Jump to content
allthumbs

Lyric Construction Basics

Recommended Posts

allthumbs    8

A quick primer in how lyrics fit together. They are much like song construction. There are basic building blocks that can be arranged to make complex rhyming patterns.

There are 7 types of rhymes. All are concerned with the last word in each line except one which is known as an internal rhyme. All that means the rhyming word is not the last word in a line.

Most of the types are just common sense so your ear can tell what words work and what don't. To keep things simple I will address the two most common. Perfect rhyme and near or imperfect rhyme. They almost explain themselves with examples.

Perfect Rhyme using a made up country western verse.

When I opened the door,

I reached for the floor,

As the pot roast flew past my head,

I yelled it was only eight beers,

She screamed through her tears,

I love you, but oh your so dead.

Chorus

She's burning and now I"m cooked,

I was just as bad as she thought I looked,

Etc.

You get the idea. The words rhyme perfectly. The Rhyming scheme is a,a,b,c,c,b. by the way. More on that later.

Near or imperfect lyrics

Romeo and Juliette

I would give you all my love,

In exchange for just one hug,

I would gladly die,

For one day with you as my bride.

See how the words are near rhymes.

Now for the most common rhyming patterns. As you saw above in the first set of lyrics, construction is similar to song construction except you use lower case letters to keep track of things.

The most basic and most common pattern is a,b,a,b.. First and third line rhyme, second and fourth line rhyme.

Another common pattern is a,a,b,b,. example door-floor and light-sight.

This pattern breaks up the rhyming much like a bridge. It helps keep the lines interesting a,a,b,a. example floor, door, brick, more.

The above are how you can build your lyrics. You can get quite complex with many lines with different patterns but, remember they are patterns, nor random lines. You could have a pattern like this.a,a,a,a or a,b,c,b or at the other end of the scale a,b,a,c,d,e,d,c. You can see the last one covers 2 verses, the last line in each having the rhyming word.

So you say but, I don't want to rhyme. Well you don't have to. In fact it is becoming popular not to rhyme as much. This is an important point. I am not saying scramble all the rhyming schemes into one big alphabet soup. With a predominantly non rhyming lines, you would use minimal rhyming to underline or make more noticeable the lines you wanted to stand out. In this case you are not so much looking for a rhyme as you are making a statement.

There is a lot more depth to this subject of course but, this should give you enough info to make writing lyrics easier. I have gleaned this stuff from various books out there but, take full responsibility for the lyrics.

it took me forever to come up with even those simple lyrics which is why I don't write lyrics too much. I hope this helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hilch    0

For me it is Matty , but mind you it does spell out the name of that very ..... Sweedish group from 80's ....

I am trying to think of a song that has the scheme in it but due to the increasing dead brain cells I keep killing off I amstruggling to come up with a song for you ..

Trev......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
allthumbs    8
Great tips allthumbs, but one question (to settle a little argument im having), is it acceptable to rhyme, A-B-B-A

Thanks mate

As I'm walking through the moon light,

I'm thinking of what might have been,

lost in a moment of a fragile dream,

Too late,too late,you were right.

It works. Not my favourite pattern but, there are no rules written in stone. Just remember to use this pattern consistently for your tune if you choose to use it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Matty22    0

Thanks guys... in the end i changed it around and it sounded better using a more common pattern. So i kinda wasted your time, but still handy to know

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I think can be worth added is the grammar... you really SHOULD bend the grammar to some extent so it can fit your lyric.

An example is 'was' and 'were'. 'Were' has no real end to it, so it floats on, whereas 'was' has a clear end. Depending on the situation, singing "we was" or "he were" can be a lot more fitting.. Of course it shouldn't be TOO wayout, "you was" for example just sound... off. =P

I just thought it might be worth noting. ^^

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
solidwalnut    5
One thing I think can be worth added is the grammar... you really SHOULD bend the grammar to some extent so it can fit your lyric.

An example is 'was' and 'were'. 'Were' has no real end to it, so it floats on, whereas 'was' has a clear end. Depending on the situation, singing "we was" or "he were" can be a lot more fitting.. Of course it shouldn't be TOO wayout, "you was" for example just sound... off. =P

I just thought it might be worth noting. ^^

It's true...there really are no rules, especially when experimenting. It might be another story when you consider the audience for which you're writing...there are no rules, except one: tell a story. The best lyrics, imho, are the ones that are conversational.

