Music in Spanish: From notes and music genres to instruments in Spanish
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Music, the universal language of emotions, resonates deeply within all cultures, showcasing a rich heritage of diverse genres, instruments, and rhythms. This is especially true for music in Spanish cultures!
Whether you are a music enthusiast or whether you’d just like to know how to talk about music in Spanish, in this vocab post we’ll be taking you on a delightful journey through essential music terminology, musical instruments in Spanish, and some unique Latin and Spanish instruments as well! We’ll also show you the names of music genres in Spanish so you know what to dance to, along with some Spanish music verbs.
Now, it’s time to sing, dance, and play!
Music terms in Spanish
In this section, we will explore the fundamental music terminology in Spanish that serve as the building blocks of musical expression. Knowing this Spanish music vocabulary will allow you to talk about music in Spanish like a total expert: we go pretty far into the names for longest notes and the fastest notes here!
|English music terms||Spanish music terms|
|Musical notes||Las notas|
|Measure, Bar||El compás|
|Music sheet, Score||La partitura|
|Tone, Pitch, Key, Whole step||El tono|
|Semitone, Half step||El semitono|
|Octuple whole note, Large||La máxima, La duplex longa|
|Quadruple whole note, Longa||La longa|
|Double whole note, Breve||La cuadrada|
|Whole note, Semibreve||La redonda|
|Half note, Minim||La blanca|
|Quarter note, Crotchet||La negra|
|Eighth note, Quaver||La corchea|
|Sixteenth note, Semiquaver||La semicorchea|
|Thirty-second note, Demisemiquaver||La fusa|
|Sixty-fourth note, Hemidemisemiquaver||La semifusa|
|Hundred twenty-eighth note, Semihemidemisemiquaver||La garrapatea|
|Two hundred fifty-sixth note, Demisemihemidemisemiquaver||La semigarrapatea|
Musical notes in Spanish
In English you tend to refer to musical notes by their letters, starting with middle C. But are you also familiar with the song that gives names to these notes of the scale?
In Spanish we refer to musical notes by these names rather than by letters. We’ve included the English names next to the note letters in the table, which are almost the same as in Spanish! Note that your so becomes sol in Spanish, and your ti becomes si (yes, this note has the exact same spelling as the word for yes in Spanish!).
|English musical notes||Spanish musical notes|
Musical instruments in Spanish
In this section we’ll cover the most common instruments in Spanish. We’ll break them down by kind of instrument: string, wind, and percussion. As a bonus, we will leave you with some Latin and Spanish instruments as well.
String instruments in Spanish – Los instrumentos de cuerda
String instruments are a class of musical instruments that produce sound by vibrating strings. Common examples of string instruments include the guitar, violin, cello, and harp. Let’s take a look at the names of string instruments in Spanish.
|English string instruments||Spanish string instruments|
|Bass guitar||El bajo|
|Upright bass||El contrabajo|
Wind instruments in Spanish – Los instrumentos de viento
Wind instruments are a category of musical instruments that produce sound by vibrating air. In this section we’ll learn the names of common wind instruments in Spanish
|English wind instruments||Spanish wind instruments|
|English horn||El corno inglés|
|French horn||El corno francés|
|Recorder||La flauta dulce|
|Pan flute||La flauta de pan|
|Pipe organ||El órgano|
Percussion instruments in Spanish – Los instrumentos de percusión
Percussion instruments are a family of musical instruments that produce sound through striking, shaking, or rubbing. Many of these instruments don’t produce specific pitches like string or wind instruments, but they create rhythmic patterns and add texture to music.
|English percussion instruments||Spanish percussion instruments|
|Drum kit||La batería|
|Snare drum||La caja, La tarola|
|Bass drum||El bombo|
|Kettle drums||Los timbales|
Now, let’s take a look at some musical instruments that are particular to Spain. These are often used to play in religious festivities or traditional events.
|Spanish instruments, English||Spanish instruments, Spanish|
|Spanish guitar||La guitarra española|
|Onion flute, Mirliton||El nunut, El mirlitón|
Latin America also has its fair share of musical instruments. Some even date back to pre-Hispanic times. Similarly to the Spanish instruments above, these Latin instruments are often used in folk music, religious, and traditional festivals.
|Latin instruments, English||Latin instruments, Spanish|
|Peruvian box||La caja peruana|
Music genres in Spanish
In this section we provide you with the names of various musical styles and genres as they are referred to in the Spanish language. Whether you’re an aspiring musician or you just want to dance, this section on music genres in Spanish will equip you with the vocabulary to discuss and appreciate a diverse range of musical styles.
|Hip hop||El hip hop|
|Trap music||El trap|
|Classical music||La música clásica|
|Country||La música country|
|Disco music||La música disco|
|Electronic music||La música electrónica|
|Cuban son||El son cubano|
|Bossa Nova||El bossa nova|
Miscellaneous Spanish music vocabulary
Here’s some extra music vocabulary in Spanish that may come in handy when talking about music in Spanish, with words for albums, musicians, and concert equipment.
|Choir, Chorus||El coro|
|Musician||El músico, La música|
|Conductor||El director, El conductor|
|Composer||El compositor, La compositora|
|Guitarist||El guitarrista, La guitarrista|
|Drummer||El baterista, La baterista|
|Bassist||El bajista, La bajista|
|Singer||El cantante, La cantante|
|Vocalist||El vocalista, La vocalista|
|Soloist||El solista, La solista|
|Speaker||El parlante, El altavoz|
Music verbs in Spanish
Now that we’ve covered the various groups of Spanish music nouns, let’s take a look at some verbs commonly used when talking about music in Spanish. These are mostly related to music composition and performance.
|To arrange||Hacer los arreglos, Adaptar|
This brings us to the end of our post on music vocabulary in Spanish. Before we go, let’s do a quick recap of what we saw today.
We started with the fundamental music terminology in Spanish, including musical elements such as notes and tones, and musical terms such as melody and rhythm.
Next, we delved into the world of musical instruments in Spanish. We broke these down into the three broad famillies: string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. We also provided lists introducing some instruments that are unique to Spanish and Latin cultures, like the dulzaina, castanets, marimba, and charango, highlighting the regional diversity and cultural significance of these instruments in traditional and folk music.
Then we explored the names of music genres in Spanish, ranging from contemporary styles like pop and hip hop to classic forms like salsa and tango. We wrapped up with an assortment of other Spanish music vocab for musicians and albums, along with a list of Spanish music verbs.
With all this music vocabulary in Spanish, you’re now equipped to engage with Spanish-speaking musicians, explore the rich musical heritage of Spanish-speaking countries, and deepen your appreciation for the universal language of music that binds us all!