100 Best Idioms About Music

Idioms are these cool sayings that don’t mean what the words actually say, but we all get what they mean.

And guess what? There are a bunch of idioms that use music as a way to talk about life, emotions, and even tricky situations. So, tune in, and let’s strike a chord by diving into the world of musical idioms. It’s gonna be a jam session for your brain!

Idioms for Everyday Conversations

1. March to the Beat of Your Own Drum

This idiom means doing things your own way and not worrying about what other people think. It’s like when everyone is marching in a parade to the same drumbeat, but you decide to march to your own different beat. It encourages individuality.

2. Face the Music

When you have to face the music, you’re dealing with the consequences of your actions. Imagine you’re on stage and the music starts—there’s no running away; you have to perform no matter what happened before.

3. Like a Broken Record

If someone is repeating the same thing over and over again, they are like a broken record. Back in the days of vinyl records, if there was a scratch, the needle might get stuck and play the same part repeatedly.

4. Strike a Chord

This idiom means that something has touched you emotionally or feels relatable to you. Think of how a certain chord in a song can make you feel a particular emotion; that’s what this phrase is all about.

5. Blow Your Own Trumpet

When you blow your own trumpet, you’re bragging or showing off. It’s like you’re playing a trumpet to announce how great you are, even if nobody asked you to.

6. Play It by Ear

This means to improvise or go with the flow. Imagine you’re a musician who doesn’t have sheet music; you just play whatever feels right in the moment.

7. In the Same Key

Being in the same key means that two or more people are in agreement or on the same page. Musically, if everyone is playing in the same key, everything harmonizes well.

8. Off-Key

If something is off-key, it’s incorrect or inappropriate. In music, being off-key means you’re singing or playing the wrong notes, making it sound bad.

9. Drum Up Support

This means to gather support or enthusiasm, like a drummer trying to energize a crowd. If you’re drumming up support, you’re getting people excited about something.

10. Change Your Tune

Changing your tune means you’ve changed your opinion or attitude. One moment, you might be singing a sad song, but then you switch to a happy one—your tune has changed!

11. Pull Out All the Stops

This means you’re putting in maximum effort to achieve something. In a pipe organ, “stops” control the volume and tone, so pulling them all out would make the music as grand as possible.

12. It Takes Two to Tango

This means that some situations need two people to participate or be responsible. A tango dance can’t happen with just one person; both have to be involved.

13. Ring a Bell

If something “rings a bell,” it means it’s familiar to you, like a song you’ve heard before but can’t quite a place.

14. Music to My Ears

This idiom means that something is very pleasant or welcome to hear, like a favorite song coming on the radio.

15. Harped On

When someone “harps on” a subject, they talk about it too much, to the point where it becomes annoying. Just like a harpist playing the same note over and over, it can get irritating.

16. Fiddle While Rome Burns

This means to waste time doing unimportant things while ignoring serious problems. The phrase comes from the story that the Roman Emperor Nero played his fiddle while Rome was burning.

17. Sing a Different Tune

This means that someone has changed their opinion, usually to the opposite of what it was before. It’s like changing the radio from country music to rock.

18. Banging the Drum

This means you’re continuously promoting or supporting a cause or idea, like a drummer keeping a steady beat to keep people’s attention.

19. Tone-Deaf

Being “tone-deaf” means not understanding or being insensitive to how others feel. It’s like a musician who can’t tell when they’re playing the wrong notes.

20. Whistle a Happy Tune

This means to stay positive, even if you’re scared or worried. Whistling a happy tune is like trying to keep your spirits up by focusing on happy music.

Funny Music Idioms

21. Play Second Fiddle

When you’re playing second fiddle, you’re not the star of the show; you’re in a supporting role. Imagine being in a band where everyone listens to the lead guitarist, and you’re just in the background.

22. Pluck a String or Two

This means to influence or manipulate a situation, usually sneakily. It’s like playing a guitar, but you’re pulling the strings of a situation instead.

23. Swan Song

Your swan song is your final performance or last hurrah. It’s like a musician who plays one final, awesome show before retiring.

