50+ Easy Cantonese Music Vocabulary
Original blog post: https://ling-app.com/yue/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
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.
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.
- Finally by Accusefive
- Lone Brave by Eason Chan
- Mm7 by Jer
- Mirror In The Mirror by Keung To
- With Me by Jason Chan
- 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:
- Leslie Cheung
- Anita Mui
- Sam Hui
- Alan Tam
- Danny Chan
- Aaron Kwok
- George Lam
- Jacky Cheung
- Eason Chan
- Khalil Fong
- Sandy Lam
- Miriam Yeung
- Kay Tse
- Kelly Chen
7. 樂器 (Ngok6 Hei3)
English Translation: 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.
Other Cantonese Music Vocabulary
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