Japanese Vocabulary Lesson 21: Music

Do you know what day is today? It’s the International Music Day! So what better lesson than music vocabulary? I’m not entering in a music lesson, so this lesson is for those who already have some knowledge about music! Here we go!

First the name of the musical notes.

Musical note: 音符 (おんぷ, onpu)

Actually there are many notations used in Japan. The Japanese one, the English one, the Italian one, and the German one. The Japanese notation is not so used anymore. As for the other three, they are kinda mixed sometimes. Watch the table below:

Style Type Prime Second Third Fourth Fifth Sixth Seventh
English C D E F G A B
C sharp D sharp
F sharp G sharp A sharp

D flat E flat
G flat A flat B flat
German C D E F G A B
Cis Dis
Fis Gis Ais

Des Es
Ges As Bes
Italian Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si
Do diesis Re diesis
Fa diesis Sol diesis La diesis

Re bemolle Mi bemolle
Sol bemolle La bemolle Si bemolle
Japanese ハ (ha) ニ (ni) ホ (ho) ヘ (he) ト (to) イ (i) ロ (ro)
嬰ハ (ei ha) 嬰ニ (ei ni)
嬰ヘ (ei he) 嬰ト (ei to) 嬰イ (ei i)

変ニ (hen ni) 変ホ (hen ho)
変ト (hen to) 変イ (hen i) 変ロ (hen ro)

I think it must be quite easy to figure how it sounds when said in Japanese. If you can’t figure it out, have a quick review at the hiragana and katakana lessons to remember the sounds! But I leave a hint: the notes are said: ド, レ, ミ, ファ, ソ, ラ, シ !

And now on to a little music notation!

Whole note – 全音符 (ぜんおんぷ, zen onpu)
Half note – 2分音符 (にぶおんぷ, nibu onpu)
Quarter note – 4分音符 (しぶおんぷ, shibu onpu)
Eight note – 8分音符 (はちぶおんぷ, hachibu onpu)
Sixteenth note – 16分音符 (じゅうろくぶおんぷ, jyuurokubu onpu)

Whole rest – 全休符 (ぜんきゅうふ, zen kyuufu)
Half rest – 2分休符 (にぶきゅうふ, nibu kyuufu)
Quarter rest – 4分休符 (しぶきゅうふ, shibu kyuufu)
Eight rest – 8分休符 (はちぶきゅうふ, hachibu kyuufu)
Sixteenth rest – 16分休符 (じゅうろくぶきゅうふ, jyuurokubu kyuufu)

And now some more words!

Measure – 小節 (しょうせつ, shousetsu)
Beat – 拍 (はく, haku)
Minor key – 短調 (たんちょう, tanchou)
Major key – 長調 (ちょうちょう, chouchou)

And then, for example, if a song is in 2/4, it is said 4分の2 (よんぶんのに, yon bun no ni), which is a notation used in Mathematics too.

There are many more words related to music, but surprisingly, in Japan most of the notation used comes from Italian! The above mentioned words are some of the exceptions!

Have a wonderful Music Day!


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