Russian Language Blog

Thank you! Please check your inbox for your confirmation email.
You must click the link in the email to verify your request.

Learning Russian through Music Posted by on Feb 25, 2015 in Culture, language, Russian song lyrics

When I was in the earlier stages of learning English, before I moved to the United States, finding easier ways to learn new words and phrases was pretty important. One of those ways was learning through music. When you hear a song you like, you can listen to it over and over again; at a certain point you start singing along; then before you know it you are ready to give it a go on your own. One of the most important things in this exercise is having the lyrics of the desired song. Fortunately, in this day and age lyrics are somewhat easy to find on the internet. With that in mind I decided to share some of my favorite songs with you and also give you some tips on how to look for Russian songs with lyrics on YouTube. I am not very big on Russian pop, so you will have to forgive me for lack of Russian pop references :-).

For example, here is what I put in to find one of my favorite songs (granted, I knew the name of the singer and the title but bear with me): Николай Носков это здорово текст

Here is another one of my favorites (no lyrics though) but this independent video was shot years later by a student just because she wanted too 🙂. Группа Секрет Привет

OK, maybe I will include one pop song, I do like it 🙂 This one is a remake of Алла Пугачева song which originally came out in 1978. Here is the original if you want to check it out.

If you are trying to find lyrics for the song, put in the words текст (lyrics) or текст песни (song lyrics) after you type in the name of the song you are interested in.

If you don’t know what to look for, you can try looking by genre. In this case you can first put in the genre and some key words and then try to narrow it down by song. Here are a few choices:

русский рок – Russian rock

русская поп – Russian pop

русский рэп – Russian rap

русский металл – Russian metal

русский панк – Russian punk

русские народные песни – Russian folk songs

русский романс — Russian romance, a very distinctive genre of Russian music

русские шансон – Russian chanson, a pretty interesting genre if you don’t mind trying new things 🙂

классическая музыка — classical music

лучшие (рок, рэп, поп, панк, и т.д.) группы России — best Russian (rock, rap, pop, punk, etc.) bands

русские песни – Russian songs

русская музыка – Russian songs

русские хиты Russian hits

альтернативная музыка – alternative music

новые песни – new songs

хиты – hits

попса – pop (colloquial)

лучшее – best

60-е – 60s

70-е – 70s

80-е – 80s

90-е – 90s

You can also put in a specific year (2012, 2014, etc.) I know, I know, Mrs. Obvious is my middle name :-).

If you are trying to find the official video for the song, put in клип or видео after the title.

Most newer songs have pretty good videos.

Here are some more of my favorites. Perhaps, some of you might like them too.

Song: Oсень with lyrics Band: ДДТ

Song: Не вешать нос from the movie Гардемарины Вперед Sorry, no text

Song: «А на последок я скажу…» from the movie “Cruel Romance,” a very Russian song in so many ways. Sorry, no text.

I encourage everyone to share their favorite Russian songs in the comment section. I believe it might help some readers navigate the deep waters of Russian music and perhaps find something new and exciting 🙂

Всего хорошего!

Tags: , ,
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Jenya

Born in Russia, I spent the first twenty years of my life in Orenburg, Russia and Mogilev, Belarus. For the last eleven years, I've lived in New Hampshire and Michigan, US. While I continue to absorb and adapt to American culture, I am always thrilled to share my Russian heritage with those who find it interesting. Travel, photography and art play a special part in my life. Twitter: @iamnx2u


Comments:

  1. Alex:

    Hi, Jenya
    As a student still at beginner’s level, I find Russian pop to be a good source of material. I’m not much into pop either, but most songs on Radio Kontinental (yeah, I know what you’re thinking :-)) have very simple lyrics, which is just what I need. Just recognizing the few words you know in a song might give you that motivational boost. For no more than half an hour, of course 🙂
    I guess this is what they call the love of languages…

  2. Ann Crawford:

    Hi Kenya.
    Maybe I’m old fashioned but I live the Russian song kartousha!

  3. Jenya:

    Alex, this is actually a great approach. You are right, simple vocabulary is easier to pick out and subsequently remember in a song. Keep up the good work!

  4. Jenya:

    Ann, yes it is a great song but it is spelled Katyusha :-).

  5. David Roberts:

    Yes Katyusha is superb! And like many other songs, it could form the basis of a chapter in a teach yourself Russian book – vividly illustrating some fascinating grammatical points. For example in the line Ой ты, песня, песенка девичья, can you analyse what the word девичья is doing and how it fits together with the other words?

