Greek Language Blog

Music vocabulary in Greek Posted by on Feb 29, 2016 in Culture, Vocabulary

By dalbera under a CC license on flickr

By dalbera under a CC license on flickr

At the moment, Greece is sliding into one of the most serious humanitarian crisis, in its modern history. For some of us who are incurable dreamers, the only antidote is art.

In ancient Greek mythology, the god Apollo (Απόλλων) was the leader of the Nine Muses (Εννέα Μούσες) who were nymphs associated to arts:

Ερατώ (Erato): erotic poetry

Ευτέρπη (Euterpe): lyric poetry

Θάλεια (Thalia): comedy and idyllic poetry

Καλλιόπη (Calliope): epic poetry

Κλειώ (Clio): history

Μελπομένη (Melpomene): tragedy

Ουρανία (Urania): astronomy

Πολύμνια (Polyhymnia): sacred hymn

Τερψιχόρη (Terpsichore): dance

By Ian B Scott under a CC license on Flickr

By Ian B Scott under a CC license on flickr


The art of the muses was initially called μουσική (music). Later it took the meaning of music as we know it now and became an international word. The organic or instrumental music (οργανική μουσική) appeared for the first time in the 6th century BC.The most popular instrument was λύρα (lyre), a string instrument which was also a symbol of Apollo.

The Greek note names are: ντο, ρε, μι, φα, σολ, λα , σι (C, D, E, F, G, A, B).

List of musical terms:


αναίρεση (η): natural sign

αρμονία (η): harmony

βαθύφωνος: bass / contralto

δίεση (η): sharp

έγχορδα (τα):string instruments

ημιτόνιο (το): semitone

κλειδί (το): key: το κλειδί του ντο / του σολ / του φα: the key of C / G / F

κλίμακα (η): scale: μείζων κλίμακα, ματζόρε: major scale / ελάσσων κλίμακα, μινόρε: minor scale

κρουστά (τα): percussion instruments

μελωδία (η):melody, tune

μεσόφωνος: mezzo-soprano

μέτρο (το):meter

μουσικός (ο,η): musician

νότα (η) / νότες (οι): note / notes

παρτιτούρα (η): sheet music

πνευστά (τα): wind instruments

οκτάβα (η): octave

όργανο (το): instrument: παίζω / μαθαίνω ένα όργανο: to play / to learn how to play an instrument

ορχήστρα (η): orchestra

ορχηστρικός-η-ο: orchestral

παίζω μουσική: to play music

παραφωνία (η): discord

πεντάγραμμο (το): staff

ρυθμός (ο): rhythm

συνθέτω μουσική: to compose music

συνθέτης (ο): composer

συγχορδία (η):chord

τενόρος (ο): tenor

τραγουδώ: to sing




Below there is a video of  the piece of orchestral music Βροχή (Rain)  by Manos Hatzidakis, one of the most significant Greek composers.





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About the Author: Ourania

Ourania lives in Athens. She holds a degree in French Literature and a Master’s degree in Special Education for Children. Since 2008, she has been teaching Greek to foreigners.


  1. Nick Stamoulis:

    There is a rich tradition of music in the Greek culture. The wealth of Greek vocabulary that pertains to music shows how vital it really is. In fact, while learning the Greek language, it’s important to have exposure to various parts of the culture. Bringing Greece alive through music is a great way to build the language skills.