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For the human voice?[edit]

  • I would like to know when a song became only things that were created by voice. I am slightly confused about this. --Driken 05:03, 11 February 2006 (UTC),pop music

Music that isn't created by a human voice, but by instruments, is generally referred to generally as a piece, or more specifically by its form, such as symphony, string quartet, or waltz. Devahn58 (talk) 17:40, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

Whereas I'm confused by this assertion: "Colloquially, song is sometimes used to refer to any music composition, even those without vocals". I've never come across this, is it a quirk of US English? I'm British, by the way. Mattmm ( talk) 20:13, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
As a speaker of US English, my confusion goes the other way. I'm surprised not to find that the primary definition is any piece of music. mkehrt (talk) 09:55, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

It's a quirk of many instrumental bands. And I would argue that they more than anyone else get to decide whether they are writing 'songs' or not. I am not going to disagree about the technical meaning of the word, but I feel this article is a little heavy handed and unforgiving – I feel like my use of this term is being chastised by wikipedia while the broader culture tends to embrace it. This article is providing more judgement than information -- " 'Song' should only be used to describe a composition for the human vocals." is a little 'fist-poundy' and excludes many other important uses of the term, including bird songs and I'll just say it, instrumental songs. -Steven

To repeat, I think this must be an Americanism - I have never heard anyone this side of the pond refer to an unsung piece of any genre as a 'song' (a exception would perhaps be Mendelssohn's Songs without Words, a somewhat esoteric usage!). If this is in common usage in US popular music I can't see any reason why the article shouldn't say so. It would be interesting to get a view from another English-speaking country on this issue. Mattmm (talk) 18:15, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
The issue here is that most people in the U.S., to the extent that they listen to music, listen almost exclusively to short vocal (and non-choral) compositions. Therefore, when they are looking for a word for a piece of instrumental music, they will use the word they know: "song." Descriptively, then, one definition of "song" is any musical composition. However, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a dictionary. It would be silly to write an article about the broader definition of "song," since there is already an article about music. If this article is going to exist at all, it should be about the narrower class of vocal, non-choral compositions. Prescriptive language such as "should only be used" does not, however, belong in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:16, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
I generally hear people refer all musical pieces referred to as "songs" in multiple contexts, including "theme song", "play a song", "non-lyrical song", etc. I have not before heard of it referring strictly to lyrical music, though etymologically it makes sense. However, as the way the term is used is often in direct violation of the definition on the article, the article needs to be changed to reflect that, or at the very least mention it. Aeonoris (talk) 00:38, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Speaking on behalf of the trance music genre (popular in Europe by the way, not America, so this hardly an American thing) we (the trance listeners) tend to identify individual pieces of trance music as "songs" not "pieces" regardless of whether they have vocals or not. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:58, 18 June 2009 (UTC) I've always thought of a song as having to have words. But I've noticed on musical websites people use the word 'song' when refering to an instrumental. When I asked the question there it looked like most people to comment thought of the words as interchangeable : Rich Headey 22.4.2011 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:31, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Instrumentals vs songs[edit]

Please see Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Music#Instrumentals vs songs, where I have raised some concerns about discrepancies in the way we deal with articles about instrumental recordings. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 10:40, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Here it is 2016 and this issue still is unresolved. IMO a song involves vocalization (maybe not articulate, but at least a human voice). An instrumental is music that does not involve a human or human-like voice. With today's digital technology, I suppose it could be blurred, but when I play a guitar without singing, I don't call it a song. I call it an instrumental. -- (talk) 03:30, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

Citation needed[edit]

Its not a surprising claim if you are an English speaker. Hyacinth (talk) 05:25, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Hi, Hyacinth. See my comments above. It is surprising if you are a UK native English speaker, and, I suspect in other English-speaking countries too. --Mattmm (talk) 11:59, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
Can you prove a negative on the other side of the pond? Hyacinth (talk) 07:09, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
The burden of proof is not on my side. Clearly the word "song" is derived from the verb "to sing" and the OED defines the word to mean "that which is sung". If there is a slang usage going on, in some parts of the world, that's worth mentioning, but it needs a citation from an authoritative source. --Mattmm (talk) 19:58, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
If you are precluding common knowledge and obvious truth, then "song" is not "clearly" derived from "to sing". If, however, the OED truly says so you should be able to actually cite it. Hyacinth (talk) 01:54, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
I've added this citation, apologies if it's not the correct format... --Mattmm (talk) 22:25, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
The only discussions of this issue online indicate it is primarily and actually a British issue and contention, such as that between "tune" and "song" in traditional Irish music (and that your insistance that you have never heard anyone claim the sky is blue is not because you live somewhere where people don't, but because you live somewhere where people do more often, and with more vehemence). Hyacinth (talk) 02:22, 12 June 2009 (UTC)


Additional references, original research, general cleanup: October 2007[edit]

Such as? Hyacinth (talk) 09:14, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Probably using the way back machine or the history tab and looking at that version. However, it's probably not even close to this version so it should be reevaluated. :) Shinerunner (talk) 10:20, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Multiple issues[edit]

