Music in Spanish: From notes and music genres to instruments in Spanish

Music 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
Major Mayor
Minor Menor
Scale La escala
Interval El intérvalo
Melody La melodía
Rythm El ritmo
Beat El tiempo
Measure, Bar El compás
Harmony La armonía
Chord El acorde
Solfège El solfeo
Music sheet, Score La partitura
Staff El pentagrama
Metronome El metrónomo
Clef La clave
Tone, Pitch, Key, Whole step El tono
Semitone, Half step El semitono
Accent El acento
Rest El silencio
Octave La octava
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
C: Do Do
D: Re Re
E: Mi Mi
F: Fa Fa
G: So Sol
A: La La
B: Ti Si
Sharp Sostenido
Flat Bemol

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
Piano El piano
Clavichord El clavicordio
Guitar La guitarra
Bass guitar El bajo
Ukelele El ukelele
Mandolin La mandolina
Banjo El banjo
Lute El laúd
Cittern El cistro
Violin El violín
Viola La viola
Cello El cello
Upright bass El contrabajo
Lyra La lira
Harp El harpa
Zither La cítara

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
Flute La flauta
Piccolo El pícolo
Saxophone El saxofón
Clarinet El clarinete
English horn El corno inglés
Oboe El oboe
Bugle El clarín
Trumpet La trompeta
Cornet La corneta
Flugelhorn El fliscorno
French horn El corno francés
Tuba La tuba
Trombone El trombón
Recorder La flauta dulce
Pan flute La flauta de pan
Kazoo El kazoo
Harmonica La harmónica
Pipe organ El órgano
Bagpipes La gaita

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 El tambor
Drum kit La batería
Snare drum La caja, La tarola
Bass drum El bombo
Drumsticks Las baquetas
Cymbals Los platillos
Triangle El triángulo
Bell La campana
Gong El gong
Tambourine La pandereta
Djembe El yembé
Bongo Los bongos
Kettle drums Los timbales
Xylophone El xilófono

Spanish instruments

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
Dulzaina La dulzaina
Castanets Las castañuelas
Spanish guitar La guitarra española
Onion flute, Mirliton El nunut, El mirlitón
Tobera La tobera
Guitarro El guitarró
Bandurria La bandurria

Latin instruments

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
Marimba La marimba
Maracas Las maracas
Cuatro El cuatro
Rondador El rondador
Claves Las claves
Peruvian box La caja peruana
Charango El charango
Güiro El güiro
Tun El tun
Ocarina La ocarina

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.

English Spanish
Pop El pop
Rock El rock
Metal El metal
Jazz El jazz
Hip hop El hip hop
Rap El rap
Trap music El trap
Classical music La música clásica
Country La música country
Disco music La música disco
Electronic music La música electrónica
Opera La ópera
Waltz El vals
Salsa La salsa
Cuban son El son cubano
Merengue El merengue
Bachata La bachata
Tango El tango
Bolero El bolero
Chachacha El chachachá
Cumbia La cumbia
Lambada La lambada
Mambo El mambo
Reggaeton El reggaetón
Mariachi El mariachi
Flamenco El flamenco
Bossa Nova El bossa nova
Samba La samba
Ranchera La ranchera
Reggae El reggae

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.

English Spanish
Song La canción
Lyrics La letra
Single El sencillo
Album El álbum
Record El disco
Band La banda
Concert El concierto
Repertoire El repertorio
Orchestra La orquesta
Symphony La sinfonía
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
Solo El solo
Duet El dueto
Rehearsal El ensayo
Stage El escenario
Microphone El micrófono
Amplifier El amplificador
Synthesizer El sintetizador
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.

English Spanish
To sing Cantar
To hum Tararear
To play Tocar
To dance Bailar
To compose Componer
To conduct Dirigir
To arrange Hacer los arreglos, Adaptar
To accompany Acompañar
To tune Afinar
To strum Rasguear
To pluck Puntear


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!


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