Songwriting Rhymes and Rhyming Schemes
We’ve already talked about different types of rhymes. Let’s now take a look at different rhyming schemes or patterns.
In our discussion on rhymes, the first rhyming pattern we shall look at is where the end of consecutive lines rhyme with each other. Here’s an example:
I’m gonna call her on the telephone
Have her over ‘cos I’m all alone
I need excitement I need it bad
And it’s the best I ever had
Teenage Kicks (The Undertones)
This is commonly referred to as AABB. The words at the end of the first and second lines rhyme, and the third and fourth ones rhyme with each other.
Another common rhyming scheme is ABAB where the words at the end of the first and third lines rhyme with each other, and the second and fourth rhyme. An example of this is:
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
He once was a true love of mine
Scarborough Fair (traditional)
AABB and ABAB are the two most common rhyming schemes but there are others.
Sometimes it’s AAAA where the same rhyming sound is kept throughout.
Songwriting rhymes and limericks
Here’s a limerick that contains five lines and makes use of the pattern AABBA. The 1st, 2nd and 5th lines rhyme and the 3rd and 4th as well. Note that the third and fourth lines are shorter than the others and have almost the same number of syllables, as well as the same rhythm or meter.
There was a young curate whose brain
Was deranged from the use of cocaine;
He lured a small child
To a copse dark and wild
Where he beat it to death with his cane.
There are many types of rhymes. But one I like very much is where the ends don’t sound the same, but instead, there is a certain type of “word rhythm”. Example:
We got Mercedes, we got Porsche
Ferrari and Rolls Royce
(From Roger Waters’s “It’s A Miracle”)
This is the smartest and the hardest type of rhyme to write. But your songs will begin to sound more interesting if you incorporate such songwriting rhymes into them.
One type of rhyme I hear a lot nowadays is where the word at the end remains the same and the word before it rhymes. Example:
You’re trying hard to get her
But all you do is upset her
Another example is in the song “You’ve lost that Loving Feeling.
You’re trying hard not to show it.
But baby, baby, I know it.
There’s also the internal rhyme, where words rhyme in the middle of a line, and not just at the end.
Personally, I’m trying to integrate more rhymes within my lines nowadays instead of just making the end words rhyme. I think this is absolutely necessary if I want to bring life to my songs. Otherwise my songs will simply sound like what has already been done before. There’ll be no uniqueness.
It’s handy to have a rhyming dictionary around when you’re writing songs. But be careful. Make sure the rhyme fits the meaning of the lyric. Words used only to complete a rhyme will only irritate your listeners. And don’t feel that a line always have to rhyme. Sometimes breaking away from songwriting rhymes can be very useful. The subtly draws the listeners attention to that particular line. Rappers do this a lot.
One more thing. Certain english words do not have many (or any) rhymes and you may want to avoid using them at the end of your lines. These include words such as almost, every, film, monster, orange, gossip, hungry, junior, pint, and sudden.