Some people say that life without music would be like life without air. Music is certainly a vital part of any culture. Music, together with language, is what distinguishes cultures and habits. So it’s only natural that idioms would be created around the theme of music.
The English language is full of such idioms and as I am feeling particularly musical at the moment (no, I don’t sing or play a musical instrument before you ask,) I thought I’d share some of these music idioms with you.
And what better way to do this than to share this fabulous infographic prepared by Kaplan International. You can find this infographic here on the Kaplan website. I love the creative and humorous way the idioms are shown here.
Kaplan show 8 idioms and I’ve taken the liberty to add 2 more to the list.
Here are some examples of how they are used in English:
1. Elevator Music – Pleasant and sometimes annoying music that is played in public places
“Apart from finding shopping malls boring, Keith finds the elevator music that is played particularly irritating”.
2. Ring a bell – If something rings a bell it reminds you of something even though you cannot remember it very well.
“Yes, the song rings a bell but I am not sure exactly where I’ve heard it before”.
3. For a song – when you buy or a sell something very cheaply
” I bought this car for a song“.
4. Like a broken record - someone who repeats the same thing over and over again (very annoying)
“I’ve understood you want me to clean the bathroom. Stop going on like a broken record!”
5. Blow your own trumpet - boasting about your talents and successes
“Sometimes it is not a bad thing to blow your own trumpet. After all, if you don’t, who else will?”
6. Jam session - playing improvised music in an impromptu setting. This could happen at a dinner party with friends.
“After dinner, Tom and Harry got their guitars out and started a jam session. It was wonderful.”
7. Call the tune – to be in a position of authority to give orders and make important decisions
“Peter was always the person who called the tune in our team.”
( There is also another idiom “to call the shots” that has a similar meaning)
8. Blow the whistle – to report an illegal or unacceptable activity to the authorities.
“Janet came under a lot of pressure from her colleagues when she blew the whistle on what was going on in the bank”
(a whistle blower is the noun – “more recognition needs to be given to the courage it takes to be a whistle blower“.)
9. Music to one’s ears – to hear exactly what you want to hear
“The ringing sound of the cash tills is music to my ears!”
10. Face the music - accept punishment for something
“There’s not a lot we can do, so we are going to have to face the music“
(Fred Astaire used this idiom in a film and changed it to “Let’s face the music and dance”. The music was written by Irving Berlin and is a classic.)
And finally, let’s finish this post with some music. Here are Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing to Let’s Face the Music and Dance sung by the one and only Nat King Cole. Enjoy!
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Ciao for now