24. Beat Around the Bush

If you’re beating around the bush, you’re avoiding the main point. Imagine a drummer who keeps hitting the edges of the drum but never the center.

25. Blow the Roof Off

This means to perform really well, so much so that you metaphorically blow the roof off the venue. Think of a concert where the music and crowd are so pumped up that it feels like the roof might come off!

26. A Tough Act to Follow

This means someone has done something so well that it will be hard for anyone else to do better. Imagine a musician who performs so well that whoever comes on stage next feels nervous.

27. Pipe Down

This idiom means to stop making noise or causing a disturbance. Picture someone playing a pipe loudly and someone else yelling, “Pipe down!

28. Not to Be Sniffed At

If something is “not to be sniffed at,” it’s actually pretty good or impressive. Imagine someone listening to a piece of music and realizing it’s better than they first thought.

29. Clear as a Bell

This means something is very easy to understand, like a bell that rings loud and clear. You’d use this idiom to describe a song with lyrics that are easy to understand, for example.

30. Jazz It Up

This means to make something more interesting or exciting. Picture adding a cool jazz beat to an otherwise boring song to make it pop.

31. Rattle Someone’s Cage

This means to annoy or provoke someone. Imagine making a racket by shaking a birdcage while the bird is still inside—annoying, right?

32. Chime In

To chime in means to add your opinion or say something in a conversation. Like when a bell chimes in during a song, adding a little extra sound.

33. Croon Over

If you’re crooning over something, you’re talking about it in a very loving way. It’s like a singer gently singing a love song.

34. Beat the Drum for Something

This is similar to “banging the drum,” but this idiom specifically means to strongly support something. Think of a drummer in a parade, leading the way and setting the pace.

35. As Fine as a Fiddle

This idiom means something is in very good condition. Like a fiddle (violin) that’s well-tuned and ready to play a beautiful melody.

36. Out of Tune

If someone or something is out of tune, it’s not in harmony or agreement with what’s happening. Like a piano that needs tuning, it just doesn’t sound right.

37. Sing for Your Supper

This means you have to work for what you get. You can’t just expect things to be given to you; you might have to perform (or “sing“) to earn it.

38. Blow the Whistle

This means exposing someone’s wrongdoing, like blowing a whistle during a game when a foul has been committed. You’re calling attention to something that’s not right.

39. Scream Bloody Murder

This idiom means to loudly complain or protest about something. It’s as if you’re so upset that you’d scream like you’re at a heavy metal concert.

40. On a High Note

Ending on a high note means finishing something in a positive or successful way. Think of a singer hitting an impressive high note at the end of a performance.

Love and Romance Idioms

41. Music to One’s Heart

This idiom means something that brings great joy or love to someone. Like a song that just gets you in the heart and makes you feel full of love or happiness.

42. Pluck at the Heartstrings

When something or someone plucks at your heartstrings, they’re making you feel emotional or sentimental. Imagine a guitarist plucking strings to create a romantic melody; it’s that feeling in a love context.

43. Set the Tone

In a relationship, setting the tone means establishing how things are going to be. Much like how a starting note can set the tone for a whole song, the way you act early in a relationship can shape how it develops.

44. A One-Note Wonder

This refers to someone who is only good at one specific thing in a relationship. Imagine a musician who can only play one note but plays it really well—that’s a one-note wonder in love.

45. Song and Dance

This idiom is about someone making a big deal or fuss, usually to woo or impress someone else. It’s like putting on a whole song and dance routine just to get a date.

46. Find One’s Rhythm

In a romantic sense, finding your rhythm means getting comfortable and in sync with your partner. It’s like dancers finally syncing up their steps or musicians finding the right beat.

47. Harmonize With

To harmonize with someone means to get along really well, to the point where you complete each other. Just like two voices blending perfectly in a song, you’re a perfect match.

48. Out of Sync

Being out of sync means that you’re not in harmony or agreement with your partner. Picture two musicians trying to play together but constantly missing the beat.

49. Jazz Up the Romance

This means to make a relationship more exciting or romantic. Like adding a jazzy twist to a classic song to make it more interesting.

