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If you’ve ever felt confused by unfamiliar singing terms, you’re not alone. As with every specialized field, vocal professionals tend to throw around a lot of jargon, or terminology that most people aren’t familiar with.

If you’re interested in expanding your musical skills, learning these singing terms will help you better understand instructions from both voice teachers and conductors. Let’s get started!

50 Singing Terms & Their Meanings

In this alphabetized list, you’ll find definitions for some of the most common musical terms, including choir terms. You’ll also learn several new ways to describe a voice, such as “breathy” or “dramatic.”

  1. A Cappella: Literally meaning “of choir” in Italian, the term has been adopted to refer to singing without accompaniment.
  2. Alto: A lower female voice within the choral setting.
  3. Articulators: The parts of the body used to form words; usually refers to the lips, teeth, and tip of the tongue.
  4. Aspirate: A diction term referring to a sound that produces an audible puff of air, such as the letter P in English.
  5. Baritone: A male voice type between tenor and bass.
  6. Bass: The lowest male voice type.
  7. Breathy: A vocal sound that is not clear, while instead sounding airy and fuzzy. A breathy sound can be caused by many factors, including inadequate breath support.
  8. Chest voice: The lower vocal register in which most people talk; resonates in the chest.
  9. Contralto: The lowest female voice type.
  10. Coloratura: Fast-moving notes.
  11. Countertenor: A male voice type that sings primarily in head voice. Common in baroque music.
  12. Covering: A vocal technique wherein the singer rounds the lips slightly when singing high notes to achieve a specific sound.
  13. Dental: A diction technique referring to sounds that occur when the tongue is right behind the top front teeth. The Italian or Spanish D sound is a good example.
  14. Diaphragm: The large muscle of respiration that lies beneath the lungs, which flattens and lowers during inhalation. This is one of the most common singing terms used in lessons or classes when discussing proper breathing technique.
  15. Diction: The way in which components of words, including consonants and vowels, are formed and pronounced. For classical singers, this generally includes the study of foreign language diction.
  16. Diphthong: A diction term referring to the phenomenon of one vowel gradually changing into another vowel, creating two vowels within a syllable. This happens a lot in English (e.g. in the word “ray”) but happens less in other languages.
  17. Dramatic: In voice classification, this refers to a large, robust voice (e.g. “dramatic soprano”).
  18. Extended technique: Any vocal technique outside of what is normally and classically taught. This includes whistle tone, inhaled phonation, throat singing, and many other techniques.
  19. Fach: Voice type or vocal classification. Also means “subject” in German.
  20. Flat: When a pitch is slightly lower than desired.
  21. Falsetto: A thin head voice sound produced by men.
  22. Glottal fry: The croaky, low register that some people speak in due to lack of breath support. It often occurs at the ends of sentences.
  23. Glottal stop: The sound created when a person presses their vocal folds together before beginning a vocal sound. Manifested at the beginning of many words that start with vowels in English, including “umbrella.”
  24. Head voice: The upper vocal register in which women and countertenors primarily sing in classical music.
  25. Intercostals: The muscles in between the rib cage that lift the ribs out and up during breathing.
  26. Larynx: The structure in the throat that contains the vocal folds.
  27. Low breath: The use of the diaphragm and intercostals to breathe without moving the shoulders, neck, or upper chest. This type of breathing is desirable in singing.
  28. Lyric: A voice classification term between dramatic (heavy) and coloratura (fast/light). Can occur in various voice types (e.g. lyric baritone, lyric soprano).
  29. Messa di voce: A dynamic technique involving starting a note with a crescendo (quiet to loud) followed by a decrescendo (loud to quiet).
  30. Mezzo soprano: The operatic female voice classification between soprano and contralto.
  31. Onset: The beginning of the vocal sound.
  32. Passaggio: An Italian term translating to “passage,” this refers to transitional areas in the voice where the singer must take extra care to sing well. These occur in different spots according to the individual and voice type.
  33. Phonation: The creation of a vocal sound.
  34. Registers: Parts of the voice differentiated by vocal quality and sometimes range, such as chest voice, head voice, and falsetto. (Each of these singing terms were defined previously).
  35. Resonance: This is another sound quality term, such as “tone.” It refers specifically to how round or warm the sound is, which has more to do with overtones. It can also refer to the way a sound interacts with a room, such as a cathedral.
  36. Sharp: When a pitch is slightly higher than desired.
  37. Soft palate: The soft muscular structure at the back of the mouth that, when lifted, separates the nasal cavity from the rest of the respiratory system and therefore stops singers from singing out of their noses.
  38. Soprano: The highest female voice classification.
  39. Squillo: Another sound quality term, this refers to the edgy, clear tone some singers have, particularly in their upper registers.
  40. Straight tone: A vocal sound without vibrato.
  41. Tenor: A high male voice classification.
  42. Tone: The quality of a voice. Usually described with adjectives such as “raspy” and “clear.”
  43. Timbre: Similar to tone, this refers to the quality of a vocal sound.
  44. Trill: A technique in which a singer quickly moves between two adjacent notes.
  45. Unvoiced: A diction term referring to consonants that don’t involve vocal sound, such as S and T.
  46. Vibrato: The natural oscillation between pitches (even when singing a held note) present in many singing voices.
  47. Vocal cords/vocal folds: These mucus membrane cords, nestled in the larynx, vibrate together when air passes between them, producing vocal sounds.
  48. Voiced: The opposite of “unvoiced,” this is a diction term referring to consonants that require vocal sound, such as B and Z.
  49. Whistle tone: The highest vocal register, located above head voice and made famous by Mariah Carey.
  50. Wobble: A phenomenon that occurs when the distance between the two pitches present in vibrato becomes too wide, causing an unstable sound.

See Also: 53 Audition Terms & Definitions to Know

Still curious about some of these singing terms? Would you like to know how to avoid glottal fry, or how to develop consistent vibrato? A voice teacher can help you get even more comfortable with all this new vocabulary and master your singing goals.

If you’d like to learn more, sign up for singing lessons or try some free online classes today!

Post Author: Elaina R. Elaina is a singer and voice teacher from Fort Wayne, IN, where she teaches at the Purdue School of Music and in her private studio. She received her Master of Music from the University of Michigan. Learn more about Elaina here!

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Learning English slang words is one of the more intermediate to advanced stages of mastering the language, but if you’re a beginner, it doesn’t hurt to get a head-start!

Slang words are informal vocabulary words that aren’t typically found in a dictionary. Many of these words have multiple meanings, so you’ll have to pay close attention to the context of a conversation in order to use them correctly.

American English Slang Words & Phrases

As you work your way through this list, keep in mind that American English slang can vary depending on the region you’re in. For example, certain slang words are more commonly used in rural areas versus in the inner city.

Conversational English Slang Words

1. What’s up? – Hey; what are you doing?

“Hey Tom! What’s up?”

“Not much!”

2. I feel you – I understand and empathize with you. Eg. “I feel you. That was really unfair.”

3. I get it – I understand. Eg. “I get it now! Thank you for explaining that.”

4. Same here – I agree.

“I’m having a hard time studying for this exam.”

