Lyric Writing

Poems and song lyrics have much in common. Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing a song lyric for Empire Music Company:

Songs Consist Of Three Sections:

1. The Verse contains the main story line of the song. It is usually four or eight lines in length. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOUR SONG HAS THE SAME NUMBER OF LINES IN EACH VERSE. Otherwise, your song will not sound smooth. Most songs have two or three verses.

2. The Chorus states the meaning of the song. IT CONTAINS THE TITLE IN THE FIRST AND/OR LAST LINE. The chorus is repeated at least once, and is usually the most memorable part of a song. It differs from the verse musically, and it may be of shorter or longer length than that of the verse.

3. A section called the Bridge is found in some, but not all songs. It has a different melody from either the Verse or the Chorus. It is often used instead of a third verse to break the monotony of simply repeating another verse.

Length:

Most songs contain two or three Verses and a repeating Chorus. Two common song forms are:

1. Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus

2. Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Chorus

It is important that your song is not too long. Many radio stations will not play songs that go much over three minutes. For this reason, it is rare for a song with more than three Verses and a repeating Chorus to become a hit. Publishers will generally reject a song that has many verses.

Rhyme:

Not all songs rhyme, but most do. Rhymes make your song sound better, and will help keep the listener's interest. Use as many different sounding rhymes as possible. For example, if you rhyme "free" with "me", your next rhyme shouldn't use the same "e" sound.

Use a consistent rhyming pattern. For example, if your first verse has four lines, and you rhyme the second and fourth lines, each following verse should follow the same pattern.

Language:

Do not use obscene language, or encourage immoral behavior. Remember, your song has to get played on the radio for it to become a hit. Radio stations will not play songs that offend their listeners.

Use the first person point of view (I love...) when writing songs. Third person (HE or SHE loves...) is also okay. Avoid using the second person (YOU should do such and such...), or first person plural (WE should do such and such...) It sounds too preachy.

Content:

The most common subject for popular songs is love. The majority of songs that get played on the radio are songs about falling in love, being in love, breaking up, love of God, etc. The biggest sellers are songs about love and relationships.

Most record buyers are young people. It is wise to consider writing about subjects that will appeal to this group. Write about your subjects from a young person’s point of view. For example, do not write a song about how wonderful your fifty year marriage has been. Instead, you could say how much you look forward to loving someone for the next fifty years.

Some Popular Writing Techniques

Most writers' song ideas start with a title. Here are some ideas with examples:
  • Use a color: "Blue Moon", "A Whiter Shade Of Pale"
  • Use a name: "Lucille", "Mr. Bojangles"
  • Use opposites: "One Step Forward and Two Steps Back". (This is one of my favorite writing techniques.)
  • Take a popular phrase or cliché and twist it. Give it a new meaning: "The Greatest Man I Never Knew" sung by Reba.
Here are some opening line techniques:
  • Start with a time: "Wednesday morning at five 0’clock…" (The Beatles, "She’s Leaving Home")
  • Start with a place: "In a bar in Toledo, across from the depot" ("Lucille", sung by Kenny Rogers.)
These are just a few techniques designed to capture the listener’s interest. You hear them a lot in Country music. Listen to songs with the ear of a writer and you will hear these techniques used over and over again.

Rejection:

It is inevitable that not everyone is going to like all the lyrics you write. That is normal. The most famous people in the music business have all faced rejection at one time or another. It can be frustrating, but use rejection as a learning experience. In fact, the most valuable comments you will receive about your work are often the critical ones. They can help guide you to becoming a better writer.

ATTENTION!

Song writing is a craft. It is true that any words can be set to music, but a poorly written lyric will ruin any song.

We give honest lyric evaluations. This is a free service. E-mail them to jstone3216@yahoo.com If you want a reply by postal mail, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope for our reply.

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