Lyric Theory

Alot pieces of lyrics people seem to be lacking a key element, flow. What exactley is flow? It's basically how well a piece transitions, how well it meshes together. Without flow, songs can sometimes seem like long lines of prose that coincidentally rhyme.

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Alot pieces of lyrics people seem to be lacking a key element, flow. What exactley is flow? It's basically how well a piece transitions, how well it meshes together. Without flow, songs can sometimes seem like long lines of prose that coincidentally rhyme. So here's a few tips for it. 01. Theme. Don't try to put too many themes or ideas into a single verse. This can sometimes make something seem jambled and frankly, sloppy. Try to avoid it. If you must, I would reccomend that you use 2 main ideas per verse. 02. Count Syllables. This should really be stressed in most cases. Just count how many syllables you're using in a single line, and compare that to the line that contrasts/compliments that line. Say you wanna write something like. Short line; Longer line; Short line; Longer line; The short line should probably act as a counterpart to the other short line, giving them enough contrast to develop an idea further, while the longer line will compliment the shorter one by using a bit more detail to let the piece evolve on its own a little more. Also, say you have a big word, but you wanna drop or add a syllable. Limit it to that. Don't drop more than one syllable or add more than one, because otherwise the word can become hard to understand. There is, however, a difference between adding syllables and stretching words (vowels 99% of the time). We've all heard a song before where somewhere in between the singer stretches a short word like "yeah" for a few extra seconds. This is a good touch, but be careful when using it, it needs to be rationed. 03. Writing Techniques. Bridges, choruses, verses, these are the bricks of a song (the mortar is the flow). A few typical styles are: Verse; Chorus; Verse; Chorus; Optional third verse; Optional chorus to follow; Ending chorus; Or: Verse; Bridge; Chorus; Repeat...etc There are definetley set times to use a bridge. It is primarily used to tie together a verse and chorus that normally wouldnt compliment each other very well (would'nt go together well). It is entirley up to you on whether you want to use a bridge or not, but remember you have alternate options. Sometimes instead of using a musically supported bridge, you can use a technique such as strumming with all the strings muted by your fretting hand or make a quick insturmental bridge. Sometimes you don't need to use any kind of bridge at all. Example of a song with a bridge : "Drive" by Incubus Example of a bridgeless song : "Where Are You Going" by Dave Matthews Band. 04. Creative Language. Be descriptive now and then. You can't be abstract all the time. Hemingway is a good example of how descriptive writing can sort of draw people in and interest them if they dont weant to analyze every song they hear. Grab a dictionary once in a while if you don't know a word. Using original termino your songs can make them seem more "polished" and even maybe like you've got a huge vocabulary. An example of almost bland writing - the beginning of John Gardener's "Grendel". Example of vivid language and imagery - Green Hills Of Africa. 05. Style. You don't need to stick to any strict format or style. use a bridge once in a song, maybe after a chorus to tie the chorus into the verse, repeating choruses, using musical fills to compliment things, etc. be creative with your style, and write about what inspires you. 06. Finding Inspiration. Look at what kind of music you like to listen to, and what kind of music you want to write. Try and look for patterns or styles that that artist uses. Another tip I would highly reccomend is look into literatrue by some of these authors and some of these example works.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Birthmark.
  • Edgar Allen Poe - Like a 4 dollar book with tons of great stuff: poems, stories, essays.
  • Julian Barnes - Talking It Over
  • Ernest Hemingway - The Sun Also Rises,
  • Green Hills Of Africa, The Old Man And The Sea.
  • Poets: Robert Lee Frost, William Blake, Edgar Allen Poe, Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound, Ts Eliot, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Sara Teasdale, Sappho, Stephen Crane. All of these can be very inspiring. dont rip off their works, but find inspirastion to write something from them. If none of these are to your liking, like I said, find something that is and look for thingsd in that that'll inspire you. "It Is The Muses" by Sappho "It is the Muses who have caused me to be honred: they taught me their craft"
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    42 comments sorted by best / new / date

