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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.
Musical 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 instrumental musicians or singers. 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 and/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.
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.
Semantic change is a form of language change regarding the evolution of word usage—usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. In diachronic linguistics, semantic change is a change in one of the meanings of a word. Every word has a variety of senses and connotations, which can be added, removed, or altered over time, often to the extent that cognates across space and time have very different meanings. The study of semantic change can be seen as part of etymology, onomasiology, semasiology, and semantics.
Written words created specifically for music or for which music is specifically created, are called lyrics. If a pre-existing poem is set to composed music in classical music it is an art song. Songs that are sung on repeated pitches without distinct contours and patterns that rise and fall are called chants. Songs in a simple style that are learned informally are often referred to as folk songs. Songs that are composed for professional singers who sell their recordings or live shows to the mass market are called popular songs. These songs, which have broad appeal, are often composed by professional songwriters, composers and lyricists. Art songs are composed by trained classical composers for concert or recital performances. Songs are performed live and recorded on audio or video (or, in some cases, a song may be performed live and simultaneously recorded). Songs may also appear in plays, musical theatre, stage shows of any form, and within operas.
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.
An art song is a vocal music composition, usually written for one voice with piano accompaniment, and usually in the classical art music tradition. By extension, the term "art song" is used to refer to the collective genre of such songs. An art song is most often a musical setting of an independent poem or text, "intended for the concert repertory" "as part of a recital or other relatively formal social occasion". While many pieces of vocal music are easily recognized as art songs, others are more difficult to categorize. For example, a wordless vocalise written by a classical composer is sometimes considered an art song and sometimes not.
The term "mass market" refers to a market for goods produced on a large scale for a significant number of end consumers. The mass market differs from the niche market in that the former focuses on consumers with a wide variety of backgrounds with no identifiable preferences and expectations in a large market segment. Traditionally, businesses reach out to the mass market with advertising messages through a variety of media including radio, TV, newspapers and the Web.
A song may be for a solo singer, a lead singer supported by background singers, a duet, trio, or larger ensemble involving more voices singing in harmony, although the term is generally not used for large classical music vocal forms including opera and oratorio, which use terms such as aria and recitative instead.Songs with more than one voice to a part singing in polyphony or harmony are considered choral works. Songs can be broadly divided into many different forms, depending on the criteria used.
A duet is a musical composition for two performers in which the performers have equal importance to the piece, often a composition involving two singers or two pianists. It differs from a harmony, as the performers take turns performing a solo section rather than performing simultaneously. A piece performed by two pianists performing together on the same piano is a "piano duet" or "piano four hands". A piece for two pianists performing together on separate pianos is a "piano duo".
In music, a trio is a method of instrumentation or vocalization by three different sounds or voices to make a melodious music or song.
A part song, part-song or partsong is a form of choral music that consists of a secular song written or arranged for several vocal parts. Part songs are commonly sung by an SATB choir, but sometimes for an all-male or all-female ensemble. This music is usually homophonic, meaning that the highest part carries the melody and the other voices or parts supply the accompanying harmonies, in contrast to songs that are contrapuntal, as are madrigals. Part songs are intended to be sung a cappella, that is without accompaniment, unless an instrumental accompaniment is particularly specified.
Art songs are songs created for performance by classical artists, often with piano or other instrumental accompaniment, although they can be sung solo. Art songs require strong vocal technique, understanding of language, diction and poetry for interpretation. Though such singers may also perform popular or folk songs on their programs, these characteristics and the use of poetry are what distinguish art songs from popular songs. Art songs are a tradition from most European countries, and now other countries with classical music traditions. German-speaking communities use the term art song ("Kunstlied") to distinguish so-called "serious" compositions from folk song ("Volkslied"). The lyrics are often written by a poet or lyricist and the music separately by a composer. Art songs may be more formally complicated than popular or folk songs, though many early Lieder by the likes of Franz Schubert are in simple strophic form. The accompaniment of European art songs is considered as an important part of the composition. Some art songs are so revered that they take on characteristics of national identification.
Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite his short lifetime, Schubert left behind a vast oeuvre, including more than 600 secular vocal works, seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of piano and chamber music. His major works include the Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667 , the Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 , the three last piano sonatas, the opera Fierrabras, the incidental music to the play Rosamunde, and the song cycles Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise.
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.
