A composition, in music, refers to an original piece of music that has been created or composed. This includes the music itself (the melody, harmony, rhythm, and any other musical elements) and any accompanying lyrics. A composition is distinct from a sound recording, which is a specific recorded performance of a composition.
In the realm of copyright law, the composition is known as the “musical work.” The copyright for a musical work is typically held by the composer of the music and the writer of the lyrics, if any, or their appropriate publisher. This gives them, or their designated publisher, the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and create derivative works based on the composition.
For example, the song “Imagine” is a composition by John Lennon. The copyright for the musical work is held by Lennon’s estate, which means they control how the composition is used and can collect royalties when it is.
When a composition is recorded by an artist to create a sound recording, the copyright for the sound recording is typically held by the artist or their record label, separate from the copyright for the musical work.
For further information, you might visit the Musical Composition page on Wikipedia.