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A lyricist or lyrist is a person who writes lyrics—words for songs—as opposed to a composer, who writes the song's music which may include but not limited to the melody, harmony, arrangement and accompaniment.
The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (May 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A lyricist's income derives from royalties received from original songs. Royalties may range from 50 per cent of the song if it was written primarily with the composer, or less if they wrote the song in collaboration. Songs are automatically copyrighted as soon as they are in tangible forms, such as a recording or sheet music. However, before a song is published or made public, its author or publisher should register it with the Copyright Office at the US Library of Congress to better protect against copyright infringement.[ citation needed ]
Collaboration takes different forms. Some composers and lyricists work closely together on a song, with each having an input into both words and tune. Usually a lyricist fills in the words to a tune already fully written out. Dorothy Fields worked in this way. Lyricists have often added words to an established tune, as Johnny Burke did with the Erroll Garner tune "Misty". Some partnerships work almost totally independently, for example, Bernie Taupin writes lyrics and hands them over to Elton John, who then sets them to music, with minimum interaction between the two men.[ citation needed ]
In the Christian hymn-singing tradition, many of the popular pieces have words written to fit existing melodies. The Christmas carol "What Child Is This?" had its words set to an old English folk tune that had been a lover's lament, "Greensleeves". The English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams famously set existing poems, by men like William Cowper and Charles Wesley, to traditional folk tunes to create hymns, many of which he published in The English Hymnal . A different way this happened was the marriage of unrelated words and tune, a well-known example being "The Star-Spangled Banner", the national anthem of the United States, with words written by Francis Scott Key strictly as a poem, which was later set to the tune of an old drinking song.[ citation needed ]
In opera, the librettist is responsible for all text, whether spoken or sung in recitative or aria.[ citation needed ]
A song is a musical composition intended to be vocally performed by the human voice. This is often done at distinct and fixed pitches (melodies) using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various forms, such as those including the repetition and variation of sections.
Lyrics are words that make up a song usually consisting of verses and choruses. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist. The words to an extended musical composition such as an opera are, however, usually known as a "libretto" and their writer, as a "librettist". The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of expression. Rappers can also create lyrics that are meant to be spoken rhythmically rather than sung.
Musical composition, music composition, or simply composition, can refer to an original piece or work of music, either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece, or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called composers. Composers of primarily songs are usually called songwriters; with songs, the person who writes lyrics for a song is the lyricist. In many cultures, including Western classical music, the act of composing typically includes the creation of music notation, such as a sheet music "score," which is then performed by the composer or by other musicians. In popular music and traditional music, songwriting may involve the creation of a basic outline of the song, called the lead sheet, which sets out the melody, lyrics and chord progression. In classical music, orchestration is typically done by the composer, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a pop or traditional songwriter may not use written notation at all, and instead compose the song in their mind and then play, sing or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable sound recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written or printed scores play in classical music.
"Happy Birthday to You", also known as "Happy Birthday", is a song traditionally sung to celebrate the anniversary of a person's birth. According to the 1998 Guinness World Records, it is the most recognized song in the English language, followed by "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow". The song's base lyrics have been translated into at least 18 languages. The melody of "Happy Birthday to You" comes from the song "Good Morning to All", which has traditionally been attributed to American sisters Patty and Mildred J. Hill in 1893, although the claim that the sisters composed the tune is disputed.
A songwriter is a musician who professionally composes musical compositions and writes lyrics for songs. A songwriter can also be called a composer, although the latter term tends to be used mainly for individuals from the classical music genre and film scoring, but is also associated writing and composing the original musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter who mainly writes the lyrics for a song is referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that song writing is often an activity for which the tasks are distributed between a number of people. For example, a songwriter who excels at writing lyrics might be paired with a songwriter with the task of creating original melodies. Pop songs may be composed by group members from the band or by staff writers – songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers.
"Silent Night" is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. It was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011. The song has been recorded by many singers across many music genres. The version sung by Bing Crosby in 1935 is the fourth best-selling single of all-time.
The Londonderry Air is an Irish air that originated in County Londonderry. It is popular among the American Irish diaspora and is well known throughout the world. The tune is played as the victory sporting anthem of Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games. The song "Danny Boy" uses the tune, with a set of lyrics written in the early 20th century.
