AskDefine | Define ditty

Dictionary Definition

ditty n : a short simple song (or the words of a poem intended to be sung)

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A short verse or tune.
    The Acme mattress ditty has been stuck in my head all day.

Extensive Definition

A song is a musical composition. Songs contain vocal parts that are performed, 'sung,' and generally feature words (lyrics), commonly followed by other musical instruments (exceptions would be acappella and scat songs). The words of songs are typically of a poetic, rhyming nature, although they may be religious verses or free prose. The words are the lyrics.
Songs are typically for a solo, singer, though there may also be a duet, trio, or more voices (works with more than one voice to a part, however, are considered choral). Songs can be broadly divided into many different forms, depending on the criteria used. One division is between "art songs", "popular music songs", and "folk songs". Other common methods of classification are by purpose (sacred vs secular), by style (dance, ballad, Lieder, etc), or by time of origin (Renaissance, Contemporary, etc).
Colloquially, song is sometimes used as slang to refer to any music composition, even those without vocals. In European classical music, jazz, brass band, popular music, and many other musical styles however, this usage is considered incorrect. "Song" should only be used to describe a composition for the human vocals. In music styles that are predominantly vocal-based, a composition without vocals is often called an instrumental. A musical piece that may be either with or without vocals can be called a melody, a tune, or a composition.

Cultural types

Art songs

Art songs are songs created for performance in their own right, or for the purposes of a European upper class, usually with piano accompaniment, although they can also have other types of accompaniment such as an orchestra or string quartet, and are always notated. Generally they have an identified author(s) and require voice training for acceptable performances. The German-speaking communities to refer to the serious art song, whereas in German-speaking communities the word "Kunstlied" (plural: "Kunstlieder") is used to distinguish art song from folk song ("Volkslied"). The lyrics are often written by a lyricist and the music separately by a composer. Art songs may be more formally complicated than popular or folk songs, though many early Lieder by the likes of Franz Schubert are in simple strophic form. They are often important to national identity. Art songs feature in many European cultures, including but not limited to: Russian (romansy), Dutch (lied), Italian (canzoni), French (mélodies), Scandinavian (sånger), Spanish (canciones). There are also highly regarded British and American art songs in the English language. Cultures outside of Europe may have what they consider to be a classical music tradition, such as India, and thus feature art songs. The accompaniment of pieces of this period is considered as an important part of the composition. The art song of this period is often a duet in which the vocalist and accompanist share in interpretive importance. The pieces were most often written to be performed in a home setting although today the works enjoy popularity as concert pieces. The emergence of poetry during this era was much of what inspired the creation of these pieces by Brahms, Schumann, Schubert and other period composers. These composers set poems in their native language. Many works were inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Heinrich Heine. Another method would be to write new music for each stanza to create a unique form, this was through-composed form known in German as durchkomponiert. A combination of both of these techniques in a single setting was called a modified strophic form. Often romantic art songs sharing similar elements were grouped as a song cycle. (Kamien, 217–18)

Folk songs

Folk songs are songs of often anonymous origin (or are public domain) that are transmitted orally. They are frequently a major aspect of national or cultural identity. Art songs often approach the status of folk songs when people forget who the author was. Folk songs are also frequently transmitted non-orally (that is, as sheet music), especially in the modern era. Folk songs exist in almost every, if not all, culture(s). For more on folk songs, see Folk music.

Popular songs

Popular songs or phonograph records and radio, though all other mass media that have audio capability are involved. The popularity of popular songs is inferred from commercially significant sales of recordings, ratings of stations and networks that play popular songs, and ticket sales for concerts by the recording artists. A popular song becomes a modern folk song when members of the public who learn to sing it from the recorded version teach their version to others. Popular songs may be called pop songs for short, although pop songs or pop music may instead be considered a more commercially popular genre of popular music as a whole.


  1. Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0335152759.
  2. Kamien, Roger. Music : An Appreciation. Mcgraw-Hill College; 3rd edition (August 1, 1997) ISBN 0070365210

External links

Performing Rights Societies in the USA
ditty in Arabic: أغنية
ditty in Azerbaijani: Mahnı
ditty in Bulgarian: Песен
ditty in Catalan: Cançó
ditty in Czech: Píseň
ditty in Danish: Sang
ditty in German: Lied
ditty in Modern Greek (1453-): Τραγούδι
ditty in Spanish: Canción
ditty in Esperanto: Kanto
ditty in Persian: ترانه
ditty in French: Chanson
ditty in Korean: 노래
ditty in Ido: Kansono
ditty in Indonesian: Lagu
ditty in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Canto
ditty in Icelandic: Lag
ditty in Italian: Canzone (musica)
ditty in Swahili (macrolanguage): wimbo
ditty in Luxembourgish: Lidd
ditty in Lithuanian: Daina
ditty in Malay (macrolanguage): Lagu
ditty in Dutch: Lied
ditty in Japanese: 歌
ditty in Norwegian: Sang
ditty in Norwegian Nynorsk: Song
ditty in Narom: Caunchoun
ditty in Low German: Leed
ditty in Polish: Piosenka
ditty in Portuguese: Canção
ditty in Kölsch: Leed (Mussik)
ditty in Romanian: Cântec
ditty in Quechua: Rimay taki
ditty in Russian: Песня
ditty in Albanian: Kënga
ditty in Simple English: Song
ditty in Slovak: Pieseň
ditty in Finnish: Kappale (musiikki)
ditty in Swedish: Sång
ditty in Silesian: Pjosynka
ditty in Thai: เพลง
ditty in Vietnamese: Bài hát
ditty in Turkish: Şarkı (edebiyat)
ditty in Ukrainian: Пісня
ditty in Walloon: Tchanson
ditty in Yiddish: ליד
ditty in Contenese: 歌
ditty in Chinese: 歌曲

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Brautlied, Christmas carol, Kunstlied, Liebeslied, Volkslied, alba, ana, anthem, art song, aubade, ballad, ballade, ballata, barcarole, blues, blues song, boat song, bridal hymn, brindisi, calypso, canso, canticle, canzone, canzonet, canzonetta, carol, cavatina, chanson, chant, chantey, croon, croon song, descant, dirge, drinking song, epithalamium, folk song, hymeneal, hymn, lay, lied, lilt, love song, love-lilt, matin, minstrel song, minstrelsy, national anthem, prothalamium, serena, serenade, serenata, song, theme song, torch song, war song, wedding song
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