Japanese musical instruments and terms

In this article, we will see a list of words and vocabulary of Japanese Musical Instruments and also a list of musical terms for those who are learning to play a certain instrument and want to maintain a dialogue in Japanese.

Musical instruments and bands are a constant in Japanese schools.
University event called Bunkasai.

Playing an Instrument in Japanese

While in English we can simply use a touch to refer to playing general instruments, in Japanese there are specific words for each type of instrument such as strings and others. See below how to say play in Japanese:

  • kanaderu [奏でる] play an instrument (general);
  • to hiku [弾く] play a string instrument, including piano, organ and etc;
  • fuku [吹く] play the flute, instruments and wind and etc;
  • tataku [叩く] play drums and percussion instruments, xylophones and the like;
  • souhou [奏法] way of playing an instrument;

Japanese musical terms

See below for a list of terms used in a conversation or article about music and playing musical instruments.

Responsive Table: Roll the table sideways with your finger >>
RomajiKanjiMeaning
anpu暗譜memorize or play a song from memory
au合うbe in sync
baiorinヴァイオリンviolin
gangバンドband
biburaatoビブラートvibrato for violin, singing, etc. [also ヴィブラー]
chiisai小さいliterally “small” soft
chouchou長調primary key
chouritsu調律tuning that sets the pitch of an instrument
chouritsushi調律師tune in to a person whose job it is to tune instruments
choushi調子tone, rhythm
choushihazure調子外れplaying / singing out of tune
doramaaドラマーdrummer
doramuドラムdrum
doramusutikkuドラムスティックdrumstick
ensou演奏performance too 演奏会)
fuewhistle
furuutoフルートflute
gakki楽器musical instrument
gakkiten楽器店music shop
gakufu楽譜score
genrope
gitaaギターguitar
gitarisutoギタリストguitar player
haamonikaハーモニカharmonica
haapuハープharp
happyoukai発表会considering
henkyoku編曲arrangement
hibiku響くtouch, resonate
kenkey
kennbann鍵盤keyboard
kyokumusic often without words
kyokusong
neiro音色tone or color of the sound of a musical instrument violin etc.
ongaku音楽music
ongakuka音楽家musician
onkai音階musical scale
onpu音符Note
yesterday音程interval
ookesutoraオーケストラorchestra
ookii大きいtall literally “big”
oto ga deru音が出るa sound is produced
oto or nesound
oto wo dasu音を出すto produce a sound
pianisutoピアニストpianist
pianoピアノpiano
picchiピッチpitch
renshuu練習practice
resunレッスンpractice lesson
rizumuリズムrhythm
sakkusuサックスsaxophone
sakkyoku作曲to compose
shikisya指揮者conductor
shinbaruシンバルdish
sokkyou即興improvise changes or create music on the spot)
tanchou短調minor key
tenpoテンポtime
toraianguruトライアングルtriangle
toranpettoトランペットtrumpet
toronbohnトロンボーンtrombone
utamusic often with words
utau歌うsing
zureruズレるto turn off, divert sound, tuning, etc.

Rhythms and Types of Music in Japanese

Below we will leave a list of musical rhythms and types of music in the Japanese Nihongo language:

Responsive Table: Roll the table sideways with your finger >>
RomajiJapaneseKind of music
orutanativu オルタナtイヴ   alternative
garēji rokku ガレージ・ロック   garage rock
guramu rokku グラム・ロック   glam rock
guranji グランジ   grunge
panku rokku パンク・ロック   punk rock
saikederikkuサイケデリック   psychedelic
desu metaru デス・メタル   death metal
nyūu ~ ēbu ニューウェーブ   new wave
hādo rokku ハード・ロック   hard rock
buritisshu rokku ブリtイッシュ・ロック   British rock
puroguresshivu rokku プログレッシヴ・ロック   progressive rock
hevu ~ i metaru ヘヴィ・メタル   heavy metal
rokkun rōru ロックン・ロール   rock n Roll
hausu ハウス   Casa, Lar
doramun bēsu ドラムン・ベース   drum ’n’ bass
hippuhoppu ヒップホップ   hip-hop
fanku ファンク   funk
dabu ダブ   dubstep
tekuno テクノ   techno
buritto poppu ブリット・ポップ   Brit pop
poppu ポップ   pop
rappu ラップ   rap music
regē レゲエ   reggae
āru ando bī アールアンドビー  R&B
kantorī カントリー   country
burūsu ブルース   blues
fōku rokku フォーク・ロック   folk rock
kurashikku クラシック   classical
deposit ジャズ   Jazz
suka スカ   ska
sōruソール  soul

Japanese Musical Instruments

  • Gakki [楽器] - musical instrument
  • Gitaa [ギター] - guitar
  • Gen [弦] - strings
  • Baasu [ベース] - bass guitar, bass
  • doramu [ドラム] - drums
  • piano [ピアノ /] - keyboard
  • keiiboodo [キーボード] - keyboard
  • maiku [マイク] - microphone
  • biiorin [バイオリン] - violin
  • chero [チェロ] - cello
  • ooboe [オーボエ] - oboe
  • toranpeeto [トランペット] - trumpet
  • sakkusufon [サックスフォン] - saxophone
  • haapu [ハープ] - harp
  • haamonika [ハーモニカ] - harmonica
  • tanburin [タンバリン] - tambourine

Japanese traditional instruments

  • [琵琶] - biwa
  • [三味線] - shamisen
  • [琴] - koto
  • [太鼓] - taiko drum
  • [尺八] - shakuhachi flute
  • [三線] - sanshin

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