Rhymes – Not As Important As You Think!

My Song Coach

Working on an early draft of a song?  Don’t worry about rhyming too early. Forcing a rhyme can twist your song out of shape, making a line sound unnatural. Worse, it can make you say something you don’t mean. That’s when listeners start to tune out. Instead…

1st: Say what you want to say. Write a couple of lines that express the heart of your song. (Don’t think about rhyming.)

2nd: Describe emotions, people, or situations.  You’ll never hear a listener say, “I’ve just got to hear that songs again. I LOVE that rhyme!” It’s more important to make listeners see and feel what the song is about. Images and action words are key here. (Don’t think about rhyming.)

3rd: Imagine you’re telling a stranger what you feel. What questions do you need to answer? What does the listener want/need to know? (Don’t think about rhyming.)

4th: FINALLY… Look for rhymes that feel natural. As you organize your lines into a song structure, look for rhymes that just happen, or rework a line to keep the meaning while creating a natural sounding “near rhyme.” “Near” or “vowel” rhymes only rhyme the vowel sound. They’re much easier to find than perfect rhymes. Here are a couple of web sites with plenty of ideas for relaxed, conversational rhyming words: RhymeDesk.com and  B-rhymes.com.

If you can’t find a comfortable, natural sounding rhyme… DON’T RHYME! You don’t have to rhyme every line. Rhyming words are used to add emphasis and give the listener a strong sense of completion. For instance, the final line of your chorus (the “payoff” line) is one of the places you’ll probably want to emphasize with a strong rhyme. For other lines, let the emotional message of the song be the most important thing.

Read more about why songs rhyme… or not.

by Robin Frederick

Author: Robin Frederick

Robin Frederick is the author of Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting and Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV. She has written and produced more than 500 songs for television, records, theater, and audio products. She is a former Director of A&R for Rhino Records and Executive Producer of 60 albums. Visit Robin's websites for more songwriting tips and inspiration: www.RobinFrederick.com and www.MySongCoach.com.