If you are looking for the Chinese Song dynasty, see Song Dynasty (420-479) or Song Dynasty (960-1279) instead.
is a relatively short musical
composition for the human voice
(possibly accompanied by other musical instruments
), which features words (lyrics
). The words are typically of a poetic, rhyming nature, although they may be religious verses or free prose. Songs can be broadly divided into many different forms, depending on the criteria used. A common division is between "art
songs" and "folk songs", the latter being of anonymous origin and culturally associated. Other common methods of classification are by purpose (sacred vs secular), by style (dance
, ballad, lieder, etc.) or by time of origin (Renaissance
, Contemporary, etc). The performer of a song is called a "singer
" or "vocalist", the act is called singing
Art songs are songs created for performance in their own right, usually with piano accompaniment, although they can also have other types of accompaniment such as an orchestra or string quartet. Generally they are defined as having an identified author(s) and require serious voice training. The German word for song, "Lied" (plural: "Lieder"), is used in French and English-speaking communities to refer to the serious art song, whereas in German-speaking communities the word "Kunstlied" (plural: "Kunstlieder") is used to distinguish art song from folk song ("Volkslied").
Art songs feature in many cultures, including but not limited to: Russian (romansy), Dutch (lied), Italian (canzoni), French (mélodies), Scandinavian (sånger), Spanish (canciones).
Folk songs are songs of anonymous origin that are transmitted orally. They are frequently a major aspect of national or cultural identity. Art songs often become 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.
For a list of influential songs, see:
At http://www.lieder.net/ you can find thousands of texts to classical art songs in many languages, with translations to English.
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