The Art of Song


A song is a musical composition with lyrics, whether sung a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment) or with instruments. Songs are often repetitive, with repeating melodies and harmonies. The song may tell a story, or just be an expression of feeling, or both.

Throughout time, music has been used to heal, provoke, and bring people together. The power of melody can make us laugh or cry, and even give us chills. It is the marriage of lyrics and music that makes a song, which is why we call it “music.”

Music can help us escape our daily worries and connect with one another. But it is also a medium to challenge societal norms and expose injustice. The New York Times’ Lindsay Zoladz explores the way that songs can shape our ideas, feelings and perceptions in her new weekly newsletter, The Amplifier.

If you’re interested in learning more about the art of song, there are many resources to explore on this site and beyond. A collection of essays on American song offers a framework for teachers and students, while a more technical guide to the musical structure of a song demonstrates how different components can work in tandem to create compelling musical pieces.

The intro of a song sets the scene for the rest of its length. A good intro is memorable and catches the listener’s attention, and it should lead into the chorus which conveys the song’s main idea with its most catchy and memorable melody. The bridge adds variety to a song by providing an alternative melodic and rhythmic style from that of the chorus and verse, usually ending on a note or chord that is different from what the chorus or verse started with.