Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Grove Music Online. Grove is a registered trademark. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 21 February 2020


  • John Potter


A term used since the late 1950s to describe those mainly American and British singing composer-performers, often with roots in folk, country and blues, whose music and lyrics are considered inseparable from their performances.

Singer-songwriters are generally socially aware performers, the themes of their work often involving a sense of introspection, alienation or loss (real or imaginary): this is shared by both the singer and the listener, the sense of intimacy magnified by the microphone. In their performances and on many of their recordings there is an almost symbiotic relationship between the singers and their instruments, usually guitar or piano, at which the songs have generally been composed. The playing is usually fairly simple and always underpins the text; quirks of technique sometimes trigger a new direction for the lyrics. Remnants of the compositional process can survive in the performance itself: the initial empty bars or anacrustic beginning to the text, for example, give thinking time as well as asserting the pitch....

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Please subscribe to access the full content.