Definition of music in US English:



  • 1Vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.

    ‘couples were dancing to the music’
    ‘baroque music’
    • ‘His voice is strong and steady and captures all the emotion laced in his music.’
    • ‘Baroque music like this requires a distinguished ensemble with virtuosi performers.’
    • ‘The couple have a shared interest in country and western music and line dancing.’
    • ‘Participants should come with a prepared piece of baroque solo violin music.’
    • ‘The audience was treated to a wonderful evening of music and song presented by the school's bands and choirs.’
    • ‘After the wining and dining the floor was cleared and dancing and music and party pieces filled the afternoon.’
    • ‘If the sounds in music do not combine in a way that excites interest, then there is no reason to pay attention.’
    • ‘The choir will be performing a range of different musical styles from show tunes and pop songs to church music.’
    • ‘An Indonesian dancer created his own movements to a song in Carnatic music.’
    • ‘I feel that the tradition of the song and of instrumental music are completely different.’
    • ‘The evening will include a varied programme of music from folk songs to show numbers.’
    • ‘Compared to these two wonderful pieces of music the other four songs on the album are horrible.’
    • ‘It's one of my favourite pieces of music, a love song without words.’
    • ‘All this is linked by a haunting soundscape of music and song delivered by dishevelled musicians clad in dressing gowns.’
    • ‘Local instrumental and vocal music is very popular, as are songs from other Arab countries.’
    • ‘Their music had edge, melody, and incredible vocals - all rare in most of the bands that night.’
    • ‘He enjoyed music, especially traditional music and the old songs and ballads.’
    • ‘Only a few young music directors try to combine music with good lyrics which match the mood and theme of the story.’
    • ‘It has been said that in Schubert's music the melody stands for life and the harmony for death.’
    • ‘What you do get, however, is a sequence of eleven pieces of music of astonishing variety.’
    tune, air, strain, theme, subject, line, part, song, refrain, jingle, piece
    notes, strains, tones, chords, sound
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The art or science of composing or performing music.
      ‘he devoted his life to music’
      • ‘She planned to study music at university, but her family doctor advised her to do law instead and she took his advice.’
      • ‘As he came towards the end of his school career in 1920 he realised that he could not pursue both music and science.’
      • ‘We often think of music as expressing emotions, and research has backed this notion up.’
      • ‘Ask any musician and they will tell you that music is about expression and conveying emotion.’
      • ‘She thinks she might go on to study either music or maths at university.’
      • ‘She started to play the clarinet and studied music at university in Wolverhampton.’
      • ‘After losing his mother to cancer, he took to music to vent his emotions.’
      • ‘There is plenty of available data to support why children should take music lessons.’
      • ‘It's a study of music, culture, society and young women in the nineties and it is written so clearly and accessibly.’
      • ‘I never thought I would perform professionally and I went to university to study music.’
      • ‘The teachers knew that combining music and art would be very enticing to these students.’
      • ‘Expression of music through instrument or voice differs from culture to culture.’
      • ‘He bemoans the shortage of trained music teachers and a paucity of school music lessons.’
      • ‘Some formal singing and music lessons paid off and she is firmly on the path to success.’
      • ‘He combined his interests in music and literature with first class science.’
      • ‘Undergoing a major life change prior to beginning music study as an adult also is common.’
      • ‘Homework demands increase throughout the school years, and music lessons and clubs may need to be rescheduled.’
      • ‘It will have designated classrooms for science, art and music and specially-equipped toilets.’
      • ‘He then decided to take voice and music theory lessons with the same tutor I had many many years ago.’
      • ‘Ultimately she would like to branch out into designing CD covers, combining her love of music and art.’
    2. 1.2 A sound perceived as pleasingly harmonious.
      ‘the background music of softly lapping water’
      stress, tension, nervous tension, anxiety
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  • 2The written or printed signs representing vocal or instrumental sound.

    ‘Tony learned to read music’
    • ‘Auditions are quick and painless and an ability to read music is not essential.’
    • ‘How envious I am of those who can read music and make musical instruments come alive.’
    • ‘An ability to read music is not required, but a strong spirit of commitment is heartily welcome.’
    • ‘Unlike some methods, the student is taught to read music and practice rhythm from day one.’
    • ‘The choirmaster taught me how to read music and sing with discipline.’
    • ‘People taking part don't need to be able to read music and don't have to play alone unless they want to.’
    • ‘Participants do not need to be able to read music or to have sung with a choir before.’
    • ‘His computer held a program which let him write down music and print it out, and it also acted as a database for tunes.’
    • ‘Mahler wrote nothing but music and letters: no essay, memoir, treatise or manifesto.’
    • ‘It has become like a musician being able to sight read music.’
    • ‘Kim, whose dad used to be in a band, has been trying to find someone to fine-tune his skills and teach him to read music.’
    • ‘If you're going to be a music critic, you need to know how to read music, don't you?’
    • ‘It was never a problem for him to learn difficult charts without even being able to read music.’
    • ‘Of course, many of the technicians knew perfectly well how to read music but they could not admit it.’
    • ‘I'm of the personal opinion that anyone who writes a bit of music with six flat signs is just plain showing off.’
    • ‘I have found that with focus I can read music with virtually no trouble at all.’
    • ‘However, if you've never read music before, it still takes a bit of getting used to.’
    • ‘His eldest son went to the Royal Academy of Music, even though he couldn't read music at the time - he just had a great ear for it.’
    1. 2.1 The score or scores of a musical composition or compositions.
      ‘the music was open on a stand’
      • ‘He could always churn out a couple of pieces on a piano even without his music.’
      • ‘It also enables local societies to borrow extensive collections of music scores for performances.’
      • ‘The industry is seeing more and more teachers buying from outside suppliers of print music and instruments through the Internet, mail order catalogues, and other retailers.’
      printed music, notes, score, part, engraving
      View synonyms


  • music to one's ears

    • Something that is pleasant or gratifying to hear or discover.

      ‘the commission's report was music to the ears of the administration’
      • ‘Even an acknowledgement that ‘mistakes were made ‘- a notorious passive-voice, bureaucratic quasi-evasion of responsibility - would be music to our ears just about now.’’
      • ‘For tax directors who complain of a cacophony of regulation, such language must be music to their ears.’
      • ‘When we hear politicians talking about teaching people to be parents, that's music to our ears.’
      • ‘I've been advocating this for decades so it's music to my ears.’
      • ‘Gentlemanly expressions of abhorrence, uttered in the tones of the best British regiments, were music to their ears, and my father would repeat them in mimicry until his death at the age of 92.’
      • ‘Retirement is no longer music to his ears and he is greatly concerned about the next 10 years to be spent in retirement.’
      • ‘You gave it your best shot, and you lost - big time. The power you thought was your birthright has eluded you yet again, and your misery is music to my ears.’
      • ‘It's a risk - but my bet is that the sound of politicians being themselves and standing for what they believe in, even when it runs contrary to the party line, may be music to their ears.’
      • ‘It was one of my goals when I started, you see, so that's music to my ears, to hear someone say that.’
      • ‘And this is why it was music to my ears when I heard the President today say that he believes in after school programs, that he believes in taking care of those kids.’


Middle English: from Old French musique, via Latin from Greek mousikē (tekhnē) ‘(art) of the Muses’, from mousa ‘muse’.