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Motor systems flexibly implement diverse motor programs to pattern behavioral sequences, yet their neural underpinnings remain unclear. Here, we investigated the neural circuit mechanisms of flexible courtship behavior in Drosophila. Courting males alternately produce two types of courtship song. By recording calcium signals in the ventral nerve cord (VNC) in behaving flies, we found that different songs are produced by activating overlapping neural populations with distinct motor functions in a combinatorial manner. Recordings from the brain suggest that song is driven by two descending pathways – one defines when to sing and the other specifies what song to sing. Connectomic analysis reveals that these “when” and “what” descending pathways provide structured input to VNC neurons with different motor functions. These results suggest that dynamic changes in the activation patterns of descending pathways drive different combinations of motor modules, thereby flexibly switching between different motor actions.