50+ Easy Cantonese Music Vocabulary

Music, 音樂 (Jam1 Ngok6) in Cantonese, reveals many things about the culture and beliefs of the people. In fact, many language learners believe that listening to music can certainly help you learn a new language. So today, we will explore Chinese music and learn some essential Cantonese music vocabulary.

Vera Nazarian once said, “If Music is a Place — then Jazz is the City, Folk is the Wilderness, Rock is the Road, Classical is a Temple.” This powerful quote tells about how different kinds of music affect our lives. For a country rich in culture and tradition like Hong Kong, having distinct music that speaks about their origins and culture is their identity. It’s the people’s experience, wisdom, and thoughts. Most of all, music knows no language because it’s a universal language.

For total beginners who are afraid of learning Chinese languages like Cantonese, do not worry because all the Cantonese words you will learn have English translations and romanizations. This will help you learn without any hassle and pressure. If you want more lessons, you can check Ling App.

 

Cantonese And Mandarin: They Are Different

Cantonese is one of the Chinese languages spoken in different Chinese countries. If you want to learn Chinese languages, there are many options to choose from. But, before learning, make sure to know the difference between Cantonese and Mandarin. These two languages have different tones and written characters. Cantonese is mainly spoken in Hong Kong and Guangdong Province, China, while Mandarin is spoken primarily in Mainland China. If you want to know more, you can read the Mandarin versus Cantonese blog.

 

Basic Cantonese Music Vocabulary

1. 音樂 (Jam1 Ngok6)

English Translation: Music

Cantonese Music Vocabulary

The first Cantonese music vocabulary you should learn is music 音樂 (Jam1 Ngok6). One of the common characteristics of the music of different Asian countries like Korean, Japanese, and Chinese music is that they are exposed to various kinds of music. Cantonese music is heavily influenced by traditional Chinese music and popular western music. This might be the globalization talking but, the world barrier between nations in terms of music narrows.

For a long time, Cantonese Operas that feature music, martial arts, dance, and acrobatics have been popular. Of course, when we talk about Hong Kong music, we cannot forget that this former British colony is home to the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, which is, by the way, one of the oldest orchestras in all of Asia. But, what adds variety to Hong Kong music is that it is also infused with contemporary music like Cantopop, Mandarin Pop, and English pop. So, you can relate to whatever type of music you want.

2. 類型 (Leoi3 Jing4)

English Translation: Genre

Another important word related to learning Cantonese music is genre 類型 (Leoi3 Jing4). There are different music genres Hong Kongers enjoy. Here are some musical genres in Cantonese that you can add to your Cantonese music vocabulary.

CantoneseJyutpingEnglish Translation
原音樂jyun4 jam1 ngok6acoustic music
氛圍音樂fan1 wai4 jam1 ngok6ambient music
古典音樂gu2 din2 jam1 ngok6classical music
鄉村音樂hoeng1 cyun1 jam1 ngok6country music
演歌jin2 go1Enka (a Japanese music genre)
電音din6 jam1electronic music
民間音樂man4 gaan1 jam1 ngok6folk music
自由爵士樂zi6 jau4 zoek3 si6 ngok6free jazz
爵士樂zok3 si6 ngok6jazz
嘻哈hei1 haa1hip-hop
歌舞劇go1 mou5 kek6musical
歌劇go1 kek6opera
流行音樂lau4 hang4 jam1 ngok6pop music
後搖滾hau6 jiu4 gwan2post-rock
饒舌音樂kiu2 sit6 jam1 ngok6rap music
搖滾音樂jiu4 gwan2 jam1 ngok6rock music
seng1sounds, voice, volume
出神音樂ceot1 san4 jam1 ngok6trance music
house音樂house jam1 ngok6house music

3. 粵劇 (Jyut6 Kek6)

English Translation: Cantonese Opera

The history of Cantonese Opera can be traced back to the 12th century. This is Hong Kong’s oldest form of music, and it’s also one of the major Chinese opera categories which originated from Southern China. Cantonese Opera has two major kinds – Mou and Man. The Mou Opera emphasizes martial arts while Man focuses on poetry and culture. Cantonese operas depict the culture and philosophies of Chinese people, and most of the plots are based on Chinese myths and classics.

南音 (Naam4 Jam1)

English Translation: Naamyam

Naamyam is another essential word to add to your Cantonese music vocabulary. Cantonese Naamyam is a narrative song that originates from Guangdong Province, China. It is a unique singing tradition where singers perform for an extended or longer period. If you go to any tea houses, restaurants, and brothels in the early to mid-20th, this type was mostly played. The instruments commonly used in this singing tradition accompanying singers are Yehu, Guzheng, and Yangqin.

4. 粵語流行曲 (Jyut6 Jyu5 Lau4 Hang4 Kuk1)

English Translation: Cantopop

After Cantonese traditional music, let’s now go to contemporary. Cantopop is the colloquial word for “Cantonese pop music”. It is also called HK-pop or “Hong Kong popular music,” since this genre was born in Hong Kong. This is the most popular genre among the younger generations and has been around since the 70s. Its fanbase grew larger through time, making it one of the most prominent music genres born in Hong Kong.

There are also other contemporary music genres in Hong Kong, like Mandarin Pop or Mandopop. Although it’s predominant and popular in Mainland China, this has been around Hong Kong since the 50s during the takeover of China.

The 1980s are known as the “Golden Age” or 黃金年代 (wong4 gam1 nin4 doi6) of Cantopop. During those times, the most famous singers are Anita Mui, George Lam, Leslie Cheung, Alan Tam, Sandy Lam, and Danny Chan. Today, singers in Hong Kong are mostly multilingual. They can sing in Cantonese, Mandarin, English, and more.

