A lyricist is an author of song lyrics. Some lyricists are also musical composers, while others team up with composers. There have been many such famous song-writing teams, such as George Gershwin (music) and his brother Ira Gershwin (lyrics). George Gershwin also wrote many of his own lyrics.
In many cases, lyricists have written lyrics that have been set to old tunes. One of the best-known examples of this is the Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States, written by Francis Scott Key. He wrote the lyrics strictly as a poem, and it was later set to the tune of an old drinking song.
Similarly, the Christian Christmas carol, What Child Is This, had its words set to an old English folk tune that formerly was a lover's lament, Greensleeves.
Conversely, sometimes poets have written verse that has been later set to music. A good example of this is the Ode to Joy by Friedrich Schiller, who had not intended to be a lyricist but became one when Ludwig von Beethoven used several verses of this work as lyrics for the final movement of his ninth symphony.
Last updated: 05-20-2005 09:33:42