Lyrics

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Lyrics in sheet music. This is a homorhythmic (i.e., hymn-style) arrangement of a traditional piece entitled "Adeste Fideles", in standard two-staff format for mixed voices.
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Lyrics in sheet music. This is a homorhythmic (i.e., hymn-style) arrangement of a traditional piece entitled "Adeste Fideles", in standard two-staff format for mixed voices. Loudspeaker.svg Play  

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 (often with a variation of rhyming words) that are meant to be spoken rhythmically rather than sung.

In linguistics, a word is the smallest element that can be uttered in isolation with objective or practical meaning.

Song Composition for voice(s)

A song is a musical composition intended to be sung by the human voice. This is often done at distinct and fixed pitches using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various forms, such as those including the repetition of sections. Through semantic widening, a broader sense of the word "song" may refer to instrumentals.

Verse (poetry) single metrical line in a poetic composition

In the countable sense, a verse is formally a single metrical line in a poetic composition. However, verse has come to represent any division or grouping of words in a poetic composition, with groupings traditionally having been referred to as stanzas.

Contents

Etymology

A lyrist on the Standard of Ur, c. 2500 BC. Ur lyre.jpg
A lyrist on the Standard of Ur, c.2500 BC.

"Lyric" derives via Latin lyricus from the Greek λυρικός (lyrikós), [1] the adjectival form of lyre. [2] It first appeared in English in the mid-16th century in reference, to the Earl of Surrey's translations of Petrarch and to his own sonnets. [3] Greek lyric poetry had been defined by the manner in which it was sung accompanied by the lyre or cithara, [4] as opposed to the chanted formal epics or the more passionate elegies accompanied by the flute. The personal nature of many of the verses of the Nine Lyric Poets led to the present sense of "lyric poetry" but the original Greek sensewords set to musiceventually led to its use as "lyrics", first attested in Stainer and Barrett's 1876 Dictionary of Musical Terms. [5] Stainer and Barrett used the word as a singular substantive: "Lyric, poetry or blank verse intended to be set to music and sung". By the 1930s, the present use of the plurale tantum "lyrics" had begun; it has been standard since the 1950s for many writers. [1] The singular form "lyric" is still used to mean the complete words to a song by authorities such as Alec Wilder [6] , Robert Gottlieb [7] , and Stephen Sondheim [8] . However, the singular form is also commonly used to refer to a specific line (or phrase) within a song's lyrics.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Lyre string instrument from Greek classical antiquity

The lyre is a string instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later periods. The lyre is similar in appearance to a small harp but with distinct differences.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey 16th-century English nobleman

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, KG,, was an English nobleman, politician, and poet. He was one of the founders of English Renaissance poetry and the last known execution by King Henry VIII. He was a first cousin of both Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Catherine Howard, second and fifth wives of King Henry VIII. His name is usually associated in literature with that of Wyatt, was the younger poet of the two. He was the son of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and when his father became Duke of Norfolk (1524) the son adopted the courtesy title of Earl of Surrey. Owing largely to the powerful position of his father, Surrey took the prominent part in the Court life of the time, and served as a solider both in France and Scotland. he was the man of reckless temper, which involved in many quarrels, and finally brought upon him the wrath of aging and embittered Henry VIII. He was arrested, tried for treason and beheaded on Tower Hill.

Poems

The differences between poem and song may become less meaningful where verse is set to music, to the point that any distinction becomes untenable. This is perhaps recognised in the way popular songs have lyrics.

Music form of art using sound and silence

Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.

However, the verse may pre-date its tune (in the way that "Rule Britannia" was set to music, and "And did those feet in ancient time" has become the hymn "Jerusalem"), or the tune may be lost over time but the words survive, matched by a number of different tunes (this is particularly common with hymns and ballads).

Melody linear succession of musical tones in the foreground of a work of music

A melody, also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most literal sense, a melody is a combination of pitch and rhythm, while more figuratively, the term can include successions of other musical elements such as tonal color. It may be considered the foreground to the background accompaniment. A line or part need not be a foreground melody.

And did those feet in ancient time 1808 William Blake poem adapted into a popular English hymn

And did those feet in ancient time’ is a poem by William Blake from the preface to his epic Milton: A Poem in Two Books, one of a collection of writings known as the Prophetic Books. The date of 1804 on the title page is probably when the plates were begun, but the poem was printed c. 1808. Today it is best known as the hymn "Jerusalem", with music written by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. It is not to be confused with another poem, much longer and larger in scope, but also by Blake, called Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion.

