50 Synonyms for “Song”

By Mark Nichol

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Numerous words that describe various types of musical composition are listed and defined below. (Note that in the definitions below, popular denotes not a musical form that is widely enjoyed, but a song of a type traditionally derived from common people and folk traditions rather than from professional composers. Forms of the word accompany refer to instrumental support.)

1. Air: any of several types of songs or songlike compositions, including ballads and folk songs
2. Anthem: a song or hymn of joy or praise or, by extension, a rousing pop song that resonates with a certain class of listeners
3. Aria: a complex solo accompanied melody, especially in opera
4. Art song: a solo accompanied melody often performed on a formal social occasion
5. Ballad: a narrative composition with rhythmic verse, or a popular slow romantic or sentimental song
6. Barcarole: a work song with a beat that alternates between strong and weak to suggest the rhythm of rowing a boat
7. Cantata: a composition for one or more voices with solos, duets, choruses, and speechlike parts
8. Canticle: a song based on scripture and performed during a church service
9. Carol: a song or hymn of joy, performed popularly or during a church service
10. Chanson: the type of song sung in a cabaret or a music hall
11. Chant: as monotonous but rhythmic song or other vocalization; see also plainsong
12–14­. Chantey/chanty/shanty: a rhythmic sailors’ work song
15. Chorale: a hymn or song sung by a group in church
16. Cover: a song composed by someone other than the performer(s)
17. Descant: a melody sung as a counterpoint to another melody
18. Dirge: a song of mourning
19. Ditty: a simple, lighthearted popular song
20. Drinking song: an upbeat song appropriate for group singing during social drinking
21. Elegy: see dirge
22. Fight song: an inspirational song to encourage athletes during team competition
23. Folk song: a popular song with a simple melody and a verse/refrain structure
24. Glee: a part-song, generally one performed by men
25. Hallelujah: a song of praise or thanks
26. Hymn: a song of joy or praise, especially in a religious context
27. Noel: a carol sung at Christmastime
28. Jingle: a short, catchy, repetitive song, including one used to advertise a product or service
29. Lament: see dirge
30. Lay: a simple song or other ballad
31. Lullaby: a simple rhyming song sung to soothe children or prepare them for sleeping
32. Madrigal: see glee and part-song
33. Medley: two or more songs, or parts thereof, performed as one composition
34. Melody: a rhythmic composition
35. Motet: a choral composition, usually unaccompanied, based on a sacred text
36. Paean: a hymn or song of praise, thanks, or triumph
37. Part-song: a usually unaccompanied song for two or more voices, one of which carries the melody
38. Psalm: a sacred song sung during religious services
39. Remix: a variation of a song that includes additional or rearranged elements
40. Requiem: see dirge
41. Rocker: an upbeat, energetic song in the style of the rock genre
42. Round: a song in which multiple singers sing the same melody and lyrics
43. Roundelay: a simple song that includes a refrain
44. Serenade: a courting song, vocal or instrumental or both
45. Spiritual: a simple, emotional religious song of a form developed by black slaves in the American South
46. Standard: a familiar song that is among those typically performed by a certain category of musicians
47. Threnody: see dirge
48. Torch song: a popular sentimental song, usually referring to the end of a love affair or to unrequited love
49. Vocal: a song for voice accompanied by one or more instruments
50. Work song: a song structured to aid in the performance of a rhythmic group task

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2 Responses to “50 Synonyms for “Song””

  • ApK

    I like articles like this. Aside from being an amateur musician myself, pieces usually read better with some well-chosen synonyms rather than a word repeated.

    One thing: Under “chant” you say “see also plainsong” but there is no entry for plainsong.

  • venqax

    Number one was an eye-opener for me years ago. When I finally saw in writing the title of London Derriere, a lightbulb went off. Amazing what expanding your vocabulary can do.

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