ESL Music Vocabulary

Country Western Music
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This is a type of music that comes from folk music. It is more upbeat and faster than folk music. Country western is popular in the southern regions of the US. Country performers generally wear cowboy hats and tight jeans and are from small working class/farming towns in the south. The songs range from beer drinking to broken hearts to family and god. Some major country western artists in the last few decades are Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks.

“When I’m in Texas I love to see country western bands. They are everywhere.”

Classic Rock
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This is music from the 1960’s to the 1970’s. During this period of time rock music was huge and some of the best and most influential bands were in their prime. These songs and bands are still popular even though many of the bands have long since split or even died. The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Led Zepplin are three of the biggest classic rock bands.

“It is amazing that kids are still listening to classic rock.”

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Heavy Metal
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This is rock music that is extremely intense, loud and fast. The heavy metal artists tend to wear black leather and they have long hair. The songs are usually about pain, death and torture. The 1980’s is when this type of rock was in its prime, although it is still out there now. Metallica and Iron Maiden are examples of well known bands in this category.

“Before a big game he listens to heavy metal music to get excited and pumped up.”

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Hardcore Rap
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This is a type of rap music that is intense, angry and full of offensive language. The topics are usually drugs, prostitutes and gang life.

“Most parents don’t want their kids listening to hardcore rap.”

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Glam Rock
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This is rock and roll music played by men with make up and long hair. They have a feminine look to them. It was very popular during the 1980’s. Poison, Cinderella and Winger are examples of bands in this category.

“It is funny to see old glam rock videos where the guys are dressed as women.”

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Easy Listening
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Easy listening is music that is calm and not offensive. It is the kind of music that would be played in a doctor’s office as background music that doesn’t draw any attention.

“This easy listening music is boring me. Put on something harder.”

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Grunge
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This is a style of rock music that mixes punk rock and heavy metal that came about in the early 1990’s. It is said to have originated in Seattle, WA with bands like Nirvana and Sound Garden. The artists sing about the frustrations of life and being young in the US. As opposed to the leather and flare of heavy metal and punk bands grunge artists wear sloppy old clothing like worn out jeans and flannel shirts.

“A lot of angry kids can relate to grunge.”

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Acid Rock
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This is rock that has to do with psychedelic drugs that were introduced to the main stream in the 1960’s. The fans and the artists of acid rock are into smoking marijuana or taking LSD, the two most popular psychedelic drugs. The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane are examples of major bands on this genre.

Acid rock bands are big among the drug using crowd.”

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Teeny Bopper Music
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This is music played by artists that appeal to younger audiences. The artists are young, good looking and dance a lot. The songs are usually about love, dating and topics that teenagers are interested in. Music critics and most adults don’t take these artists seriously. Britney Spears and N Sync are two popular artists in this category.

“At the junior high dance they play mostly teeny bopper music.”

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Techno Music
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This is a style of music that is driven by electronic sounds and is for the purpose of dancing. There are usually not lyrics involved in this music. It is popular among the younger stylish crowd.

“When her friends want to go out and dance they go to bars that play techno music.”

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A Rave
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This is an all night dancing party where techno music is played. These parties are many times thrown in a large location that fits many people. Drugs are a big part of this scene. Young people will take drugs like Ecstasy to enhance the experience. Raves are banned in some areas because of the notorious drug use among the young party goers.

“Juan’s parents won’t let him go to a rave because they are worried about the drug use prevalent at these parties.”

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House Band
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This is a band that plays frequently at a certain bar or music club. The band considers this location their home base.

“Let’s go to The Whiskey. I love their house band. They can play anything.”

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Head Banger
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This term refers to a music fan that likes heavy metal and other “hard core” intense music. These fans actually throw their head back and forth to the rhythm of the music. Head bangers typically are males with long hair and beat up clothing.

“The Metallica concerts are always full of head bangers.”

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Moshing
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This is a style of dancing popular with the heavy metal/grunge/punk crowd. The mostly male participants violently crash into each other in a wild angry dance. Moshing is done in the front area of the live music venue in a place called the mosh pit.

“If you are going to watch the show in the mosh pit you need to be ready to get hit. Concert goers who are moshing love violent contact with others.”

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One Hit Wonder

This term describes a band that puts out one hugely popular song that is played everywhere. Once this song’s popularity dies down the band fades away. They don’t put out any more songs that are popular.

“Do you remember that song “Driving” from the summer of 02’. It was by a one hit wonder band that is no longer around.”

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Super Group
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This is a term to describe a band composed of musicians that were famous before the formation of their “super group”. Musicians that are part of a very successful band will sometimes leave the band for whatever reason. Many times they will form another band with fellow stars of rock music.

“The guitarist for my favorite band left to join another huge band. They are now a super group.”

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A Cover
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If a band plays a popular song written by another artist it is called a “cover”. Many bands will cover classic rock songs.

“His band plays all covers. They don’t have any original music.”

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Gig
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When a band lines up a show at a certain club,bar or even an arena it is called a “gig”. These are usually paid performances and the amount paid depends on the popularity of the group.

“My band has a huge gig at the Saxon Pub tonight.”



Worksheets to Practice These Words

  • Script for Music Vocabulary Listening Activity
  • Music Vocabulary Listening Exercise
  • Music Vocabulary Fill in the Blanks
  • Music Word Order
  • Music Vocabulary Fill in the Blanks
  • Matching for Music Words