Article from SongwritingLab.Com
We all have a varied opinion on what exactly a song is and considering the 140 character limit of twitter no longer applies here, I can now happily share my own view with you.
Pedantically, we can look at a song as being part melody, part rhythm, part arrangement and part “ message”. I wish to focus on the message, but just to clarify the first three:
A melody is a series of notes. We play the notes with various textures and in varied rhythm as we stop, start and mix how the melody flows. A melody is usually presented on top of a rhythm (not necessarily a drum), possibly as simple as the rhythm you get from pausing, sustaining or holding. You can easily whistle a good melody but can struggle to whistle a bad one.
Take Singin’ in the Rain – by Freed and Brown. The melody has a wonderful rhythm to it. If you started whistling it now, you may very well be distracted from reading the rest of this article, so don’t start whistling now!
The term arrangement changes with genre and with time but effectively is the chosen structure, for the chosen instruments, playing the chosen melody/chord etc. This can have an effect on the message.
The message part of a song is an interesting one and where the rest of this article will now concentrate. It is interesting because it is relied on heavily by modern pop music. The message is not just lyrics but also the vibe.
Take hip-hop as an example. Hip-hop contains more message than rhythm, more rhythm than arrangement and more arrangement than melody. Take message away and you have a mediocre poem. No one wants to listen to average. So to improve the rap, one must big it up to compensate. Hip hop relies on a kick ass rhythm which creates a vibe, which reinforces the message.
To avoid dull rap, rappers write lyrics that test. They put violence or a sexy/lust slant into the message, something to make it edgy.
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