IELTS Topic: Music

Vocab & Idioms

Go over the following vocabulary and expressions with your tutor. Read the word/expression and definition out loud, and your tutor will go over anything you do not understand. Practice creating a sentence or two to make sure you know how to use the word/expression properly.

Vocabulary/ Expressions

a catchy tune a song that is easy to remember and makes you want to sing it
to download tracks to obtain music from the Internet
to go on tour to go on a planned series of performances around a region or country
a huge following a large number of fans
to be/sing out of tune to not be in harmony/to sing the wrong notes
a piece of music an item of music
to read music to understand and follow written musical notes
a sing-song to sing informally, often with other people
taste in music the music someone likes
to take up a musical instrument to begin learning a musical instrument

Part 1 Questions

Here are possible questions that might come up during the test. Go over them with your tutor.

Topic

  • Which types of music do you like? Why?
  • Do you play any instruments?
  • Have you got any hobbies or interests?

Part 2&3 Questions

Here are possible questions that might come up during the test. Go over them with your tutor.

Sample A

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe a concert that you went to . You should say:
    • when it was
    • where it was
    • who you went with
    • and what you enjoyed the most about it

Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think there will be further changes in the music industry in the future?
  • Should music be treated as seriously as subjects like maths or sciences at school?

Sample B

Part 2 Questions

  • Talk about a song that reminds you of a particular time in the past. You should say:
    • what the song is
    • who the singer is
    • what it reminds you of
    • and explain how you feel when you listen to the song.

Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think the music young people listen to in your country is becoming more globalized? Why/Why not?
  • Is the Internet a good or bad thing for the music industry?

Sample C

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe your favorite musician. You should say:
    • who he/ she is
    • when you found out about him/ her
    • what type of music he/she sings
    • and why you like this person

Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think that the language of the song matters? Why do you think that?
  • Why do you think that some local singers or musicians aren’t as successful as some from other countries?

Sample Answers

Here are some sample answers. Go over them with your tutor.

Part 1 Questions

  • Which types of music do you like? Why?

    • I’m a big fan of classical music … it doesn’t make me very popular with my children … their taste in music is completely different … they always want to listen to their favourite rock bands …
  • Do you play any instruments?
    • No I don’t … I’ve always wished I’d taken up a musical instrument … I’d love to be able to play the guitar … but I think I’m a bit tone deaf so perhaps I’d find it hard …
  • Have you got any hobbies or interests?
    • I’m really into live music … I go to a lot of music festivals … I think a live performance always sounds more exciting than a recorded version … as long as the performers can sing and play well of course …

Part 2&3 Answers

Here are some sample answers. Go over them with your tutor.

Sample A

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe a concert that you went to. You should say:
    • when it was
    • where it was
    • who you went with
    • and what you enjoyed the most about it

 

I went to see Big Bang’s concert last year. If you don’t know this group, Big Bang is a famous K-pop group that has many good musics and amazing performance. To be honest, the first time I listened to their music, I didn’t really like it. It was in a language that I didn’t understand, and for me understanding lyrics is the most important thing. However, my perception has completely changed when I saw their performance on the TV. I thought the dance moves were completely in sync with the music, and the beat felt completely different from what I had previously heard. After that, I have been following the group, watching more concert recordings and listening to their music online.

My sister knew I was a big fan, so last summer when Big Bang was on a world tour, she told me she got two tickets for us. On the day of the concert, we were the first ones to wait in line, and I think this is why the concert was so much more fun. I mean, I really like the music but the concert was hundred time more fun because I was excited with my best friend in the whole world and share this amazing memory.


Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think there will be further changes in the music industry in the future?
    • Yes, I think piracy, file sharing and streaming will have a detrimental effect on the industry. In addition, technology has now replaced a lot of the talent which was associated with creating music. Most pop songs today are created by a computer program which creates a song in such a manner that it is instantly likeable and memorable, like following a recipe with all the right ingredients. Then a singer is chosen to sing it and this is the reason why so many pop songs sound almost identical. It’s a formula, not a creative process and that’s kind of sad. But some things will never change. There will always be an increasing fixation on the private lives of musicians, especially the younger ones with paparazzi hounding them and their love lives splashed across the front pages of tabloids.
  • Should music be treated as seriously as subjects like maths or sciences at school?
    • I think it should … I don’t think it should be taught in a boring way … I mean making children read music … but I do think they should be encouraged to play instruments and to play things by ear perhaps … to keep the lessons fun …

