What Is a Song?


A song is a piece of music with lyrics and usually with vocals. It may also be referred to as a tune or a pop song. Songs can be performed in a variety of ways, including live, as records or in television and film.

The word song can refer to any kind of musical composition with lyrics, from a simple folk song to an elaborate classical art song. Songs can also appear in plays, musical theatre, and stage shows of any form, and within operas and films.

Unlike the musical genre of pop music, where words are repeated often enough to be catchy and memorable, most songs have lyrics that tell a story or evoke a particular emotion. Songwriters use a combination of rhythm, melody and lyrics to convey the overall message and emotion of a song.

In a typical song structure, the verses and choruses repeat, but with different lyrics each time. This creates a build up of tension and anticipation. The chorus is the part of the song that is most memorable, and it usually has a distinct and repetitive melody.

The bridge is a special part of the song that adds a new element to the structure. It is not a necessary part of the song, but it can heighten the impact of the chorus and is an opportunity to try out different chord progressions or experiment with harmonies.

Throughout history, song has played an important role in social and cultural life. This collection of essays explores the many different facets of song, from individual songs to broader themes such as migration, translation, ecology, identity, place, ageing and politics, and examines how songs can be used to critique social injustice or to uplift.