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French Music Theory Vocabulary

French Music Theory Vocabulary

lexique du solfège

If you’re a musician and are interacting with the French on your work then it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with some French music theory terms. The following vocabulary list includes the names of all the notes and should get you started. At the bottom of the page there’s a link to a French site with French-to-French explanations.

French music theory vocabulary

Names of notes

Interestingly, the French use “do, rei, mi” etc. to refer to individual lettered musical notes.

  • dièse sharp
  • bémol flat
  • la A
  • si B
  • ut/do C
  • D
  • mi E
  • fa F
  • sol G

Music theory terms

Many of the following musical terms are almost the same in English.

  • une altération accidental
  • un arpège arpeggio
  • la clé de fa, clef de fa bass clef
  • la note fondamentale bass note
  • la cadence cadence
  • un accord chord
  • le cycle des quintes circle of fifths
  • la clé, clef clef, key
  • une quinte diminuée diminished fifth
  • une dominante dominant chord
  • un accord étendu extended chord
  • gamme descendante falling scale
  • une quinte fifth
  • un bémol flat
  • la clé de sol G clef, treble clef
  • un demi-ton half step
  • une intervalle harmonique harmonic interval
  • la harmonie harmony
  • un ton aigu high pitch
  • le diapason instrument tuning
  • l’armature, armure (f) key signature
  • le registre grave low pitch
  • une gamme majeure major scale
  • une intervalle mélodique melodic interval
  • une mélodie melody
  • une gamme mineure minor scale
  • le mode mode
  • le solfège, théorie musicale music theory
  • une octave octave
  • un intervalle rest, interval
  • une gamme ascendante rising scale
  • une gamme scale
  • une septième seventh
  • un dièse sharp
  • une tierce third
  • transposer to transpose
  • la tonique tonic, key note
  • l’unisson (m) unison
  • un ton whole step

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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