What is the difference between a songwriter and a composer?


New member
I saw Kim’s post on the new forums about a future music composer contest. This made me wonder about the difference between a songwriter and a composer. Can anyone explain the difference to me?


New member

So...the difference between a songwriter and a composer. Typically a songwriter is responsible for crafting the lyrics of a particular song. Usually lyrics that reflect the nature of the film, or just reflections and insights into their own experiences. They may be involved with crafting the melody through writing the lyrics, but primarily responsible for the writing or performance of lyrical material.

A composer is responsible for the crafting of melodies, harmonies, and the general direction of music in a film for dramatic purposes. Composers generally decide which notes will be used and how. Their job is to compose a score, then provide the musicians with that music to perform. Typically orchestral or instrumental in nature, composers usually stick to writing for instruments only for dramatic effect.

Example: James Horner provided the score for Titanic, so the orchestral score for the film (all the notes and chords). Celine Dion provided the lyrics to My Heart Will Go On. So Composer and songwriter working together to create that essence.

Hopefully this has helped!