Difference Between Musician & Composer

Anoushka Shankar at the Global Rhythm 15th Anniversary Party

Musician and Music Composer are two different traits that are often misunderstood as one and the same. There’s a lot of difference between the two terms and knowing the differences between the two is a must. A musician is a person who sings or plays a musical instrument. To make it easy for you a singer or a guitarist comes under the category of the musician.

On the other hand, a composer is a person who composes a song to music. In short, a composer is a person who writes lyrics for a song i.e. lyricist. Though there are a lot of differences between the two, you would often hear people debating why shouldn’t be a composer necessarily be a musician. In general, a musician studies music at a higher level and so he/she has a better grasp of the music.

Speaking of composer, he/she need not be a professional singer or doesn’t need to have knowledge of any instrument for that matter. Musicians are adept at playing instruments such as the guitar, violin, sitar, or any other musical instrument. Composers may also compose music based on the music proposed by the musicians.

A. R. Rahman

We have seen many musicians who are good at composing music and or also capable of singing if he/she wishes to become a professional musician. There are many instances where musicians tend to become composers too but on the other hand, there are very less instances where an expert composer also becomes a professional musician.

To become a musician, one needs to be trained under a teacher initially. As time progress, he/she tends to follow the style of the teacher or discovers his own style of singing. Musicians tend to become easily popular and are offered hefty paycheques for their work.

On the other hand, composers are generally hired by the movie industry to compose music for a film or a movie. Most of the background scores that you hear in films are the work of composers. They compose background scores to films as the scene demands. Composers usually work in collaboration with the film crew including the director, the producer, the story writer, the editor, and the like. Composers would often select the musician to sing songs for the movie. It is the responsibility of the musician to sing the songs set to music by the composer.


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