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Music Terminology

Definitions and translations of common terms you might encounter while searching for music or information about music

French Publishing Terms

French English
Annuaire Yearbook
Avant-propos Preface
Bémol Flat
Bibliothèque Library
Cahier Journal
Choisi Selected
Corrigé Corrected
Disponible Available
Douteux Doubtul
Droits Rights (copyright)
Editeur Publisher, editor
Imprimé Printed
Livret Libretto
Maison d'édition Publisher
Majeur Major
Nouvelle édition New edition
Oeuvres complètes Complete Works
Partition orchestrale Orchestral Score
Propriete litterataire Copyright
Recueil Collection
Redacteur Editor
Réimpression Reprint
Titre Title
Traducteur Translator
Traduction Translation


French Names for Instruments

French English
Alto Viola
Basse de cordes String bass
Basson Bassoon
La batterie Drumset
Caisse claire Snare Drum
Clarinette Clarinet
Clavecin Harpsichord
Contrebasse Bass viol
Cor anglais English Horn
Cor (à pistons) French Horn
Flûte Flute
Flûte à bec Recorder
Grosse caisse Bass Drum
Hautbois Oboe
Instruments à vent Woodwind Instruments
Instruments à cordes String Instruments
Tambours Drums
Timbales Timpani
Trompette Trumpet
Violon Violin
Violoncelle Cello


Other French Music Terms

French English
animé fast
anche reed
archet bow (for string instrument)
avec with
élargissant broaden
chant song
en pressant becoming faster
enregistrant recording
haut high
lent slow
léger, légèrement lightly
liberé freely
mineur minor
moins less
un peu a little
peu á peu little by little (gradually)
plateau turntable
plus more
ralentir/rallentissant gradually slowing
retenu held back
sans without
sec drily
seule/seulement solo (only)
sourdine mute
temps time (meter)
touche fingerboard
toujours always
tous all
tout à coup suddenly
trés very
vif fast