I consider myself fairly proficient in Music Theory (in English) and I am trying to migrate to Germany. So with some research, I found that the terms look a lot more different than I expected. There's a random H note for some reason and different names for sharps and flats and the scales. I'm finding it really hard to get reliable and complete information online. I just need to know what most of the common concepts are called in German. Could someone help me out?

  • 3
    Other than that, this seems to broad and most of it can possibly be answered by a dictionary. Also what is "most common"? If you could somehow make your question more specific (and you're very welcome to split into multiple questions), I think we can give you better answers. Writing a complete English to German music transfer guide is a bit too much to ask, I'm afraid. Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 17:41
  • related: german.stackexchange.com/q/26839/1487 Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 5:01
  • 3
    I don't agree with the given closing reason. While on the bottom level there are numerous details (bakunin provides a decent summary in their answer), the question seems to be where to find usable resources, which is definitely answerable. I won't re-open the question on my own, but support the re-open when some approval becomes visible.
    – guidot
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 11:04
  • musiklehre.at is a basic music theory website in german language. I think you can take from there what you're missing in terminology
    – king_nak
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 15:27

2 Answers 2


Most terms can be translated with a dictionary. Here are a few pointers about things which probably won't stand out in dictionaries:

What you call "B" is "H" in German, what you call "B-flat" or "Bb" is called "B".

Halftones are named by adding "-es" (=flat) or "-is" (=sharp). i.e. c-sharp is "cis", d-flat is "des". There are a few exceptions, though: "B-flat" is "B" (instead of "hes"), "a-flat" is "as" (instead of "aes"), and "e-flat" is "es" (instead of "ees"). Note that these postfixes are pronounced as separate syllables: "eis" is "eh-is", not "ice", "ah-is", not "ace". Double flats/sharps have two postfixes added: Fbb="feses", C##="cisis"

Notes and Rests
Rests are named like notes of the corresponding length and in German the fraction of the metrum is used: "Viertelpause"/"Viertel(note)" (crotchet rest/quarter note, crotchet), "Achtelpause"/"Achtel(note)" (quaver rest, quaver), etc.. There are no special names for lengths.

Dynamics and other effects
are usually named in Italian anyway: "crescendo", "Fermate", "rubato", "Allegro", ...

Chords and scales
What you call "major" and "minor" are "Dur" and "Moll". Note, though, that german speaking people (especially Jazzers) call a triad with an added sharped seventh (i.e. c-e-g-h) a "major" (pronounced in English) chord. The normal major triad (c-e-g) would be called "C-Dur". A "C-major-neun" would be "c-e-g-h-d". First and second inversions are sometimes called by their intervals: Terzsextakkord is a major chord in first inversion (e-g-c') and Quartsextakkord is a major chord in second inversion (g-c'e').

are called by their Latin names: Prim, Sekund, Terz, Quart(e), Quint(e), Sext(e), Septim(e), Oktave, None, Dezim(e), Undezim(e), Dodezim(e), Tredezim(e). Also notice that we strictly distinguish between "groß-klein" and "vermindert-übermäßig": there is a "große Terz" (c-e) and a "kleine Terz" (c-es), but a "übermäßige Quart" (c-fis, also called Tritonus) and a "verminderte Quint" (c-ges).

  • Could you elaborate on "übermäßig/vermindert" vs "groß/klein"? I thought I had heard the term "kleine Sekunde" before. Do I understand you right that this was wrong, infact?
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 0:08
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    @JonathanScholbach: No, groß/klein is something different from übermäßig/vermindert and both exist. I'm afraid, that is more a music than a language issue. A starting question in Music theory and practice can be found here.
    – guidot
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 7:40
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    @JonathanScholbach groß/klein = major/minor so a "kleine Sekunde" = "minor second", übermäßig/vermindert = "augmented/diminished". Prime, Fourth and Fifth can only be pure, augmented or diminished the rest could not be pure but major/minor or augmented/diminished. And I have no idea why he bakunin called c-cis a verminderte Sekunde, diminished second as c-cis is an augmented prime (it's the same base note of c), if you would write des (d-flat, enharmonic equivalent = same sound different name on equal temp.) instead of cis then it would be a second, though a minor second not a diminished.
    – haxor789
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 9:07

I strongly recommend the lilypond documentation. Even if not intending to typeset something, this should cover the essential information, especially the sections:

  1. Musical terms A-Z
  2. Duration names notes and rests
  3. Pitch names

Note that in the Musical terms section the first line of each keyword page looks harmless, but specifies some known translations in other languages.

Example concert pitch (chosen due to completely unrelated translations):

ES: en Do, tono de concierto, I: intonazione reale, F: tonalité de concert, en ut, D: Kammerton, NL: ?, DK: ?, S: ?, FI: konserttikorkeus.

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