Song – What it is, How it comes about, Types of song, How to write a song


What is a song?

It is one of the most important lyrical subgenres in the literary world and, at present, one of the most widespread worldwide. Under the contemporary focus, the song is a text that is subject to rhythm criteria that allow it to be sung with different musical instruments and with a great variety of themes.

Thus, the song, in particular, is one of the subgenres that has undergone more transformations and alterations throughout history, starting from its origin until today, characterized as an artistic and cultural phenomenon.

Meaning of song

The term song comes from the Latin cantio, which refers to any type of composition that can be sung, hence all the lyrics expressed in this subgenre are arranged to be accompanied by the sound of instruments. The term also allows to refer to the name of a set formed by lyrics and melody that require one of the other in order to exist.


According to the above, the song is a type of composition of the lyrical genre that expresses feelings, ideas or a particular theme, which is often related to amorous content. Its composition has a rhythm, lyrics and melody that is interpreted with the company of musical instruments and may have one or several voices.

Song lyrics denote feelings, emotions, thoughts, passions or messages, so that it is considered one of the most important artistic expressions of literature.

Origin of the song 

The birth of the song is located in the well-known Provençal troubadours, poets belonging to the Middle Ages who were dedicated to the writing of lyrics accompanied by musicality and that, later, will give life to other lyrical subgenres. However, although it is called this way until this time, historians and experts agree that the song was the oldest expression of the human being, which was designed mainly for the accompaniment of rituals and other practices of entertainment and amusement of the first settlers.

Origin of the song 

Characteristics of the song

Now, let’s look at some key aspects that make up the song and its composition in terms of lyrics and musical accompaniment:


It is the axis of the song and allows it to be distinguished from the others. In the composition of the song there can be a main melody with secondary melodies through which they complement each other. The melody is sung and the complementary melodies are assigned to the chorus or secondary voices, although often they will also be from musical instruments that are in practice with the melody line.


It is the one that allows the relationship and communication between the notes and their own distance, so that it establishes the progression of the chords in the song and the notes that will be part of the melody. It should be noted that the harmony always remains present within the song.


This element is capable of influencing both the melody of the song and the harmony itself, so that when chords are played on a guitar, for example, it is done with a certain rhythm and a melody, which not only constitutes notes but is integrated with a rhythm pattern. The rhythm of the song is the accentuation and the one that allows the flow of beats, it usually alters the mood and speed of the song, so it facilitates the use of effects. It can be used to highlight notes, add speed, make pauses, generate contrasts, among other possibilities.


These are spaces in which the notes of the music in rhythm, harmony or melody are not heard. It constitutes one of the most important elements of the song because it allows to establish the termination of interpretation of a musical instrument and allows the union of parts in the song.

Written lyrics

Although it is sung, the textual element is extremely important for the composition of the melody and with it, the union of the syllables with the notes of the musical instruments. The words, shouts or syllables that are joined with the melody allow them to be easily remembered; their disconnection makes it difficult to remember them. It is extremely important that the lyrics respect the spaces of the melody and make sure that they are well pronounced and match the melody.

As for the content of the lyrics in the song, these are usually linked with aspects to convey messages according to the central idea of the song. However, there are songs that are not sung but rather the syllables are embraced by the melody.

Song Arrangements

They are details of the song that allow to add variety, among them we find:


It refers to the environment or climate in which the song is transmitted, mainly set by the theme or the main idea of the song, generating a happy, melancholic, nostalgic, euphoric, etc. atmosphere. It can also include other elements such as childish, romantic, epic, among others.

Sound effects

Includes sounds that are not produced within the music but accompany and create a different environment, particularized by the decoration of the environment, so they can be sounds such as rain, the street, the passing of the train, the sound of cars, animal sounds, among others. They can appear in any part of the song, although they are not strictly necessary.


They are short musical ideas that allow to complete the song as fillers, phrases or arpeggios that are added within the same composition.


The sound that indicates the note produced by musical instruments allowing the differentiation of elements in intensity, pitch or frequency.

Song structure

The way in which the song is organized is a fundamental aspect because its components are still used. In this sense, there are the stanzas that can vary between five and seven and that combine verses whose syllables also vary.

This structure contains:


It is the initial part in which the song and its first lyrics begin to develop. Thus, the theme of the song is told with an established harmony. Both the length of the verse and the length of the refrain can vary, although they are usually between 1 and 4 verses according to the length, the number of lines and the rhythm.


It is considered a musical arrangement that is used for the transition of the harmony, so that it connects the verse that goes in the initial part with the refrain that is about to come. Thus, when the verse, like the refrain, has the same harmonic pattern, it is the pre-refrain that indicates the new pattern to prevent the refrain from being fixed without a transition. In this way, the pre-estribillo is a kind of bridge that communicates the two parts, introductory and central of the composition with the same harmonic pattern for the union of these.


As one of the most important components, it is a set of verses that are repeated several times in the composition of the song. This repetition allows this part of the song to further emphasize the main idea of the lyrics. Often the refrain becomes the less narrative and more reflective commentary, where it contrasts the verses in rhythm, harmony, melody and generates dynamism combined with the instrumentation. They may or may not use a different verse melody.

