LYRICS Instrumental Music can be very general, yet deep, in feeling. Lyrics add specific meaning and emotions. • Writing music requires sensitivity to the sound, feel and rhythm of the tones. • Writing lyrics requires sensitivity to the sound, feel and rhythm of the language. • Not everyone has both skills. There is no shame in collaboration! It used to be very common for lyricists to team with composers, but in the 60’s more singer-songwriters began to make an appearance. Nowadays it can go either way.
Music or Words… Which Comes First? • The answer is; either one! • Different writers have different approaches. Some people use different methods at different times depending upon their mood or needs. • There are many ways to approach writing. Some people start with a melody, some with a lyric, or an idea for a hook or a riff, sometimes it all starts with an interesting rhythmic feel or an overheard phrase. Find methods that work for you. “I did the tune first and wrote the words … later. I called it “Scrambled Eggs” for a long time. I didn’t have any words to it.”…Paul McCartney on “Yesterday”.
Does it Have to Rhyme? Usually… Our ears like to hear rhymes. They serve a purpose by focusing us on important information in the song. • Rhymes clarify ideas • Rhymes connect ideas • Rhymes direct motion
Where Should the Rhyme Occur? • There are different possibilities for placing the rhyme, but we will first look at the ending phrase. • When the ending phrase rhymes the grammatical and musical pause after it generally gives the words more weight, so try to avoid empty rhymes (me, do, be, so, etc…). Use the rhyme to convey information.
About Rhyme: • The rhyme is generally between syllables, not entire words. If the vowel and the final consonant are the same then the beginning of the word being different creates rhyme rather than repetition. For example: Hair Flair Care Share • Make sure you write with the correct syntax. Inverting the natural word order sounds awkward and unnatural. For example: don’t put transitive verbs at the end of sentences. For you I have a strong desire This feeling you always inspire Notice that it sounds unnatural. Keep your lyric close to natural speech cadence. • Make sure the words sing well. Some words and sounds don’t work easily when you try singing them.
Lyric Rhythm Match the Metre of your Melody and Lyric. • The lyric rhythm should fit with the music rhythm...Language has naturally stressed words and syllables, be sure they work with the natural accents of the music. The idea or descriptive words tend to be stressed, you would not generally stress words like “the”, “of” , “at”, “a” , etc… • Metre is a pattern of “stresses” or “accents” in lyrics. For example a common folk “Ballad Metre” has four stressed syllables in line one and three in line 2. The pattern is repeated for the whole song. For example Amazing Grace: Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me I once was lost, but now am found Was blind, but now I see. For those of you who are familiar with Poetry; the most common rhythm is Iambic Pentameter.
What Some Types of Lyrics Do: • Express a feeling • Tell a Story • Express an idea or opinion • Observe something • Combine of any or all of the above BTW: Cliché is not cool, unless you find a clever way to turn the cliché on its head. For example “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places” is a redo of the phrase “I’ve got friends in high places”.
Possible Starting Points : • A melodic riff that suggests an idea or phrase • The rhythm of the words • A signature Phrase • A common or Cliché phrase ( best if you can turn it on it’s head and make it clever) • Tell a Story • Describe Something or Someone • Rewrite the lyric to a song you like. • Listen to a song in a foreign language and put your own lyrics to it ( no need to understand the original)
JUST WRITE: Exercises Start a Lyric Journal. Jot down ideas… big or small. Don’t edit. You can use the ideas or rewrite them later. The important thing is to get in the habit of writing! 1.) Write a verse starting with : “ YESTERDAY I” 2.) Where are you? Describe it How does it make you feel? 3.) Write about something that happened to you Describe it How does it make you feel? 4.) Observe someone near you Describe them Tell a story about them 5.) Groups of 4 or 5. Each person writes one line. No Fear…Rock On!
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