When listening to songs which is more important to you? The melody of the song, or the lyrics of the song... or is it both?
(For the sake of statistics, I left out the both category from the poll).
A group of my friends, college students, were posed this question in an upper level psychology class, with surprising results. From what I can tell, most people seem to care about the melody of a song - how it actually sounds like (and whether it's pleasing to their ears) rather than the content of the song or the story the song might tell. I can also note that those who actually did say that the lyrical meaning of the song was more important were rather adamant about it.
Songs that were cited as extreme examples included "Lollipop" - a song with questionably demeaning lyrics towards women, versus Vangelis (almost always instrumentals). In the case of the former, it was pointed out that the lyrics were often ignored in favor of a catchy melody and beat. In the case of a latter, some found it far more expressive because they were free to interpret (or imagine) whatever they liked as they listened to the song.
Anyways, the melody of a song is far more important to me than lyrics. In fact, I rarely pay attention to lyrics at all (when I can make them out). I'm curious as to what everyone else thinks.
Thread moved to Music by Ghost Rider103
Your question reads: "Which is more important to you when listening to music?"
Melody without words is still music.
Lyrics without a tune are just words.
So I'd go for melody based on what was asked alone.
When it comes to songs though, I'd say it would have to be pretty balanced. With my favorite songs, I love both lyrics and melody. But some tunes are just catchy, making you at least give an "OK" to the track despite not so great lyrics.
It really depends on the type of music that I am listening to. I am a musician and trained in music theory and so I really appreciate aggressive musician, tactical skill, musical knowledge, etc. So I guess it would come down, to me, how the song sounds. And because of what I appreciate in music, generally I will only listen to jazz, classical, and metal because those are, for the most part, the only genres of music that really demonstrate the qualities that I appreciate. However, if for some reason I am listening to some other genre such as rap, then they lyrics damn well be superb because that is the only thing that I have to base the quality of the music off of. However, there are many songs such as "Lollipop" or "Soulja Boy" which have poor lyrics and no level of musicianship to them. So these songs really do suck... The "artists" have no level of music skill and do not even have insightful lyrics to compensate...
Sometimes it is a trade off... Some rappers (Immortal Technique) will have good lyrics but I can't get into rap very much because it doesn't take aggressive musicianship, deep knowledge of music theory, etc... But then there are bands such as Symphony X (which has these qualities I desire) and Children of Bodom which do not have very good lyrics (Symphony X makes fairy music about dragons and odysses and other stuff that's hard to get into)... But there are many bands that can do both...
It's the beat that first attracts me...then I'll listen to the lyrics. I have to admit that there are some songs that I don't like the lyrics, but still listen to them for the music itself.
I find vocals overrated. Too many musicians use it in cases where it doesn't really add to the music. Vocals are just another instrument, it can be used wonderfully, but it should never be a necessity, just like any other instrument. When there are vocals I often prefer them without lyrics or in a language I don't understand. That way, it makes them more universal and not limited to a certain topic.
For me it is harmony first, then the beat, and then the lyrics. Beat is very important. But not to the extent that it overpowers everything else. I've never really been into lyrics however, it is the harmony in the sound that resonates with me. Sometimes it goes well with vocal, other times it could have been better with instrumentals only, it depends entirely on the music. If it all comes together great, then it can give me a goose pimple sensation.
For me, it's the melody. I don't think a good poem will work if accompanied by a crappy tune.
Well, I believe that the melody is much more important when I listen to the song for the first time, later on I start listening to the lyrics, and generally when I remember the song, I sing it(with the bits and pieces of the lyrics of the song I know).
So the melody plays the part of, kind of, grabbing my attention, and then the lyrics take over(not that I'm into the whole meaning of the lyrics, I just like using the lyrics when humming a song, or something like that)
This specially applies to the times when I download a discography.
As an instrumental musician, melody is FAR more important to me than lyrics. In fact, for the most part, I don't hear the words in a song, I just hear the voice and its pitch/timbre. I have songs that I've loved for years that I couldn't sing you back any of the lyrics.
However, even beyond melody, I think timbre and rhythm pique my interest even more than melody does. Melody is a fine defining character, and is extremely important, but, the spacing/timing of notes (rhythm) and the frequency character (timbre) are really important in defining the melody itself beyond a series of pitches. The mixture of melody, rhythm and timbre are what come together to form the music... but, I've been given chills from a single note more often than from a rhythm or melody... it all comes down to exactly how the instrument (or voice) it's played on sounds; the mixture of fundamental and harmonic frequencies specific to that instrument, its timbre. This is what guitarists, etc, are referring to when they're talking about "tone" (though tone also refers to pitch... it's a little ambiguous).
Timbre is my favorite musical character
Yes, I'd agree with pretty much all of that. Beat is certainly important. You can listen to the same tune played almost identically but if the first has a solid bass-drum lock and the second is out by even small fractions of a second I'm betting that most people would immediately choose the former - even without knowing exactly why. Tone/timbre is also important as is phrasing
The melody is a prerequisite, but if the lyrics are too grating then I struggle to enjoy it fully.
Melody first. You can always remember the words of a song when an instrumental version of the song is played.
However most music is written to the flow of the lyrics. I know as I write some lyrics, the melody follows. I don't have luck writing to lyrics to work with an instrumental piece I composed. Could be styling differences?
Melody for me. Vocals being part of that melody.
Lyrics are important too, I can't stand "funny" lyrics, or lyrics that have no depth. Really annoys me.
Fort Minor's Remember the Name has a song which reminds me strongly of what you said, deanhills.
