Rhyme Is Good, Free Verse is Bad... Right?

Why your songs don't have to rhyme or have set pattern to follow.

Ultimate Guitar
Everywhere you look today in the music industry, you see plenty of songs that follow one of many very simple and basic rhyming or verse/chorus patterns. Sometimes any of these songs will stick out better than the rest. And it has nothing to do with the pattern it was written in but rather the way the words were written and used together. However, most of the time artists who are simply looking to hit it big stick to "I Find you -- You're so blue -- Can't we be -- By the sea," and other preverbial crap like that. I've found over the last year that my writing style has changed drastically. I started off with some of the basic verse/chorus schemes that you'll see. But as I realized the songs I was writing stunk, I started changing. The reason nothing I was doing seemed right was because it wasn't as real and powerful as it can be. Outlines to which you base your song off of are what can hold back the best lines in music. I began writing free-verse ever since then. Free verse writing only has a name, no outline. It is exactly what the name says as well. The verses are put freely into the song wherever the author so chooses. Bridges are used but they're not typical bridges because they don't always "bridge" you into the chorus or the pre-chorus. What they serve instead as a way to change the flow of the song in a way where everything still sounds correct and makes sense. I've benefited greatly from free-verse writing over the past few months. Instead of writing lyrical music, you write musical poetry in free-verse. At least that's how it's seemed in my expirience. You can say alot of complex, intriguing things when there's no limit on how long your verse lines can be. The other thing that I've found to be quite good about free-verse is that ever line, doesn't have the same amount syllables or words. Syllables go from few to many in the same verse. This can cause problems sometimes, but if the music you've composed to go with it fits, it can be some of the very best, original stuff you'll ever hear. One of the problems I have with the basic writing styles of today is you are very often able to figure out what's coming next. You can sometimes know the words of a song as you listen to it without ever having heard the song before. I've also found that alot of people have shown much dislike towards free-verse writing. They'll say that it's because it doesn't make sense or it's not formed enough. But that's the beauty of FR writing. I think there are times when people take a dislike for that kind of writing because they can't picture the words being sung, or the music being played when they look at the words on paper. This is something I've heard a few times. It's all a preference thing I suppose, but wouldn't you like people to hear you play your song for the first time and just listen to it? Rather than have them be able to figure out the last line of every verse and chorus in your song. To end it off, the basic point of this article is hopefully open up some people to this style of writing and to see how many people feel the same way about this "unorthodox" style of writing. And you know what?? I didn't mention a single artist in this entire piece... how about that?