“Same here.”

5. My bad – My mistake. Eg. “My bad! I didn’t mean to do that.”

6. Oh my God! – (Used to describe excitement or surprise). Eg. “Oh my God! You scared me!”

7. You bet – Certainly; you’re welcome.

“Thanks for the jacket, Tom!”

“You bet, Sally!”

8. No worries – That’s alright. Eg. “No worries about the mess. I’ll clean it up.”

9. No biggie – It’s not a problem.

“Thanks for tutoring me, Tom!”

“No biggie, Sally.”

10. No big deal – (Same usage as above).

11. No sweat – (Same usage as above).

12. No problem – (Same usage as above).

American English Slang Descriptors

1. Laid back – Relaxed or calm. Eg. “This weekend was very laid back.”

2. Chill – (Same as above).

3. Sweet – Fantastic.

“I passed the test!”

“Sweet!”

4. Cool – (Same as above).

5. Lame – The opposite of cool or fantastic. Eg. “That’s so lame that you can’t go out tonight.”

6. Bomb – Really good. Eg. “That sandwich was bomb.”

7. Bummer – A disappointment. Eg. “That’s such a bummer. I’m sorry that happened.”

8. Shady – Questionable or suspicious. Eg. “I saw a shady guy in my neighborhood last night.”

9. Hot – Attractive. Eg. “He/she is hot.”

10. Beat – Tired. Eg. “I was so beat after that soccer game.”

11. Sick – Awesome. Eg. “Those shoes are sick!”

12. Epic – Grand or awesome. Eg. “That was an epic party last night.”

13. Ripped – Very physically fit. Eg. “Tom is ripped!”

14. Cheesy – Silly. Eg. “The romantic comedy we watched was very cheesy.”

15. Corny – (Same as above).

16. Flakey – Indecisive. Eg. “John is so flakey. He never shows up when he says he will.”

17. It sucked – It was bad/poor quality. Eg. “That movie sucked.”

English Slang for People & Relationships

1. Babe – Your significant other; an attractive individual. Eg. “Hey babe!” or “She’s a babe.”

2. Have a crush – Attracted to someone romantically. Eg. “I have a big crush on him.”

3. Dump – To end a romantic relationship with someone. Eg. “She dumped him last May.”

4. Ex – An old relationship or spouse. Eg. “That’s my ex girlfriend.”

5. A turn off – Something that’s repulsive. Eg. “Bad cologne is a turn off.”

6. Party animal – One who loves parties. Eg. “Jerry is a party animal.”

7. Couch potato – A lazy person. Eg. “Don’t be a couch potato! Let’s go for a hike.”

8. Whiz – A really smart person. Eg. “Sally is a whiz at math.”

9. Chicken – Coward. Eg. “Don’t be a chicken! Go ice skating with me.”

10. Chick – A girl or young woman. Eg. “That chick is hilarious.”

11. Getting hitched – Getting married. Eg. “Tom and Sally are getting hitched.”

12. Tying the knot – (Same as above).

13. They got fired – They lost their job. Eg. “Did Jerry get fired?”

American English Slang for Social Events

1. Hang out – To spend time with others. Eg. “Want to hang out with us?”

2. I’m down – I’m able to join. Eg. “I’m down for ping pong.”

3. I’m game – (Same as above).

4. I’m in – (Same as above).

5. A blast – A very fun event. Eg. “Last night was a blast!”

6. Show up – Arrive at an event. Eg. “I can’t show up until 7.”

7. Flick – A movie. Eg. “Want to see a flick on Friday?”

8. Grub – Food. Eg. “Want to get some grub tonight?”

9. Wasted – Intoxicated. Eg. “She was wasted last night.”

10. Drunk – (Same as above).

11. Booze – Alcohol. Eg. “Will they have booze at the party?”

See Also: Common English Idioms [Infographic]

American English Slang for Actions

1. Pig out – To eat a lot. Eg. “I pigged out last night at McDonald’s.”

2. Crash – To fall asleep quickly. Eg. “After all those hours of studying I crashed.”

3. Lighten up – Relax. Eg. “Lighten up! It was an accident.”

4. Screw up – To make a mistake. Eg. “Sorry I screwed up and forgot our plans.”

5. Goof – (Same as above).

6. Score – To get something desirable. Eg. “I scored the best seats in the stadium!”

7. Wrap up – To finish something. Eg. “Let’s wrap up in five minutes.”

8. Ace – Pass a test with 100%. Eg. “I think I’m going to ace the exam.”

9. Cram – To study a lot before an exam. Eg. “Sorry I can’t go out. I have to cram tonight.”

10. Bail – To leave abruptly. Eg. “I’m sorry I had to bail last night.”

11. Ditch – To skip an event. Eg. “I’m going to ditch class tomorrow to go to the beach.”

12. Busted – Caught doing something wrong. Eg. “I got busted for turning in homework late.”

Miscellaneous English Slang Words

1. Freebie – Something that is free. Eg. “The bumper sticker was a freebie.”

2. Lemon – A bad purchase. Eg. “That phone case was a lemon.”

3. Shades – Sunglasses. Eg. “I can’t find my shades.”

4. Shotgun – The front seat of a car. Eg. “Can I sit shotgun?”

5. In no time – Very soon. Eg. “We’ll have our homework done in no time.”

6. Buck – One dollar. Eg. “It only costs a buck.”

7. Rip-off – A purchase that was very overpriced. Eg. “That phone case was a rip-off.”

As you can see, you can’t just learn a language by studying a textbook! Listening will be a key step in mastering these slang words and using them in the right contexts. So hang out with more native speakers, observe the way they use slang in conversation, and then imitate them.

Memorizing these English slang words and their meanings will get you one step closer to sounding like a native. Need more help practicing your skills? Try working one-on-one with an English tutor, or take free online English classes at TakeLessons Live.

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Singing in a “breathy voice” has a mixed reputation among singers and educators, and for good reason: it can be risky. In this article, we’ll discuss the mechanics of singing with a breathy voice, if it’s harmful, and how use to the technique safely.

Remember the spectacularly cheesy film “A Walk to Remember”? In this 2002 film, Mandy Moore sings a pop ballad called “Only Hope” using excessive breathiness to create a fragile, emotionally charged aura for her character.

This is a perfect example of using breathiness as an emotional tool. Breathy singing, characterized by a quieter, fuzzier sound than normal singing, is still often employed by vocalists to evoke everything from sensuality to sadness.

The Mechanics of Breathy Singing

To understand breathy singing, it’s helpful to examine how the human voice works. Singing is produced by air moving past the vocal cords (also known as “vocal folds”). As air moves past the vocal cords, the cords come together and vibrate, producing sound.

The process of the vocal cords coming together so they can vibrate against one another is called “adduction.” When a singer is using just the right amount of air to produce the sound, the vocal cords adduct and vibrate seamlessly.

As a result, the sound is clear, efficient, and easy to produce. If the singer uses an excess of air to sing, adduction isn’t as efficient. The sound, colored by the extra air rushing past the vocal cords, becomes breathy.

