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Dutch Music Vocabulary

It is of course not possible to put all Dutch music words on this page. I've tried to put together the most common and useful. Heather Jones of New Mexico suggested the page and contributed words; a large part of the page was contributed by my in-house music consultants.
Many Italian music words like pianissimo, glissando, pizzicato and tremolo go untranslated, as do many English words like jazz, blues and rock, bottleneck and steel guitar.

Instruments
Periods and Genres
People
Terminology
Keys and Notation
Verbs
Sample Sentences

de / het / 't click to hear (the)
een, 'n click to hear - 2 (a, an)
één click to hear (one)
>>

(het) geluid click to hear ('sound') - (de) muziek click to hear 2 ('music') - (het) lawaai click to hear ('noise') - (het) kabaal click to hear ('noise') ‑>>

(het) muziekinstrument click to hear musical instrument
(het) instrument click to hear 2 instrument
(de) piano click to hear piano
(de) toetsen click to hear 2 3 keys (not: lock keys)
think of: 'touch'
(het) pedaal click to hear 2 pedal
(de) vleugel click to hear grand piano (also: wing)
(de) elektrische piano click to hear electric piano
(de) viool click to hear violin
(de) strijkstok click to hear bow
(de) altviool click to hear 2 viola
(de) cello click to hear cello
(de) bas click to hear bass
(de) contrabas click to hear bass
(de) akoestische bas click to hear acoustic bass
(de) staande bas click to hear upright bass
(de) mondharmonica click to hear mouth harp
(de) blokfluit click to hear recorder
(de) saxofoon click to hear 2 saxophone
(de) klarinet click to hear clarinet
(de) trompet click to hear trumpet
(de) trombone click to hear trombone
(de) schuiftrompet click to hear trombone (slightly derogatory)
(de) tuba click to hear tuba
(de) dwarsfluit click to hear 2 flute
(de) hobo click to hear 2 3 oboe
(de) fagot click to hear 2 bassoon
(de) waldhoorn click to hear 2 3 French horn
(het) orgel click to hear organ (not: body part)
(de) orgelpijp click to hear 2 organ pipe
(de) doedelzak click to hear bagpipes
(het) elektronisch orgel click to hear 2 3 electronic organ
(de) xylofoon click to hear xylophone
(de) harp click to hear harp
(de) luit click to hear lute
(de) gitaar click to hear guitar
(de) akoestische gitaar click to hear 2 acoustic guitar
(de) elektrische gitaar click to hear electric guitar
(de) gitaarsolo click to hear guitar solo
(de) slaggitaar click to hear rhythm guitar
(het) ritme click to hear rhythm
(het) akkoord click to hear chord (also: agreement)
(de) mandoline click to hear mandolin
(de) banjo click to hear 2 banjo
(de) trommel click to hear drum (also: jar, cookie-)
trommelen click to hear 2 to drum
(de) pauken click to hear kettledrums
(het) bekken click to hear cymbal (also: basin; pelvis)
(de) triangel click to hear triangle (not in geometry)
(de) drums click to hear drums
(het) slagwerk click to hear drums (old-fashioned)
(de) stemvork click to hear 2 tuning fork
(de) pianostemmer click to hear piano tuner
absoluut gehoor click to hear perfect pitch
zuiver click to hear on pitch
vals click to hear off-pitch
(de) stemschroef click to hear peg
(de) snaar click to hear string
plural: snaren click to hear 2 strings
(de) hals click to hear neck
(de) fret click to hear fret
(de) klankkast click to hear 2 [sound box] (string
instrument) body
(de) kam click to hear bridge (also: comb)
(het) plectrum click to hear guitar pick
(de) aanslag click to hear touch
(de) metronoom click to hear 2 metronome
[a recorder (flute)]
(de) blokfluit click to hear
[mouth harp]
(de) mondharmonica click to hear
[guitar]
(de) gitaar click to hear
[violin with bow]
viool met strijkstok click to hear 2
[piano]
(de) piano click to hear
Barok click to hear Baroque
Klassiek click to hear Classical
Romantisch click to hear Romantic
Hedendaags click to hear 2 Contemporary
(de) kamermuziek click to hear 2 chamber music
(de) opera click to hear opera
(de) wals click to hear waltz
(de) mars click to hear march
(de) klassieke muziek click to hear 2 3 classical music