Art songs emerge from the tradition of singing romantic love songs, often to an ideal or imaginary person and from religious songs. The troubadours and bards of Europe began the documented tradition of romantic songs, continued by the Elizabethan lutenists. Some of the earliest art songs are found in the music of Henry Purcell. The tradition of the romance, a love song with a flowing accompaniment, often in triple meter, entered opera in the 19th century, and spread from there throughout Europe. It spread into popular music and became one of the underpinnings of popular songs. While a romance generally has a simple accompaniment, art songs tend to have complicated, sophisticated accompaniments that underpin, embellish, illustrate or provide contrast to the voice. Sometimes the accompaniment performer has the melody, while the voice sings a more dramatic part.
Courtly love was a medieval European literary conception of love that emphasized nobility and chivalry. Medieval literature is filled with examples of knights setting out on adventures and performing various deeds or services for ladies because of their "courtly love". This kind of love is originally a literary fiction created for the entertainment of the nobility, but as time passed, these ideas about love changed and attracted a larger audience. In the high Middle Ages, a "game of love" developed around these ideas as a set of social practices. "Loving nobly" was considered to be an enriching and improving practice.
A troubadour was a composer and performer of Old Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages (1100–1350). Since the word troubadour is etymologically masculine, a female troubadour is usually called a trobairitz.
Henry Purcell was an English composer. Although incorporating Italian and French stylistic elements into his compositions, Purcell's legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music. He is generally considered to be one of the greatest English composers; no later native-born English composer approached his fame until Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, William Walton and Benjamin Britten in the 20th century.
Folk songs are songs of often anonymous origin (or are public domain) that are transmitted orally. They are frequently a major aspect of national or cultural identity. Art songs often approach the status of folk songs when people forget who the author was. Folk songs are also frequently transmitted non-orally (that is, as sheet music), especially in the modern era. Folk songs exist in almost every culture. Popular songs may eventually become folk songs by the same process of detachment from its source. Folk songs are more-or-less in the public domain by definition, though there are many folk song entertainers who publish and record copyrighted original material. This tradition led also to the singer-songwriter style of performing, where an artist has written confessional poetry or personal statements and sings them set to music, most often with guitar accompaniment.
The public domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable.
Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication wherein knowledge, art, ideas and cultural material is received, preserved and transmitted orally from one generation to another. The transmission is through speech or song and may include folktales, ballads, chants, prose or verses. In this way, it is possible for a society to transmit oral history, oral literature, oral law and other knowledge across generations without a writing system, or in parallel to a writing system. Religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, for example, have used an oral tradition, in parallel to a writing system, to transmit their canonical scriptures, secular knowledge such as Sushruta Samhita, hymns and mythologies from one generation to the next.
Identity is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and/or expressions that make a person (self-identity) or group, in psychology. Categorizing identity can be positive or destructive.
There are many genres of popular songs, including torch songs, ballads, novelty songs, anthems, rock, blues and soul songs as well as indie music. Other commercial genres include rapping. Folk songs include ballads, lullabyes, love songs, mourning songs, dance songs, work songs, ritual songs and many more.
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An instrumental is a musical composition or recording without lyrics, or singing, although it might include some inarticulate vocals, such as shouted backup vocals in a Big Band setting. Through semantic widening, a broader sense of the word song may refer to instrumentals. The music is primarily or exclusively produced using musical instruments. An instrumental can exist in music notation, after it is written by a composer; in the mind of the composer ; as a piece that is performed live by a single instrumentalist or a musical ensemble, which could range in components from a duo or trio to a large Big Band, concert band or orchestra.
A choir is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform. Choirs may perform music from the classical music repertoire, which spans from the medieval era to the present, or popular music repertoire. Most choirs are led by a conductor, who leads the performances with arm and face gestures.
Music is found in every known culture, past and present, varying widely between times and places. Since all people of the world, including the most isolated tribal groups, have a form of music, it may be concluded that music is likely to have been present in the ancestral population prior to the dispersal of humans around the world. Consequently, the first music may have been invented in Africa and then evolved to become a fundamental constituent of human life.
Sheet music is a handwritten or printed form of musical notation that uses musical symbols to indicate the pitches (melodies), rhythms or chords of a song or instrumental musical piece. Like its analogs – printed books or pamphlets in English, Arabic or other languages – the medium of sheet music typically is paper, although the access to musical notation since the 1980s has included the presentation of musical notation on computer screens and the development of scorewriter computer programs that can notate a song or piece electronically, and, in some cases, "play back" the notated music using a synthesizer or virtual instruments.