50. On the Same Wavelength

When you and your partner are on the same wavelength, you understand each other very well. It’s as if you’re both tuned into the same radio frequency.

51. Strike a Romantic Note

This means doing something that creates a romantic atmosphere or mood. Imagine playing a song that just sets the right mood for a romantic evening.

52. Love is in the Air

This idiom is often used when there is a general feeling of romance or attraction around. It’s like the air is filled with love songs that everyone can hear.

53. Read from the Same Song Sheet

When both you and your partner agree on something, you are reading from the same song sheet. It’s like two musicians playing perfectly together because they’re looking at the same music.

54. Sing a Love Song

When you sing a love song to someone, you’re declaring your feelings for them, either literally or metaphorically. You’re showing them just how much you care.

55. Pitch-Perfect Romance

This means a relationship that seems just about perfect, where everything is harmonious. Imagine a song performed flawlessly, hitting all the right notes—that’s a pitch-perfect romance.

56. Like Two Peas in a Pod

When two people get along really well, they’re like two peas in a pod. It’s like a harmonious duet where both musicians know exactly what the other will do next.

57. Give a Standing Ovation

When you really appreciate someone’s love or efforts in a relationship, giving them a standing ovation means showing them a lot of love and respect back.

58. Orchestrating Love

This means actively trying to make a romantic situation happen, like an orchestra conductor making sure every musician is in sync for a perfect performance.

59. Play Your Cards Right

This means to act in a way that will give you an advantage in love or make someone more likely to fall for you. Like playing the right notes to make a beautiful love song.

60. Fine-Tune the Relationship

To fine-tune the relationship means to make small adjustments to improve it. Imagine a musician fine-tuning their instrument to achieve the perfect sound.

Idioms About Hard Times

61. Face the Music

This means you have to confront the consequences of your actions. If you’ve done something wrong, there’s no escaping it; you have to “face the music,” just like you’d face a crowd at a concert.

62. March to the Beat of Your Own Drum

This means you’re doing things your own way, even if it’s different or challenging. You might be going through tough times, but you’re facing them on your own terms.

63. Play it by Ear

This idiom suggests you’re not planning ahead but dealing with things as they come. When you’re in a difficult situation, you might not be able to make a detailed plan; you have to just “play it by ear.

64. Sing the Blues

When you’re singing the blues, you’re feeling sad or complaining about life. This idiom comes from the blues music genre, which often deals with hardship and emotional pain.

65. Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall

This means you’re trying to achieve something but getting nowhere, like a musician practicing a difficult piece over and over but not getting it right.

66. Tuning Out

When you’re tuning out, you’re choosing to ignore something difficult or unpleasant. It’s like turning down the volume on a song you don’t want to hear.

67. Broken Record

If you’re like a broken record, you’re repeatedly doing or saying the same thing, especially in a way that’s unhelpful. It’s like when a record skips and plays the same part over and over, getting you nowhere.

68. Hitting a Sour Note

This means something didn’t go as planned, creating an awkward or difficult situation. It’s like hitting the wrong note in an important performance.

69. In a Minor Key

If something is in a minor key, it’s a bit depressing or sad. Just like minor keys in music often sound more somber than major keys.

70. Pull Out All the Stops

This means to do everything you can to succeed, especially when you’re facing hardship. It’s like an organist pulling out all the stops to produce the loudest and most grand sound possible.

71. Behind the Eight Ball

This means you’re in a difficult situation with limited options. It’s like when the music’s tempo is too fast, and you’re struggling to keep up.

72. Cacophony of Troubles

When you’re facing a cacophony of troubles, multiple things are going wrong all at once. It’s like listening to a band where every instrument is out of tune.

73. Strike a Chord

When something strikes a chord, it resonates emotionally or reminds you of something, often in a challenging way. It’s like hearing a song that reminds you of a difficult time.

74. Off-Key

When something is off-key, it’s not quite right or appropriate. It’s like someone singing off-key in a choir; it’s noticeable and ruins the harmony.