If this article still needs to be cleaned up, how, why, and where? Hyacinth (talk) 00:37, 20 March 2010 (UTC)


Rather than the short, incomplete, and possibly inaccurate introduction directly above

I restored the introduction directly above. Hyacinth (talk) 03:15, 20 March 2010 (UTC)


Image added. Hyacinth (talk) 03:55, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Edit dispute[edit]

"Colloquially, the word "song" may refer to music without words." is a rewording of "A song is a piece of music for accompanied or unaccompanied voice or voices" I ask that the editor use the talk page to please explain why a reworded repeat of the first sentence in that paragraph is useful to the article. - SudoGhost (talk) 20:09, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

Unaccompanied or accompanied voice means a capella or not a capella, that is to say as sung music. Music without words means unsung music, music which can neither be or not be a cappela. It is not a repeat, it helps complete the description of how the word is used. (talk) 20:19, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
Looking at it, you are correct, the two sentences are not the same, however, I suggest you look up the definition of song in a dictionary. Can you provide a link to a dictionary that defines music as without words? Because Wiktionary,,, and Mirriam-Webster all suggest otherwise. - SudoGhost (talk) 20:28, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
I suggest you review a thesaurus, this word is used synonymously with words that describe instrumental music. Furthemore, most dictionaries will give as one sense of the word something like "a musical composition suggestive of a song". Only a few dictionaries, like the OED, include specialized info on colloquial use, this is usually not available through free online dictionaries. IOW, they are describing how song is used to describe things that are technically not songs. (talk) 20:43, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
I asked you to provide some proof of your addition, not to ask me to review a thesaurus (which I have). Looking through the two reference books at my home, and many dictionaries and thesauruses online[1], have described a song as "music with words". None have suggested that a song is music without. As was discussed on Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Music/Archive_15#Instrumentals_vs_songs, "The word "song" shares its roots with "sung" and "sing". It's not "just" an academic distinction; and as this is an encyclopedia, even if it were, it would be relevant. It's also entirely appropriate for an encyclopedia to follow musicological (if that's what this is), rather than common, usage... ...songs have lyrics and are sung. There's a reason why we have separate articles for Song and Instrumental." - SudoGhost (talk) 20:51, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
On the contrary, it is primarily an academic distinction, a useful one too in certain contexts. But in everyday speech it is typically unimportant whether the music is instrumental or not. It is a quite pedantic argument to make that noting that the word has shifty semantics should be avoided. To interpret what these dictionaries are saying as meaning "songs must have words or voice" is hypercorrectively pedantic. American Heritage's variation on what I noted above is "a brief composition written or adapted for singing", Webster's New World gives "a piece of music sung or intended for singing". These definitions are more nuanced than the musicological ones and they implicitly include the possibility that the song may be performed unsung. The musicological definitions are not being disputed and rightfully form the basis of the article. This one sentence under contention simply acknowledges that every time a reader sees the word "song" somewhere, it does not have to refer to the topic of this article. There was a time when music perhaps only came from the human voice, but times change and so does language. (talk) 21:16, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
What you are describing is an instrumental, not a song. The sentence as included is in opposition to the definition of a song. You still have yet to provide any source for this addition of this content. - SudoGhost (talk) 21:19, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
I spoke of instrumentals, but you must not've understood what I said because I discussed more than that. I also referred you to two dictionaries and provided you with quotes. Yes it gives an apparently opposite, more like different and nuanced, definition. But that does not negate the article or academic distinctions. (talk) 21:26, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
Encyclopedic content must be verifiable. Your additions have not been verified, and you've provided no sources which verify the information. Material that is likely to be challenged must be attributed, which you have yet to do. However, I have provided links that show the material you've added to be false. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth: whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true. - SudoGhost (talk) 00:00, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
Are you being obtuse or are you ignoring the sources I have mentioned? If the former I urge you to note that reliable sources (the better dictionaries) NEVER state that "song" ONLY means "that which is sung". If the latter then I assure you the dictionary entries I have referred you to are both existent and reliable and that you need on;y look to verify. (talk) 07:28, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

Concerning an edit dispute[edit]

As I mentioned in my edit summary, I reverted the insertion of unsourced content that contradicts the last sentence of the lead. As per WP:BURDEN: The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material. You may remove any material lacking a reliable source that directly supports it. This is why the added information is being reverted. Is there a reliable source that backs up this information being added? - SudoGhost 07:08, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Definition of Song:[edit]

Poetry put to music.--Maziarmafi (talk) 17:00, 25 May 2013 (UTC)

What a song is...[edit]

I've never heard it referred to to be only a piece of music with vocals. Anybody I've ever talked to just uses it as a general term for uh... songs. Pieces of music? Shouldn't the common usage be mentioned in the lead? (talk) 19:28, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Like Beethoven's 5th Song...[edit]

Like Beethoven's 5th Song... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:23, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

Happy Birthday to SAI SREE[edit]

Italic text — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:37, 12 May 2018 (UTC)

Happy birthday 🎂 Alexis Bruce (talk) 14:23, 17 March 2019 (UTC)