Hymn type of song specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer

A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification. The word hymn derives from Greek ὕμνος (hymnos), which means "a song of praise". A writer of hymns is known as a hymnodist. The singing or composition of hymns is called hymnody. Collections of hymns are known as hymnals or hymn books. Hymns may or may not include instrumental accompaniment.

Possible classifications proliferate (under anthem, ballad, blues, carol, folk song, hymn, libretto, lied, lullaby, march, praise song, round, spiritual). Nursery rhymes may be songs, or doggerel: the term doesn't imply a distinction. The ghazal is a sung form that is considered primarily poetic. See also rapping, roots of hip hop music.

An anthem is a musical composition of celebration, usually used as a symbol for a distinct group, particularly the national anthems of countries. Originally, and in music theory and religious contexts, it also refers more particularly to short sacred choral work and still more particularly to a specific form of Anglican church music.

Ballad form of verse, often a narrative set to music

A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads derive from the medieval French chanson balladée or ballade, which were originally "danced songs". Ballads were particularly characteristic of the popular poetry and song of Britain and Ireland from the later medieval period until the 19th century. They were widely used across Europe, and later in Australia, North Africa, North America and South America. Ballads are often 13 lines with an ABABBCBC form, consisting of couplets of rhymed verse, each of 14 syllables. Another common form is ABAB or ABCB repeated, in alternating 8 and 6 syllable lines.

Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1870s by African Americans from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, and spirituals. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. Blue notes, usually thirds, fifths or sevenths flattened in pitch are also an essential part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove.

Analogously, verse drama might normally be judged (at its best) as poetry, but not consisting of poems (see dramatic verse).

Drama Artwork intended for performance, formal type of literature

Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance: a play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on radio or television. Considered as a genre of poetry in general, the dramatic mode has been contrasted with the epic and the lyrical modes ever since Aristotle's Poetics —the earliest work of dramatic theory.

Poetry Form of literature

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

In Baroque music, melodies and their lyrics were prose. Rather than paired lines they consist of rhetorical sentences or paragraphs consisting of an opening gesture, an amplification (often featuring sequence), and a close (featuring a cadence); in German Vordersatz- Fortspinnung -Epilog. [9] For example:

When I was a child,                                  [opening gesture] I spoke as a child,                                  [amplification...] I understood as a child,                             [...] I thought as a child;                                [...] But when I became a man, I put away childish things. [close] - 1 Corinthians 13:11

Shifter

In the lyrics of popular music a "shifter" [10] is a word, often a pronoun, "where reference varies according to who is speaking, when and where", [11] such as "I", "you", "my", "our". For example, who is the "my" of "My Generation"?

See Royalties

Currently, there are many websites featuring song lyrics. This offering, however, is controversial, since some sites include copyrighted lyrics offered without the holder's permission. The U.S. Music Publishers' Association (MPA), which represents sheet music companies, launched a legal campaign against such websites in December 2005. The MPA's president, Lauren Keiser, said the free lyrics web sites are "completely illegal" and wanted some website operators jailed. [12]

Lyrics licenses could be obtained worldwide through one of the two aggregators: LyricFind and Musixmatch. The first company to provide licensed lyrics was Yahoo!, quickly followed by MetroLyrics and Lyrics.com. More and more lyric websites are beginning to provide licensed lyrics, such as SongMeanings and LyricWiki. [13]

Many competing lyrics web sites are still offering unlicensed content, causing challenges around the legality and accuracy of lyrics. [14] In the latest attempt to crack down unlicensed lyrics web sites a federal court has ordered LiveUniverse, a network of websites run by MySpace co-founder Brad Greenspan, to cease operating four sites offering unlicensed song lyrics. [15]

Academic study

Lyrics can be studied from an academic perspective. For example, some lyrics can be considered a form of social commentary. Lyrics often contain political, social, and economic themes—as well as aesthetic elements—and so can communicate culturally significant messages. These messages can be explicit, or implied through metaphor or symbolism. Lyrics can also be analyzed with respect to the sense of unity (or lack of unity) it has with its supporting music. Analysis based on tonality and contrast are particular examples. Former Oxford Professor of Poetry Christopher Ricks famously published Dylan's Visions of Sin, an in-depth and characteristically Ricksian analysis of the lyrics of Bob Dylan; Ricks gives the caveat that to have studied the poetry of the lyrics in tandem with the music would have made for a much more complicated critical feat.