The refrain is considered the most important part of the popular song, as we will see in the types, which is characterized by being contained in commercial music due to its repetition from beginning to end.

Musical bridge

It is the element that allows the connection of the parts of a song through which a harmony involving the parts is built. The musical bridge allows the song not to fall into repetition and elevates the rhythm to a climax, generating tension and preparing the song and its composition for the end. One of the most common examples is what happens in popular songs in musical genres such as rock, where the musical bridge is the guitar solo that is performed after the song’s verses. This is repeated until the end of the song.


Also called the end of the song, although there are several ways to end the song, the ending refers to a break in the song that culminates in a silence that can either be sudden or continue through chords. Often in the song the closure is reached with the repetition of the chorus until the final silence, also the repetition of the sounds of the introduction is used.

Types of songs

Types of songs

Throughout history the song was one of the most widespread subgenres, hence its evolution and transformation has taken place and left a great variety of types of songs that we identify until today. These are:

Lyrical song

They are all those songs that belong to classical music and in which their composition preserves the writing in verse and stanza. They are often works that are created by poets and are accompanied by musical instruments such as the piano, besides being also present with symphony orchestras for their interpretation.

Sicilian song

This type of song is characterized because it is composed of two feet or piedi, which have, in turn, the same number of verses, but differ in the rhyme scheme, which is often different. The tail of the Sicilian song is composed of two turns with the same metrical scheme.

Anarchist song

This is a type of song used by artists such as Dante and Petrarch. This modality is characterized because it is composed of two feet and a single undivided tail. Between the front and the tail there is a chive that carries and repeats the last verse of the initial part.

Popular song

It is a type of modern song that evidences the diversity of musical styles that were incorporated to the transformation of the song. These are songs that are listened to massively, that is to say, by a great number of people and that, in addition, are spread through the mass media.

An important aspect that we must take into account about popular songs is that they are subject to intellectual property, so that they have an author, but this does not reduce the collaboration and interpretation of other authors on the same song or the composition of new lyrics. Their structure is much simpler, although in some cases this varies and from here another series of massively spread musical genres arise. The musical genres that adopt the popular song are rock, salsa, ballad, rap, pop, reggae, jazz, blues, cumbia, among many others.

Folk song

Refers to those lyrical compositions that reflect the cultural identity of a specific area, country or region. In this sense, the compositions have different themes that expose aspects such as customs, beliefs, traditions, stories and other series of stories of specific social groups from the song.

How to write a song?

Nowadays, one of the most widely used types of song is the popular song, being this modern era its main place of operation. Let’s see how to write a song step by step:

Define the theme of the song 

Although the writing of a song would imply knowledge in the musical area, some old authors preferred to start with the writing and the approach of the idea to then build the musical composition that would accompany the lyrics. In this way, the first thing to do is to define the theme of the song, and from that moment on we will know what instruments and rhythms we can use.

Love songs, for example, are accompanied by cheerful and soft sounds, party songs have faster and moving rhythms. Make sure you have the theme defined to be able to add the rest.

Analyze the literary resources 

The words you use and the way you organize them is an extremely important factor when writing a song. That is why it is key that you concentrate on what you want to say and outline some short ideas that will be fixed in the final text. Some of the elements that are usually present in songs are rhetorical figures, such as metonymy, simile, among others, in various structures such as speeches, poems, stories, letters, etc.

Create your own style

Although, especially in popular songs, the musical genres have a characteristic rhythm, it is extremely important that the writing of the lyric composition is original and does not seek to copy a style of lyrics, as this is what allows you to distinguish and evidence the unique perspective of what you want to say through the song. To create an unprecedented composition you can refer to experiences, personal beliefs, metaphors, games and even words that have been invented. Creativity is a potential factor for creation so go ahead and explore.

Listen to music and songs 

As we mentioned, it is not about repeating and replicating melodies or lyrics, but it is clear that for a poet it is key to read poetry, for a short story writer it is necessary to have read stories, so for the song poet it is key to listen to melodies and lyrics that allow you to expand your imaginative panorama. This will also allow you to discover possible compositions, changes of rhythms, varied structures of composition or verse, among other aspects that will help you to refine your composition.

Read and listen 

It is possible that every time you finish a verse or when you finish the whole song you may think of adding things and making modifications, that is why it is essential that you read your lyrics and try to sing them with the melody you consider. Here you can make the changes you want, transform sentences and even add poetic images that have gone unnoticed if you opted for a more poetic language. Avoid sentences that are too long, you can split them.

Practice is essential, so it is important to keep practicing songwriting, changing phrases that are not to your liking and replacing them with figures that really manage to convey what you feel, this will be the best way to determine the quality and distinction of the works we started to write.

Most important authors and works

Most important authors and works

Among the lyric poets, characterized by the singing and composition of these lyrical lyrics we find Anacreonte, Alceo of Mytilene, Ibicus, Pindar, Simonides of Ceos, Alcmán of Sparta, Sappho, among other lyric artists of the Greek culture from where the first traces of this subgenre of the lyric genre are collected.