Only Hope - Mandy Moore [A Walk to Remember - with Lyrics] - YouTube

Is Singing with a Breathy Voice Dangerous?

Breathy singing tends to be frowned upon by voice teachers because it can be a sign of improper vocal technique, or even underlying health issues. Many singers are incapable of producing a clear tone at all and have no choice but to sing with a breathy voice.

This can be caused by an inability to properly regulate air flow, excess tension in the neck or lower face, and actual vocal cord damage.

The strain of the extra air rushing past the vocal cords also tires out the singer faster, causing swelling and other health issues.

If you’re unable to sing with a clear tone at all, we highly recommend that you visit an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) for a stroboscopy – a procedure in which a doctor uses a tiny camera to look at your vocal cords and check for damage.

Untreated breathiness can be caused by chronic swelling, pre-nodular lumps, and other serious issues that could lead to vocal hemorrhaging or vocal nodules. If these issues become too severe, they can require therapy and even surgery to fix.

See Also: 5 Essential Singing Techniques

Using Breathy Singing as a Stylistic Choice

If your cords are healthy and you’re able to produce a clear tone, but want to experiment with using a breathy voice as a stylistic tool, don’t worry. It is possible to create a breathy sound without damaging your voice.

Take Ariana Grande for example in “Thank You, Next.” She uses a breathy tone at the beginning of the song to sound nonchalant yet beguiling.

Ariana Grande - thank u, next (clean) - YouTube

If you would like to safely dabble in breathy voice technique, keep the following tips in mind. 

1. Limit Use

Since breathy singing requires less efficient adduction and therefore puts extra stress on the vocal cords, use it sparingly. If you’re singing a long set, it may be best to choose a few songs to use this technique on.

If your voice is already tired or strained from allergies, lack of sleep, or overuse, it’s best to avoid breathy singing entirely and sing as efficiently as possible to protect your vocal cords.

2. Use a Comfortable Range

Breathy voice is best limited to the most comfortable parts of your range (think speaking range), where you’re least likely to strain your voice.

It’s best not to attempt to sing notes in the extremes of your range with a breathy voice, as you’re more likely to be straining in these areas, even without the added stress of compromised adduction.

Since the beginnings of contemporary songs tend to be in a moderate range, you may want to experiment by starting a song with a breathy tone and then coming in stronger on the chorus. This is a fairly common approach in pop, R&B, and other popular music.

3. Sing Quietly or Use a Mic

Breathy singing just doesn’t carry as well as clear singing, and attempting to do it loudly is a recipe for disaster. Only use a breathy voice when you’re singing quietly.

Since breathy singing is best executed at a low volume and is a contemporary technique, you can’t really do it without a microphone.

If you’re performing live in a noisy venue, make sure your microphone is turned up and that your mouth is close enough to the microphone so your breathy singing can be heard.

Breathy Singing Done Right

If you want to experiment with using a breathy voice, consider taking voice lessons or classes. A qualified voice teacher will help protect your voice as you experiment with this technique.

With proper training, you can become a more flexible singer without compromising your vocal health, even when you sing with a little extra air!

Post Author: Elaina R. Elaina is a singer and voice teacher from Fort Wayne, IN, where she teaches at the Purdue School of Music and in her private studio. She received her Master of Music from the University of Michigan. Learn more about Elaina here!
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Ready to learn the question words in Spanish? One of the best ways to advance your Spanish skills is to converse with fluent or native speakers. But how do you break the ice? 

Start by mastering the new vocabulary in this guide, and then practice some of the most commonly asked questions.

People love being asked questions! It shows you’re interested in their opinions and experiences.

After reading this article, you’ll feel more comfortable meeting new people and making friends in Spanish. 

The 7 Spanish Question Words

Let’s go over some of the most important question words in Spanish. Memorize this vocabulary so you can be ready to strike up a conversation when the opportunity arises!

1. ¿Cómo?

Cómo literally translates to “how,” but it can also mean “what” when used in isolation. You should also know that como – without the accent over the O – means “like” or “I eat.”

This is a lot of different meanings, so be sure to pay attention to the context of the conversation for clues to the word’s definition. Here are some common questions you might ask using cómo:

  • ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)
  • ¿Cómo te sientes? (How are you feeling?)
  • ¿Cómo te fue? (How did it go?)
  • ¿Cómo lo hiciste? (How did you do that?)

If you look closely at the sentence structure of these questions, you’ll see that in Spanish, you don’t need to add a word for “do.” For example, “How do you make that?” would literally be translated into Spanish as: ¿Cómo lo haces? (How you make that?).

It sounds funny when translated literally, doesn’t it? This is one example of a basic language translation fact: we translate ideas, not words.

2. ¿Quién?

Quién means “who” in English. When using it in writing, remember to apply the accent mark over the E. A few common questions using the word quién are:

  • ¿Quién es? (Who is it?) Note: Use when answering a phone or door.
  • ¿Quién sabe? (Who knows?)
  • ¿Quién es? (Who is that?)
  • ¿Quiénes son? (Who are they?)
  • ¿Con quién vas? (Who are you going with?)

As you can see in the last example, sentences in Spanish often begin with the word con, meaning “with.” This is a key difference from English, where sentences and questions rarely start with the word “with.” You wouldn’t say, “With whom are you going?”

Another thing you’ll notice is that when quién is used plurally, referring to more than one person, it becomes quiénes.

3. ¿Qué?

Qué means “what.” Like with quién, remember to apply an accent mark over the E. This is important because without the accent over the E, que means “that.” Here are some questions you’ll use regularly with the word qué:

  • ¿Qué es? (What is it?) 
  • ¿Qué significa? (What does that mean?)
  • ¿Qué hiciste? (What did you do?)
  • ¿Qué? (What?)

Be aware that when used in isolation, “¿Cómo?” means the same thing as “¿Qué?”  You’ll hear Spanish speakers using both of these phrases.

4. ¿Dónde?

Dónde means “where.” Just like the other Spanish question words, remember to apply the necessary accent mark. Common questions with dónde include:

  • ¿A dónde vas? (Where are you going?) Note: “A” means “to.”
  • ¿Dónde está? (Where is it?)
  • ¿Dónde vives? (Where do you live?)
  • ¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from?)

In the last example sentence, De means “of,” so the question literally  translates to: “Of where are you?”

5. ¿Cuándo?

Cuándo means “when.” Remember to apply the accent mark over the A. Here are some questions you’ll hear frequently using this question word:

  • ¿Cuándo es? (When is it?) Note: Use for social events or appointments.
  • ¿Cuándo vienes? (When are you coming?)
  • ¿Cuándo nos vemos? (When will we see each other?)
  • ¿Cuándo es la junta? (When is the meeting?)

Sentence structure for questions isn’t too different from English. The basic structure for all of these starts with the question word and is followed by the conjugated verb in the appropriate tense.

6. ¿Cuál?