75. Drumming Up Trouble

This means to actively cause problems or stir up difficult situations. Imagine a drummer banging so hard that it disrupts everyone around them.

76. Change Your Tune

This means to change your opinion or attitude, often because the situation has become difficult. It’s like changing the song you’re playing halfway through because the first one isn’t working.

77. Hitting All the Wrong Notes

This means you’re continuously making mistakes or bad decisions, making your situation worse. Imagine a musician hitting all the wrong notes during an important performance.

78. Tempo of Life

This idiom means the pace at which things are happening, often quickly and stressfully. When you’re going through hard times, it might feel like the “tempo of life” has sped up too much.

79. Missing a Beat

When you miss a beat, you’re making a mistake or hesitating in a crucial moment. It’s like a drummer missing a beat during a big solo, throwing off the entire performance.

80. Lose the Rhythm

This means to get out of sync or to lose one’s way, often during a difficult period. It’s like a dancer losing the rhythm halfway through a routine and struggling to recover.

Classic Music Idioms Everyone Knows

81. In Sync

When things are working well together, you say they are “in sync.” Like dancers or musicians who are perfectly coordinated.

82. Blow Your Own Trumpet

This means to brag or talk proudly about your own abilities or achievements. Imagine a trumpet player showing off with a loud, flashy solo—that’s you talking about yourself.

83. Fine-Tune

This means to make small adjustments for improvement. Just like tuning an instrument so it sounds better, you’re making small changes to improve a situation or project.

84. For a Song

If you buy or sell something “for a song,” it means you got it very cheaply. The idea is that a song is something simple and easily given, much like the item in question.

85. Drum Up Business

This means trying to get more customers or interest in something. It’s like a drummer pounding away to catch everyone’s attention and draw them in.

86. Clear as a Bell

This means something is very clear and easy to understand. It refers to how a bell’s ring can be heard clearly, signaling clarity or purity.

87. Call the Tune

This means you’re the one in control, making decisions. In a band, the person who “calls the tune” chooses what song to play next.

88. Dance to Someone’s Tune

When you “dance to someone’s tune,” it means you’re being controlled by them, much like a dancer moves to the music that’s played.

89. Whistle a Happy Tune

To “whistle a happy tune” means to remain optimistic in difficult circumstances. It’s like whistling a cheerful song to lift your spirits when you’re down.

90. Change Your Tune

This means to change your opinion or attitude about something. If you disliked a certain type of music but now enjoy it, you’ve “changed your tune.”

91. Play Second Fiddle

This means to be less important or take a backseat to someone else. In an orchestra, the first violin is considered more important than the second.

92. Bells and Whistles

This means extra features or frills that aren’t strictly necessary. Think of a musical performance with a lot of fancy extras, like special effects.

93. Keyed Up

When you’re “keyed up,” you’re anxious or excited, like a piano that has been tuned to a higher pitch and is more sensitive to touch.

94. In the Groove

To be “in the groove” means you’re performing exceptionally well or you’re completely focused. It’s like a record needle fitting perfectly into a vinyl groove.

95. On the Same Wavelength

When you’re on the same wavelength as someone else, you understand each other very well. It’s like tuning into the same radio frequency and hearing the same music.

96. Play it by Ear

This means to improvise or go with the flow rather than planning things out. Musicians often use this phrase when they’re jamming without a set plan.

97. Toot Your Own Horn

This is similar to “Blow Your Own Trumpet.” It means to boast or brag about your own abilities. Imagine playing a horn loudly to announce your own arrival.

98. Fine-Tune

This means making small adjustments to improve something. Like tuning a guitar just right so it sounds perfect.

99. In the Limelight

This means you’re the center of attention. Picture a musician standing in a spotlight while performing a solo.

100. All That Jazz

This means “and so on” or “and everything else.” It’s like listing different types of music and then adding “all that jazz” to mean all other kinds you didn’t list.

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Bea is an editor and writer with a passion for literature and self-improvement. Her ability to combine these two interests enables her to write informative and thought-provoking articles that positively impact society. She enjoys reading stories and listening to music in her spare time.