What is a Song?


A song is a combination of melody and lyrics. It can be a piece of music that has no words, or it can be poetry set to musical sounds. Often, songs have a rhyme or rhythm that make it easy to remember. We use the term “song” to describe everything from a birthday wish (“Happy Birthday to You”) to a work song, such as a sea shanty, that coordinates crew members in difficult tasks such as pulling ropes or raising and lowering sails.

Some songs are very short; others have elaborate musical structures and lyrics that tell a story or capture an emotion. A song may be performed by an individual or in an ensemble. It can also be accompanied by dance, opera, theatre or other artistic forms. The range of songs is vast, from Irish folk songs to African storytelling songs, Christian hymns and even heavy metal.

A songwriter writes the melody and lyrics of a song. Copyright protects the combination of melody and lyrics as an art form. A writer who composes the melody and writes the words of a song can receive royalties for the work. Typically, a song is in three parts: verse, chorus and bridge. The chorus usually repeats melodically and/or lyrically, and is often the most memorable part of a song. Songwriters may also incorporate an intro, outro or prelude for their songs. In addition, they may have a hook that is easy to remember and rolls off the tongue easily.