Composition: What Is It?

Have you ever heard someone refer to the term “composition” when talking about music? Have you wondered how a composer is different from a songwriter? This article explains all that composition entails! Also, be sure to check out the blog over the next few weeks where we will be diving deeper into composition!

Composition vs. Songwriting

While similar, composition usually refers to a more in-depth musical creation. In songwriting, the focus is on melody and a simple chord progression or riff. In composition, there is much more development and musical variation. One could think of songwriting as a simplified form of composing!

Elements of a Composition

Depending on the era and style, the elements and prominence of each element may differ. However, it can be generally stated that compositions contain the following elements:


Like songs, most compositions have a melody that is the central focus of the piece.


This can be in the form of chords or counterpoint. Harmony supports and colors the melody.


The rhythm of each part in a composition can totally change the feeling of the music.

Notice: Lyrics are not an element of composition!

Composition and Form

In composition, the form of the music is often more complex than that of a song. For instance, there can be multiple changes of section in a composition. Depending on the era or style, there are even specific forms that composers need to adhere to (rondo, minuet, etc).

Form is a fascinating area of study in itself!

Composition and Instrumentation

Though instrumentation can be thought of as arrangement and not composition, it is still an important element to consider. Composers need to know and understand the instruments they are writing for. This is because what is easy and clear-sounding on one instrument may be difficult and unideal-sounding on another.

Closing Notes

Our school boasts numerous teachers who are also composers! To work with one of Toronto’s best, contact us today!

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