Cuál means “which,” and as you can see, it also requires an accent mark over the vowel. Practice these sentences using the word cuál:

  • ¿Cuál es tu nombre? (What is your name?)
  • ¿Cuál es tu favorito? (What’s your favorite?)
  • ¿Cuál escoges? (Which do you choose?)
  • ¿Cuáles son tuyos? (Which are yours?)

Remember how quién became quiénes? You’ll also notice that when cuál is used in the plural form, it becomes cuáles.

In the first two examples, take note that Spanish uses the word for “which,” rather than “what” as we’re used to in English.

7. ¿Por qué?

Por qué means “why,” but be careful! It can also mean “because” when there’s no space between the words and no accent mark present. Here are a few questions you can ask using por qué:

  • ¿Por qué hiciste esto? (Why did you do that?)
  • ¿Por qué llegaste tarde? (Why are you late?)
  • ¿Por qué no te sientes bien? (Why don’t you feel good?)
  • ¿Por qué no está Juan? (Why isn’t John here?)

It’s vital to learn these seven words, because you can’t ask questions in Spanish without them! Study these essential Spanish question words to really take your conversation skills to the next level.

Need some extra help? Working with a Spanish teacher, online or locally, is the best way to master the language. You’ll get hands-on instruction and instant feedback on your grammar and pronunciation. Try some free online classes today!

Post Author: Jason N. Jason N. tutors Spanish in San Diego, CA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis, and studied Spanish Literature at the University of Costa Rica. Learn more about Jason here!

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What is timbre? Timbre in music is also identified as “color.” It is the quality and tone of a sound which makes it unique.

Timbre is also defined as auditory senses produced by a sound wave. In other words, it refers to a sound’s characteristics that help you distinguish it from any other sound.

For instance, you can recognize the difference between hearing your father talk versus your grandmother because they each have their own distinct timbre.

What is Timbre?

Understanding timbre in music is important for all musicians, especially singers, when you want to produce a different tone or quality in a piece of music.

Different timbres are described using words like brassy, breathy, round, full, or bright. You can use different types of vocal timbre to create a sound that gives the right “feel” or emotion to your music.

It’s not just about playing or singing “with feeling.” You should know how a tone is utilized to achieve that emotion.

The sound waves produced when someone sings a note are different for each individual person because there are multiple factors that go into the production of a sound, such as breath.

The timbre of a sound depends heavily on its waveform, which varies with the number of overtones (AKA “harmonics”) that are present, their frequencies, and their relative intensities.

The illustration below shows several unique waveforms, to give you an idea of what this looks like.

Timbre in Music

Musicians create varying timbres, based on both their instrument and the number of frequencies the instrument emits.

Each note from a musical instrument is a complex wave containing more than one frequency. The video below examines the timbre of several different instruments and explains how the way that you play an instrument affects its timbre.  

What is timbre? - YouTube

One example of timbre in music is known as “attack and decay.” When someone plucks a guitar string or strikes a piano key, the sound is hit forcefully; it’s loud and then sort of dies away.

This explains how the same note can have a different timbre when played differently by another musician.

Factors that Affect Timbre

So, what factors affect timbre in music? There are multiple, depending on the instrument. For example, the way someone pushes air through an oboe will contribute to the sound frequencies that are emitted and the way it is heard, giving it a distinguished timbre.

Things like forced air, breath control, posture, and so on are all factors that affect timbre. Small differences in the frequencies are also a factor – how many you can hear, their relationship to the pitch, and how loud they are.

The shape of an instrument and the envelope of an instrument’s sound both affect its timbre. Check out the video below to see the differences within sound waves when playing the same note from instrument to instrument.   

Timbre: why different instruments playing the same tone sound different - YouTube

Timbre in the Voice

When singing, your timbre is affected by either constricting or opening different parts of the vocal tract, like the tongue and throat. Posture and breath control also play a role.

Most singers are familiar with their voice type – whether it’s soprano, alto, tenor, or bass – and these classifications are related to timbre as well. Understanding which sound waves are high, low, and mid-level can help you identify your voice type.

Your speaking voice even has its own timbre. The unique soundwaves you create when speaking are what allow you to be recognized by others. Common examples of timbre in the voice are sounds that are piercing, resonant, light, flat, mellow, dark, or warm.

One example is Celine Dion. Her voice is often categorized as “silky,” whereas someone like Ella Fitzgerald has more of a “smoky” timbre.

Ella Fitzgerald - Blue Skies (High Quality - Remastered) - YouTube

Vibrato is another way to identify timbre in a singing voice. It provides color to a lengthy note that is held, changing its frequency and tone.

Improving Your Sound

Now that you understand the implications of timbre, how can you apply them to your own music? One of the best ways to improve upon your timbre as a singer is to work with a vocal coach – someone who has a deep understanding of timbre and its use.

A voice teacher can work exclusively with you to help you identify your distinct quality and tone. They’ll also show you how to adjust it to get the sound and pitch you desire, especially when working on a particular song that requires a specific emotion or feeling.

Because there is no one else like you in the world, learn to appreciate and take pride in your unique timbre. Whether you’re a singer or musician, your timbre sets you apart and helps distinguish you from other artists!

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If you’re interested in learning drums, you’ve probably learned a little bit about the drums that make up a drum kit. When it comes to percussion instruments, however, there are so many other different types of drums.

The world of drums and percussion is enormous, and it’s such an intriguing ground for exploration. This article describes various types of drums, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list, as that would be a very lengthy write-up!

This article, however, will capture your interest, and perhaps prompt you to venture out and add some new sounds and instruments to your drumming adventure. Here’s a table of contents for finding your way around this guide:

Types of Drum Sets

Let’s begin our journey on some familiar ground, and explore some different types of drum sets.

Acoustic Drum Set

You’re probably most familiar with this type of drum set, but there are lots of variations in size and configuration.

Power/Rock: These sets generally have 12, 13, and 16-inch toms, and a 22 x 18-inch bass drum. The snare may vary in size, but it’s typically 5 ½ or 6 x 14″. They have a deeper tone and more volume due to their larger sizes.

Fusion: These sets are typically sized as follows: 10, 12, and 14″ toms, with a bass of either 20 or 22 inches x 18 inches. They aren’t quite as thunderous as their rock-sized counterparts, but they allow for quicker playing due to their faster response.

Jazz Drums: These are supposed to be quick and light, and the toms usually have the same diameter as the fusion toms—but with shallower depths, and the bass drum is markedly smaller; usually 18” x 14”.

Image courtesy Gibraltar Hardware

Some well-known brands include Gretsch, Yamaha, Ludwig, Pearl, Sonor, Mapex, DW, OCDP, Pacific, Tama, and Crush. There are also several options for variations in configuration.

Virtual and Electronic Drum Kits: Electronic drum sets give you access to an unbelievable library of sonic options. Over the years, their “brains” have become more advanced. You have a wide array of sounds with samples from top-of-the-heap kits. Additionally, you have capabilities of percussion and beyond. These kits are available in range from very basic to professional. They have the ability to work with interactive software and apps to provide everything from tutorials to packs of sounds.

