30 Useful Music Idioms, Sayings and Phrases in English

Last Updated on November 17, 2023

In this article, we will explore some of the most common music idioms and phrases in English. From “playing second fiddle” to “beating the drum for something,” we will delve into the origins and meanings of these expressions and provide examples of how to use them in everyday conversation. 

List of Music Idioms and Sayings

  • (It’s) Not Over Till the Fat Lady Sings
  • (To) Play Second Fiddle
  • 4-On-The-Floor
  • All That Jazz
  • Beat the Drum for (Something)
  • Blow the whistle
  • Blow Your Own Trumpet
  • Call the tune
  • Change One’s Tune
  • Chin music
  • Dance to Someone’s Tune
  • Elevator music
  • Face the music
  • For a song
  • It Takes Two to Tango
  • Jam session
  • Jump on the Bandwagon
  • March to the beat of your own drum
  • Music to My Ears
  • Play it by ear
  • Ring a bell
  • Second Stringer
  • Set something to music
  • Sing a Different Tune
  • Strike a chord
  • Swan song
  • Tone-Deaf
  • Toot Your Own Horn
  • Whistle in the Dark
  • Whistling Dixie

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Music Idioms with Meaning and Examples

Music Idioms and Sayings

(It’s) Not Over Till the Fat Lady Sings

  • Meaning: The outcome is uncertain until the very end.
  • Example: We don’t know who will win the game yet. It’s not over till the fat lady sings.

(To) Play Second Fiddle

  • Meaning: To be in a subordinate position.
  • Example: I don’t like to play second fiddle to anyone.

4-On-The-Floor

  • Meaning: A steady and consistent beat in music.
  • Example: The DJ played a 4-on-the-floor beat all night long.

Music Idioms and Sayings (A, B)

List of music phrases and idioms that start with A and B.

All That Jazz

  • Meaning: And everything else that goes with it.
  • Example: I need to pack my clothes, toiletries, and all that jazz before we leave.

Beat the Drum for (Something)

  • Meaning: To promote or support something.
  • Example: Let’s beat the drum for this new product and get people excited about it.

Blow the whistle

  • Meaning: To report wrongdoing or illegal activities.
  • Example: The employee blew the whistle on the company’s unethical practices.

Blow Your Own Trumpet

  • Meaning: To boast or brag about oneself.
  • Example: He’s always blowing his own trumpet and it’s really annoying.

Music Idioms and Sayings (C)

List of music phrases and idioms that start with C.

Call the tune

  • Meaning: To be in charge or in control.
  • Example: The CEO calls the tune around here.

Change One’s Tune

  • Meaning: To change one’s opinion or attitude.
  • Example: He used to hate sushi, but now he’s changed his tune and loves it.

Chin music

  • Meaning: Idle talk or gossip.
  • Example: I don’t want to hear any more chin music. Let’s get down to business.

Music Idioms and Sayings (D, E)

List of music phrases and idioms that start with D and E.

Dance to Someone’s Tune

  • Meaning: To do what someone else wants or to be controlled by someone else.
  • Example: He’s always dancing to his boss’s tune and never stands up for himself.

Elevator music

  • Meaning: Background music that is unobtrusive and often heard in public places.
  • Example: I hate elevator music. It’s so boring.

Music Idioms and Sayings (F)

List of music phrases and idioms that start with F.

Face the music

  • Meaning: To accept the consequences of one’s actions.
  • Example: He knew he was going to get fired, but he had to face the music.

For a song

  • Meaning: Very cheaply.
  • Example: I bought this antique vase for a song at the thrift store.

Music Idioms and Sayings (I, J)

List of music phrases and idioms that start with I and J.

It Takes Two to Tango

  • Meaning: Both parties are responsible for a situation.
  • Example: The argument was not just his fault. It takes two to tango.

Jam session

  • Meaning: An informal gathering of musicians to play music together.
  • Example: We had a great jam session last night with some friends.

Jump on the Bandwagon

  • Meaning: To join a popular trend or movement.
  • Example: Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and buying the latest smartphone.

Music Idioms and Sayings (M)

List of music phrases and idioms that start with M.

March to the beat of your own drum

  • Meaning: To do things in one’s own way.
  • Example: She doesn’t care what others think and marches to the beat of her own drum.

Music to My Ears

  • Meaning: Something that is pleasant to hear.
  • Example: Hearing that I got the job was music to my ears.

Music Idioms and Sayings (P, R)

List of music phrases and idioms that start with P and R.

Play it by ear

  • Meaning: To improvise or make decisions as you go.
  • Example: We don’t have a set plan for the weekend. Let’s just play it by ear.

Ring a bell

  • Meaning: To sound familiar or to be recognized.
  • Example: His name rings a bell, but I can’t remember where I know him from.

Music Idioms and Phrases (S)

List of music sayings and idioms that start with S.

Second Stringer

  • Meaning: A person who is not as important or skilled as others.
  • Example: He’s a second stringer and doesn’t get much playing time.

Set something to music

  • Meaning: To compose music for a poem or lyrics.
  • Example: He set the famous Shakespeare sonnet to music.

Sing a Different Tune

  • Meaning: To change one’s behavior or attitude.
  • Example: He threatened to quit, but when he saw the consequences, he sang a different tune.

Strike a chord

  • Meaning: To resonate emotionally with someone.
  • Example: His story struck a chord with me and I felt really moved.

Swan song

  • Meaning: A final performance or act before retiring.
  • Example: The singer’s last concert was her swan song.

Music Idioms and Phrases (T)

List of music sayings and idioms that start with T.

Tone-Deaf

  • Meaning: Someone who is unable to understand or appreciate music or has no sense of pitch.
  • Example: John can’t sing a tune to save his life; he’s completely tone-deaf.

Toot Your Own Horn

  • Meaning: Boast or brag about yourself, your achievements, or your abilities.
  • Example: I don’t like people who toot their own horn all the time; it’s annoying and shows a lack of humility.

Music Idioms and Phrases (W)

List of music sayings and idioms that start with W.

Whistle in the Dark

  • Meaning: Try to remain cheerful or optimistic in a difficult or frightening situation.
  • Example: Even though she was lost in the woods, she tried to whistle in the dark to keep her spirits up.

Whistling Dixie

  • Meaning: Talk about something unrealistic or untrue; to be foolish or naive.
  • Example: If you think you can win the lottery without buying a ticket, you’re whistling Dixie.

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