(het) concert click to hear concert (de) dirigent click to hear conductor (de) toegift click to hear 2 encore
(de) solist click to hear 2 3 soloist (het) optreden click to hear performance, appearance
(het) orkest click to hear 2 orchestra
(het) koor click to hear choir
(de) stem click to hear voice (also: vote)
(de) zang click to hear vocals
zangeres click to hear 2 lady singer
zanger click to hear male singer
(de) sopraan click to hear soprano
(de) alt click to hear 2 alto
tenor click to hear tenor
(de) bas click to hear bass
blazers click to hear 2 players of wood instruments
strijkers click to hear players of violins, cellos etc.
(het) strijkkwartet click to hear string quartet
pianist click to hear 2 concert pianist
violist click to hear 2 concert violinist
organist click to hear 2 organ player
(de) componist click to hear composer
(het) concert click to hear concert
(de) sonate click to hear sonata
(de) symfonie click to hear symphony
(de) partituur click to hear music score
arrangeren click to hear to write a score
(de) bladmuziek click to hear sheet music

eerste click to hear 2 'first' - tweede click to hear 2 'second' - derde click to hear 2 'third' - vierde click to hear 2 'fourth' - vijfde click to hear 2 'fifth' - negende click to hear 2 3 'ninth' - ordinal numbers
een geweldig concert click to hear 2 3 a great, fantastic concert

muziek maken click to hear to make music
zingen click to hear to sing
spelen click to hear to play
optreden click to hear to perform
more about verbs below
oefenen click to hear 2 to practice
(de) vingeroefeningen click to hear warm-up exercises
melodie click to hear melody
(het) thema click to hear theme, figure
(de) begeleiding click to hear 2 accompaniment
(het) refrein click to hear chorus
(de) coupletten click to hear verses
(de) tekst click to hear 2 lyrics
less serious music:
(het) liedje click to hear 2 song (not rock)
(het) wijsje click to hear tune
(het) deuntje click to hear tune
For Rock songs, I use the English word 'song.' Lied and liedje are a bit frivolous, like pop.
hard click to hear loud
zacht click to hear soft, quiet
zachte muziek click to hear 2 3 soft music (not loud)
lyrisch click to hear lyrical
(de) toon click to hear 2 tone
hoog click to hear high (treble)
laag click to hear low (bass)
(de) microfoon click to hear microphone
(de) opname click to hear 2 recording
(de) sessie click to hear session
(de) geluidstechnicus click to hear 2 3 sound engineer
stereo click to hear stereo (sound)
(de) echo click to hear 2 echo
(de) toonladder click to hear 2 scale
do re mi fa sol la ti do click to hear do re mi fa so la ti do
(de) toonsoorten click to hear keys
C
click to hear
C

Cis
click to hear
C sharp

Des
click to hear
D flat

D
click to hear
D

Dis
click to hear
D sharp

Es
click to hear
E flat

E
click to hear
E

F
click to hear
F

Fis
click to hear
F sharp

Ges
click to hear
G flat

G
click to hear
G

As
click to hear
A flat

A
click to hear
A

Bes
click to hear
B flat

B
click to hear
B

mol
click to hear
flat

Dutch as click to hear also means 'ashes' and Dutch mol click to hear is also the digging animal 'mole' and the chemistry unit.

