In this post, we’ll be covering the topic of culture in all its forms. You’ll find below a compilation of useful terms to strengthen your English vocabulary, so that next time you’ll be visiting cultural places, you’ll know everything you need to discuss the art. This article will discuss the following topics:

  • Culture/Music
  • Art (Writing and Painting)
  • Cinema/Cultural Activities

Ready to learn the terminology related to the world of culture? Let’s dive right in by defining today’s subject matter. Culture.

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What Is the Meaning and the Definition of Culture?

The English word culture takes its roots in the Latin word cultura, which stands for grow, farm, or honor. Cultura itself derives from the noun colere, which means both grow and celebrate.

In this instance, culture can be defined as the shared values, traditions, norms, customs, arts, and traditions of a group of people across any domain such as art, religion, science, language or food.

In English, the word culture encompasses various—and sometimes opposite—meanings. Today, we won’t be talking about the culture of the land : farming ; but about the culture of the art.

Culture Vocabulary: General Terms around the notion of Culture

Let’s start by learning about common terms used to discuss Culture, with a capital C.

Beliefs ideas shared among a group of people
Cultural Institution established organization working for the preservation of culture
Design to draw plans showing the look and function of any object before it is made
Dialect form of a language specific to a region or social group
Diffusion spreading of a concept or idea widely
Ethic set of moral principles shared by a group or a field
Heritage legacy of cultural resources in a group or society
Knowledge facts and skills acquired through education or experience
Mores customs and norms of a society or a community
Research thorough study of a field to reach new conclusions
Resources documentation of past work that can be used to conduct new studies
Study detailed investigation of a subject or a field
Values moral principles and beliefs that serve to assess the importance of things

Music Vocabulary: General Terms around the notion of Music

Now that we’ve seen terms around the notion of culture, it’s time to channel your inner musician and learn practical words to talk about the music craft.

The components of Music

Music is an intricate art revolving around many different sonorities put together. Here are some of its main components:

Acoustic raw performance of a song without electric amplifier
Beat basic unit of time, tempo, and rhythm used in music theory
Chorus repetitive part of a song
Chords two or more notes played together
Collaborate (collab) to work with another artist to produce a song
Lyrics written words composing a song
Melody notes forming a song
Rhythm pattern of beats and sounds present in a song

Music Genres and Important Terms

Like any art form, music has tons of different genres :

Blues secular folk music born in the early 20th century created by African Americans
Classical music traditional music following established principles
Pop music popular music genre with easy to remember beats and lyrics
Rap speaking in rhymes over hip-hop instrumental
Record disc where the music is recorded, imprinted, and sold / synonym of song and track
Reggae music music genre born in Jamaica in the 1960s recognizable for its engaged lyrics, drum and bass downbeat, and its offbeat rhythm
Rock music rhythmic music with a heavy presence of guitar, drums, and bass
Sample reuse of a portion of a song in another song
Set series of songs performed one after the other
Singer person who speaks melodically over a song
Single song released digitally or physically on its own
Track synonym of song and record

Art Vocabulary: General Terms around the notion of Art

In this section, we’ll be highlighting the most important terms related to the art of writing and painting.

Written Art

You’ll find below some key terms about the writing craft and the different genres of books.

Biography book around someone’s life
Drama type of story which involves conflict and tragedy among characters
Essay concise piece of writing on a particular subject
Memoir nonfiction narrative writings based on personal memories
Literature written works widely praised
Novel fiction prose narrative dealing with human experience
Poetry literary work which revolves around the expression of feelings through the use of style and rhythms
Quill writing tool made from a feather, which was dipped into ink to write on paper
Romance written work that places its primary focus on the romantic relationship between two characters
Scenario written outline of a film
Typewriter mechanical machine used to type characters on a sheet of paper

Art of Painting

In this list, you’ll learn terms about painting styles and techniques.

Brushstroke way of applying paint to a surface with a brush
Calligraphy art of decorative handwriting
Canvas piece of cloth used by an artist to paint on
Contrast juxtaposition of opposite tones and color in a work of art
Cubism early 20th-century movement revolving around the use of simple geometric shapes
Expressionism artistic style in which the image of reality is distorted to better express the artist’s feelings or ideas
Gouache paint consisting of a mix of natural pigment, water, and binding agents
Impressionism French 19th-century style of painting that attempts to capture the feeling of a scene rather than its details
Landscape genre of art depicting natural scenery
Palette spectrum of colors used in a painting
Pastel paste made of pigment used to make crayons
Perspective representation of three-dimensional objects in two-dimensional artworks
Pigment coloring substance of paint derived from natural or synthetic sources
Portrait painting depicting only the face or the head of shoulders of a person
Sketch rough drawing made to assist in making a finished painting
Solvent liquid used for dissolving another substance allowing to clean or mix paint

Places of Art

You’ll find here some of the most common places where art is displayed to the public.

Exhibition public display of works of art
Gallery room in which people look at works of art
Museum building in which objects of art, culture, history or science are displayed to the public
Theatre building in which plays, shows or motion pictures are displayed

Cinema Vocabulary: General Terms around the notion of Cinema

Talking about theatre, let’s now see the main terms related to the art of making motion pictures movies: the Seventh Art. Cinema.

Act to perform in a movie or a play
Box office place where tickets are bought / commercial success of a film
Camera angle point of view from where the camera is filming
Cast group of actors chosen by the director to play parts in a movie
Credits list of people involved in the production of a film
Dialogue written conversations between characters of a play
Distribution process of diffusion of a movie to make it available to a wide audience
Dub to translate dialogues of a film in a different language
Film studio room used to shoot movies
Movie a recording of moving images that tell a story
Plot written events of a film
Premiere first public performance of a new film
Scenario written outline of a film
Screenplay script and shooting directions of a movie
Set location where a movie or scene is shot
Shot series of frame produced by having the camera in a certain position
Stunt dangerous physical feat, popular in action movies
Subtitle transcript or translation of dialogues displayed at the bottom of the screen
Take single continuous recorded experience
Voice-over narration made by someone who doesn’t appear on-screen

Common Sentences related to Cultural Activities

Now that you know the important terms to talk about each and every cultural activity, it’s time to see how they’re used in a sentence.

Speaking about Art

  • Pablo Picasso produced more than 150.000 works of art, making him the world’s most prolific painter in the history of mankind.
  • The Louvre is the largest museum in France.
  • Besides being one of the most well-known writers in the world, William Shakespeare also used to be an established actor.

Speaking about Cinema

  • He went to the flicks with his friends.
  • This thriller was a huge box-office success.
  • The producer chose a young actor to play the lead role in its movie.

Speaking about Music

  • This pop song has catchy melodies that linger in the mind.
  • Playing the piano requires great hand-eye coordination.
  • In 2020, rap music was the most popular type of music among youngsters, while rock music was at an all-time low.

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