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🎶 French Music Vocabulary

Suzanne By Suzanne - updated on Aug 13, 2020

Learn the French music vocabulary: musical instruments, types of music and how to use the verb “jouer” and “faire” with instruments. Practice your new French music vocabulary with Suzanne’s easy bilingual story about the national French music day: la fête de la musique.

Let’s start with some basic French vocabulary about music.

1 – French Music Vocabulary

  1. la voix – a voice
  2. le chant – singing
  3. un chanteur, une chanteuse – a singer
  4. une chanson – a song
  5. un choeur (pronounce the “ch” like “k”) – a choir
  6. une chorale (pronounce the “ch” like “k”) – a choir
  7. un, une choriste (pronounce the “ch” like “k”) – a chorist
  8. une bande sonore – a soundtrack
  9. un casque – headphones
  10. enregistrer – to record
  11. un groupe – a band
  12. un orchestre – an orchestra
  13. un musicien, une musicienne – a musician
  14. télécharger – to download
  15. pirater – to pirate
  16. un tube – a hit
  17. le hit-parade – charts
  18. un lecteur de CD, de MP3… – a CD, MP3… player
  19. écouter – to listen to

2 – How To Say To Play an Instrument in French

We use two main constructions to say ‘to play an instrument’ in French.

The most common one is “jouer DE (du, des)” – watch out that the definite article will contract with the “de”.

  1. De quel instrument jouez-vous ? What instrument do you play (more formal)
  2. Tu joues de quoi ? What do you play (informal)
  3. Je joue de la guitare acoustique et du clavier – I play the acoustic guitar and keyboards

We also use the verb “faire de” which is very common to talk about French sports and hobbies.

  • Il fait du piano – he plays / studies the piano
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3 – French Music Types

When it come to music styles, French uses pretty much the same vocabulary as in English: watch out for the article though since the gender may change.

Note that in France, we listen to a lot of world famous bands and singer in English, but also to world music and of course our own French music hits.

If you’d like to know what is hot right now in music in France, I invite you to visit French Today’s board on Pinterest: Les VIPs du PAF

  1. la musique classique – classical music
  2. l’opéra (m) – opera music
  3. la musique country – country music
  4. la musique folklorique, la musique traditionnelle – folk music
  5. le jazz – jazz
  6. le funk – funk
  7. le hip-hop – hip-hop
  8. la musique pop – pop music
  9. la dance – danse music
  10. la techno – techno music
  11. la house – house music
  12. le rap – rap music
  13. le reggae – reggae music
  14. le rock – rock
  15. le rock alternatif – rock fusion
  16. le metal – heavy metal
  17. la musique du monde – world music
  18. la Salsa – Salsa music
  19. le Raï – Raï music (Algerian Fusion)
  20. le Zouk – Zouk music (Caribbean)
  21. la variété française – French pop songs

4 – French Music Vocabulary – Instruments

  1. la guitare acoustique – an acoustic guitar
  2. la guitare éléctrique – an electric guitar
  3. la basse – an electric bass
  4. l’amplificateur, l’ampli – an amplifier
  5. le banjo – a banjo
  6. la mandoline – a mandolin
  7. l’accordéon – an accordion
  8. le violoncelle – a cello
  9. le violon – a violin
  10. la contrebasse – a double bass, upright bass
  11. la clarinette – a clarinet
  12. la flûte – a flute
  13. le saxophone – a saxophone
  14. la trompette – a trumpet
  15. le cor d’harmonie – a French horn
  16. la batterie – drums
  17. le tambour – a drum
  18. le synthétiseur (le synthé) – a synth/keyboard
  19. le piano – a piano
  20. l’orgue (m) – an organ
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Can You Understand Today’s Spoken French?

It’s not just slang. The French everybody speaks in France today is NOT the overly enunciated, extremely formal French usually taught to foreigners.