    One of Alla Pugacheva’s famous songs is Millyon Alikh Roz – about 3 years ago I wrote a guest blog on this song, which you can find if search the Russian Blog archives.

    Zhuravli is another classic song, great to listen to and again very instructive to analyse. In fact we decided to name our Russian study group on the Wirral (other side of the Mersey estuary from Liverpool) Zhuravli, after this song. There are a lot of very good versions on YouTube – I think the original singer was the late Mark Bernes, and there is a more recent version by the group Serebro (or is it Serebra). in fact we used to spend a lot of time listening to songs and analysing them. There are a lot of good songs in Russian by Anna German.

    Two more: Volga Volga (aka Stenka Razin, or Из-за острова на стрежень) – again there are very many versions of this song, which is a lot “darker” than the Seekers 1960s hit “Now The Carnival is Over” with the same melody. The word стрежень is fixed firmly in my memory, and has educated me on the subject of river hydrodynamics but I don’t expect I’ll ever find occasion to use it! Jenya and other native Russian speakers, can you remember when you last used this word? And And also related to Stenka Razin “Oy da ne vecher” sung by Darya Moroz and Pelageya in a TV song competition (Dve Zvezdi) where singing stars were paired with actors/actresses etc.

  6. Ken:

    When I started learning Russian I learned several Russian songs, mostly from classic movies such as “Irony of Fate”. Occasionally I will still run into a word that seems unfamiliar at first and then I realize it is in one of the songs I know. I learned to play the songs on guitar though I don’t do that often any more.

    Если у Вас (нету тёти)
    Я спросил у ясеня
    Мне нравится
    Александра
    Маленький принц
    Песенка об Арбате

    (probably a few others that don’t immediately come to mind)

  7. Ken:

    When I mentioned to your colleague Yelena that I like to do karaoke, she was kind enough to send me a karaoke DVD “100 Songs from Movies” (Сто песер из кинофильмов) which has several of the songs I already knew and some that Губит людей не пиво, губит людей вода!”

    I managed to find a video clip from the original film which helped me learn the song.

  8. Ken:

    Sorry, my last post got corrupted somehow – should say “…and some that I didn’t know, one of which is the fun song Пиво…”

  9. David C:

    I had a Japanese teacher,once told me that not only can you pick up new words in songs but you can also can hear how the words are pronounced.
    There is a song called ‘Moscow Nights’on YouTube where you can get vocabulary and see hear how the words are pronounced:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KairmsARpyo
    In Russian music, I heard a band called Leningrad but I am pretty sure some of their vocabulary you don’t want to learn.

  10. Moonyeen Albrecht:

    My love of the Russian language came through music, but I am a classical music lover and discovered Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov and Stravinsky before I was 10 years old. At 11 I fell in love with opera and as a teenager living in Chicago I found a man who imported Soviet LPs. In following the libretti for “Борис Годонов,” “Садко,” “Снегурочка,” “Царская невеста,” “Майская ночь” I learned to love Russian and vowed that someday I would study it seriously. 40 years later I finally had the opportunity to study Russian. I am a musician and composer and in April my music for two flutes and piano will be premiered in
    Moscow in concerts played by Maxim Rubtsov, the Principal Flute for the Russian National Orchestra. My love of Russian language and Russian music has been life-long . . . and I am a “senior citizen” retired music professor.

  11. Moonyeen Albrecht:

    Another tern to add the your extensive list is:
    классическая музыка

  12. Jenya:

    I just wanted to thank everybody from the bottom of my heart for participating! We have a lot of useful information in this comment thread :-).
    David R, I found that blog post. Here is the link if anyone wants to read it:
    https://blogs.transparent.com/russian/tag/david-roberts/
    David R, in response to your question about стрежень, I can say I have never used this word :-).
    Ken, in my humble opinion all the music in Irony of Fate is awesome but it is because I grew up with this movie, so I am bias. I do think that all the lyrics are very touching and very well written.
    Moonyeen, I feel like you need to start writing an autobiography if you have not yet. Sounds like you have quite a story to tell 🙂 I am very happy about your upcoming adventure and I wish you the best of luck! One of these days we should get together since we are not that far apart :-).

  13. Jenya:

    David C, just listened to a song by Ленинград. I have to agree, a fair amount of obscenities is sprinkled throughout their music but, hey, on the other hand, it makes the experience that much more authentic :-).

