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What is the difference between a 'tune' and a 'song'?

 
    • headey said...
    • User
    • 21 Apr 2011, 09:27

    What is the difference between a 'tune' and a 'song'?

    I see a lot of people refer to what I would call a 'tune' as a 'song'.

    For me a 'song' has to have words. Even a human voice 'humming' -I think I would call a tune.
    I think if I am referring to a particular version I'd say 'track'.

    The actual notes of the song or tune (A;B;Csharp;B etc) I would call the 'melody'.

    Is this a cultural thing? Maybe an age thing? Or is there a translation dictionary somewhere which at some point translated the English word 'tune' into 'song'.

    If you reply, it might be interesting to mention your approximate year of birth and country/culture.

    Me : mid 50s / UK

    Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein
    -but how boring life would be

    headey cocktail
    • Kennoth said...
    • User
    • 21 Apr 2011, 12:29
    Tune could be a part of the song? Like a series of notes that make it recognizable.

    What breaks my pride, will break your skull. I bring the end, just like an Archangel.

    • Babs_05 said...
    • Moderator
    • 21 Apr 2011, 12:53
    Interchangeable. Tune / song. Same thing. (UK)

    • Alainn said...
    • User
    • 21 Apr 2011, 13:02
    I agree on the distinction between "tune" and "song", but the blur in term usage has been around much longer. I just did a search on "tune" in Spotify and besides all of the "House/Ibiza/Hip-Hop Tunes volume x"-albums the are also a lot of "TV tunes", "Essential Jazz Tunes from year x" and "Early Folk Songs and Tunes"-albums.

    I guess with the folk/jazz tunes its a case of adapting the standard/generally known tune into your own song.

    41 / NL


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    • Z1955 said...
    • User
    • 21 Apr 2011, 13:15
    headey said:
    For me a 'song' has to have words. Even a human voice 'humming' -I think I would call a tune.


    Never thought about it before, but it makes me think of phrases like "whistle a tune"... "sing a song"... so I guess that goes along with what you say about a 'song' having to have words.

    A quick search of the tag 'tunes' returns many songs... with words.

    But then again I've heard, and said, that "I'm going to listen to some tunes." meaning music... as in songs... usually with words...

    Also, there are 'song' birds...

    Now I'm rambling...

    So, like Babs said, interchangeable.

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  • Technically, the tune is the melody. The song is the whole thing. But people do say tune when they mean song.

  • For me a 'song' would be the whole thing: lyrics, melody, instruments, etc.; 'tune' would be the melody or maybe a very toned down version and 'track' would be the song and taking into consideration the production, the composition, etc.

  • In music, a song is a composition for voice or voices, performed by singing.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song
    ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tune )

    I'd go with that - especially when you consider the art of song-writing, which almost exclusively refers to writing lyrics (as opposed to writing music).

  • I've always looked at a 'tune' as a song that has no depth, something catchy but with not much substance

    • Bloopy said...
    • Forum Moderator
    • 23 Apr 2011, 07:41
    I think the meaning of 'song' is changing a bit. Other words like 'ode' are also used without much regard for their original meaning. I tend to lazily use 'song' to refer to any piece of music.

    - The phrase "instrumental song" returns nearly 2 million results on Google.

    - "Green Onions was ranked No. 183 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time" (but it's an instrumental)

  • huh... I thought tune could be just the cool/hipster word for song.. ; ) (same goes for band vs. group)

    It's just a technicality imo, I also think of tunes as just a songs without lyrics/voice but in practice is mostly used interchangeable and I use it as such.

    • [Deleted user] said...
    • User
    • 23 Apr 2011, 20:56
    Thats actually a rather good question. As the OP said a song certainly invokes the humn voice element, its a narrative. A tune on the other hand needn't have any vocals at all. Begs the question what do I called a individual track of noise, improvization or ambient music. A piece? A work?

