Rhyming is one of the things that make listening to songs enjoyable. It gives the song lyrics shape and excitement, which is why songwriters use them often. Then again, you should not obligate yourself to write your songs in rhymes, as it is really not necessary. A good resource for rhyming Technics is the Pat Pattison Book Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming
Looking for and listening to rhymes in poems and songs have become a natural instinct for humans. It creates a sense of rhythm or “hook” that catches your attention, which piques you interest making you listen to it more. Thus, the conception of the term “Last Song Syndrome” wherein a song gets stuck in your head even though you only heard it once or twice.
The general assumption is that rhyming only involves the vowels and their multiple sounds. Truth is, there are many different rhyming styles, and you can incorporate them in your song lyrics.
- Masculine – stress is on the final syllables of the words (rhyme, crime, sublime)
- Feminine – Stress is on the second from last syllables (picky, sticky, tricky)
- Dactylic – stress is on the third from last syllable (‘Aristophanes’, cacophonies)
- Syllabic – the final syllable of the words doesn’t necessarily contain vowels but sounds the same (cleaver, silver, pitter, patter)
- Imperfect – rhyme made with stressed and unstressed syllable (caring, wing)
- Semirhyme – rhyme made with an additional syllable on a word (ending, bend)
- Oblique – also known as slant rhyming, is made with a match in sound although imperfect (fiend, green)
- Assonance – made by matching vowels (hate, shakre)
- Consonance – made by matching consonants (dark, her)
- Half rhyme – also known as sprung rhyme, is made by matching last consonants (ant, bent)
- Alliteration – also known as head rhyme, is made by matching starting consonants (ship, short)
The rhyming styles should just be your reference and you should not get so technical about them and start worrying which one of the above you should use. Let your intuition and instinct be your guide when making rhymes. Focus instead on writing good song lyrics and telling a good story or theme.
Here are a few rhyming tips:
- - Create structure to the lyrics by choosing a rhyme pattern. There are quite a few rhymes to every word and a lot more combinations to create. Take a look at your favorite songs and analyze their rhyming patterns.
- - Stay creative while following your rhyming structure. As a songwriter, you should keep coloring outside the lines and breaking the rules. Try to rhyme in different ways. You might be surprised with what you come up with. They may work or they may not, at least you are being unique and creative.
- - Avoid using the same words – it’s not really rhyming. Overusing rhyming words will only irritate your audience and make your song boring so unless it’s absolutely necessary, never do it. Use a new rhyme pattern for each stanza or a new sound to rhyme with every stanza.
- - Stop being too analytic. Thinking too much holds back that artist within you. Use your emotion and instinct, not your brain. Your main goal is to write down what you feel and think. When you write freely, it will be easier to find rhyming words and sounds.
- - Don’t be a perfectionist. Just write… A lot. Never worry about cleanup. You can do that later. Worrying about neatness blocks the creative process. Just let your thoughts flow and rhyming will come naturally too.
- - Take a note of everything. Songwriters are some of the most observant persons in the world because it is in their experience that they draw their emotions from when writing song lyrics.
- - Take timeouts. Periodically take a break and let your brain rest for a while by doing something else. Then get back to what you have written. This will give you a fresh outlook on what you’re writing about.