  14. Moonyeen Albrecht:

    Jenya, I would love to meet you or at least make a closer connection. I have a good Russian library and, one of these days, my children may want to know “what to do with all my Russian books.” I hope that day is far off. If you could send me your personal e-mail address maybe we could make closer contact. By the way, I looked for Baltika beer at the Mt. Pleasant Meijer’s but they had never heard of it. Очень жаль! My e-mail is moonyeen@charter.net in case you would like to write to me. I’d love to hear from you and I will definitely write back!

  15. Moonyeen Albrecht:

    If anyone wants to follow my blog about my trip on the Volga with the Russian National Orchestra check out this link: http://www.mircorp.com/journals/olga-river-cruise-with-the-russian-national-orchestra/

  16. Tatiana Danilevskaya:

    Hi, everyone!
    Welcome to “Russian via Songs”!
    “Russian via Songs” – is an interactive Internet project for those who want to know more about Russia and the Russian language by studying popular Russian songs. This is a fun way to study language spoken by 500 million people.
    http://www.rusongs.vsu.ru; http://vk.com/rusongs
    Sing our favorite Russian songs with us!

  17. Peter Groves:

    A Polish friend of mine, with whom I had just run a Marathon, asked me if I know Vladimir Visotsky’s song МАРАФОН, and told me that as a child he had learned Russian at school by listening to Visotsky. The songs are fantastic, too, which helps. You can find a lot at http://www.kulichki.com/vv/eng/. More recently a Russian friend mentioned that he was going to see Машина времени. I knew the name but not the music, and I have enjoyed finding their music on YouTube (and lyrics on other websites). I found it helps a lot with pronunciation, for example I can already say Праздник начинается сейчас (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz-xw0jf74I&index=1&list=PL-Fi8B0MaqibcKd8nqZrbowGdaJyLAPoM) quite fluently.

    • Jenya:

      @Peter Groves Peter, thanks a lot for chiming in! Машина времени is a great band, their lyrics are fairly complex but always well written :-). You can try to find Браво too. We have a lot of great musicians you just have to know what to look for.

  18. Lakela:

    I need help for the lyrics to a song called Kalasjnikov by Toens. It is a new song. Please and Thank you

  19. Rahul Singh:

    Yes Katyusha is superb! And like many other songs, it could form the basis of a chapter in a teach yourself Russian book – vividly illustrating some fascinating grammatical points. For example in the line Ой ты, песня, песенка девичья, can you analyse what the word девичья is doing and how it fits together with the other words?

    One of Alla Pugacheva’s famous songs is Millyon Alikh Roz – about 3 years ago I wrote a guest blog on this song, which you can find if search the Russian Blog archives.

    Zhuravli is another classic song, great to listen to and again very instructive to analyse. In fact we decided to name our Russian study group on the Wirral (other side of the Mersey estuary from Liverpool) Zhuravli, after this song. There are a lot of very good versions on YouTube – I think the original singer was the late Mark Bernes, and there is a more recent version by the group Serebro (or is it Serebra). in fact we used to spend a lot of time listening to songs and analysing them. There are a lot of good songs in Russian by Anna German.

    Two more: Volga Volga (aka Stenka Razin, or Из-за острова на стрежень) – again there are very many versions of this song, which is a lot “darker” than the Seekers 1960s hit “Now The Carnival is Over” with the same melody. The word стрежень is fixed firmly in my memory, and has educated me on the subject of river hydrodynamics but I don’t expect I’ll ever find occasion to use it! Jenya and other native Russian speakers, can you remember when you last used this word? And And also related to Stenka Razin “Oy da ne vecher” sung by Darya Moroz and Pelageya in a TV song competition (Dve Zvezdi) where singing stars were paired with actors/actresses etc.

  20. Michela:

    Thank you for your tips!
    I’m trying out some of the songs listed.I did some research on my own as well,and I found out about Сейф and some other bands that I think are worth looking into (I think I went with something like ‘alternative 80/90s bands..not sure though!).I find very useful to listen to Тату Russian songs as well,especially because I’m already used to the music and I already sort of know what the lyrics are about,thanks to their English versions.The first Russian band I ever listened to (and which got me into studying the language to begin with) were Аркона:they do folk metal and they’re amazing.On their FB page they put English translations as well,which is useful,especially considering that for a beginner like me their lyrics are quite complex!