French Musical Terms

The other common languages for musical terms are German and Italian.

Some of the words below have an audio file attached so you can hear how it is pronounced. Just click on the speaker icon.

Remember, there is often more than one way to pronounce some words. The examples given here are just one suggested pronunciation.

Musical Term   Abbreviation English Examples and information
à     at; to e.g. peu à peu = little by little
amour amour   love  
animé animé   animated; lively  
apaisé apaisé   calmed  
assez assez   enough; sufficiently  
avec avec   with  
cédez cédez   yield; relax the speed  
comme comme   as; similar to e.g. come prima = as before
douce douce   sweetly Also doux
emporté emporté   fiery; impetuous  
en animant en animant   becoming more lively  
en cédant en cédant   yielding  
en dehors en dehors   prominent A direction to make the melody stand out.
en mesure en mesure   in time  
en pressant en pressant   hurrying on  
en retenant en retenant   holding back  
en serrant en serrant   becoming quicker  
et     and  
flottant flottant   floating  
gracieux gracieux   graceful  
joyeux joyeux   joyful  
légèrement légèrement   light  
lent lent   slow  
librement librement   freely  
lointain lointain   distant  
lourd lourd   heavy  
mais mais   but  
modéré modéré   at a moderate speed  
moins moins   less  
peu peu   little  
plus plus   more  
presser presser   hurry  
ralentir ralentir   slow down  
retenu retenu   held back  
sans sans   without e.g. sans ralentir = without slowing down
sautillé sautillé   springing  
sec     crisp; dry Suppress the sound as quickly as possible - do not allow it to reverberate.
seul seul   alone  
serrer serrer   hurry; quicken  
sonore sonore   resonant; with rich tone  
sous sous   under  
très très   very  
un     one  
vif vif   lively  
vite vite   quick  
vivement vivement   lively