What Is a Song?


A song is a musical composition set to words and usually within a specific rhythm or meter. It may be performed by a vocalist with or without instrumental accompaniment. A song may have a single melody and lyrics or multiple melodies and lyrics. Songs are used for entertainment, religious and social purposes, and as part of rituals. Some songs are used to help people learn, while others are written for commercial or advertising purposes.

A variety of songs exist, including folk, art, and opera. Folk songs often have simple melodies and lyrics. Some are narrative, and can incorporate a variety of plots. They can be about a particular person or situation, or can be more general in subject matter such as love and war. The folk song tradition is rooted in the poetry of bards and troubadours, which were accompanied by lutes or other stringed instruments.

Art songs have complex, sophisticated accompaniments that underpin, embellish, illustrate or provide contrast with the voice. These accompaniments can have a flowing, pulsating or evocative quality. They can also be used to create peaks and valleys of emotion or feeling in the music. Art songs originated from the romances of the medieval troubadours and Elizabethan lutenists, as well as religious songs.

Whether you enjoy a particular song or not, it’s important to study it with an objective process in mind. By doing so, you can discover the many elements that have contributed to its success over time.