"John Brown's Body" is a United States marching song about the abolitionist John Brown. The song was popular in the Union during the American Civil War. The tune arose out of the folk hymn tradition of the American camp meeting movement of the late 18th and early 19th century. According to an 1890 account, the original John Brown lyrics were a collective effort by a group of Union soldiers who were referring both to the famous John Brown and also, humorously, to a Sergeant John Brown of their own battalion. Various other authors have published additional verses or claimed credit for originating the John Brown lyrics and tune.
The "Battle Hymn of the Republic", also known as "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory" outside of the United States, is a lyric by the abolitionist writer Julia Ward Howe using the music from the song "John Brown's Body". Howe's more famous lyrics were written in November 1861 and first published in The Atlantic Monthly in February 1862. The song links the judgment of the wicked at the end of the age with the American Civil War. It is an extremely popular and well-known American patriotic song.
"We Shall Overcome" is a gospel song which became a protest song and a key anthem of the civil rights movement. The song is most commonly attributed as being lyrically descended from "I'll Overcome Some Day", a hymn by Charles Albert Tindley that was first published in 1900.
"Auld Lang Syne" is a Scots-language poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The international Scouting movement in many countries uses it to close jamborees and other functions.
Finlandia, Op. 26, is a tone poem by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It was written in 1899 and revised in 1900. The piece was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire, and was the last of seven pieces performed as an accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history. The premiere was on 2 July 1900 in Helsinki with the Helsinki Philharmonic Society conducted by Robert Kajanus. A typical performance takes between 7½ and 9 minutes depending on how it is performed.
"Away in a Manger" is a Christmas carol first published in the late nineteenth century and used widely throughout the English-speaking world. In Britain, it is one of the most popular carols; a 1996 Gallup Poll ranked it joint second. Although it was long claimed to be the work of German religious reformer Martin Luther, the carol is now thought to be wholly American in origin. The two most-common musical settings are by William J. Kirkpatrick (1895) and James Ramsey Murray (1887).
"Ar Hyd y Nos" is a Welsh song sung to a tune that was first recorded in Edward Jones' Musical and Poetical Relics of the Welsh Bards (1784). The most commonly sung Welsh lyrics were written by John Ceiriog Hughes (1832-1887), and have been translated into several languages, including English and Breton. One of the earliest English versions, to different Welsh lyrics by one John Jones, was by Thomas Oliphant in 1862.
Parody music, or musical parody, involves changing or copying existing musical ideas, and/or lyrics, or copying the particular style of a composer or performer, or even a general style of music. Although the intention of a musical parody may be humour, it is the re-use of music that is the original defining feature.
Zemirot or Z'mirot are Jewish hymns, usually sung in the Hebrew or Aramaic languages, but sometimes also in Yiddish or Ladino. The best known zemirot are those sung around the table during Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Some of the Sabbath zemirot are specific to certain times of the day, such as those sung for the Friday evening meal, the Saturday noon meal, and the third Sabbath meal just before sundown on Saturday afternoon. In some editions of the Jewish prayerbook (siddur), the words to these hymns are printed after the opening prayer (kiddush) for each meal. Other zemirot are more generic and can be sung at any meal or other sacred occasion.
In vocal music, contrafactum is "the substitution of one text for another without substantial change to the music".
A hymn tune is the melody of a musical composition to which a hymn text is sung. Musically speaking, a hymn is generally understood to have four-part harmony, a fast harmonic rhythm, and no refrain or chorus.
Hebrew Melodies is a collection of 30 poems by Lord Byron. They were largely created by Byron to accompany music composed by Isaac Nathan, who played the poet melodies which he claimed (incorrectly) dated back to the service of the Temple in Jerusalem.
The "Marines' Hymn" is the official hymn of the United States Marine Corps, introduced by the first director of USMC Band, Francesco Maria Scala. It is the oldest official song in the United States Armed Forces. The "Marines' Hymn" is typically sung at the position of attention as a gesture of respect. However, the third verse is also used as a toast during formal events, such as the birthday ball and other ceremonies.