Search engines

A 2009 report published by McAfee found that, in terms of potential exposure to malware, lyrics-related searches and searches containing the word "free" are the most likely to have risky results from search engines, both in terms of average risk of all results, and maximum risk of any result. [16]

Google

Beginning in late 2014, Google changed its search results pages to include song lyrics. When users search for a name of a song, Google can now display the lyrics directly in the search results page. [17] When users search for a specific song's lyrics, most results show the lyrics directly through a Google search by using Google Play. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

Alcaeus of Mytilene ancient Greek poet

Alcaeus of Mytilene was a lyric poet from the Greek island of Lesbos who is credited with inventing the Alcaic stanza. He was included in the canonical list of nine lyric poets by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria. He was an older contemporary and an alleged lover of Sappho, with whom he may have exchanged poems. He was born into the aristocratic governing class of Mytilene, the main city of Lesbos, where he was involved in political disputes and feuds.

National Anthem of Chile National Anthem of Chile

The "National Anthem of Chile", also known as "Canción Nacional", was adopted in 1828. It has a history of two lyrics and two melodies that made up three different versions. The current version was composed by Ramón Carnicer, with words by Eusebio Lillo, and has six parts plus the chorus.

Lyric may refer to:

Libretto text used for an extended musical work

A libretto is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata or musical. The term libretto is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as the Mass, requiem and sacred cantata, or the story line of a ballet.

Lyric poetry formal type of poetry

Lyric poetry is a formal type of poetry which expresses personal emotions or feelings, typically spoken in the first person. The term derives from a form of Ancient Greek literature, the lyric, which was defined by its musical accompaniment, usually on a stringed instrument known as a lyre. The term owes its importance in literary theory to the division developed by Aristotle between three broad categories of poetry: lyrical, dramatic, and epic.

Poetry took numerous forms in medieval Europe, for example, lyric and epic poetry. The troubadours and the minnesänger are known for their lyric poetry about courtly love.

John Browns Body United States marching song about the abolitionist John Brown

"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.

Battle Hymn of the Republic American patriotic song written by Julia Ward Howe

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. Since that time, it has become an extremely popular and well-known American patriotic song.

Refrain line or lines that are repeated in music or in verse

A refrain is the line or lines that are repeated in music or in poetry; the "chorus" of a song. Poetic fixed forms that feature refrains include the villanelle, the virelay, and the sestina.

On Ilkla Moor Baht at folk song from Yorkshire, England

"On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at" is a folk song from Yorkshire, England. It is sung in the Yorkshire dialect, and is considered the unofficial anthem of Yorkshire. According to tradition, the words were composed by members of a church choir on an outing to Ilkley Moor near Ilkley, West Yorkshire.

Kriti

Kriti is a format of musical composition typical to Carnatic music. Kritis form the mental backbone of any typical Carnatic music concert and is the longer format of Carnatic song. "Kriti" also means Creation.

Strophic form song structure in which all verses or stanzas of the text are sung to the same music

Strophic form, also called verse-repeating or chorus form, 'AAA song form', or 'One-part song form', is a song structure in which all verses or stanzas of the text are sung to the same music. The opposite of strophic form, with new music written for every stanza, is called through-composed.

Anacreon Greek lyric poet, notable for his drinking songs and hymns

Anacreon was a Greek lyric poet, notable for his drinking songs and hymns. Later Greeks included him in the canonical list of nine lyric poets. Anacreon wrote all of his poetry in the ancient Ionic dialect. Like all early lyric poetry, it was composed to be sung or recited to the accompaniment of music, usually the lyre. Anacreon's poetry touched on universal themes of love, infatuation, disappointment, revelry, parties, festivals and the observations of everyday people and life.

How Can I Keep from Singing? Christian hymn

"How Can I Keep From Singing?" is a Christian hymn with music written by American Baptist minister Robert Wadsworth Lowry. The song is frequently, though erroneously, cited as a traditional Quaker or Shaker hymn. The original composition has now entered into the public domain, and appears in several hymnals and song collections, both in its original form and with a revised text. Though it is not, in fact, a Quaker hymn, twentieth-century Quakers adopted it as their own and use it widely today.

History of poetry

Poetry as an art form predates written text. The earliest poetry is believed to have been recited or sung, employed as a way of remembering oral history, genealogy, and law. Poetry is often closely related to musical traditions, and the earliest poetry exists in the form of hymns, and other types of song such as chants. As such poetry is a verbal art. Many of the poems surviving from the ancient world are recorded prayers, or stories about religious subject matter, but they also include historical accounts, instructions for everyday activities, love songs, and fiction. Many scholars, particularly those researching the Homeric tradition and the oral epics of the Balkans, suggest that early writing shows clear traces of older oral traditions, including the use of repeated phrases as building blocks in larger poetic units. A rhythmic and repetitious form would make a long story easier to remember and retell, before writing was available as an aide-memoire. Thus many ancient works, from the Vedas to the Odyssey, appear to have been composed in poetic form to aid memorization and oral transmission, in prehistoric and ancient societies. Poetry appears among the earliest records of most literate cultures, with poetic fragments found on early monoliths, runestones and stelae.

