How to Talk about MUSIC in Italian

Who doesn’t love music? I think everyone listens to it at least once a day, while working, cooking, driving or doing anything else. Keep reading to discover the most important words for talking about music in Italian!

Useful Words for talking about MUSIC in Italian

In this article, we’ll look at the most important words in the Italian music vocabulary: take notes and you’ll finally be able to talk about music with your Italian friends!

1 – CANZONE, BRANO or PEZZO?

Canzone is a musical composition of short duration (a few minutes), consisting of lyrics (usually in verse) accompanied by music.

In short, canzone is what we sing at the top of our lungs in the shower.

Brano and pezzo are often used as synonyms for canzone, but they also have a broader meaning.

A brano (or pezzo) is also an instrumental (music-only) composition, often of greater length and complexity than a canzone. An example can be found in classical music.

Brano can also be a part of a larger musical work (un brano della Primavera di Vivaldi).

2 – STROFA + RITORNELLO

Most songs consist of strofe and a ritornello.

Strofa is a set of verses with which a song begins (and continues). In a song, there are usually two, three or four, with the same music but different words.

The strofe in a song are usually divided by a ritornello, a set of verses that is repeated between strofe in a song, always with the same words.

This is the part of a song that usually sticks in people’s minds the most, because it’s the most catchy.

3 – TESTO

The set of words in a song is called testo. Many foreigners use the word lirica / lirica musicale (perhaps due to the influence of the English lyrics), but it would be preferable not to do so, both because it’s an older term that isn’t much used nowadays, and because it could cause confusion.

In Italian, lirica refers to melodrama, a play accompained by music and orchestra.

4 – RITMO + MELODIA

Ritmo is the set of repeated beats that form music. Every music has a different ritmo consisting of armonia e melodia.

Melodia is the “sound” that makes each song recognisable to our ears. You can also use the word motivo with the same meaning.

5 – SPARTITO

Spartito is the graphic composition of music, consisting of several note musicali. It’s intended for those who play a musical instrument, for example a violino or pianoforte.

6 – ORCHESTRA

A set of musical instruments working together for a musical performance. Usually arranged in a semicircle and organised in a precise order according to the instruments present. The orchestra is conducted and organised by the direttore d’orchestra.

7 – CANTANTE – CANTAUTORE – PAROLIERE

Cantante is someone who sings professionally.

They may be the author of their own lyrics (in which case they’re called a cantautore) or they may simply sing lyrics written by others.

Someone who writes song lyrics for other people is called a paroliere.

Finally, the author of the music of a song is called compositore.

8 – SOLISTA – GRUPPO MUSICALE

A cantante can be a solista, if they sing alone, or they can be part of a gruppo musicale (or band), in which there are other singers and/or musicians, who play different instruments.

Among the musicians in a band, you can find a batterista (who plays the drums), chitarrista (who plays the guitar), tastierista (who plays the synthesiser), and pianista (who plays the piano).

9 – INTONATO – STONATO

Intonato is an adjective used to indicate a person who can sing in a pleasant way.

On the other hand, someone who can’t sing, is out of tune, and isn’t a pleasure to listen to, is called stonato.

10 – ESIBIZIONE

It’s the performance of a singer in which they present one or a few of their songs to the audience on a stage, often during a TV programme or event.

11 – CONCERTO

Concerto is still a performance, but in a different form. It’s a live performance by a singer or band who perform in front of their audience, singing almost every song in their repertoire. In short, it’s a “private” event just for that singer and their fans.

Concerti can take place in open-air venues (such as stadiums) or in closed venues (arenas, ballrooms, clubs, etc.).

If the objective of the performance is different (charity, for example), it can still be called a concerto, but it usually involves several singers.

12 – COLLABORAZIONE

Collaborazione, also called featuring, refers to the participation of one singer in the record, song or concert of another.

13 – CASA DISCOGRAFICA

A company involved in the production, distribution and promotion of music. A casa discografica can sign contracts with several artists.

14 – STUDIO DI REGISTRAZIONE

A space designed for the recording, mixing and editing of sound. In a studio di registrazione it’s possible to record the songs of bands, solo artists, radio shows, soundtracks and commercials.

15 – TRACCIA

Each of the songs on a disc is called traccia.

If you like Italian music, we recommend you to listen to the 7 most beautiful Italian songs of all time: they will literally make you dream! If, on the other hand, you want to improve your Italian with the help of qualified native-speaking teachers, try the individual lessons of our intensive Italian course.

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