Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Idioms related to Music

Van Gogh’s ear for music

Van Gogh’s ear for music

Meaning

  • Van Gogh was a painter who cut his ear off and this phrase is a pun intended one referring to being tone deaf.
  • When referred to a singer it implies that they are not good and tend to go off key a lot.
  • Someone who cannot understand the different and differences between musical tones.

Example Sentences

  1. Her singing is so bad she has Van Gogh’s ear for music.
  2. My uncle managed just fine in the music industry even though he has a Van Gogh’s ear for music. He used to take care of musical supplies.
  3. This is a classic album. If you can’t make sense of it then you have Van Gogh’s ear for music.

Origin
The origin obviously comes from the incident of Van Gogh, the painter cutting his left ear off after a series of mental illnesses. But the literary origin of the phrase is not available. Van Gogh, after cutting his ear off and rendering himself totally deaf continued to play loud music and tried to sing along too. He was always off key of course. So the expression also refers to someone who can’t sing very well.

One sources says that the phrase is printed in the World Fact Book, which was printed in Siberia.

face the music

face the music

Meaning

  • receive punishment
  • accept unpleasant consequences of your actions
  • be confronted with disagreeable results
  • accept criticism for something that you have done

Example Sentences

  1. If you have done something wrong, you have to face the music. There’s no escaping out of it.
  2. The children broke the window pane while playing and had to face the music when their parents returned home.
  3. If you don’t complete the project on time, you will have to face the music when the boss asks for a status report.
  4. If you keep breaking the rules, sooner or later you will be caught and then you will have to face the music.
  5. He was part of an illegal racing gang, and had to face the music when they were busted.
  6. Having failed his English test, he had to go home and face the music.

Origin
The precise origin of this phrase is not known, but there are theories which are not proven. One theory says that it originated in the military, where disgraced officers were dismissed to the beating of drums and band music. Another theory is it comes from theatre, where the actors have to face the orchestra pit. The phrase originated in America in the mid 1800s.

play by ear

play by ear

Meaning:

  • learn music by ear
  • to play by remembering the tune, without printed music
  • to play a musical instrument by remembering the tune and not by reading the music

Examples:

  1. My sister learned to play the piano by ear when she was a child.
  2. Hey, Jill I can play the keyboard by ear, without printed music.
  3. I never tried to play the guitar by ear but I can try for you.
  4. One friend of mine easily play the Saxophone by ear.
  5. After a hard work of many year finally I’ve been able to play any music instrument by ear now.

See also: play it by ear

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