Vocal music is a type of music performed by one or more singers, either with instrumental accompaniment, or without instrumental accompaniment, in which singing provides the main focus of the piece. Music which employs singing but does not feature it prominently is generally considered instrumental music as is music without singing. Music without any non-vocal instrumental accompaniment is referred to as a cappella.
Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice and augments regular speech by the use of sustained tonality, rhythm, and a variety of vocal techniques. A person who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music that can be sung with or without accompaniment by musical instruments. Singing is often done in an ensemble of musicians, such as a choir of singers or a band of instrumentalists. Singers may perform as soloists or accompanied by anything from a single instrument up to a symphony orchestra or big band. Different singing styles include art music such as opera and Chinese opera, Indian music and religious music styles such as gospel, traditional music styles, world music, jazz, blues, ghazal and popular music styles such as pop, rock, electronic dance music and filmi.
Recitative is a style of delivery in which a singer is allowed to adopt the rhythms and delivery of ordinary speech. Recitative does not repeat lines as formally composed songs do. It resembles sung ordinary speech more than a formal musical composition.
The content of Ukrainian music covers diverse and multiple component elements of the music that is found in the Western and Eastern musical civilization. It also has a very strong indigenous Slavic and Christian uniqueness whose elements were used among many neighboring nations.
Music of North Korea is heavily influenced by the political situation in the country. Many songs are related to the North Korean cult of personality.
The Music of Albania is associated with the country of Albania and Albanian communities. Music has a long tradition in the country and is known for its regional diversity, from the Ghegs in the North to the Tosks in the South. It is an integral part of the national identity, strongly influenced by the country's long and turbulent history, which forced Albanians to protect their culture from their overlords by living in rural and remote mountains.
Music of Lithuania refers to all forms of music associated with Lithuania, which has a long history of the folk, popular and classical musical development. Music was an important part of polytheistic, pre-Christian Lithuania – rituals were accompanied by music instruments and singing, deeds of the heroes and those who didn't return from the war were celebrated in songs.
The music of Bulgaria refers to all forms of music associated with the country of Bulgaria, including classical, folk, popular music, and other forms.
The music of Greenland is a mixture of two primary strands, Inuit and Danish, mixed with influences from the United States and United Kingdom.
Accompaniment is the musical part which provides the rhythmic and/or harmonic support for the melody or main themes of a song or instrumental piece. There are many different styles and types of accompaniment in different genres and styles of music. In homophonic music, the main accompaniment approach used in popular music, a clear vocal melody is supported by subordinate chords. In popular music and traditional music, the accompaniment parts typically provide the "beat" for the music and outline the chord progression of the song or instrumental piece.
Russian traditional music specifically deals with the folk music traditions of the ethnic Russian people. It does not include the various forms of art music, which in Russia often contains folk melodies and folk elements or music of other ethnic groups living in Russia.
A vocal warm-up is a series of exercises meant to prepare the voice for singing, acting, or other use.
Ukrainian folk music includes a number of varieties of traditional, folkloric, folk-inspired popular and folk-inspired classical traditions.
Vocal harmony is a style of vocal music in which a consonant note or notes are simultaneously sung as a main melody in a predominantly homophonic texture. Vocal harmonies are used in many subgenres of European art music, including Classical choral music and opera and in the popular styles from many Western cultures ranging from folk songs and musical theater pieces to rock ballads. In the simplest style of vocal harmony, the main vocal melody is supported by a single backup vocal line, either at a pitch which is above or below the main vocal line, often in thirds or sixths which fit in with the chord progression used in the song. In more complex vocal harmony arrangements, different backup singers may sing two or even three other notes at the same time as each of the main melody notes, mostly with consonant, pleasing-sounding thirds, sixths, and fifths.
The ataaba is a traditional Arabic musical form sung at weddings or festivals, and sometimes also by people at work. Popular in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Jordan, it was originally a Bedouin genre, improvised by a solo poet-singer accompanying himself on the rababa. As part of the Palestinian folk music tradition, ataabas are generally performed by a vocal soloist, without instrumental accompaniment, who improvises the melody using folk poetry for the verse.
Jean Nicolas De Surmont (2017), From vocal poetry to song, toward a Theory of Song Obects" with a foreword by Geoff Stahl, Stuttgart, Ibidem.