E-kits are very cool and a lot of fun. If you’re interested in  buying an E-Kit, I recommend checking out Roland, Yamaha, and Alesis.

Image courtesy bettermusic

Triggers: I would be remiss not to visit the world of triggering, which allows you to reap the benefits (feel and resonance) of your acoustic kit and the brains of the V-kit by adding triggers, which touch the heads of your drums and relay signals to a module (brain) to add to your sonic capabilities. They can be particularly handy in recording/live applications to enhance and clarify your sound or to provide backing tracks.

Auxiliary Drum Sets: These are a complete playground for the adventurous. They can include elements from the whole spectrum: drums, bells, blocks, triangles, chimes, etc. Auxiliary drum sets are for solo applications or bands, often in addition to a drum set.

See Also: The Best Brands for Drum Sets

Types of Hand Drums

While you play hand drums by hand, some work well with mallets or “tippers.” They come from across the globe; each type of hand drum has a distinctive pattern and playing technique.

Congas: These tall, Cuban drums typically come in groups of two or three. Conga drums come in three different sizes: quinto (small), conga/tres dos (medium), and tumba (large).

Bongos: Bongo drums are Afro-Cuban, small, and often played in conjunction with the congas. If you’re bilingual, you have an advantage when it comes to pronouncing their names! The smaller drum is the “macho” and the larger drum is the “hembra.”

Image courtesy ArtDrum

Image courtesy interstatemusic.com

Tabla: You can play these Indian drums with the heels of your hands and your fingertips. The small, wooden drum is the tabla, and the larger, metal drum is the dagga.

Image courtesy sitarsencat.com

Frame Drums

This is actually a pretty broad family, with different types of drums from all over the world.

Pandeiro: A Brazilian instrument played with the fingers, thumbs, and palms on the head, along with the fingers/thumbs on its platinelas (jingles).

Image courtesy Pandeiro.com

Tambourine: A close cousin to the pandeiro, the tambourine is from various regions, and has smaller jingles—called zils. There is much more to playing this instrument than mot people think.

A tambourine may or may not have heads, and it may or may not be tunable. A tambourine can have single or double rows of jingles. There are many other similar drums from different parts of the world.

Image courtesy Grover Pro Percussion

Bodhran: This Irish/Celtic frame drum can be played by hand or with various types of beaters, known as tippers. Bodhran drums may or may not be tunable.

Goblet Drums: This is a family of drums that get their name from their shape. A darbuka, which hails from the Middle East, is an example of a goblet drum.

Image courtesy Serdar Bagtir

African Drums

This is another broad family of hand drums, so let’s look at some of the most well-known drums.

Djembe: The djembe is a very popular hand drum from West Africa. It may be rope-tuned or mechanically tuned (Westernized). They may have goatskin heads (shaved or not) or synthetic heads.

Image courtesy fasoboutik.com

Talking Drum: To play the talking drum, place it under your arm and squeeze the rope while you hit the drum. Use a striker to alter the pitch.

Image courtesy Musician’s Friend

Udu: The udu is a clay-based drum from Nigeria. Variations of the udu may have one or two chambers.

To play the udu, strike the larger hole with your palm, or use your fingers on the body.

Image courtesy TheDrumWorks and ArtDrum

Some other African drums worth looking up are the dunun, bendir, junjung, and bougarabou.

Types of Drums in a Marching Band

Marching band drums supply the voice for the band. Here are some of the most commonly used marching band drums, they can be mounted on harnesses or stands.

Related Article: How to Become a Drum Major

Marching Snare: The marching snare drum is quite different than the snare used on the drum set. It’s much deeper and the head is made of Kevlar. The marching snare can hold very high tension.

Image courtesy Steve Weiss Music

Multi-tenor: The multi-tenor drums come in several configurations, most commonly sets of four to six. They’re the higher pitched melodic voices of the battery and are typically played with sticks or mallets.

They may have small, tightly tuned accent drums, known as spocks or shots (among other names).

Image courtesy Musician’s Friend

Bass Drum: The bass drums are the lowest pitched drums in the battery and come in several sizes that allow for melodic runs along the line.

Image courtesy Ed Uthman

Front Ensemble: The front ensemble/pit is stationary on the field and has a wide variety of percussion instruments like the marimba, xylophone, glock, vibes, bass drum, drum set, and timpani, as well as hand/frame drums and auxiliary instruments.

Image courtesy Urbanlatinoradio.com

We have covered several different types of drums,  but we have still only scratched the surface of the world of percussion instruments. From drum sets, hand drums, and marching band drums, there’s something for every aspiring musician.

What types of drums do you want to learn about? Let us know in the comments below!

Post Author: Tracy D.
Tracy D. teaches percussion and drum lessons in Edmond, OK. She has been playing the drums with various bands for more than 13 years and earned her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Oklahoma Christian University. Learn more about Tracy here!

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French accent marks are an integral part of French writing and correct spelling. Incorrect usage of accent marks, or the absence of them, can cause embarrassing mistakes and frustrating miscommunications.

French students who want to become competent in reading the language must also understand how to use French accent marks. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know, including French accent codes to use while typing!

The 5 French Accent Marks

So, what are the five accent marks in French and when do you use them? Four of the accents are only used on vowels, and one of them is only used on the letter C.

These symbols usually indicate something about the letter’s pronunciation or about the history of the word, which we’ll discuss later in this guide.

Check out the video below to get started, then we’ll move on to the specific rules about how to use French accent marks.

French Accents 101: Pronunciation & Accent Marks - YouTube

Accent Aïgue (é)

You will only ever see the accent aigu on the letter E. The letter E can have many different pronunciations in French, so this accent mark’s placement tells the reader how to pronounce it.

This particular sound is similar to the E sound in the English word “hey” or “say,” as compared to the E in “bed,” or the silent E at the end of a word. The accent aigu can be found in words such as un été (a summer) and une école (a school).

Accent Grave (à, è, ù)

This accent mark can help indicate pronunciation, like in the words une pièce (a play) or une espèce (a species). In this case, you’ll pronounce the E more like the E in “bed,” rather than the E in “hey” or “say.”

The accent grave can also help to distinguish between two similarly pronounced (and spelled) words that have different meanings. This is the accent’s most common use on the letters A and U. Some examples include the words ou (or) and où (where), or the words a (has) and à (to).

Accent Circonflèxe (â, ê, î, ô, û)

This accent is unique because of its historical significance. You’ll notice it on vowels that used to be followed by the letter S in French.

When these S’s became silent over the course of several hundred years, French scholars decided to eliminate them from the words’ spellings. Instead of including a silent S on these words, they began placing the circonflèxe accent mark over the preceding vowel.

Often, the dropped S will show up in English versions of the word that contain a similar Latin root. For example, la forêt translates to “forest,” also of Latin origin.

The circonflexe can also help determine a pronunciation difference for A, E, and O. With “â,” the sound becomes slightly more rounded, as in pates (noodles). The “ê” is pronounced like the short “e” as in “set” in English, and as in the French word la tête (head). The “ô” is pronounced as a closed sound, as in allô (hello).

