Most songwriters consider this to be sacrilegious...

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AnthonyCeseri
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Most songwriters consider this to be sacrilegious...

Post by AnthonyCeseri » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:18 am

(this is an article I just wrote)...

The task of coming up with a rhyme is not an art. A lot of songwriters think it is, so they consider the use of a rhyming dictionary to be sacrilegious. Discovering all of the possible rhymes you can use can only benefit your song. Before we get into the cool benefits of using a rhyming dictionary, I just want to cover a basic topic in rhyming. It’ll help me make the case for why a rhyming dictionary is beneficial.


Masculine vs. Feminine Rhyme

Masculine rhymes are easy to understand. Any one-syllable word being rhymed with another one-syllable word is a masculine rhyme.

“Pie” and “tie” are masculine rhymes. “Love” and “glove” are masculine rhymes. Easy enough, right?

The feminine rhyme is a bit more complex. “Feminine, complex?” you ask. “How can that be?!”

Multi-syllable words have stressed and unstressed syllables. Say the word “rhyming” out loud. Do you hear how the syllable “rhym-” is more stressed than the syllable “-ing.” Say it again and listen for it carefully.

Rhymes typically happen on the stressed syllable of a word. In the case of the word “rhyming” the “rhym-” part is the part we’ll want to rhyme with.

With that in mind, the words “rhyming” and “timing” are feminine rhymes. It’s not just because they have two syllables, but because the strong stress (or the rhymed stress) happens at the next to last syllable and NOT on last syllable. The last syllable can be a rhyme too, but it can also be an identity (which is a repetition of the exact same sound). I’ll put the stressed syllable in bold, so it’s clear:

Rhym-ing
Tim-ing

Do you see that? The rhyme happens away from the last syllable, while the last syllable is an identity. The same goes for words like “flighty” and “mighty.” They’re feminine rhymes because the rhyme happens on the next to last syllable. If you say the words out loud, you’ll hear that the “flight-” and “might-” syllables are the stressed syllables, so they hold the rhyme. Make sense?

But what about a multi-syllable word that ENDS on a strong syllable? Like the word “sublime.” Well, what I didn’t tell you earlier about masculine rhymes is that, not only do they happen for one syllable words, but they also happen for multi-syllable words that END on a stressed syllable.

Say the word “sublime” out loud. Do you hear how the “-lime” syllable is the stressed syllable? It gets more emphases that the “sub-” part. For that reason, this is a masculine rhyme. The cool part is we can rhyme it with another masculine word that’s only one syllable long. For example “sublime” and “time” rhyme. Cool, right?

As long as the last syllable is stressed, we’ll have a masculine rhyme. That’s why one syllable words are masculine rhymes. They only have one syllable, so by their nature, it’s the last syllable.


Rhyming Dictionary

I recommend buying a rhyming dictionary. I know what you may be thinking: “I don’t need that, I go to http://www.rhymezone.com.” Well, you could do that, but the real thing is better for a couple of reasons.

One thing I used to notice about the online dictionaries was they had trouble distinguishing between masculine and feminine rhymes. They would force rhymes that didn’t fit. If you typed in a masculine rhyme like “bling” they would give you back some feminine options that wouldn’t make much sense. Words like “fighting” might make the cut. “Fighting” is feminine rhyme. The stress is on the “fight-” syllable, not on the “-ing.” If you try to rhyme “Bling” with “fight-ING” you’ll be forcing the stress to be on the last syllable, where it doesn’t belong. This will make your lyric sound unnatural. Say the word “fighting” out loud with the stress on the “-ing” and you’ll see what I mean. “Fight-ING.” Sure, I guess that rhymes with “bling” now, but it sounds weird.

To their credit, on my more recent searches in the online dictionaries, they seem to be doing a better job of displaying masculine and feminine rhymes, when appropriate. If you do use an online rhyming dictionary, be on the lookout for potential masculine/feminine rhyme problems, and avoid using rhymes that don’t work.

Aside from that, it’s nice to have a physical rhyming dictionary, because you can flip through the pages and examine a lot of different options at one time. They break the masculine and feminine rhymes into separate sections, so there’s no confusion. My rhyming dictionary even has a section for triple rhymes, which are words that have their stressed syllable as the third syllable from the end.


For Example

I still haven’t given you any hard evidence on why you shouldn’t shy away from a rhyming dictionary (whether it’s a physical book or an online version). Let’s look at a real world example. Here’s a line from the Nickelback song, “Photograph.”

Kim’s the first girl I kissed
I was so nervous that I nearly missed


If I had to guess, I would say that there was no rhyming dictionary used in the second line. It comes off as sort of cheesy and it just feels like the word “missed” was used because it’s a rhyme you’d quickly think of for the word “kissed.”

As an exercise, how many words that rhyme with “kissed” can you think of off the top of your head? Try it.

