Songs without words

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Apr 25 13:45:17 UTC 2010

At 2:29 AM -0400 4/25/10, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
>Robin Hamilton wrote:
>>"The usage of "song" to mean "music contained in a single track" in software
>>such as iTunes will doubtless accelerate this trend."
>>Well, yes, this might be the case, if that were what iTunes indicates when
>>it uses the term "song".  Here's the first relevant google hit, from the
>>iTunes website:
>>"The Country Throwdown Tour is giving away 7 free songs as a teaser before
>>their tour. Here are the songs that you can download for FREE on iTunes."
>Responding to this (tangential) point only ....
>iTunes (at least my copy!) uses "song" to mean "track" or "audio file".
>If I rip a CD containing a four-movement four-track symphony, all
>instrumental, the software will inform me that there are "4 songs". If I
>have another "album" containing 12 tracks/files of lessons in how to
>speak Swahili, with no music whatsoever, the software will tell me that
>there are "12 songs".

Indeed.  My iTunes informs me that it contains 4705 songs, which
include not only self-acknowledged "songs without words" but various
movements from sonatas, concertos, etc., and not only songs of the
canyon wren and laughing Kookabura but "songs" of the American
alligator and Knudsen's frog.


>I suppose this is based on the assumption that any audio track
>presumably contains a recording of somebody singing a 'song'. Probably
>from the accountant's standpoint this is reasonable: I guess there are
>not many spondulicks in recorded symphonies ... or language lessons ...
>or famous speeches ... or bird calls (hmm, maybe the bird calls can be
>called 'songs' anyway).
>-- Doug Wilson
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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