I'm looking for a word that means "to make music" without regard to how the music is made (vocal or instrumental), like "to sing" means to make music by passing air over the vocal chords.

Example sentences:

I am going to ____.

Let's ____.

I would like it to not require an object( for example "play" would work, but the meaning is unclear without stating what is being played).

EDIT: To clarify, I am looking for a single word meaning to play music, not a word meaning to write music, although it should be able to apply to improvising(playing and composing music simultaneously).

EDIT2: "Make Music" does not work because it is unclear (it could mean to compose or to play music) and sounds too formal for common use.

  • @sumelic Well, V0ight just proved that the meaning is unclear (you could think that I composed music, or that I played it), and it sounds too formal for common use. Imagine saying "Yes, we made music yesterday" to someone.
    – cat40
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 19:44
  • @V0ight I am looking for a word that means to play music, not to compose it. For example, a word that means "I picked up my viola and played 'Soldier's Joy'".
    – cat40
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 20:08
  • @V0ight If it's okay with you, I'd like to see if something better comes along (and there is always something better). Your answer does answer my question, but not completely. I'll leave a comment on the question about that.
    – cat40
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 21:23
  • .@cat40in this case I doubt there's anything else, I exhausted Google of all it had to offer haha
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 21:24
  • @V0ight I did that before I asked my question. I understand that questions Google can answer are frowned upon on SE. Thanks for your effort through (no sarcasm intended)
    – cat40
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 21:30

5 Answers 5


jam (intransitive verb)


  1. (music) To play music (especially improvisation as a group, or an informal unrehearsed session)

"I'm going to be jamming tomorrow so don't bother me."

spiel (intransitive verb)


1 : to play music

perform (intransitive verb)


  1. to perform (carry out, execute, render) music.
  • 1
    Jam (to me, at least) implies certain types of music played in a small group. You probably won't hear someone say "the symphonic orchestra jammed well today" Spiel has a much more common definition of "trying to sell something" or pitching an idea (see definition 2), and perform is too ambiguous. ("I performed" Okay, you performed what? You juggled? You acted out "The Irish Ballad"? You pressed the big red button so we could see the world disintegrate?
    – cat40
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 21:29
  • @cat40 ~ yes to 'jam' derives from 'jam session' which is from Jazz roots but I don't think that prevents it from being used in individual or orchestral contexts. Essentially all it means is to play music.
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 21:38
  • As commonly understood, spiel means to speak (usually annoyingly), not sing or play music. The noun spiel is commonly used to mean "sales pitch" or "campaign speech", and the verb would be applied similarly.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 21:44
  • @Hot Licks ~ blame Merriam Webster then for putting it as its number 1 definition ;P I never did like Merriam Webster.
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 22:13
  • 5
    "Jam" doesn't mean "play music" in the general sense. It means "improvise music".
    – alephzero
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 0:37

In Hamlet, Ophelia declares, "And I, of ladies most deject and wretched, that sucked the honey of his musicked vows" (Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 158-159). If "musicked"--ergo the verb "to music"--was good enough for Shakespeare...

Aside from that, I know of no such word other than those you mentioned. English verbs are more specific. They all refer specifically to how the music is being made.

  • 1
    Hello Benjamin, is there any reason you are not merging the accounts? I mean, it is none of my business, of course, but I just wonder.
    – user140086
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 6:00
  • 1
    "musicked" is an adjective rather than a verb: it means "possessing musical properties" I think - in this case, vows which perhaps are lyrical in quality or perhaps even sung. Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 8:36
  • 2
    Yes, "musicked" is being used adjectivally as the past participle of a verb often is. Since it is being used adjectivally, I injected, "ergo the verb 'to music.' " Had it been used as the preterit tense or in formation of the present perfect tense, I would not have felt the need to say that.
    – user184292
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 11:57
  • 2
    I'm not sure you can deduce the existence of a verb "to music" from the adjective "musicked." We can say "pot-bellied" but this doesn't mean "pot-belly" is in common use as a verb.
    – herisson
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 15:30
  • 1
    @sumelic, neither can you assume a syllogistic deduction is intended merely because the word 'ergo' is used. In point of fact, 'music' is an intransitive verb attested with the sense "to perform or compose music" from 1649-1999 in the 2003 edition of OED Online.
    – JEL
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 7:00

If you are wanting to perform/rehearse/play notated music then one musician to another says "Let's play / rehearse / have a rehearsal / have a play tomorrow". I'm a musician. These are the phrases I use, often.

Clearly a non-musician would not automatically understand that music was the activity so 'music' would have to be added in each case.

I use jam to mean the circumstance of playing where each musician combines a willingness to follow an agreed structure - eg the chord changes of a song - with an open-mindedness that allows for individual and group improvisation.


The intransitive (no object) verb 'melodize' might work for you:

melodize, v.
1. intr. To make or play music....

["melodize, v.". OED Online. June 2016. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/116225?rskey=bqbvyt&result=8&isAdvanced=true (accessed July 19, 2016).]

Caveat: Differing definitions in common dictionaries suggest the sense of "to make or play music" might not be widely understood without a defining context, so there's a danger of misinterpretation.

While Collins English Dictionary (British), for example, defines an intransitive 'melodize' as "to sing or play melodies", which may be close enough to the desired meaning, other dictionaries (for example, Random House and American Heritage) define intransitive use of 'melodize' in terms of composing melodies, without mentioning playing music.

The 'play music' intransitive sense of 'melodize' may be more common in British English than American. Oxford Dictionaries provides a definition that agrees with the OED Online definition shown above and resembles the Collins English Dictionary definition.

melodize verb
1 [no object] Play music

Oxford Dictionaries also provides examples of use:

  1. The sound isn't the greatest but still at its best with weird chimes melodisiing every time you enter a town.

  2. I'm really bad at it, but if I sing a straightforward tune my girlfriend melodises with it.

  3. I spent two days in this small town, making yoga on the lawn and melodising with my clarinet in the mornings until it was time to go to lunch at the steward's house.

Note that all the examples use the British 'melodise' rather than the American 'melodize' spelling.


Apart from the French term meaning “to make music”, musiquer, there appears to be no single word in the English language to describe the playing, singing, and performing music for its own sake. The OP could use the French expression as a loanword in one of their suggested phrases:

Let's musiquer

I think the statement has a certain je ne sais quoi

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