My turn. I’ve got: missed, bliss (not a perfect rhyme), fist, dissed. I’m pretty much out of ideas after those four.

Now I’ll look in the masculine section of my rhyming dictionary for more options.
I’ve got: assist, exist, list, dismissed, insist, enlist, twist, persist, resist. There were a lot more in there, but I just pulled out the ones that looked like they could pertain to the Nickelback line we’re looking at. I’ve already got more options than I did off the top of my head and all of these pertain to the meaning of the lyrics (roughly).

Right off the bat we could have done:

Kim’s the first girl I kissed
I was so nervous, but I couldn’t resist


or

Kim’s the first girl I kissed
I was so nervous, but she’d insist


I’d have to change the way these were sung to make them work, but I think they’re getting away from the cheesiness of the “I was so nervous that I nearly missed” line, so I could certainly work with them. And if you like Nickelback’s original line, that’s okay (I guess), but look at the other immediate options I got from the rhyming dictionary. I just did these quickly. Had I spent more time on this, I could have come up with a lot more possibilities. A far cry from what was available off the top of my head.


Finding a rhyme is not an art. It’s okay to use a rhyming dictionary. It can only give you more options. So go nuts. I promise it doesn’t make you any less of a creative artist.

The link to the full article is here:
http://www.successforyoursongs.com/past ... /issue-28/

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Re: Most songwriters consider this to be sacrilegious...

Post by otey5 » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:32 pm

I just saw your article about the rhyming dictionary. Thank you. I will go buy one. I love your example showing how that song could have been much improved. Thanks again for the encouragement. :)

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Re: Most songwriters consider this to be sacrilegious...

Post by AnthonyCeseri » Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:27 pm

otey5 wrote:I just saw your article about the rhyming dictionary. Thank you. I will go buy one. I love your example showing how that song could have been much improved. Thanks again for the encouragement. :)
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed :)

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Re: Most songwriters consider this to be sacrilegious...

Post by spinous » Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:16 am

Hi,

I use that site all the time but I got fed up of having to turn on the computer to check for rhymes so I decided really
to buy a couple of rhyming dictionaires. Thanks a lot with the explanation.

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Re: Most songwriters consider this to be sacrilegious...

Post by AnthonyCeseri » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:43 pm

spinous wrote:Hi,

I use that site all the time but I got fed up of having to turn on the computer to check for rhymes so I decided really
to buy a couple of rhyming dictionaires. Thanks a lot with the explanation.
Awesome :)

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Re: Most songwriters consider this to be sacrilegious...

Post by michael11 » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:05 pm

You really can't fail with remote strategic paradigm shifts.
All's Well That Ends Well



www.michaelgaughan.rocks

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Re: Most songwriters consider this to be sacrilegious...

Post by CabDriver » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:20 pm

A traditional rhyme dictionary book may be more efficient than rhymezone. However, a modern rhyming software like Rhyme Genie that automatically distinguishes between feminine and masculine rhymes and finds multi-syllabic slant rhymes with a click of a button is in a different class altogether. If rhyming dictionaries where indeed considered a sin then Rhyme Genie would qualify as the Prince of Darkness.... :twisted:

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Re: Most songwriters consider this to be sacrilegious...

Post by RonKujawa » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:04 am

Nine times out of ten I use MasterWriter software when writing lyrics. In my opinion, it's strongest feature is its rhyming dictionary. I have an app or two on my iPhone that I occasionally work with if I'm away from the computer. I'm not big on carrying books made of paper with me.

I like Pat Pattison's method of identifying the message of the song first, then creating keywords that support it, then building a bank of words that rhyme with your keywords that seem like they will fit your theme. If you do all that before writing any lyrics, you have a lot of raw materials to build from that are already pre-qualified to fit your song.

"And if you like Nickelback’s original line, that’s okay (I guess)" - That made me laugh. :)

Another great article, Anthony!

Ron

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Re: Most songwriters consider this to be sacrilegious...

Post by Russell Landwehr » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:25 am

Thanks Anthony. VERY informative.

MY rhyming dictionary doesn't distinguish between feminine and masculine... and it also has words misplaced... it's sometimes an UN-rhyming dictionary. :roll: Time to retire it I think. 8-)

Other tools that writers should not be afraid to use are a thesaurus and maybe a neat book like the one I have called "Word Menu" by Stephen Glazier (published by Random House.)

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Re: Most songwriters consider this to be sacrilegious...

Post by CabDriver » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:52 am

Pat Pattison also came up with the concept of 'family rhymes'. To my knowledge Rhyme Genie is still the only rhyming dictionary that is able to find 'family rhymes'.

Despite its much lower price tag Rhyme Genie also runs on your iPhone at no additional cost whereas an iOS version of MasterWriter is still sorely missing. Granted MasterWriter is much better than rhymezone but the trusty old henchman doesn't compare favorably to the new Prince of Darkness.

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