#1July 17th, 2010 · 07:38 PM
102 threads / 59 songs
204 posts
Lesson 13a: Lyrics 2
So last time we discussed rhyme, now we need to talk about flow. Flow is how well your lyrics can be sung so obviously rhyme is a big part of creating flowing lyrics but it's not the only part.

When a singer sings a song, she sings the melody and sounds the notes on each syllable of the lyric. For every note in the melody there must be a syllable for the singer to sing or she has to pause or hold the same syllable over more than one note. The first important takeaway here: the number of syllables in a line should never exceed the number of notes in the line , if it does, there's no way to sing it without changing the melody. A line can however contain less syllables than the number of notes in that line. Many of your lines should be shorter or longer than others (having a song composed of equal lines would get quite boring) but they should be treated delicately if the syllabic length exceeds the melodic length.

With this in mind a good guideline is to prefer shorter words to longer ones. This is obviously not a hard rule, but using shorter words gives you more flexibility as to how they may be sung. Also give consideration to how easy your words are to actually pronounce. This isn't a great concern, but you may run into trouble if you write a song that's full of tongue twisters.

While good flow can be encouraged by good writing, the pacing of you lyrics is equally important to creating good flow. Pacing refers to how your lyrics will be sung, how fast/slow, pauses, etc. Pacing depends on the lyrics available and the music that accompanies it. The music provides the space for your lyrics to be sung and the lyrics fill that space - how is up to the singer.

You can do a lot with pacing, it's a very useful tool to creating interesting and dramatic songs, especially when it's combined with good dynamics (loudness/quietness). Increasing your pace and your dynamic is a very effective way of creating drama in a song. You can create even more drama by juxtaposing this against a slower quieter part. Listen to Blue by Joni Mitchel (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL76nQDfZMs&feature=related) for an example of effective pacing and dynamic. Take a look at the lyrics and you'll see that it barely rhymes. The song is motivated by good pacing which creates flow in a set of lyrics that don't flow particularly well at first glance.

Blue, songs are like tattoos
You know I've been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
Hey Blue, there is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in

Well there're so many sinking now
You've got to keep thinking
You can make it thru these waves
Acid, booze, and ass
Needles, guns, and grass
Lots of laughs, lots of laughs

Everybody's saying that hell's the hippest way to go
Well I don't think so
But I'm gonna take a look around it though
Blue, I love you

Blue, here is a shell for you
Inside you'll hear a sigh
A foggy lullaby
There is your song from me

Good flow is facilitated by lyrics but is ultimately dependent on the music and the pacing. Remember, the lyrics are a part of the song, they are not independent of the music but the music is usually independent of its lyrics (though it doesn't have too). Be careful when you write lyrics before your music, you will most likely want to make some changes to your lyrics when you do actually adapt them to a melody.

Time signature is a particularly important consideration for lyrics as it will help define the pacing for your lyrics and the emphasis that is placed during lines. I'll explain next time when we get an introduction to rhythms and meters.
#2July 19th, 2010 · 03:04 PM
371 threads / 187 songs
3,394 posts
United Kingdom
Thanks for posting this DT, You probably read my comments on kings thread that it would be great for me if you posted a 'Lyrics'  lesson, low and behold you have done it. So well done for that.

Now all I've go to do is get off my ASS and try out your methods. 


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