27 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Free verse isn't very listener friendly. People like to have some idea where the song is going. In my opinion, free verse can be good if used in moderation. Like.. say you might do all the verses of the song as free verse and then have a structured chorus or something like that. It's just that.. if you want people to like your music, it needs to have something in it that people can follow. Quite a lot of bands actually do this. One that comes to my mind is Something For Kate a lot of their songs contain free verse. Anyway, i do agree with you that too many people try too hard to structure their songs and rhyme everything perfectly. People definitely do need to try some different stuff.
    Prose is sometimes more impacting than metered and rhymed lyrics. However, Placebo's "Every Me Every You" is one of the best lyrical songs I've ever heard, and it has perfect rhyme, meter and flow. I think a lil' of each is good
    Dear John, I found your article interesting, and as a student of writing (and fellow songwriter); hopefully my educated opinion will offer you some insight. As you stated, songs do use cliche rhymes. Luckily, not all rhymes that exist have become cliche and near rhyme works better anyway because it doesn't have that annoying affect, caused by too much rhyme. Free verse and rhyme don't have to been solely used as seperate entities. A more open minded approach is to combine the two writing forms into each song. Using some words that sound like rhyme, some actual rhyme and some parts that break up the rhyme sound so your lyrics don't sound overwhelming is the best blend. I agree with a lot of the others who have posted on your article; you should stay close to an even syllable count, so you have a rhythem and your song flows fluently (:
    INCUBUS!! you might dislike them but hes got some good free verse
    i don't really understand alexisonfire lyrics, but all of the instumental is great ( i think s)
    Rock 101
    I find it hard to write rymes. I love free verse, but I think that the lines should be around the same length to prevent it from being all over the place..... Good article
    Free verse is good, but I think there should be some rythm in it so it won't be too chaotic. Listen to lagwagon, most af their songs are free verse, but with a good rythm and have a structured chorus.
    A lot of old blues is really good about this. Listen to "Stormy Monday" for instance. Great song with awesome, meandering lyrics. Good article.
    I do FV alot, even though sometimes it ends up as poetry instead of music lol.....but still its still possible to make it into a song. Its a challenge definitely to make a song with FV.....but really, i admire bands who can do that.....it really showcases excellent musicmanship and I feel I can express myself better with FV as well.....and my drafts are usually FV if I want to change it into rhyme, its simply deleting and substituting words..... nice article though.....
    if you guys reslly want to hear an awesome example of this, go buy Coheed And Cambria's record. they pull it all togther with a phenomenal grace.
    Free verse should follow some sort of guide-lines, or else it be extremely crazy and wild. It's not a bad thing, but there should be limits too. Great article too.
    Hmmm, let's see the number 5 best live band as of now from Revolver, THURSDAY. Free verse to the core all of their songs tell the story of the hardships and the pain dealing with social interaction in this world. Hard to follow, Hardly; One of the most original sounding and heartfelt bands, Definitely; Not even that this is a change from regular music but most people are scared to listen to music that has more meaning than most people's college dissertations. The music world is stupid and more people should break from the norm and embark on a music experience that will seriously enlighten you as a person and change your views on life and the social interactions therein. Hate if you must, but it is your ignorance
    the fendernator
    i use ABAB rhyme schemes when i songwrite. 1st line and 3rd line rhyme. 2nd line and 4th line rhyme. works a treat
    Emenius Sleepus
    basically what geldof_the_grey said, and other people. Free verse has it's advantages as long as it's not overused. Excluding Tool, there will be other bands that overuse this instrument and wind up sounding formulaic anyway. My advice is listen to your song - the melody, structure, attitude, mood, direction - and see from there whether it needs it. Was your song intended to be a chaotic noise, has it got the accent on the music or the lyrics? ask yourself that and then decide.
    i like the simple rhyming, like the classic bands, where u know the words that are comin up, but the music is great
    Decent article. Free verse is an excellent tool 4 writers which is highly underestimated'TOOL'is one band which uses free verse to its utmost. I love free verse writing songs but stilll my mind holds me back and thinks if its gonna b accepted. I am trying hard 2 make one nice free verse song like..."schism".
    pretty good article. some people think lyrics that rhyme alot are great lyrics, but that's not really the case imo. the reason for lyrics is to espress what you really feel, not to make the song sound nice with little rhymes. but i'm not totally against rhyme schemes, there are writers can write good stuff with them.
    John Alexander
    Guitar Monger hit what I was going with pretty much on the head. You can take free-verse writing to whatever level you want. It can be simple free-verse writing, or complex. Either way, if your music fits, it can work. And I agree that a mix of rhymes in the song add to it as well. That was something I actually meant to put down but forgot about until he mentioned it. And to Geld, yes, this article wasn't more to change minds, but rather to open a few who weren't familiar with free-verse, or what it was. A follow up is definately on the way. Thanks for the comments everyone.
    I really do agree that too many people do structure their songs time fit a rhyme scheme which can hold a song back. I also really like free verse and rhyme the best way to do it is to fit them both together or mix between them. The more you look outside the box the farther you can take your music.
    Geldof the Grey
    I'm not saying you're wrong, but was it really worth writing an article on it? It was well written, but I don't think the article is going to change anyone's views and probably wont inspire people as it doesn't really give any advice, just tells people the pros and cons and the difference to standard writing. A follow up article is on the agenda, I am thinking.
    alexisonfire lyrics are free verse arent they? and they are some kickass lyrics.