Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #41

When beginning with the frame of your song, there are many things to consider.  We have talked about brainstorming an idea, building a catchy title, writing a great opening, detailing the plot, and setting a conclusion in mind.  Now that these pillars are set, we need to talk about the form.

Without a form in mind, your lyrics will lack structure that that can hurt how the listeners will enjoy or even remember the song.  In addition, it is good to know about multiple kinds of forms.  Why?  Each year in music sees a new trend.  Plus, old styles have an importance as well.  More tools that you have, the better you are.

Today, let’s talk about the 12-Bar Blues form.  This post will only focus on lyrics, so I suggest to look at previous posts about the musical form and blues scales from previous posts as well.

The lyrical structure of the 12-Bar Blues form is a couplet (two rhymed lines) with the first line repeated (with a bit of variation) forming the lines AAB or AA’B:

Oh you hurt me good, my baby girl

Yeah you hurt me real good, my baby girl

I never felt a pain like this, in the entire world

Each line is dedicated to 4 measures in the 12-Bar Blues form (4×3=12), with about each line leaving roughly 1.5 measures at the end for improvisation.  See older posts for more information.

While each “couplet” can talk about a different thing, there is usually a linear progression as to the story.  Possibly like indicating the problem, explaining how one feels, talk about the resolution, etc.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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