Art songs are songs created for performance in their own right, 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 word for song, "Lied" (plural: "Lieder"), is used in French and English-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 seperately by a composer. Art songs may be more formallyally 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). Cultures outside of Europe may have what they consider to be a classical music tradition, such as India, and thus feature art songs.
Popular songs are songs which may be considered in between art songs and folk songs. They are usually accompanied in performance and recording by a band. They are not anonymous in origin and have a known authors. They are often but not always notated by their author(s) and tend to be composed in collaboration slightly more often than art songs, for instance by an entire band, though the lyrics are usually written by one person, usually the lead singer. Popular songs are often a part of individual and cultural, but seldom national, identity. Performers usually often have not undergone formal voice training but highly stylized vocal techniques are used.
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 exists in virtually if not every culture. For more on folk songs, see Folk music.
For a list of influential songs, see:
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