• ZephyrHillMusic

SONGHOUSE - GET WELL VERSED

Great lyrics will stand the test of time - A good song has a great story.  Okay melody is the first thing your listener will remember, but after that they will start to explore the lyric, and it's a great lyric that can move the listener and help them feel some further emotional depth and react to your song.  This invests them into it, and hopefully will make them remember the song and come back to it and tell their friends about it too.


Grab the listener and don’t let go - A strong opening line is essential.  Introductions are getting shorter and shorter these days.  The first 7 seconds is either where you grab the listener or they skip to another track.  Shock them, move them, intrigue them from the opening line, so they stay a little longer.


Develop a story - the song needs movement.  It needs to start you somewhere and take you somewhere new, and each Chorus repeat should reinforce the message and what you just heard in the verse before.


Movement can be created by a change in location, time, or characters maybe.


Again, start by writing the story out in plain language, writing down in a short sentence what will happen or be said in each verse as the story moves forward.


Pictures tell stories, that’s what your song verses should do.




Rewind to overcome Verse 2 hell - We have all been there - you write the perfect verse, and cannot for your life come up with what happens in verse 2.  If you find yourself stuck on how to move the story forward - think about what happened before your story started. Maybe then you can use your verse 1 idea as a verse 2 instead.


Think about images and words


Feel the flow of the words - As you start to write some ideas you will find that words have a natural metre, or a flow.  If this works well in verse 1 then you will want to repeat it again in verse 2 etc. One tool to help you achieve that is ‘Accented syllables’.  Rather than syllable count each line and try to match it, only some syllables really matter. Let me show you what I mean using one of my own lyrics:


Verse Lyric:

Started out with nothing, I got most of it left 4A

Somehow got out of sync 3B

We all start with the same choices 4C

Cos nothing’s written in ink 3B

And life speeds in a blink 3B


I’ve underlined the stressed syllables and counted them for each line.  It doesn’t matter if in verse 2 you have one or two more words between the stressed syllables, as long as you have the same number of stressed syllables in the same places.  The words should flow equally as good, and the verses will sound like they match format. 


Working with rhyme - This is a whole subject in itself, which others can help and advise far better than myself.  Rhymes can exist at the end of lines, typically indicated by the letter codes - rhyming lines have the same letter in the above example.  You can also have internal rhymes within the lines of the song e.g “Somehow & Sync” or “Start & same” even “written & ink” have an ‘i’ sounding rhyme - assonance.  Near rhymes often work better than absolute perfect rhymes. Many online tools can assist you with these.




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