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
starsailor    20

Thanks for the tips solid walnut, I've just posted a song about stage fright that I thought of last night, would appreciate your feedback, only lyrics at the moment x4string and aunt Doty pitched in and I wrote a load of verses and the chorus this morning.

Cheers

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
starsailor    20
Thanks for the tips solidwalnut, I've just posted a song about stage fright that I thought of last night, would appreciate your feedback, only lyrics at the moment x4string and aunt Doty pitched in and I wrote a load of verses and the chorus this morning.

Cheers

Chris

Made a mistake allthumbs thanked solidwalnut for your lesson,thanks for the tips and thanks to solidwalnut for his lessons, my brain has a half day on sundays

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, finding a subject to write about...

I find myself sounding like a whinging, whining, preaching, holier-than-thou, wise-old-man-wanna-be!

And no one wants to be like that! Need... inspiration....!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lcjones    8

guitarmaster,

I'm not a world class songwriter but I've studied and written quite a few songs over a number of years. Some are good and well, some are not so good. And that's all part of it. If you have any inclination of writing lyrics, then you must get beyond a couple of things.

Inspiration. Obviously inspiration is a factor in writing lyrics. But as anything creative, inspiration is the merely the starting point. The rest is hard and diligent work. Writing lyrics is not easy. Take a moment and think about professional staff song writers. The ones in Nashville, LA and New york. These folks work day in and day out writing top flight lyrics for musicians around the world. No doubt they have moments of inspiration but I guarantee the vast majority of their work day is spent at grindstone hard work and word-smithing.

Over the years I've seen many new writers get hung up on their muse. Waiting for and expecting that crucial moment when "inspiration strikes." Frankly, it doesn't work that way all (most) of the time. Most of the time songs begin with a very simple phrase and grow from there. As I've written many times, "yes there are exceptions, like Neil Young writing a song in 30 minutes and letting it fly." For sure, some of the best known songs were done in very short order. As I say though, they are the exception to the rule. The rest of them have had some heavy handed work.

There are many ways to write a lyric, so here's my advice. First and foremost, when you write, write for yourself. Be natural. Don't pretend to write in a fashion that does not truly represent yourself. Don't worry about being philosophical or writing profound verses to amaze and impress your friends and neighbors. If you do, they probably won't understand it anyway. If you're a gnarly old man with gnarly old thoughts, then write that way. If you're a 'tween with visions of grandeur and fictional life styles, then write that way.

Secondly. Learn how lyrics are built. Just because lines rhyme doesn't mean its a song. There are three parts to a song. The beginning, the middle and the end. The beginning sets up the story. The middle tells the story. The end concludes the story. Simple as that. But also, inside each partition of the lyric are elements that move the lyric from point A to point B. You've heard the phrase, "it's the little things that count", right? Well, here is where that phrase really comes into play. The use of great word-smithing, action verbs, turns of phrase, internal rhyming, alliteration, are all integral parts of each partition within the lyric.

Third. Do not be afraid to write crap. This is a hurdle you absolutely must jump over. You are going to write crap. No matter how hard you try. No matter how inspired you may be. You're going to write crap. Get over it right now. It's part of the process. When you see and understand that something you have written is crap, you can finally see and understand how to make it "not crap". The more crap you write, the less crappy it gets. As you learn where the flaws are in your lyrics you will learn what it takes to fix the flaws.

Fourth. Tools. The typical French language dictionary has about 35,000 words in it. A typical collegiate English language dictionary had roughly 200,000 words in it. The French language is beautiful to listen too. The English language, on the other hand, is so complex with myriad ways of saying the same thing that it is real chore to get a grasp on it. Get yourself a word dictionary, a rhyming dictionary, a thesaurus and a book of quotes to have at hand when you write. It's impossible for any one person to know, understand and use all the words in the English language in context. These are tools to help you write your lyrics. Do not think of them as cheating or crutches. These are tools of the trade. Use them to your advantage.

Lastly, subject matter. Whatever. Whatever you want. Just make it believable. Make it touch someone else. Make it interesting. The most written about "thing" would be love. Good love. Bad love. No love. Wrong love. Hot love. I wrote a good love song here.

Guitarmaster, I hope this helps you get past your current train of thought........

**

LC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks LC,

I'll take your words to heart and try to care less about what others might think of what I write. that way I might actually finish writing something!

Some very good advice, thank you. I'll take a listen to your song this evening after work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×