Jewish music is the music and melodies of the Jewish people. There exist both traditions of religious music, as sung at the synagogue and domestic prayers, and of secular music, such as klezmer. While some elements of Jewish music may originate in biblical times, differences of rhythm and sound can be found among later Jewish communities that have been musically influenced by location. In the nineteenth century, religious reform led to composition of ecclesiastic music in the styles of classical music. At the same period, academics began to treat the topic in the light of ethnomusicology. Edward Seroussi has written, "What is known as 'Jewish music' today is thus the result of complex historical processes". A number of modern Jewish composers have been aware of and influenced by the different traditions of Jewish music.

Yuan poetry refers to those types or styles of poetry particularly associated with the era of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), in China. Although the poetic forms of past literature were continued, the Yuan period is particularly known for the development of the poetic aspects included in the complex mix of different art forms which characterize Chinese opera, namely the qu or fixed-tone pattern type of verses that were delivered by the actors of these shows. Although the language of Yuan poetry is still generally considered to be Classical Chinese, a certain vernacular aspect reflecting linguistic changes can be seen in some of the fixed-rhythm verse forms, such as Yuan ci and qu. Certain aspects of Yuan poetry can be understood in the context of the social and political changes which took place as part of the process of the Mongol conquest of the Jin and Song Dynasties and their subsequent establishment of the Yuan dynasty.

Greek lyric body of lyric poetry written in dialects of Ancient Greek

Greek lyric is the body of lyric poetry written in dialects of Ancient Greek. It is primarily associated with the early 7th to the early 5th centuries BC, sometimes called the "Lyric Age of Greece", but continued to be written into the Hellenistic and Imperial periods.

Hymnody in continental Europe developed from early liturgical music, especially Gregorian chant. Music became more complicated as embellishments and variations were added, along with influences from secular music. Although vernacular leisen and vernacular or mixed-language Carol (music) were sung in the Middle Ages, more vernacular hymnody emerged during the Protestant Reformation, although ecclesiastical Latin continued to be used after the Reformation. Since then, developments have shifted between isorhythmic, homorhythmic, and more rounded musical forms with some lilting. Theological underpinnings influenced the narrative point of view used, with Pietism especially encouraging the use of the first person singular. In the last several centuries, many songs from Evangelicalism have been translated from English into German.

References

  1. 1 2 Oxford English Dictionary 1st ed. lyric, adj. and n." 1903. Accessed 15 Jan 2014.
  2. Liddell, Henry & al. A Greek–English Lexicon 9th ed., "λυρικός". Clarendon Press (Oxford), 1996. Hosted at the Perseus Project. Accessed 15 Jan 2014.
  3. Sidney, Philip. An Apologie for Poetrie op. cit. OED (1903).
  4. Miller, Andrew. Greek Lyric: An Anthology in Translation , pp. xii ff. Hackett Publishing (Indianapolis), 1996. ISBN   978-0872202917.
  5. Stainer, John & al. A Dictionary of Musical Terms, p. 276. (London), 1876.
  6. Wilder, Alec (1972). American Popular Song. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-0195014457.
  7. Gottlieb, Robert (2000). Reading Lyrics. New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN   9780375400810.
  8. Sondheim, Stephen (2011). Finishing the Hat. New York: Knopf. ISBN   9780679439073.
  9. Kelly, Thomas Forest (2011). Early Music: A Very Short Introduction, p.53. ISBN   978-0-19-973076-6.
  10. Durant (1984). Cited in Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN   0-335-15275-9.
  11. Middleton (1990), p.167.
  12. "Song sites face legal crackdown". BBC News. 12 December 2005. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
  13. "Advertising on SongMeanings". SongMeanings . Retrieved 21 July 2012. All of our lyrics are legally licensed through LyricFind.
  14. Plambeck, Joseph (May 9, 2010). "Lyrics Sites at Center of Fight Over Royalties". The New York Times . Retrieved May 9, 2010.
  15. "Court Orders LiveUniverse to Shutter Unlicensed Lyrics Sites". Digital Media Wire. August 11, 2010. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
  16. Keats, Shane; Koshy, Eipe (2009). "The Web's Most Dangerous Search Terms" (PDF). McAfee . Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  17. Jose, Pagliery (23 December 2014). "Google now displays song lyrics in search results". CNN.com. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  18. "Google Play". play.google.com. Retrieved 2016-04-15.

Further reading