5. 歌 (Go1)

English Translation: Song

The next Cantonese music vocabulary is the word song 歌 (go1). Today, pop music is dominating the Hong Kong music charts. Here are some top songs in Hong Kong music today.

  1. Finally by Accusefive
  2. Lone Brave by Eason Chan
  3. Mm7 by Jer
  4. Mirror In The Mirror by Keung To
  5. With Me by Jason Chan
  6. Isn’t It Hard Enough For Me by Mischa Ip

6. 歌手 (Go1 Sau2)

English Translation: Singer

Learning to say the word “singer” 歌手 (Go1 Sau2) in Cantonese is a part of Cantonese music vocabulary. Some of the greatest singers in Hong Kong of all time, including the famous singers today, are the following:

  1. Leslie Cheung
  2. Anita Mui
  3. Sam Hui
  4. Alan Tam
  5. Danny Chan
  6. Aaron Kwok
  7. George Lam
  8. Jacky Cheung
  9. Eason Chan
  10. Khalil Fong
  11. Beyond
  12. Sandy Lam
  13. Miriam Yeung
  14. Kay Tse
  15. Kelly Chen

7. 樂器 (Ngok6 Hei3)

English Translation: Musical Instruments

Musical Instruments

Musical instruments are important in Cantonese music, especially Chinese traditional music. In Cantonese opera, the most used Cantonese instruments include strings, percussion, and wind. Playing musical instruments improves performance. Erhu (二胡 ji6 wu2), gaohu (高胡 gou1 wu4), yehu (椰胡 je4 wu4), yangqin (楊琴 joeng4 kam4), pipa (琶 paa4), dizi (笛子 dek6 zi2), and houguan are among the wind instruments and strings, while percussion includes a variety of drums and cymbals. Now that you have learned the commonly used instruments in a traditional Chinese instrument, here are other instruments in Cantonese.

CantoneseJyutpingEnglish Translation
手風琴sau2 fung1 kam4accordion
低音結他dai1 jam1 git3 taa1bass guitar
班卓琴baan1 zoek3 kam4banjo
鐃鈸naau4 bat6cymbals
單簧管daan1 wong4 gun2clarinet
提琴tai4 kam4cello
gu2drum
長笛coeng4 dek2flute
吉他git3 taa1guitar
lo4gong
口琴hau2 kam4harmonica
 豎琴syu6 kam4harp
鋼琴gong3 kam4piano
色士風sik1 si6 fung1saxophone
鈴鼓ling4 gu2tambourine
 長號coeng4 hou6trombone
小提琴siu2 tai4 kam4violin
編磬pin1 hing3xylophone

 

Other Cantonese Music Vocabulary

CantoneseJyutpingEnglish Translation
樂隊ngok6 deoi2band
反拍faan2 paak3backbeat
歇段kit3 dyun6break
粵劇jyut6 kek6Cantonese opera
終止zung1 zi2cadence
和弦wo4 jin4chord
合唱hap6 coeng3chorus
唱詩班coeng3 si1 baan1choir
指揮zi2 fai1conductor
唱片騎師coeng3 pin3 ke4 si1DJ
回音wui4 jam1echo
女歌手neoi5 go1 sau2female singer
律動leot6 dung6groove
和聲wo6 sing1harmony
香港樂壇heong1 gong2 ngok6 taan4Hong Kong Music Industry
純音樂seon4g jam1 ngok6instrumental
即興zik1 hing3improvise
歌詞go1 ci4lyrics
 男歌手naam4 go1 sau2male singer
旋律syun4 leot2melody
米高風mai5 gou1 fung1microphone
dip2music record; CD; plate
音樂專輯jam1 lok6 zyun1 cap1music album
音樂人jam1 ngok6 jan4 musician
MVMVmusic video
序曲zeoi6 kuk1overture
混響wan6 hoeng2reverberate
韻律wan6 leot6rhythm
短樂句dyun2 ngok6 geoi3riff
搖滾樂jiu4 gwan2 ngok6rock n’ roll
搖滾明星jiu4 gwan2 ming4 sing1rockstar
音階jam1 gaai1scale
獨奏duk6 zau3solo
速度cuk1 dou6tempo
織體zik1 tai2texture
主歌zyu2 go1verse
聽音樂teng1 jam1 ngok6listen to music
玩樂器waan2 ngok6 hei3play a musical instrument
我鍾意聽音樂。ngo5 zung1 ji3 teng1 jam1 ngok6.I enjoy listening to music.
 我聽智能手機裡面嘅音樂。ngo5 teng1 zi3 nang4 sau2 gei1 leoi5 min6 ge3 jam1 ngok6.I listen to music on my smartphone.

 

Experience An Innovative Language Learning With Ling App

Are you tired of learning languages in a traditional way? Then, it’s a sign that you need to level up your language learning experience. Make learning fun but meaningful with Ling App. Create a free lifetime account, join millions of users, and learn lessons/vocabulary. Once you have created an account, you can log in/sign your e-mail & password. Remember to take Cantonese lessons at least once a day.

Ling App has varied activities that can help you read, write, comprehend, and speak. Enjoy fun activities like mini-games and quizzes that will keep you engaged while learning. Master your grammar skills with grammar explanations, dialogues, and spaced repetition system. Blog posts are also available to help you learn more about the culture of your target language. So, grab this opportunity and start your next lesson in Cantonese with Ling App now!

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