  • A tune is something I'd hear in a PineSol commercial and a song is everything else :D

    Tune:


    Song:

    Edited by unwrittenx on 23 Apr 2011, 21:02
    • xCobe said...
    • User
    • 23 Apr 2011, 21:02
    Well for me, i would say the "tune" is the instrumental, so, without words/lyrics. But i find myself referring to stuff like rap/grime as tunes rather than songs because they dont sing.

    So, the difference in my head is that a 'song' requires somebody singing, everything else is a tune.

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    • [Deleted user] said...
    • User
    • 23 Apr 2011, 21:04
    Dizzlenomix said:
    I've always looked at a 'tune' as a song that has no depth, something catchy but with not much substance


    I'm going to have disagree wholeheartedly with you there. Don't take this the wrong way but I find that a rather off-hand and effortless attempt at generalizing music. Many of my favorite tunes (lets just call them that for sake of ease) have no vocals and consequently no lyrics whatsoever, but they certainly never struck me as being 'without substance'.
    A noise/power electronics song without vocals is still as menacing and invoking of darker subjects and emotions. Drum n' bass/dubstep fuels the more superflat/fantastical bits of my imagination in a way most 'songs' can't. Can you genuinely claim that purely instrumental examplesw of styles like krautrock, prog, jazz and improv lack substance?!

    I'm sorry if this came across as critical and adversarial, i'm not looking for a fight :p I just don't understand why lyrics are a 'must' for a piece of a music to attain greatness.

    • headey said...
    • User
    • 23 Apr 2011, 21:15

    Thanks

    Thanks for all that. And particularly @Maddieman... because he/she seems to agree with me!

    Thanks for the wiki link Maddieman. I don't know why I didn't look on wiki first. The subject has obviously come up before on their discussion page :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Song

    Good point bloopy, to find 2m on google. I'm surprised it isn't used much as a tag on lastfm though http://www.last.fm/tag/instrumental%20song


    I think I'll carry on using 'song' for tracks with words but I'll flinch less now when I see it referring to tracks without words.

    Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein
    -but how boring life would be

    headey cocktail
    • xCobe said...
    • User
    • 23 Apr 2011, 21:20
    Selfsurprise said:
    Dizzlenomix said:
    I've always looked at a 'tune' as a song that has no depth, something catchy but with not much substance


    I'm going to have disagree wholeheartedly with you there. Don't take this the wrong way but I find that a rather off-hand and effortless attempt at generalizing music. Many of my favorite tunes (lets just call them that for sake of ease) have no vocals and consequently no lyrics whatsoever, but they certainly never struck me as being 'without substance'.
    A noise/power electronics song without vocals is still as menacing and invoking of darker subjects and emotions. Drum n' bass/dubstep fuels the more superflat/fantastical bits of my imagination in a way most 'songs' can't. Can you genuinely claim that purely instrumental examplesw of styles like krautrock, prog, jazz and improv lack substance?!

    I'm sorry if this came across as critical and adversarial, i'm not looking for a fight :p I just don't understand why lyrics are a 'must' for a piece of a music to attain greatness.


    I agree with this 99%(That 1% is the "not looking for a fight" bit, fights are fun m'kay?)
    I very rarely listen to a song/tune just for something to bop my head to and look cool. But i listen to alot of dubstep, DnB, chillout etc because it shouts out emotions. I know people that despise DnB but i feel that some of it says alot(especially Liquid).

    I would say that 'meaning/substance' shouldn't be a factor in this debate because that's down to personal preference/opinion.

    He who makes a beast out of himself
    gets rid of the pain of being a man.
  • depending on the context, "tune" is either simply a slang synonym for "song", or it refers to the melody of a particularly catchy song.

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    • Skiye said...
    • Event Moderator
    • 24 Apr 2011, 17:10
    tune: what i do to my musical instruments.
    song: what i do with the musical instruments after i tune them.

    :)

  • nonono!!

    Tunes are those things on local tv channels saturday mornings

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