Rhyme in Lyrics
Some lyrics do not rhyme, but most do and is perhaps the most common convention in lyric writing used today and throughout history. Rhyme helps make lyrics memorable as poets and songwriters have known for thousands of years.
Before words were written in stone or upon paper, songs were sung and handed down from one generation to the next. Rhyme was most often used in these songs because people could remember rhyming songs better than non-rhyming ones, so rhyming songs endured while non-rhyming ones were quickly forgotten.
When writing rhyme for lyrics it is important to know about both internal rhyme and end rhyme.
Internal rhyme means that words in the middle of a line with rhyme with each other or with a word on either end of the line. End rhyme simply means that a word at the end of one line will rhyme with a word at the end of another line. This may be the next line or the one after that, typically.
For instance, if in the first 4-line verse of a song, all of the last words rhymed, this patterned would be called “AAAA”. If the last word of the first line rhymed with the last word of the third line and the last word of the second line rhymed with the last word of the fourth line, this pattern would be called “ABAB”.
Some typical rhyme schemes for songs include AABB, ABAB, AABA and AAAA. Perhaps the most boring rhyme scheme is AAAA and this is why lyric writers like to mix up the rhymes when writing songs.
It is important, however that all rhyme schemes of the verses match each other throughout the song for consistency’s sake. The choruses will all naturally match each other since they are typically, word-for-word the same throughout the song.
When writing rhyming lyrics, the songwriter’s best friend is a rhyming dictionary. A rhyming dictionary and a Thesaurus are the lyricist’s best friend when starting to put pen to paper.
Internal rhyme is a more sophisticated technique that some professional lyricists will use to great effect in their songs. In a set of Eminem lyrics in the song “Ricky Ticky Toc” he not only uses internal rhyme in the title but also in the line “Anybody I throw flames at gets a name it’s a game” in which the “ame” is repeated within the line and at the end as well.
Many writers of rap music lyrics will use internal rhyme with great success to advance the story and create a certain rhythm and cadence and make the songs memorable. This device is also effective in helping the rappers to remember the songs they are singing since many hip hop lyrics are much longer and more complex that other popular song lyrics.
It’s time for a rhyme so pull out your dictionary and improve your vocabulary and use some words with some verbs to advance the story and make it literary.