Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Simple Tricks to Polish Your Lyrics – Part 1: Avoiding Cliché Rhymes

If you write your own song lyrics, do you tend to rhyme words that your listeners expect to hear from you? In other words, are you writing cliché rhyming words? Here's a test to see if you fall into the same exigency as other songwriters: Think of a word that rhymes with girl. Go ahead. Think of one. Imagine you're hearing the Jeopardy waiting tune with Alex Trebek. Did you think of a rhyming word? Good. If you chose "world" or "pearl" as your word, then there's a possibility some aspect of your lyrics are cliché and uninspiring.

Still skeptical? What if I were to ask you to think of a word that rhymes with mama. Think...Think...Think...What word popped in your head? Were you thinking of the word "drama?"

Many songwriters unknowingly settle for lyrics that don't surprise the listener. Haven't you noticed? You'll listen to a new song you hadn't heard before and as soon as you hear certain words in the lyrics, you automatically know the next rhyming term the singer will use before she say it.

The best songwriters believe in rewriting songs. They do not stick with the rough draft. The rough draft is for emitting your thoughts and feelings. All subsequent drafts are written to add embellishment so that the listener would enjoy it. That includes the use of stronger and exceptional words. As for the 1st test listed above, you don't have to limit yourself to using just pearl and world to rhyme with girl. Why not use one of the following:

  • awhirl
  • burl
  • churl
  • curl
  • earl
  • furl
  • hurl
  • knurl
  • squirrel
  • swirl
  • twirl
  • whirl
  • uncurled
  • unfurled

Notice some of the words have multiple syllables. Don't limit yourself to using one-syllable words.

Again, other than rhyming mama with drama, here are other rhymes you can use:

  • trauma
  • sauna
  • Obama
  • lama
  • Saundra
  • comma
  • ganja
  • pajama
  • Kwanzaa

These lists are not exhaustive. Be sure to find other rhyming words. As a bonus, speaking words in different accents will help you rhyme as well. For example, you can rhyme "mom" with "bomb" or use "mum" with "drum." Notice mom and mum are the same but pronounced differently. In addition, some hip-hop artists speak Spanglish, meaning some of their words are in the English language but may speak Spanish whenever English words aren't enough for cadence and rhymes.

Share and retweet this message to your songwriting and music friends. You know, the ones who really need it....and to those who you think don't need it. Also be sure to sign up for the Hot Bird Music mailing list for more tips on music and marketing.

Christopher Patton Hot Bird Music producer@hotbirdmusic.com

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