Ask Difference

Composer vs. Lyricist — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 17, 2023
A composer creates musical compositions, while a lyricist writes the words to songs. The composer provides the foundational soundscape, and the lyricist fills that landscape with stories, emotions, and messages.
Composer vs. Lyricist — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Composer and Lyricist


Key Differences

A composer is someone who crafts melodies, harmonies, and arrangements in music. Their primary focus is on the musical elements of a piece. On the other hand, a lyricist concentrates on penning down words, shaping the narrative, emotion, and message of the song.
When you hear a song, the tune, rhythm, and the instrumental part is usually the creation of the composer. The words sung, the stories told, and the poetry recited within the song are the fruits of the lyricist's labor.
It's not uncommon for a song to have both a composer and lyricist, especially in genres like musical theatre. Here, the composer ensures that the music complements the show's mood and pacing, while the lyricist provides the dialogue and narrative progression through their words.
Some talented individuals serve as both composers and lyricists, merging both crafts. In such cases, these individuals have the unique ability to ensure that both the music and the words align seamlessly. However, in many collaborative efforts, the composer and lyricist work closely, each respecting and complementing the other's expertise.
While both composers and lyricists are essential in the world of music, they have distinct roles. The composer provides the foundational soundscape, and the lyricist fills that landscape with stories, emotions, and messages.

Comparison Chart


Concentrates on melodies, harmonies, and arrangements.
Writes the words and narratives of songs.

Contribution to Song

Provides tune, rhythm, and instrumental parts.
Crafts the poetry, stories, and sung words.

Primary Role

Musical composition.
Word composition.


Often collaborates with lyricists for complete songs.
Often works with composers to synchronize words.

Dual Role

Some serve as both composer and lyricist.
Some lyricists also compose music.

Compare with Definitions


Someone responsible for the instrumental aspect of music.
The movie's score was crafted by a talented composer.


A person who writes the words for songs.
The song's touching words were penned by a gifted lyricist.


An artist who arranges musical notes for performance.
The composer's work was celebrated at the concert.


An individual responsible for the poetry in music.
The lyricist collaborated with the band to craft memorable verses.


An individual who creates musical pieces.
Beethoven was a renowned composer of classical music.


An artist who shapes the message and story of music.
The album's themes were deeply personal to the lyricist.


A professional who provides the musical backbone of a song.
The band sought a composer for their new album's instrumental pieces.


Someone who conveys narratives and emotions in songs.
The musical's success was attributed to its brilliant lyricist.


A composer (Latin compōnō; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes music, especially classical music in any form, including vocal music (for a singer or choir), instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music.


A writer focused on the sung parts of a song.
As a lyricist, she had the knack for turning feelings into words.


A creator of melodies and harmonies.
The composer spent nights perfecting his symphony.


A lyricist or lyrist is a songwriter who writes lyrics—words for songs—as opposed to a composer, who writes the song's music which may include but not limited to the melody, harmony, arrangement and accompaniment.


One that composes, especially a person who composes music.


A writer of song lyrics. Also called lyrist.


One who composes; an author.


A person who writes the lyrics of a song.


Especially, one who composes music.


A person who writes the words for songs


One who, or that which, quiets or calms.


One who composes; an author. Specifically, an author of a piece of music.
If the thoughts of such authors have nothing in them, they at least . . . show an honest industry and a good intention in the composer.
His [Mozart's] most brilliant and solid glory is founded upon his talents as a composer.


One who, or that which, quiets or calms; one who adjusts a difference.
Sweet composers of the pensive soul.


Someone who composes music as a profession

Common Curiosities

Can one person be both a composer and lyricist?

Yes, some individuals craft both the music and the words for songs.

Do lyricists write the tune of a song?

No, lyricists write the words; the tune is typically composed by the composer.

Who crafts the story or message in a song?

The lyricist pens the words, shaping the narrative and message of a song.

What's the main role of a composer?

A composer primarily focuses on creating and arranging the musical elements of a piece.

How do composers and lyricists collaborate?

They work closely, ensuring the music and words align and complement each other.

Can a lyricist influence the mood of a song?

Yes, through their words, lyricists can evoke emotions and set the song's mood.

Are composers responsible for the words in a musical piece?

Typically, composers focus on the music, while lyricists write the words.

Do all songs have lyricists?

No, instrumental pieces might only involve a composer, with no lyricist.

Which role is more important in song creation, composer or lyricist?

Both roles are vital; the composer provides the musical foundation, and the lyricist adds depth with words.

Who creates the catchy hooks in songs?

While composers create the musical hook, lyricists might craft a catchy chorus or phrase.

Are song lyrics considered poetry?

Yes, song lyrics are a form of poetry and are often recognized for their poetic merits.

What's the key difference between a composer and a musician?

A composer creates the music, while a musician performs it.

How long does it take for a composer to create a piece?

It varies; some compositions take days, while others might take years.

Do composers need to know how to play instruments?

While it's beneficial, some composers might only write music and rely on musicians for performance.

Are all songwriters lyricists?

Not necessarily. While all lyricists are songwriters, songwriters might also be involved in composing the music.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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