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Pop Music Instruments in German

A few lessons ago, we discussed the names of classical music instruments in German. Let's take a look today at the German names of some of the most common musical instruments used in pop music.

 

We already discussed the piano in the classical instruments lesson, but there are also a number of other kinds of keyboard instruments (das Tasteninstrument) that are used in pop music. They are also called das Keyboard, plural die Keyboards. A person who plays keyboards is der Keyboarder / die Keyboarderin.

 

The Hammond organ is a popular vintage organ that is still much-loved in pop and jazz music. Although Hammond is actually a brand name, it is listed in the German dictionary as a proper German word: die Hammondorgel. Other popular electronic organs from the 1960s, which were produced cheaply by companies such as Farfisa in Italy and Vox in the UK, are often referred to casually—or deprecatingly—as die Schweineorgel, which translates literally to "pig organ"!

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Another popular Tasteninstrument that began to be widely used in the 1970s is the synthesizer (der Synthesizer). It's often referred to casually as der Synthi.

 

Diese ganzen analogen Synthesizer?

All those analog synthesizers?

Caption 115, LOTTE & Max Giesinger: Interview

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Probably the most important instrument in rock music, especially in heavy metal and punk rock music, is the electric guitar, called die elektrische Gitarre (or die Elektrogitarre), or die E-Gitarre for short. Generally, a person who plays guitar is called der Gitarrist / die Gitarristin. A common slang word for the electric guitar, especially among musicians, is die Klampfe. A very old-fashioned term for the guitar is die Zupfgeige, which translates literally to "pluck violin"!

 

So gibt es hier die elektrische Gitarre für den abgebrühten Rockstar.

Thus there is the electric guitar here for the jaded rock star.

Caption 2, Rheinmain im Blick: Musikmesse in Frankfurt

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On the bottom end of the harmonic spectrum, we find the electric bass and upright bass, called die Bassgitarre (or der E-Bass) and der Kontrabass respectively. A person who plays bass is der Bassist / die Bassistin.

 

Sie schafft Platz zu Hause und erfreut die Fans, die bald Burger unter der Bassgitarre futtern können.

She makes room at home and pleases the fans, who will soon be able to scarf down burgers under the bass guitar.

Captions 8-9, Christina Stürmer: ist reif fürs Museum

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Let's look now at the beat, an intrinsic element of most forms of pop music, with the drums at the forefront: das Schlagzeug, or the English-based derivative, die Drums. A person who plays the drums is der Schlagzeuger / die Schlagzeugerin or, perhaps somewhat old-fashioned, der Trommler / die Trommlerin. Again, the English derivative is also available: der Drummer / die Drummerin.

 

Geige ist mir zu langweilig, ich will gleich Schlagzeug spielen.

Violin is too boring for me, I want to play drums right away.

Caption 36, Sons of Sounds: Interview

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Of course, brass instruments have always played a role in pop music, but the most common horn in pop music is probably the saxophone: das Saxofon. A foreign-influenced spelling, das Saxophon, is also acceptable, though the Duden dictionary has das Saxofon as the preferred spelling. A person who plays the saxophone is der Saxofonist / die Saxofonistin, and here too the foreign-influenced spelling is allowed.

 

Ich bin Musiker. Ich spiele Saxofon.

I'm a musician. I play saxophone.

Caption 14, Melanie und Thomas: treffen sich

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Let's not neglect a major aspect of pop music, the one item that makes it possible to play so loudly: the amplifier, in German der Verstärker. A guitar amplifier is der Gitarrenverstärker, a bass amplifier der Bassverstärker, and a keyboard amplifier is der Keyboardverstärker. Vocals, horns, and other acoustic instruments are usually amplified through a microphone: das Mikrofon, or its foreign-influenced spelling variant das Mikrophon—or just das Mikro for short. All of these instruments are usually amplifed on larger stages through a PA system. The proper German dictionary word is die Beschallungsanlage, but as Wikipedia will attest, in common parlance, it's most commonly called die PA-Anlage.

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch the videos above relating to musical instruments. You can also search for the names of the instruments and find other videos. Find a tandem partner in your class and make up some sentences in German using these musical instrument words, then compare what you both came up with.

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