Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Music makes the people come together!


Music is an important part of culture and traditions.  
English and music evolve constantly and have a tendency to affect each other; 
a surprising number of idioms that relate to musical instruments, types of music, or musical performance.

These expressions are really good fun and very common.
Learn them and impress your friends!

Chin Music
Meaningless talk is “chin music”. 
“Stop the chin music and give me some solutions.” 
“His apology was little more than chin music.”
Face the Music
“Facing the music” describes dealing with the consequences of one’s actions.
If someone has to face the music, they have to accept the consequences of doing something wrong.
“Inga did not study and will face the music when her grades are posted.” 
“After eating nothing but cheeseburgers for years, Bertha was now facing the music.”

Music to my Ears 
This idiom emphasizes extremely pleasant news.
If something someone says is music to your ears, it is exactly what you want to hear.
“When our boss announced the three day weekend, it was music to our ears.”
“I was afraid the battery was dead, but when I heard my car start, it was music to my ears.”

Set Something to Music

A musician writing a tune for lyrics is “setting the lyrics to music”. 
An example of creativity in English idioms and expressions, it can also be used as a sarcastic response to criticism/complaining or as a positive reply to good news/compliments.

Example statement: “You’re ugly, your haircut is horrid, and your breath smells.” 
Reply: “Wow, you should set that to music.”

Example statement: “Your tests are negative; you’re cancer-free.” 
Reply: “Set that to music, Doc!”

Elevator Music

This idiom refers to popular tunes reorganized into instrumentals and can also describe soft jazz and “easy listening” music. It is played in doctor/dentist offices, on “hold” on the telephone, and in malls.
“The elevator music in my doctor’s office makes me sleepy.” 
“Phil laughed when he realized that genuine elevator music was playing inside the elevator.” 


Fit as a fiddle
It means: in very good health. If you are fit as a fiddle, you are in perfect health.
"She plays tennis twice a week – she's as fit as a fiddle."
"You may feel sick now, but after a few days of rest and plenty of liquids, you'll be fit as a fiddle."

Grandson: "Are you sure you'll be able to climb all these stairs?"
Grandmother: "Of course! I feel as fit as a fiddle today."

Play second fiddle
It means be lower down in rank than someone else.
If you play second fiddle, you take a subordinate role behind someone more important. 
"He plays second fiddle to the CEO."

Fiddle while Rome burns

If people are fiddling while Rome burns, they are wasting their time on futile things while problems threaten to destroy them.


Blow/toot your own horn
If you blow your own horn, you boast about your achievements and abilities.
('Blow your own trumpet' is an alternative form.)

Blow your own trumpet
If someone blows their own trumpet, they boast about their talents and achievements. ('Blow your own horn' is an alternative form.)

Trumpet something 
It means to broadcast the news loudly
"He keeps trumpeting his promotion. It's a bit annoying."


Saved by the bell
It means to be saved from something at the last minute

Ring a Bell 
If something rings a bell, it sounds familiar or you think you've heard it before.
“I don’t know him, but his face rings a bell.” 
“This song rings a bell; did I hear it in a movie?”

Clear as a bell
If something is as clear as a bell, it is very clear or easy to understand.

Bells on (USA) 
To be somewhere with bells on means to arrive there happy and delighted to attend.

You can't unring a bell
This means that once something has been done, you have to live with the consequences as it can't be undone.


See you on the big drum
A good night phrase to children.

Drum something in 
It means keep repeating something
"She drummed in the importance of good manners to her children."

Drum up support/business
It means try and get support/extra business
"They went on TV to drum up support for their new idea."

Bang the drum
It means speak in support of something
"We're banging the drum for women's rights."

March to the beat of your own drum
If people march to the beat of their own drum, they do things the way they want without taking other people into consideration.


Play it by Ear 
Talented musicians do not need sheet music and can “play by ear”, but this also indicates uncertainty in unpredictable situations.
If you play by ear, you deal with something in an impromptu manner, without guidelines or rules. If you play it by ear, you don't plan ahead but you do whatever seems best at the time depending on the situation. 
“I’m unsure how Martha will react to the new puppy, so lets play it by ear.” 
“Until the politician understood how the voters felt, he played it by ear.”

Be music to someone's ears 
It means say something that others want to hear
"Giving us all a day off was music to our ears!"

Play something by ear 
It means not plan something
"I don't know what I'm going to say – I'll just play it by ear."


For a song
If you buy or sell something for a song, it is very cheap.
“As the car had no engine, Fred was able to buy it for a song.” 
“Since Rudy got the engagement ring for a song, he could spend more on his tuxedo.”

Make a song and dance about something

If you make a song and dance about something, you make a big deal out of, or a fuss over, something that isn't very important.
"She made a song and dance out of organizing the flowers. Just as well we didn't give her anything more complicated to do!"

Swan song
A swan song is a final act before dying or ending something.

Change your tune
“Changing your tune” emphasizes a change of mind/heart.
If someone changes their ideas or the way they talk about them, they change their tune.
If you change your tune, you change your opinion about something or your attitude towards someone.
“Frankie wanted to wear a skirt but changed her tune when it started snowing.” 
“Initially, he didn’t like her, but he changed his tune when he saw her kindness.”

Call the tune
The person who calls the tune makes the important decisions about something.

Fine tuning
Small adjustments to improve something or to get it working are called fine tuning.

March to the same tune
It means all follow the same plan/say the same thing
"I think the problem with this company is that the management don't march to the same tune."

Sing from the same song sheet 
It means say the same thing as others (an alternative to "march to the same tune") 

Whistle for it
If someone says that you can whistle for something, they are determined to ensure that you don't get it.

Wet your whistle
It means to drink something (alcoholic)
"Come and wet your whistle!"

Whistle-stop tour
A whistle-stop tour is when someone visits a number of places quickly, not stopping for long.

Whistling Dixie
If someone is whistling Dixie, they talk about things in a more positive way than the reality.

Whistling in the dark
If someone is whistling in the dark, they believe in a positive result, even though everybody else is sure it will not happen. 


And all that jazz 
This idiom means that everything related or similar is included. 
Example: They sell televisions and all that jazz.

Jazz something up 
It means to make something more interesting
"We're jazzing up our new home page. What do you think?"

Jam session
Musicians playing unrehearsed and for fun is a “jam session”, and it can indicate gathering for the purposes of brainstorming.
“Norbert and his buddies got together with their instruments for a jam session.” 
“On Wednesday, everyone assigned to the new project will stay late for a jam session.”

Know the score 
It means understand the rules/situation
"You don't need to tell me how to behave at the meeting. I know the score!"

Hit the right note
If you hit the right note, you speak or act in a way that has a positive effect on people. ('Strike the right note' is also used.)

Be pitch-perfect (be note-perfect)
It means to be able to perform/say something perfectly
"She was pitch-perfect in her presentation."

It takes two to tango
This idiom is used to suggest that when things go wrong, both sides are involved and neither side is completely innocent.

Pull out all the stops
If you pull out all the stops, you do everything you possibly can to achieve the result you want.

Strike a chord
If strikes a chord, it is familiar to you, reminds you of something or is connected to you somehow.
Give a virtuoso performance 
It means do something perfectly
"He gave a virtuoso performance in his speech. All the audience were moved."