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This is a special vocabulary lesson for musicians and for anyone who is interested in music! I’ll introduce you to the technical vocabulary of musical theory and notation. You may already have an understanding of music and how it’s written. But if you don’t, then I hope this will be a useful introduction for you, whether you’re learning English as a foreign language or are a native English speaker. You’ll learn words such as note, flat, sharp, clef, tone, signature, semibreve, timbre, melody, texture, and more. I’ll also talk about some of the words that are different in the UK and the US. Also, whatever style of music you like – classical, jazz, pop, folk, country, heavy metal – this lesson has something in it for you. So let’s rock on!

Take the quiz at https://www.engvid.com/music-vocabulary/

Next, join me in visiting a London art gallery:


Hello. I'm Gill at engVid, and today we have a lesson especially for people who already know a bit about music, but would like to know what the English words are for some of the terminology in music. So, this is just a brief summary of some of the main aspects of music, and to do with the way it's written, called notation; and things connected with the theory of music; and all the technical... Well, not all the technical things; some of the technical things connected with it. So... So that you can talk about music with people in English. Okay? If you don't know anything about music, I hope it will also be an introduction to some of the ideas and some of the words connected with music, and you can find other websites to find out more. So, let's have a look.

So, music vocabulary in English. The names of the notes are: A, B, C, D, E, F, G. So, that would give you an octave. "Octave." Well, up to the next A, that is. A to A would be an octave. Okay? So, if you're looking at a piano keyboard, for example, those are the notes on there; the white notes. So, we have, on the piano keyboard, if you're thinking of music in that way, you've got the white notes and the black notes. Okay. White notes are these letters; the black notes are the flats and sharps. Okay. So, if you know about music already, you know what I mean. If you don't know, there are lots of sites on the internet to find out more, if you want to do that after this lesson. Okay.

So, a flat, that's the symbol for flat, as you know, because the musical notation is a universal notation, so it's used all over the world. So, you will know the symbols, I'm sure, but you may not know the English words for them. So, the flat; that's a flat. The sharp; that's a sharp. And the natural, if you need to cancel out a flat or a sharp - that's the natural. The symbol is called "natural", there. Okay. Right.

So, then, coming down to the way the music is written, the five lines that it's written on - that's called a "stave" in English. Okay. So, I've written a couple of examples, here, with some of the words describing what's... What's there. So, this stave of five lines has some notes on it, so they're notes. These are the notes. This is called the treble clef-"treble clef"-which rests on the G, so it shows you that that line is G. Treble clef. And this one is called the bass clef, which rests on the F. So, you know that line is the F. Okay.

So, what I've done, I've shown a time signature, here, 4:4; four beats in the bar, so the bar... That's a bar. Up to the bar line. Okay. And with the bass clef stave, I've shown 3:4 time signature. 3:4. Three beats in the bar. Okay? So, we call it 3:4; 4:4.Okay?

And there's also the key signature, there, for the key. So, that's the key signature, as you know for G major. Or it could be what's called the relative minor; would be E minor with the same key signature. E minor. Okay, so that's called a key signature, just like this is called a time signature. Key signature, one sharp, G major or E minor.

This one, I've given it a key signature for F major with one flat. So, the relative minor for that, again, would be D... D minor. So, that could be the key signature for something in D minor or an F major, of course. Okay. Right. So, that's covering the key signatures and the time signatures, the treble clef, the bass clef, the notes.

Then the spaces between the notes are called intervals in English. So, the interval could be a small interval, like a tone or a semi-tone, or a larger interval. I haven't written them down, but a third, a fifth, an octave. We've got octave, there. So, G to F sharp, of course, is a semi-tone; the smallest you can get. Well, yeah. I know in modern music you can get even less than that, but that's getting too... Too technical for me. […]

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