The Definition of a Song


A song is a piece of music with words, or at least it is supposed to contain lyrics. It typically also has a melody, although some composers have written instrumental pieces that do not have melodies but that still have the quality of a singing voice. A song contains a meter or beat and it has a tempo. It may have a recurring chorus and verses. It usually has a bridge, which breaks up the reiteration of the same musical ideas in the chorus and verses, and it often has a hook that connects to the listeners.

The songs in this collection delve into many different aspects of song: they address the cultural, historical, and anthropological; the philosophical and theoretical; the practical and technical. They explore song in relation to migration, translation, ecology, identity, place, ageing, politics, heritage and animality. They address questions of whether there is an indissoluble link between song and the human and they ask what it means for song to exist in the context of digital culture.

The definition of a song has changed over time. A song is now sometimes defined as a track with a catchy hook, or simply as the part of a track that a person might hum. The definition of a song can be further expanded to include any composition that is accompanied by vocals. However, the definition of a song is not limited to vocal songs; the word can be used to describe any form of music that has the potential to be sung.