Songwriting – How to Use the Length of Your Lyrics As a Tool to Write Better Songs

August 18, 2022

The length of your lyrical lines can be a great way to create a sense of accelerating, or decelerating, by changing the line length you’ve previously established. Let’s look at an example. Check out this section of lyrics: 

Leave them all behind

Whipping past

Can’t be last

Flying fast 

You’ll notice a certain length was established in the first line, and then it was shortened, which made the next three lines feel faster. The length of a line could be defined by the number of stressed syllables, or accents in each line. So let’s look at the stresses. I’ll put the number of stresses in parenthesis after each line:

LEAVE them ALL be-HIND (3)

WHIPP-ing PAST (2)

CAN’T be LAST (2)

FLY-ing FAST (2) 

You can see by establishing our section to have three stressed syllables in the first line, it makes the next three lines with only two stresses feel faster. There’s also prosody happening since the last three lines are about speed.

On the other hand, we could also decelerate a line, by establishing a certain length, and then increasing it. Let’s modify our pervious lyrics to say this:

Whipping past

Can’t be last

Flying fast

But I ate their dust again

If we look at the stresses, we’ll see the lyrics do this: 

WHIPP-ing PAST (2)

CAN’T be LAST (2)

FLY-ing FAST (2)

But I ATE their DUST a-GAIN (3)

In this case, you can see by increasing the length of the last line, we’ve slowed it down to create prosody with what the lyric is saying. This is a great way to have your lyrics tie into what your song is doing.

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This is a curated article that was originally posted on EzineArticles by Anthony Ceseri. Image used with permission from Pixabay.

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