What is a Song?

A song is the combination of a melody (composer) and lyrics (writer). The words and melody form a work that is protected by copyright.

Songs appear in a variety of settings including theatrical productions such as plays, musical theatre and stage shows of any form and within operas, films and TV shows. They can be recorded on audio or video and may also be sung live.

Early human music likely consisted of simple vocalizations and rhythmic sounds, but modern technology has allowed for a tremendous amount of creativity and variation in the way a song is composed and performed. Depending on the genre, a song can be as simple or complex as desired.

While some songs are purely melodic, others have complex accompaniments to underpin, embellish, illustrate or provide contrast for the voice. These are referred to as art songs. The tradition of romances, love songs with flowing accompaniment, began in Europe with the troubadours and bards, continued by Elizabethan lutenists and later expanded into folk and popular music.

Other types of songs are called ballads. These usually feature a short verse that tells a story and has a chorus that repeats the main idea. The verses can vary in length to emphasize certain ideas and create a sense of mystery. A pre-chorus is sometimes included to heighten the impact of the chorus and also give a new twist to the melody. The bridge is another opportunity to add a new perspective or emotional element that will contrast with the Chorus and Verse.