What Is a Song?


Throughout history, people have bonded together over song. Music has the power to provoke feelings, heal the soul, and bring about change. Whether we’re celebrating an anniversary, battling depression, or mourning the death of a loved one, a well-written song can provide comfort and hope.

Essentially, a song is poetry set to music. It’s a combination of melody and lyrics (though there are exceptions to this rule). While any composition that is played on musical instruments can be considered music, it’s more likely that songs will have words that tell a story.

Most songs contain a chorus and verses. Verses are typically shorter sections that tell a portion of the story in the song. They build up to the climax of the song—the chorus. The chorus is the sung part of the song and usually contains the most catchy phrases. The chorus is often what defines the entire song and it’s also where the title of the song often appears.

Many songs also include a bridge. A bridge provides a break from the repetitiveness of the chorus and verses by adding a new element into the song. This can be a different chord progression, a riff or hook, or just a totally different sound to the song.

In the seventeenth century, a distinction arose between recitative and aria, the former being word-oriented with free rhythm and simple chordal accompaniment, and the latter being more melodic and elaborate. This led to a decline in solo song outside of opera, cantata, and oratorio.