Talk About Music

Vocabulary

Music is fantastic. It’s also a great way to study English but sometimes it can be difficult to talk about music.

Instruments

Most pop, rock, blues and country music is played on guitars, bass, drums and keyboards. The guitar may be an electric guitar plugged into an amplifier or an acoustic guitar. The keyboard may be an organ or a synthesizer. Also, computers are used to make music more and more frequently.

Jazz is often played on the saxophone, trumpet, piano, bass and drums but may also be played on the guitar and even the marimba, vibraphone, and flute.

Classical music may be played by an orchestra or a smaller group known as an ensemble, else it is played by quartets, trios, duos or solo performers. Orchestras are split into strings (violin, viola, cello and double bass), woodwind (flute, clarinet, oboe and bassoon), percussion (timpani, drums, cymbals and glockenspiel), and brass (trumpet, tenor horn, French horn, euphonium and tuba).

Genres

Classical music is the type of music written by Beethoven and Bach. Classic music could be high quality, old music of any genre. The Rolling Stones are often described as ‘classic rock’.

There are also subgenres. Bebop is a subgenre of jazz and psychedelia is a subgenre of rock music.

The most common genres are classical, jazz, folk, pop, rock, country, blues, jazz, soul, reggae, hip hop, dance, avant garde and world music, which is often used to describe any kind of music which doesn’t sound like Western pop music and is traditional music played by people from non-English speaking countries.

Sound

We might say music is upbeat if it is fast and happy, and downtempo if it is slow. Heavy metal is fast and loud (not big) and bossa nova is usually quiet and relaxing. Music is dynamic if it changes volume and sometimes, but not usually, rhythm.