What is a Song?

A song is a combination of melody and lyrics that creates a musical expression of the soul. It can be sung alone by one person (a cappella), or with other singers such as a duo, trio, or full group. A song usually has a rhythm, or beat, and a structure including verses and choruses. It can also have a pre-chorus, which is a short section that creates tension and anticipation of the bigger chorus.

Some creators are wary of learning how songs work — as if it makes their music less genuine or “real”. In truth, knowing the terminology and structures of a song can help you understand why a certain element sounds the way it does. It can also help you communicate with other musicians about the songwriting process.

The term song can be applied to any piece of music that has a vocal part, but it is most commonly used for a musical composition with words – although there are some instrumental pieces, such as improvisational jazz, that fall into the category as well. Traditionally, the genres of opera and oratorio are considered songs, as are certain traditional Irish folk songs such as ‘Danny Boy’, and African storytelling songs. Similarly, sea shanties, which were sung on sailing ships to coordinate the crew in difficult tasks such as hauling anchors or putting up and taking down sails, are considered songs.

A study published in Scientific Reports found that song lyrics have become simpler and more repetitive over the past several decades. It is not clear what causes this shift, but it may be due to the increased amount of new music being produced.