The level of distinction between composers and other musicians also varies, which affects issues such as copyright and the deference given to individual interpretations of a particular piece of music. For example, in the development of classical music in Europe, the function of composing music initially had no greater importance than the function of performing music. The preservation of individual compositions received little attention, and musicians generally had no qualms about modifying compositions for performance. Over time, however, the written notation of the composer has come to be treated as strict instructions, from which performers should not deviate without good reason.
The term "composer" is often used specifically to mean a composer in the Western tradition of classical music. In popular and folk music, the composer is called a songwriter, since the music generally takes the form of a song.
Lists of composers