In some places, the circonflexe can distinguish between homophones, such as jeune (young) and le jeûne (fasting), or un mur (a wall) and mûr (ripe). Occasionally, the accent is seen in other places too, such as the relatively new French word – émoticône (emoticon).

Trëma (ë, ï, ü)

In French, the trëma indicates that you should pronounce two side-by-side vowels separately. For example, in French you pronounce the word Noël (Christmas) like “nowell” and not “nole.” Likewise, you’d pronounce maïs (corn) like “mayees” and not “may.”

This is a departure from the typical French pronunciation rule, where two adjacent vowels typically combine to form one sound.

Cédille (ç)

Of all the French accent marks, you will only ever see this one on the letter C. The çédille transforms the C sound from hard to soft. Examples include – français (French), un garçon (a boy), and deçu (disappointed).

Note: The French C can also become soft when preceding the letters E, I, or Y, such as in la glace (ice cream). So the çédille is used primarily for those soft C’s that are followed by a letter other than E, I, or Y.

French Accent Codes

Once you’ve become familiar with accent marks, chances are you’ll need French accent codes to type them out on your computer. Here are some helpful shortcuts for those who don’t have access to a French keyboard.

French Accent Codes for PC Users

If you’re using Microsoft Word on a PC, use the French accent codes below. (Note: Don’t try to press down all the keys at once; instead, press the keys down one at a time and hold until all are pressed).

  • Accent aïgue (é): Press CTRL ‘ (apostrophe), followed by the letter    
  • Accent grave (à, è, ù): Press CTRL ` (the key to the left of “1”), followed by the letter
  • Accent circonflèxe (â, ê, î, ô, û): Press CTRL Shift 6 followed by the letter  
  • Trëma (ë, ï, ü): Press CTRL Shift ; followed by the letter   
  • Cédille (ç): Press CTRL – followed by the letter  

If you have trouble using any of the codes above, try these alt codes for PC users:

  • Alt – 0233 (é)
  • Alt – 0224 (à)
  • Alt – 0232 (è)
  • Alt – 0249 (ù)
  • Alt – 0226 (â)
  • Alt – 0234 (ê)
  • Alt – 0238 (î)
  • Alt – 0244 (ô)
  • Alt – 0251 (û)
  • Alt – 0235 (ë)
  • Alt – 0239 (ï)
  • Alt – 0252 (ü)
  • Alt – 0231 (ç)
French Accent Codes for Mac Users

Don’t fret! There are accent codes for Mac users as well. Use the following key next time you need to type an accented French letter.

  • Accent aïgue (é): Press Option e
  • Accent grave (à, è, ù): Press Option ` followed by the letter
  • Accent circonflèxe (â, ê, î, ô, û): Press Option i followed by the letter
  • Trëma (ë, ï, ü): Press Option u followed by the letter
  • Cédille (ç): Press Option c. (You do not need to press C an additional time afterward).

As you master the five French accent marks, be sure you have help along the way. Experienced French teachers will know how to explain the intricacies of the language, and catch the common mistakes that many students make.

Nothing can replace hard work and dedication to your studies, but consistent feedback from a reliable source is essential to really improve! If you can’t afford private lessons, try one of our free online French classes led by live instructors today.

Post Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in Sacramento, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

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Ready to add some flair and style to your playing with jazz piano chords? Learning jazz chord progressions is an excellent way to explore a new genre on the keys.

Jazz piano can be a fun but difficult thing to learn. In this article, we’ll break it down by helping you master some essential jazz piano chords. Here are four tips to get you started!

How to Play Jazz Piano Chords & Chord Progressions 1. Know Your Theory

In order to even think about playing jazz piano, your music theory skills have to be strong:

  • Practice playing major seventh, dominant seventh, minor seventh, half and fully diminished seventh chords in root position across the keyboard.
  • Practice major ii V I chord progressions (ii minor 7th, V dominant 7th, and I major 7th) and minor ii V i chord progressions (ii half diminished, V dominant 7th, and i minor 7th) in all 12 keys.
  • Be aware of all the possible chord symbols: Major 7ths (Cmaj7, C△, CM7), Minor 7ths (Cmin7, C-7, Cm7), and half-diminished 7ths (Cmin7♭5, C∅). Luckily, dominant 7ths and fully diminished 7ths only are notated one way (G7 and G° respectively).
2. Know Your Voicings

The root position chords above are great to familiarize yourself with the notes, but don’t smoothly connect the harmonies. In C:

To play these jazz chord progressions on the piano smoother, move the least distance to the next chord.

Often with smooth voice leading, 7ths in one chord resolve to the 3rd of the next chord. There are many unique sounding jazz voicings to experiment with. Use your ear to be the judge.

To experiment, here are some possible voicings to try out with both major and minor ii-V-I chord progressions.

3. Know Your Extensions

Chordal extensions are harmonies added to 7th chords that add texture, color, and a characteristic jazz sound. In fact, 7th chords are rarely played plainly, but with one or more of these added notes.

As a general rule:

  • Major 7ths, minor 7ths, and dominant 7ths often come with added 6ths and/or 9ths. A 9th is just a 2nd an octave up. The 7th is almost always included in any chord, regardless of what extension is being added. When a 6th is added to a dominant chord, it’s always added above the 7th, creating a “13th” interval. Thus, a 13 chord is a dominant 7th with a sixth added above the 7th (see below). Also note that a plain 9 chord indicates a dominant 7th with a 9th added.

  • Dominant chords (plain 7th chords that often function as the V in a ii  V  I chord progression) sound great with many different extensions. In fact, the 5ths and 9ths of dominant chords can be raised or lowered, leading to many unique harmonic possibilities, including 7♭9, 7#9, 7♭5, 7#5, 7♭9#5, 7♭9♭5, 7#9♭5, and 7#9#5.

  • Often, in lead sheets and jazz chord progressions, the dominant extensions above aren’t specified, but can be added to taste. This goes for the 6ths and 9ths in major and minor 7th chords. There are almost always extensions added to 7th chords. Many times the 5th is excluded from the voicing, especially if extensions are added. If it sounds appropriate in the chord progression and leads smoothly to the next chord, it’s probably a great choice.
4. Know How to Practice

The easiest way to become familiar with these jazz piano chords is to practice ii-V-I chord progressions in every key.  Another great resource is playing pre-written arrangements found in books such as Piano Stylings of the Great Standards (Vol. 1-6) by Edward Shanaphy or The Jazz Piano Book by Mark Levine.

These books provide you with many great voicings that are clearly labeled.  And of course, having a quality hard copy full of jazz standards, such as The Real Book by Hal Leonard, is a must for practicing your jazz voicings. Good luck and have fun practicing!

Post Author: Chris F. teaches guitar, piano, music theory, and more in Tulsa, OK. He has experience in concert bands, choirs, chamber music groups, jazz combos, and an award winning jazz big band. Learn more about Chris here! 

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Photo by: Tom Marcello

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The topic of intermediate guitar songs and solos is a tricky one, because it means different things to different people. Some players learn certain techniques faster than others, and what is advanced to some is borderline-beginner to others.