Its an interesting topic, and I'm surprised by the results. Apparently there are very melodically inclined people here on frihost. Like I said in the original post, it was more of an even mix in a randomly sampled classroom. This leads me to a different point, foreign songs. I listen to many songs in languages that I don't understand or am not quite proficient in. Hindhi, Arabic, Japanese, Celtic, Irish, Latin, etc. I'm sure each of those languages brings accompanying songs (or melodies) to the forefront of your mind.
Thanks for the replies, guys.
I'd like to say this...I have been here for awhile, and I have seen hundreds of polls...this one is the most interesting I have heard in some time. I wish I had thought of it.
A simple question however....is melody and beat the same?
I'd also like to add that, in my opinion, if someone listens to the same song(no matter what genre it is of) for about 5 times(not continuously, but maybe within a few days time) then he starts liking it anyway. But of course, it's the 5 full plays of the song that's difficult to get..
I'll run with this as serious.
Melody and beat are not the same. Melody is pitch series, or the notes that come together. Beat is related to rhythm, which is the pattern of timing within a song. These are related, but separate.
The rhythm, or beat, doesn't rely on pitch at all, just the spaces between "notes", their duration, and the pattern in which they repeat. Most western songs follow a fairly simple 4/4 time signature, meaning four beats per measure, and each measure has four quarter notes. The beat tends to have strength on the first and third beats, with 2 and 4 being weaker... take a listen to most pop rock songs, you'll hear the drums tending to go: hihat+bass; hihat; hihat+snare; hihat; repeat.
Melody, on the other hand, simply refers to the note patter, the actual changes in pitch. For example, a song melody might go C, G, F, C, that's the melody, but it says nothing about the rhythm.
I'd say both of them but beat attracts first.
Both. I can appreciate/love a song with great lyrics even if the melody isn't the greatest, and I can also come to love/appreciate a good song with not-so-great lyrics if the melody is absolutely amazing. However, I think that for the most part what matters to me is lyrics. This might be because I am a writer and write poetry in my free time and really just have a love and passion for words. Most people I know seem to care more about the melody though.
Some songs I like because of the text and some don't contain text. Some songs I think the melody is weak but the text is great and others I like the track but not the text.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vExwMbdfVDY I don't like the text
I find it hard to imagine a "great" song without any melody. I can think of dozens of "great" songs off the top of my head that have no lyrics, however. Many instrumentalist guitarists come to mind -- Jeff Beck, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, Gary Moore, Andy Timmons...list goes on and on. Classical music goes without saying.
Of course, vocals are a significant part of the melody in many songs. And one should never downplay the importance of lyrics -- I would place melody above lyrics in terms of musical importance, but there's no replacement for really good lyrics either for me.
When I listen to music, both of them are very important.
I.E. I wouldn't stand a goddish melody when all the guy is saying "I fukked ur mama yesterday and she liked it, I love that green cloud over my head when it rains acid and I die"
When I listen to music, very good music, with a beautiful poetry being sung, I feel delighted.
Thanks to GhostRider for moving the thread. That was actually my second post in the General Chat section... ever. I must remember to stick things in the right forums...
Thats an interesting thing to bring up. I'd describe it more like by the fifth time people resign themselves to whatever they're listening (if they don't prefer it), and find things to appreciate in the song. There are also exceptions. A song that I hate doesn't grow on me, even if I listen to it quite a few times. If I like a song, by the fifth rendition, I'm actively picking out portions of the song that I like, and portions which fall flat. Its almost like listening is continually selective.
Thanks! I'm including the results of this poll in a paper which I'll eventually submit for a class I'm taking. Although there aren't many voters, I'm pretty sure this is a great random sampling.
@Flakky & missdixy
...And we have our first couple in the "both" categories, also with similar reasons to the classroom that was sampled. Nice!
Again, thanks everyone.
Sometimes the lyrics are spendable.... sometimes the human voice ruins the entire composition. Melody first. Instruments first.
The lyrics should be paid attention to more. For me, what the song means is much more than the melody. The lyrics show the effort the artist(s) put into the piece and if they are just gibberish, than they honestly don't really care about it. Just to point out, this is true for MOST cases I have seen, not all.
Oh man, I cannot disagree more!
The lyrics should probably be paid attention to, yeah, but, the feel of the music, the sound is the most evocative... it takes a LOT of effort to craft a solid song, musically. Sure, if an artist really cares about the lyrical content it can take just as much effort to craft, but, all too often lyrics are nonsensical or simply thrown together. As someone mentioned previously, a lot of lyrics, with some notable exceptions, are utter garbage without a song to back them... someone like, say, Leonard Cohen is a notable exception, but Cohens are rare.
What's the point in music if you can just as easily express your message/thoughts/emotions in words? Music has the power to express things that can not easily be expressed in mere words. To focus too much on lyrics feels, imo, counterproductive and disrespectful toward what music is and what it has the potential to be.
Lyrics are important, but music is expression even without words; it's more primal, more pure... I know that's debatable, but, c'mon, you'd have to ignore the power of music to take the opposite stance.
I agree. I you want primarily spread some idea or express yourself, go create a blog or even write a book!
Most of time I find lyric interested, then I hear the song. If the music is good too, I like the song.
I'm more of a Metal fan, especially Melodic Death Metal and Progressive Metal. So, I guess I'm more fond of excessive instrumentation anyway. I like guitar licks, guitar solos and keyboard solos much more than vocals (and barely pay attention to the lyrics). I would definitely go for melody.
Ultimately, the lyrics are just a "poem" of sorts, it's the melody which provides the "music".
I am almost exactly split between melody and lyrics. Some songs I listen to for the lyrics and others for the beat behind them. If I had to choose one though I would probably go with melody.