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Right, boys and girls

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by willie45, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. willie45

    willie45 Well-Known Member

    Which is most important in a song. Music or lyrics?
  2. Craig20264

    Craig20264 Well-Known Member

    That's a good question. I'm going to say It depends what mood I'm in.
  3. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I'm going with music because you can sing just the notes and have no lyrics, but if you only have the lyrics then it's probably just a pome.
    Catriona likes this.
  4. Dorset_Mike

    Dorset_Mike Grumpy Old Fart

    I think the two are interdependent
    Scphoto likes this.
  5. AlanW

    AlanW Well-Known Member

    The lyrics of Dylan and Leonard Cohen is music to my ears.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  6. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    La la la la la la la la la la etc. without variation is a bit wearing. You need a tune and lyrics. Some tunes are better than others, ditto for the lyrics.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  7. dangie

    dangie Senior Knobhead

    I think the music as it's what your ears hear first. If the lyrics are good then it's a bonus.
  8. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    It's like asking what's more important in a picture: the light bits or the dark bits.
    Geren, peterba and Roger Hicks like this.
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    If it's a song, the words. That's pretty much what "song" means in normal human usage (and possibly with e.g. birds and whales, though we may not understand the words). When he decided to leave the words out, Mendelssohn thought it sufficiently unusual to comment on it.


    willie45 and GeoffR like this.
  10. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    For me - both.

    I can get completely 'lost' in a track with words and music. However, there are very few instrumental tracks (I'm not including classical music, here) that I really like, and poetry only rarely does much for me. Therefore I have to conclude that it's the combination that does the trick.
  11. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    Music is music.
    Lyrics are lyrics.

    Songs are a combination of the two - and hence a song isn't something that can have only one or the other or where they differ in importance. You can enjoy a melody and hate the words, but the song is both.
  12. willie45

    willie45 Well-Known Member

    For me, the music comes first. Always has. I have lots of records in which I can't make out the lyrics and I don't care. I like a lot of instrumental music and I like many songs I don't hear the words on and just enjoy the notes and sound of the singers voice against the accompaniment. Conversely, I can't think of a single song where I don't like the music and the lyrics are the only reason I would listen to it. So that makes the answer pretty straightforward for me.

    However, there are also a lot of songs in which the lyrics are as important to me as the music because together they make up something special. I don't have to understand them; they just conjure up a feeling or reaction which pleases or intrigues me. Sometimes they also add the pleasure of mystery and the opportunity to ponder on their meaning. Examples of this would be in lots of of Leonard Cohen's or Nick Cave's songs.

    Mind you, in a discussion on a music forum there were a number of people who disagreed with that and thought the lyrics were most important. Many also felt as some on here do that they are of equal importance. Hence thought I'd consult the panel of this esteemed forum for a definitive answer.
  13. willie45

    willie45 Well-Known Member

    Yes a lot of people agreed with that in another forum. I don't agree with your priority in a song but I like the Mendelsshon comment a lot. Although I suppose he is an argument that a song can be without words?
  14. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    An interesting point, Willie. I often find the same thing with a track on which I can't discern the lyric. Therefore, I guess that my previous post was slightly off-the-mark, in that - although I like to hear that there are words - I don't have to be able to 'receive' those words, for enjoyment of the piece. :confused: Now I'm confused...
  15. willie45

    willie45 Well-Known Member

    I know. I don't believe there's one answer and I don't have strong feelings either way but I am interested in hearing how everyone experiences songs. I guess we all do differently.

    I agree about the inaudible lyrics. It also applies to some which are so obscure as to be meaningless to most listeners although the sound of the words and the mood they create must be valid reasons for their status.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
    peterba likes this.
  16. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Willie,

    Next we need to define "words". Consider Yma Sumac's Taita Inty. I've never made out more than a few words of it, but I've still liked it for maybe 60 years. Is it, therefore, a song by my definition? Not sure. Nor do I care very much.

    An important thing is how we remember things, too. I have an excellent verbal memory, but virtually none for music; which is perhaps why I like folk music so much. In folk music, both the words and the music are very variable: one of my favourite composers is dear old Trad Arr.

    What I will say is that if I can make out some of the words, and not others, I often find it irritating or frustrating, and will therefore try to find the words -- usually online, nowadays. I very much liked the LP approach of putting the words on the sleeve. For example, Harry Belafonte's Brown Skin Girl is a savagely political song, disguised by the music; until I read the words, I never realized quite how political.


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  17. miked

    miked Well-Known Member

    In the case of Billie Holiday's, 'Strange Fruit' the answer, very decidedly, is both.
    peterba likes this.
  18. Trannifan

    Trannifan Well-Known Member

    As a singer I have to say both. However, the tune generally has to complement the lyrics.

    peterba likes this.
  19. spinno

    spinno Well-Known Member

    My view is that if I can't make the lyrics out or they turn out to be completely different from what I think they are, and also as I am tone deaf, it really doesn't matter just pray you're not around to hear me join in.....
    dream_police, peterba and Roger Hicks like this.
  20. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    Yes - and this is such an important aspect, for me. I sometimes encounter a song that has a good (IMO) lyric, and has good (also IMO) music, but the two elements don't necessarily 'gel' into the finest listening experience. When they do, the result can make exquisite listening - often producing the 'hairs on the back of the neck' effect. All I then require in addition is a glass or two of a decent Malbec, and some evening sunshine... :)

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