Nevertheless, songs like “Blackbird” by Paul McCartney, “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix are popular, time-honored classics that you probably won’t learn as a brand new guitarist.

Top 50 Intermediate Guitar Songs

This article will cover acoustic and electric intermediate guitar songs, as well as intermediate guitar solos. Each of these pieces focuses on different styles and techniques. The main thing to remember as you attempt these songs is that they are meant to stretch you.

You may listen to some and think they’re impossible, but moving into the intermediate guitar world means facing up to the universal feeling of “impossibility” when it comes to new techniques. Remember that everyone feels that way at some point, so keep practicing even when you feel like giving up!

Acoustic Intermediate Guitar Songs

"Space Oddity" by David Bowie [Easy Guitar Tutorial] - YouTube

1. Space Oddity – David Bowie (Tabs)

Bowie used several special techniques in this acoustic hit. Pay attention to the left-hand chord voicings used throughout the song.

2. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran (Tabs)

This song is a popular choice for weddings, and a little trickier for most beginners. While practicing, focus on capturing a soulful feeling at a slow tempo.

3. Blackbird – Paul McCartney (Tabs)

This is probably the most popular fingerpicking song. There are a few ways to play this one, but the classically influenced guitar lines will challenge you to think outside of your box a bit.

4. Neon – John Mayer (Tabs)

Some would put this in the advanced category, but it’s actually fairly repetitive and very accessible if you know how to slow down.

5. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You – Led Zeppelin (Tabs)

This might feel like a beginner song once you get the first phrase out, but to play the whole song soulfully takes some precision and passion!

6. Heart of Life – John Mayer (Tabs)

A more advanced pluck-and-chuck song, this is a really good way to get into flicking melodies out.

7. Stop This Train – John Mayer (Tabs)

This song challenges you to combine a melody, bass line, and inner voice into a pluck and chuck pattern.

8. Details in the Fabric – Jason Mraz (Tabs)

This intermediate guitar song uses a fairly intricate strumming pattern that will challenge your ability to hold syncopation!

9. Country Roads – John Denver (Tabs)

“Country Roads” is great song to learn basic four stroke thumbpicking. Focus on the guitar part in the first verse of the original version.

10. I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Deathcab for Cutie (Tabs)

This song mixes alternating bass and thumb slaps with flicks into a fairly easy pattern.

11. Crash Into Me – Dave Matthews (Tabs)

“Crash Into Me” builds an interesting two part guitar texture where you bang out a nice bass line while strumming chords on the treble strings – excellent for developing rest strokes!

12. Leaves That Are Green – Paul Simon (Tabs)

This is a classic thumb-picking song that’s sure to present a challenge to any new, intermediate student.

13. Alice’s Restaurant – Arlo Guthrie (Tabs)

This legendary folk song is just a 16 bar pattern that repeats. See if you can carry on a conversation while pedaling this pattern!

14. The Boxer – Paul Simon (Tabs)

Another legendary thumb-picking song that mixes four stroke patterns with moving chords and walking bass lines.

15. Operator – Jim Croce (Tabs)

“Operator” is a beautiful fingerpicking song that uses some different rhythmic patterns worth learning!

16. The Rain Song – Led Zeppelin (Tabs)

The alternate tuning in this song will get you thinking about the guitar in a new way. It opens up a lot of possibilities while challenging you to break your typical patterns.

Intermediate Electric Guitar Songs

RHCP - Can't stop (lesson w/ tabs) - YouTube

1. Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chili Peppers (Tabs)

Especially suited for mastering the “rock muting” techniques (where you almost strum while muting all but one note), this song is a must for electric guitarists!

2. Under the Bridge – The Red Hot Chili Peppers (Tabs)

“Under the Bridge” mixes several techniques and has a number of different sections that take some thought for intermediate guitarists to master.

3. Layla – Eric Clapton (Tabs)

Some of the rhythm and lead parts in “Layla” aren’t complex, but capturing the anguished sound is at the essence of this song’s challenges.

4. Slow Dancing In a Burning Room – John Mayer (Tabs)

This is another song that integrates several different techniques into one line and needs to be executed soulfully to be convincing.

5. Wild Side – Motley Crue (Tabs)

“Wild Side” is not as difficult as it sounds. The riff is a great introduction to playing fast without being too challenging.

6. Black Dog – Led Zeppelin (Tabs)

The notes in this song are challenging enough, but the timing really throws a lot of players off the horse. Challenge yourself to play this along with the record or even better – a band!

7. Pride and Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan (Tabs)

On paper it’s not complicated, but the nuances of muting the strings properly to play this song are quite challenging. You may consider getting help from a guitar teacher to master this one!

8. Never There – Cake (Tabs)

This is one of those intermediate guitar songs that is a surprise challenge. The song has some fast notes with string skips that are quite difficult to perfect. 

9. Wish You Were Here – Incubus (Tabs)

The secret to Incubus’ magic is not so much in the notes but in Michael Einziger’s shoegaze guitar sounds. See if you can get the tone and effects down.

10. Enter Sandman – Metallica (Tabs)

If you want to learn what metal guitar is supposed to sound like, this is an excellent place to start!

11. Thunderstruck – AC/DC (Tabs)

Some would call this song advanced, but the shortness and repetitiveness of this riff make it a really good study piece for hammer-ons and pull-offs.

12. Back in Black – AC/DC (Tabs)

If the last AC/DC song you tried kicked your butt, give this one a try for a more moderate challenge that satisfies the same itch.

13. Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars (Tabs)

Lots of Bruno Mars songs have worthy funk guitar parts, and “Treasure” is just one great choice. Getting used to the syncopation and articulation are the keys to success here.

14. Brick House – The Commodores (Tabs)

This song often gets called for covers, so if you’re in a band it’s best to start learning it now!

15. You Got Another Thing Coming – Judas Priest (Tabs)

Just playing the notes isn’t too difficult, but synchronizing with a rhythm section in a rock band is very telling of your ability to make this song work.

Intermediate Guitar Solos

Something - The Beatles ( Guitar Solo Tab Tutorial ) | Jorge Orellana - YouTube

  1. Something – Beatles (Tabs)
  2. Hotel California – Eagles (Tabs)
  3. Johnny B Goode – Chuck Berry (Tabs)
  4. All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix (Tabs)
  5. Tamacun – Rodrigo y Gabriela (Tabs)
  6. Voodoo Child – Jimi Hendrix (Tabs)
  7. Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones (Tabs)
  8. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin (Tabs)
  9. Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix (Tabs)
  10. Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd (Tabs)
  11. One of These Nights – Eagles (Tabs)
  12. Belief – John Mayer (Tabs)
  13. Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne (Tabs)
  14. One (Intro) – Metallica (Tabs)
  15. Heat Wave – Linda Ronstadt (Tabs)
  16. La Grange – ZZ Top (Tabs)
  17. Mud on the Tires – Brad Paisley (Tabs)
  18. My Sharona – The Knack (Tabs)
  19. Spooky – Atlanta Rhythm Section (Tabs)
  20. Black Magic Woman – Carlos Santana (Tabs)

Each of these intermediate guitar songs and solos made the list because of their popularity and influence. Remember that these songs are likely to present some unexpected challenges. If you want to brush up on your skills, try an online guitar class to get the help you need!