      MattyB
      That's all been said before but i think you put every1's idea's into a nicely flowing article. Good read for the lyricist who needs help.
      End Of the New
      greenguitar: one_step_closer: " Edgar Allen Poe " is'nt that a horror Poem book ? yup.Edgar Allen Poe lived a scary/bad life.
      he also was a sicko, marring a like 12 year girl or sum sh it like that
      raininnovember
      lil bit incomplete though, creativity is the main thing for lyrics man. you can read even study and get a degree in literature and that stuff but if you lack creativity your just gonna copy what you have read.,. its a good idea like bassist28^ wrote, to write about the structure of lyrics-> Lyric Theory. Lets say you get inspired by something, but you lack the knowledge of writing lyrics(you need to know how to put whats in your head/heart/orwhereever into a song, then your stuck, its not that ur lacking inspiration or a good idea its that you dont know how to write. well thats my lil inspirational writing for ya. lyric theory is how to write not what to write about
      stunt
      Edgar Allen Poe rocks man. If your a metal band and only write about psychotic shit and death, read Poe. Suggestions on Poe's writings The Raven Tell tale heart The Fall of the house of Usher The Masque of the red death Seriously read them this guy is messed up on the shit that he thinks of. But he rocks
      mattutaylor
      I have to disagree about the syllables. It can work in favour when you squeeze more than one extra or lengthen a word to fit into the rhythym. An example of this is Brandon Boyd from Incubus. If you listen he often incorporates this idea
      Paintedblue
      Nice article man, i write alot of lyrics and well obviously they're not all good, and some are hard to write but this article has helped me write them with more ease and a more open mind. Thanx
      VoodooBilly
      i think that over analysing other ppls lyrics and stuff will end up makin you a pretty unoriginal writer, but taking inspiration in small amounts can help. i am not claiming to be a great songwriter but after listenin to incubus' fungus amongus i have realised that lyrics really need to just flow and be cool, rather than always make perfect sense. oh, and listen to sublime, they truly are the greatest
      ebashnitzil
      another popular setup: intro (pre verse) verse (pre chorus) chorus (riff after chorus/re-intro/pre verse) verse 2 (pre chorus) chorus bridge ending chorus (or guitar outro) ^guitar outro () means optional
      acrocks
      i think the best way of getting good lyrics is to put yourself into that situation yourself and explain your feelings
      Burpbelly
      use a thesaurus when writing lyrics (but not on every word), it can help the flow, and allow you to rhyme more frequently, thusly creating a greater flow throughout the length of the piece.
      vainhero
      ok ideas and such. i personally think, it shouldn't be a struggle to think of words or arrangement for songs. Before you make music, you should listen to all the music you can get your hands on, then make a statement. Theres a lot of songs about love out there like verse-chours-bridge-coda that people are getting bored with. IF your straining to put together a song, then you need to listen to more music.
      bassist28
      not to bad, but u didn't talk about the use of repitition in songs, or how songs can have a lyric count for every line, or the use of underlying rhyme... i was gonna make an article but after i read this u covered the basics of alot of stuff, so **** it
      emokid182
      [QUOhehe yeah i hade some little typos there. TE] another ironic sentence
      G-Rock
      Usually people who write these lyric things are very bias, but you put good ideas and inspirations out there. Good job.
      Troy Simple
      I am going to give this article a five but only because you mentioned Ernest Hemingway's novel "The Sun Also Rises"
      Klown
      you mentioned alot of bands, but comeon, a lyric article without mentioning Pink Floyd?
      ozzyzig
      hey, tanx man good article.do me a favour and look up stone roses bass tab for i wanna be adored (ver 2). give it a good rating
      zreever
      hmm i find a strange coincidence between the fact that a lot of popular rock music sounds the same and there is a website that "shows" someone how to write music. In my opininion, if you really want ot write music, you just DO it. write from the heart and for god sakes be creative. nothing coming from an article on how to write lyrics will produce creative, original lyrics
      jof1029
      i agree with zreever for the most part but i do think that literature can give inspiration. reading novels and poems by GOOD authors provokes thoughts and insighs which are inspiring. i think that this was your best point.
      greenguitar
      one_step_closer: " Edgar Allen Poe " is'nt that a horror Poem book ? yup.Edgar Allen Poe lived a scary/bad life.
      stop_pop_ups
      great stuff! especially this part: 06. Finding Inspiration. Look at what kind of music you like to listen to, and what kind of music you want to write. Try and look for patterns or styles that that artist uses. Another tip I would highly reccomend is look into literatrue by some of these authors and some of these example works. Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Birthmark. Edgar Allen Poe - Like a 4 dollar book with tons of great stuff: poems, stories, essays. Julian Barnes - Talking It Over Ernest Hemingway - The Sun Also Rises, Green Hills Of Africa, The Old Man And The Sea. Poets: Robert Lee Frost, William Blake, Edgar Allen Poe, Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound, Ts Eliot, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Sara Teasdale, Sappho, Stephen Crane. All of these can be very inspiring. dont rip off their works, but find inspirastion to write something from them. If none of these are to your liking, like I said, find something that is and look for thingsd in that that'll inspire you. i am soo going to go out and buy some of thoose books man.
      SuperSport350
      it's ok but i dont understand why articles like this get written. if you need to read something to tell you how to write lyrics you probably shouldn't be doing so in the first place.
      Rocker3829
      I like how you mentioned inspiration can come from authors and all that stuff you thought you hated or still hate in high school you can put to use! givin this a 5 man, o and also if you can take a writing class that doesn't hurt either. all in all great job
      Fender86
      "Alot pieces of lyrics people seem to be lacking a key element, flow. " lol, ironic sentence isn't it? good article besides that though.
      Skugg
      lmao thats pretty funny. how did u ever manage to accomplish that BG?
      aberdeen07
      zreever wrote: hmm i find a strange coincidence between the fact that a lot of popular rock music sounds the same and there is a website that "shows" someone how to write music. In my opininion, if you really want ot write music, you just DO it. write from the heart and for god sakes be creative. nothing coming from an article on how to write lyrics will produce creative, original lyrics
      This I have to agree with, but at the same time, I understand your flow theory, take Nirvana for example, Kurt Cobain's lyrics were totally unique, however no matter what the words were they had a flow that never made them sound forced or cluttered within a particular part of the song