Sample B

Part 2 Questions

  • Talk about a song that reminds you of a particular time in the past. You should say:
    • what the song is
    • who the singer is
    • what it reminds you of
    • and explain how you feel when you listen to the song.Question. You should say:

Okay, so a song that I have listened to over the past few decades is Mama Mia by Abba, a Swedish rock band from way back. It has to be one of my favorite songs of all time … great beat and very uplifting. This is what I call feel good music. I remember the first time I heard it, I was on holiday, on an island, with my family and it was playing on the beach, through some old fashioned speakers hooked up to a wooden pole. I was mesmerized by the sound and the feeling it gave me. At the time I was looking lying on the beach, building a sandcastle, loving the feel of the sun on my back and the sea at my feet, with clear blue skies above and angel fish darting around my ankles …. and suddenly this song blasted through the silence! It was loud and catchy and vibrant and the locals who walk along the beach selling sarongs and stuff started dancing to it. I recall dropping my bucket and spade and joining them. Interestingly, I was at the train station in Milan recently when I heard the song again … I soon realized that the musical, a live rendition, was being staged that very week. I immediately booked my tickets and spent an amazing Saturday night singing Mama Mia along with some very enthusiastic Italian fans. It is a very powerful piece that takes me back to a different time, a different world – it’s a really powerful piece of music. I still listen to it regularly and every time that I do, I am back in time, to Mauritius, to the beach, dancing with locals … a simpler time … a thrilling time, an enchanting world.


Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think the music young people listen to in your country is becoming more globalized? Why/Why not?
    • Definitely, thanks to the internet, Twitter, You Tube, more and more young people are sharing the same culture across the world. Nowadays, you can be living anywhere and listening to the same songs and music, watching the same TV series and movies as another person on the other side of the planet. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, that wasn’t really possible; culture, and music was much more localized, but technology now allows the same culture to be shared across the globe. I think that this is the aim of the big labels like Sony, to distribute their products on a global scale, in a global market, through the creation of global culture – it’s better business for them and it’s all about the bottom line, isn’t it?
  • Is the Internet a good or bad thing for the music industry?
    • On the one hand it’s good for marketing new musical talent or particular bands but it’s so easy to share and download tracks for free I think it is costing the industry a lot of money …

Sample C

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe your favorite musician. You should say:
    • who he/ she is
    • when you found out about him/ her
    • what type of music he/she sings
    • and why you like this person

Well, I am actually going to talk about a singer, creator, songwriter and dancer who is no longer with us … the larger than life Michael Jackson who passed away a few years ago. Though he was a tormented soul with many issues, he was, in my opinion, a creative genius. I remember when I first heard his music … I think that I was in high school and his smash hit Thriller had just been released. It was mind blowing … a break through … the first time that a full length video accompanied a song. Michael started singing at the age of five which means that he had a very long career, an impressive body of work, even though he had a short, chaotic life. He started out as a clean cut guy but that changed. Despite all the allegations and rumors, I consider him to be one in a million. I’d like to add that I went to his concert sometime in the nineties. The tickets cost an arm and a leg but it was worth every penny, an unforgettable night, a once in a lifetime experience. I was left in awe. He was inventive and kept the audience on their toes … So yes, I am an adoring fan of the King of Pop 🙂 Talking about him really brings back memories., especially the Grammys when he won all those awards! Multi platinum albums … If he hadn’t died so young, who knows what else he would have accomplished?


Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think that the language of the song matters? Why do you think that?
    • Yes, maybe it shouldn’t but it does seem to matter in terms of the amount of commercial success that the artist enjoys. For example, take Shakira, who was tremendously popular in her own country and the rest of Latin America, but became even more famous and sold more songs when she began to sing in English. She appealed to more people than when she used to sing in Spanish only. The English speaking market for songs is the biggest globally so it makes sense that if you want to sell as many songs as possible worldwide – you sing in English.
  • Why do you think that some local singers or musicians aren’t as successful as some from other countries?
    • Well, there might be several reasons, for example, not all singers or musicians are interested in creating commercial music and that’s the main kind that the music industry promotes because there’s a lot of money involved. Then there’s the issue of language, English is the main language of the most successful and most promoted popular music and English speaking countries such as the USA and the UK in particular have a long history of creating and exporting music all over the world and the music industry has grown up based on this. So although there may be some local singers and musicians who are excellent musically and extremely popular in their own country – they never become famous worldwide either because their music doesn’t have a universal appeal or their songs are not in English.

Wrap-up

Go over any new expressions or vocabulary that you learned today.

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