Post Author: Jonathan B.
Jonathan B. teaches acoustic guitar, bass, and more in State College, PA. Jonathan is a Temple University, Music Theory graduate and YouTube celebrity with thousands of subscribers. Learn more about Jonathan here!

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Although English idioms don’t make sense at first, these unique expressions (together with proverbs) add substance and humor to our conversations. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “idiom” as a: “group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g. over the moon, see the light).”

This means that English idioms should not be taken literally, because their meaning is metaphorical. You don’t really wish someone would “break a leg,” do you? And it’s not actually “raining cats and dogs,” is it?

On the other hand, proverbs – which are equally important to learn in English – are “short, well-known pithy sayings, stating a general truth or piece of advice.” Proverbs like, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” have neither a metaphorical meaning nor a literal one. Still, their meaning is greater than the meaning of the individual words put together.

List of English Idioms, Proverbs & Expressions

English idioms aren’t easy to understand at first, especially if you’re speaking English as a second language. But learning their meanings is crucial if you want to sound more like a native. So let’s get started with our complete list of English expressions and proverbs!

Check out the infographic below to preview some of the most common idioms that made it on our list.

English Idioms About People
  • To be on cloud nine – To be extremely happy
  • One-trick pony – A person with only one talent or area of expertise
  • Wouldn’t hurt a fly – A person that is inoffensive and harmless
  • Like a fish out of the water – Very uncomfortable
  • Fit as a fiddle – Very healthy and strong
  • To have your head in the clouds – To be daydreaming and/or lacking concentration
  • To be under the weather – To feel sick
  • To be as right as rain – To feel healthy or well again
English Idioms About Relationships
  • Like two peas in a pod – Two people who are always together
  • To give someone the cold shoulder – To intentionally ignore someone
  • To cut somebody some slack – To stop being so critical of them
  • To give someone the benefit of the doubt – To justify or excuse someone’s actions, and not assume malice
  • To let someone off the hook – To not hold someone responsible for something he/she has done wrong
  • To rain on someone’s parade – To ruin one’s plans or temper one’s excitement
English Idioms About Communication
  • To break the ice – To get the conversation going
  • To let the cat out of the bag – To reveal a secret
  • To spill the beans – To reveal a secret
  • To beat around the bush – To avoid talking about what is important
  • To pull someone’s leg – To say something that is not true as a way of joking
  • To get wind of something – To hear a rumor about something
  • To wrap your head around something – To understand something complicated
  • A penny for your thoughts – Tell me what you are thinking
  • To play the devil’s advocate – To argue against an idea for the sake of debate
  • To see which way the wind is blowing – To try to discover information about a situation before taking action
  • To hear something straight from the horse’s mouth – To hear from someone who personally observed a certain event
  • The elephant in the room – An obvious problem that people do not want to talk about
  • Comparing apples to oranges – Comparing two things that cannot be compared
English Idioms About Scenarios
  • A blessing in disguise – A good thing that seemed bad at first
  • The best of both worlds – Benefiting from two different opportunities at once
  • A perfect storm – The worst possible situation
  • To be on thin ice – To be in a risky situation
  • A snowball effect – A situation that becomes more serious and potentially dangerous over time
  • When it rains it pours – Everything is going wrong at once
  • To get out of hand – To loose control in a situation
  • To get a taste of your own medicine – To be treated the way you’ve treated others
  • To throw caution to the wind – To do something without worrying about the risk
  • To bite the bullet – To force yourself to do something unpleasant or difficult
  • Barking up the wrong tree – To pursue the wrong course of action
  • To go down in flames – To fail miserably at something
English Idioms About Time
  • Hold your horses – Wait a moment; slow down
  • To do something at the drop of a hat – To do something at once, without any delay
  • Once in a blue moon – Rarely
  • To take a rain check – To postpone a plan
  • To have bigger fish to fry – To have more important things to do with your time
  • To miss the boat – To miss an opportunity
  • Call it a day – It’s time to stop working on something
Miscellaneous Idioms in English
  • It’s raining cats and dogs – It’s raining very hard
  • A dime a dozen – Something is very common, or of no particular value
  • By the skin of one’s teeth – Narrowly or barely escaping a disaster
  • Come rain or shine – No matter the circumstances, something will get done
  • It costs an arm and a leg – It’s very expensive
  • It went to the dogs – Something is no longer as good as it was in the past
  • To run like the wind – To run very fast
  • Go on a wild goose chase – Go on a futile search or pursuit
  • A cloud on the horizon – Something that threatens to cause problems in the future
Common English Proverbs
  • Better late than never – It is better to be late than never to arrive or complete a task
  • Time flies when you’re having fun – Time seems to move faster when you’re enjoying something
  • Actions speak louder than words – What someone does means more than what they say they will do
  • Don’t count your chickens before they hatch – Don’t make plans that depend on something good happening before you know that it has actually happened
  • Every cloud has a silver lining – Difficult situations usually have at least one positive aspect
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – Don’t risk everything on the success of one venture
  • Good things come to those who wait – Be patient
  • Kill two birds with one stone – Achieve two goals at once
  • There are other fish in the sea – There will be other opportunities for romance
  • You can’t judge a book by its cover – You shouldn’t determine the value of something by its outward appearance
  • Curiosity killed the cat – Being inquisitive may get you into trouble
  • Birds of a feather flock together – Similar people usually become friends
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder – When the people we love are not with us, we grow even more in love
  • It takes two to tango – Both parties involved in a situation are equally responsible for it
  • The ship has sailed – It’s too late
  • Two wrongs don’t make a right – If someone has done something bad to you, there’s no justification to act in a similar way
  • When in Rome, do as the Romans do – When you are visiting another place, you should follow the customs of the people in that place
  • The early bird catches the worm – The one who takes the earliest opportunity to do something will have an advantage over others
  • Save up for a rainy day – Put some money aside for whenever it may be needed
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away – Apples are good for your health
  • Your guess is as good as mine – I’m unsure of the answer or solution to a problem
  • It takes one to know one – Someone must have a bad quality themselves if they can recognize it in other people
  • Look before you leap – Take calculated risks
  • Don’t cry over spilled milk – Stop worrying about things in the past because they cannot be changed
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink – You can’t force someone to make the right decision, even after guidance is given
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush – The things you already have are more valuable than those you hope to get
  • You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar – You can get what you want by being nice

We hope you enjoyed this complete list of the most common proverbs and idioms in English. Can you think of any English idioms we missed? Leave a comment and let us know! And if you’d like to improve your English skills even more, try the free online English classes at TakeLessons Live.

Guest Author: Diana Lăpușneanu is a movie geek, story lover, and language learner at Mondly. She is passionate about creative writing, classical mythology, and English literature. You can follow Mondly on Instagram here.  

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