer. I also like the metal/rock band Rammstein.

  6. yehe:

    Hi ,

    Just wanted to jot a quick note that the German Blog is a fun site to get Germany-info etc.
    I thouth that adding the der/die/das to nouns that are presented will be very helpfull for the learning-German-folk 🙂

    vielen dank

  7. jan:

    Hi Folks,

    thanks for your comments. Just added some of the articles to make it easier for you.

  8. Niamh:

    Yeah I just recently got over my 2 month long obsession with Tokio Hotel! They were the first German band I found and I listened to them non-stop for quite a while. Sadly I hear that they have kinda a Justin Bieber reputation in Germany but I’m not 100% certain on this. Anyway thanks a bunch for answering, I think I’ve seen Xavier’s name before but now I’ll listen to some of his music.

  9. jan:

    @Niamh, well, that Justin Bieber reputation is definitely true! Sorry to disappoint you 🙂

  10. AlexAleman:

    find here German source music:
    and here some more useful German links to German radio stations, German newspapers, German..:

  11. Elionor:

    Interessting comments!
    Gruss aus Glederland

  12. Sean:

    Die Toten Hosen, rock band.