Who doesn’t love a good rhyme?
There’s really no way around it: if you’re going to be writing songs with lyrics, you’re going to end up coming up with rhymes. Rhymes help a song sound cohesive and consistent, poetic and memorable. Rhymes are usually part of the art of a song–it’s really just a poem set to music, and most poems rhyme. It’s true that your song doesn’t have to rhyme (I’ll touch on that below), but since most of the time it will, you’ll want to have a good strategy when it comes to writing your verses and choruses.
As a songwriter myself, I’ve run into plenty of tight places when trying to write rhyming lyrics. Here are a few things I’ve come across that might help your songwriting process as well.
Use a rhyming dictionary
Sometimes I write what seems to be the perfect line for a song, only to realize to my horror that I can’t think of anything that rhymes for the next line. After I mentally run through the alphabet in a desperate attempt to think of any word that might possibly work, I usually give in and pick up my handy little rhyming dictionary. These books take the ending sounds of words and give you a list of every word in the English language that rhymes with it. Not only does it save time I would spend agonizing over what word to choose, but it gives me all sorts of options that I never would have thought of. I’d highly recommend picking one up (or using an online rhyming dictionary), as it may come in handy.
Many songwriters and poets utilize partial rhymes in their stanzas. These are words that don’t technically rhyme, but they sound similar enough that they might as well rhyme (and no one will accuse you of cheating if you use them). For example, you could easily take a line that says “when will it all change” and follow it with something that says “it only stays the same.” “Same” and “change” do not rhyme–but they have a similar vowel sound in them that makes them work together in some lyrical situations. Although, I will add that rhyming “change” with “same” is pretty common, so while you can pull it off it may not end up being the most original thing you’ve ever written!
Avoid purple oranges
Certain words just don’t have a good rhyme, or even a decent half-rhyme. Purple and orange are two examples of words that you should probably avoid ending a phrase with, lest you feel very stuck trying to make up a rhyme in the next line. Another sticky situation can be using people’s names. If you write a song about a girl named Valerie, you might want to place her name somewhere in the song where you don’t have to make a rhyme, unless you want to talk about going to the gallery or burning a calorie!
Switch up the lines
Don’t forget that you can change the rhyming scheme for your verses, so a line doesn’t have to be directly after the one it rhymes with. You can alternate rhymes A-B-A-B, or only rhyme the second two lines in an A-B-C-B pattern. There are lots of possibilities–experiment with what sounds best in your song.
You don’t always have to rhyme
When all is said and done, don’t forget that there’s no rule stating that your song has to rhyme. There are plenty of famous songs that don’t rhyme, even in the chorus–remember when the Beatles said “All you need is love / Love is all you need?” That didn’t rhyme, but it didn’t matter. The way the song was written made that fact irrelevant, the message got through and the world is still listening to it today.
Do what sounds right for your song. If you ever get stuck, feel free to call Studio Pros for a free project consultation and one of our producers will give you advice on how to make your song go from good to great!