(de) noot click to hear note (also: nut - not: message)
(de) halve noot click to hear 1/2 note
(de) kwart noot click to hear 1/4 note
(de) achtste noot click to hear 1/8 note
(de) notenbalk click to hear 2 3 staff
(de) G-sleutel click to hear 2 treble clef
(de) F-sleutel click to hear 2 bass clef
(de) voortekening click to hear key signature
(de) voorslag click to hear 2 grace note
(de) opmaat click to hear 2 upbeat
(de) maat click to hear measure
(de) driekwartsmaat click to hear three-four (3/4) time
(het) tempo click to hear tempo
(het) octaaf click to hear octave
(de) rust click to hear rest
(de) dynamiek click to hear dynamics
(de) harmonie click to hear harmony
(het) akkoord click to hear chord (also: agreement)
majeur click to hear 2 3 (4) major
mineur click to hear minor
(het) septiem akkoord click to hear 7th chord
(de) kwintencirkel click to hear circle of fifths
(het) interval click to hear interval
verminderd click to hear diminished
rein click to hear perfect
overmatig click to hear augmented
klein click to hear 2 minor (also: small)
groot click to hear 2 major (also: big, large, tall)
(de) terts click to hear third, tierce
(de) drieklank click to hear triad
dominant click to hear dominant
consonant click to hear consonant
dissonant click to hear dissonant
(de) tonica click to hear tonic
(de) grondtoon click to hear tonic
(de) grondligging click to hear 2 root position
(de) omkering click to hear inversion
(de) toonsoort click to hear tonality
(de) leidtoon click to hear 2 leading tone
(de) modulatie click to hear 2 modulation
diatonisch click to hear diatonic
chromatisch click to hear chromatic
meerstemmig click to hear polyphonic
[white and black piano keys]
de toetsen zijn wit en zwart
- de witte toetsen en de zwarte toetsen click to hear - 2
[very small ivory bowls with spoons]
de ivoren bakjes en lepeltjes
- de bakjes en lepeltjes zijn van ivoor click to hear
[headphones]
(de) koptelefoon click to hear
[loudspeaker]
(de) luidspreker click to hear >>
stemmen - to tune / also: to vote more about verbs
infinitive
(I )
(you [singular])
(he )
(we )
(you [plural])
(they )
(you [polite])

stemmen
ik stem
jij stemt
hij stemt
wij stemmen
jullie stemmen
zij stemmen
U stemt
click to hear
(to tune)
(I tune)
(you tune)
(he tunes)
(we tune)
(you tune)
(they tune)
(you tune)

stemmen
ik stemde
jij stemde
hij stemde
wij stemden
jullie stemden
zij stemden
U stemde
click to hear
(to tune)
(I tuned)
(you tuned)
(he tuned)
(we tuned)
(you tuned)
(they tuned)
(you tuned)

ik heb gestemd click to hear 2 (I have tuned)

In the present tense, Dutch verbs have three forms:
  • the 'stem' for ik ('I')
  • the 'stem' +T for je/jij (singular 'you') and hij/zij/het ('he/she/it')
  • the 'infinitive' ('stem' +EN) for plurals
Dutch Verbs
In question mode and in some sentence structures the verb will precede the personal pronoun; in those cases, for second person singular (je, jij) the 't' will be dropped. (Only in the present tense.)
stem jij? click to hear - are you tuning?
stemde jij? click to hear - did you tune?
heb je al gestemd? click to hear 2 'did you vote (or: tune up) already?'
EnglishDutch
infinitive
simple
present
singular
simple
present
plural
simple
past
singular
simple
past
plural
perfect
tense
to walk (example) I walk we walk I walked we walked I have walked
to play spelen ik speel wij spelen ik speelde wij speelden ik heb gespeeld click to hear 2
to sing zingen ik zing wij zingen ik zong wij zongen ik heb gezongen click to hear 2 - more
to practice oefenen ik oefen wij oefenen ik oefende wij oefenden ik heb geoefend click to hear 2
to perform optreden ik treed op wij treden op ik trad op wij traden op ik heb opgetreden click to hear also: to intervene, to act
to hear horen ik hoor wij horen ik hoorde wij hoorden ik heb gehoord click to hear - more - 2
to listen luisteren ik luister wij luisteren ik luisterde wij luisterden ik heb geluisterd click to hear 2 - more

Hij speelt gitaar. click to hear He plays the guitar.
Hij speelt een akkoord. click to hear He plays a chord.
Zij speelt saxofoon. click to hear She plays the saxophone.
Hij speelt heel goed gitaar. click to hear He plays the guitar very well. (more 'spelen' below)
Zij zingt. click to hear She sings.
Zij zingt een lied. click to hear She is singing a song.
Zij is een zangeres. click to hear She is a singer.
Willen jullie meezingen? click to hear Would you (all) like to sing along?
Ik hoor een vliegtuig. click to hear I hear a plane.
De muziek begint. click to hear The music is starting.
De muziek begon. click to hear The music started.
Als de muziek begint moet je stil zijn. click to hear When the music starts you'll have to be quiet
Hij stemt de gitaar. click to hear He is tuning the guitar
Hij zingt een lied. click to hear 2 He's singing a song.
Hij zingt vals. click to hear 2 His singing is off-pitch.
Hij kan geen wijs houden click to hear 2 He cannot carry a tune.
Zij brachten haar een serenade. click to hear They serenaded her.
Zij brengen haar een aubade. click to hear They are singing an aubade to her.
(Aubade - (early) morning; serenade - evening or night)
"Houd jij van opera? - Ik niet." click to hear "Do you like opera? - I don't."
naar muziek luisteren click to hear 2 3 listening to music
Ik heb een paar jaar pianoles gehad. click to hear I have had piano lessons for a [couple of] few years.
Maar ik had beter gitaar kunnen leren spelen. click to hear But learning to play the guitar would have [been better] made more sense.
Ik speel zelf geen piano click to hear 2 I don't play the piano myself (but most people around me do)
Nero speelde viool terwijl Rome in brand stond click to hear 2 Nero was fiddling, playing violin while Rome was burning
Hij speelt op een dure gitaar click to hear 2 3 He plays an expensive guitar

Spelen click to hear is also 'to play' like children and carefree spirits do etc.

Kom je buiten spelen? click to hear 2 Will you come outside to play?
(het) speelgoed click to hear toys
(de) speelgoedwinkel click to hear 2 toy store
(de) speeltuin click to hear 2 playground ‑>>
speels click to hear playful
ludiek click to hear 2 3 4 playful (usually said about somewhat disruptive protests or actions)
een spelletje click to hear 2 3 a (little, friendly, pleasant) game - but also: 'runaround,' not dealing with someone straight and fair but in a crooked or manipulative way
spelenderwijs click to hear 2 3 'like play,' without much effort, with much ease
toneelspelen click to hear 2 to act (on a stage) ‑>>
(de) langspeelplaat click to hear [long-playing disk] - 33rpm ~45-minutes vinyl music album
Spelen met vuur click to hear 2 3 4 'Playing with fire' - doing dangerous things, taking stupid risks

English says 'to play  soccer,' 'to play  chess,' 'to play  cards' etc. - Dutch has one specific verb for most sports and games

voetballen click to hear 2 3 4 to play soccer
tennissen click to hear 2 3 to play tennis
volleyballen click to hear 2 3 to play volleyball
honkballen click to hear 2 3 to play ~baseball
schaken click to hear to play chess
hockeyen click to hear 2 3 to play field hockey
sporten click to hear 2 3 to play sports, exercise
kaarten click to hear to play cards
korfballen click to hear 2 3 to play  'korfbal,' a kind of basketball
dammen click to hear 2 3 to play a kind of checkers on a 10x10 fields board
See also: Conversation Subjects: Sports, Chess and Cards and Dice

English 'play' can also be a dramatic work on a stage in a theatre, costumes, dialogue etc. The Dutch word for that is (het) toneelstuk click to hear and as already mentioned above, toneelspelen click to hear 2 is 'to act. more

Do note that zij and ze can mean both 'she' and 'they' - but you can tell the difference because the verb form is different for plural and singular:

Zij zingen een lied voor mij. click to hear 2 They are singing a song for me.
Zij zingt een lied. click to hear She is singing a song.

See and hear also: Media - Days of Old - 'Dutch' Musicians

[Old Opera Program]
ca. 1930, in old spelling
Mr Waelput was the first husband of my grandfather's second wife

[hearing aid]
(het) gehoorapparaat click to hear


click to hear 2 fluiten click to hear ('to whistle')


[Marco playing the Ukelele]
click to hear

Marco's Song

Oh it will take a while
To make me smile
'fore I can find
The peace of mind
To relax, take things as they come
Oh, it will take some time

Dutch singing (of variable quality and artistry)  children's song 1 - children's song 2 - the Dutch Anthem - Birthday Songs - Dutch 'Santa Claus' songs - A Rhythmical Poem - Dutch bad country music - click to hear2A - click to hear2B - click to hear3 - click to hear4 - click to hear5 - click to hear6A - click to hear6B
The lyrics of the last four are at the bottom of this page

More Words Lists, pages like this:
Sports - Grammar - Military - Medieval - Fairy Tales - Religion - Chemistry - Medical - Emergency Preparedness - The News
See and Hear also: Pictures Dictionary

email - Copyright © Marco Schuffelen 2009. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, redistributed, or hotlinked to.
Don't be a dief (thief) / dievegge (female thief) - diefstal (theft) - stelen (to steal) - heler (dealer in stolen goods) - hear Dutch - 2