Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #45

Another form that you can use is the AABA form.

Similar to the AAA form, it contains repeated A sections. However, this time there is a B section right before the last A section that acts as a “bridge” section. As you would imagine, the B section is different from the rest.

Typically, the form is 32-bars in length with each section having 8-bars in dedication to it… but that is not a strict rule. The entire length can vary greatly to the shape/flow of your lyrics. The B section, in fact, can be longer or shorter in length compared to the other A sections, or even split into two. Also, the last A section can be stretched couple of extra bars.

Titles and/or hooks should be saved to the beginning or end of the A sections, but it is typically saved for the end of the last A section.

The AABA form can even be expanded using the same principles into an AABABA form.

Take a listen to many songs that utilize this form and see how they creatively craft it to the lyrics.

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Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #44

A thing to consider as you write you lyrics is how you want the song to “live on,” in many forms or otherwise.  This comes from the fact that while you can have great lyrics, it won’t have any strength without good melodic writing or rhythmic phrasing/flow.

NOTE: this is no insult to hip/hop music or any musical genres that contain rap-style singing.  I enjoy that kind of music.  This is just to explain the limitations.

But say that you wrote a song that you hope people will enjoy so much that they’ll cover it.  In addition, you hope that people will do the cover versions in a variety of genres.  Instrumental, jazz, rock, folk, etc.

Unfortunately, that will be difficult if the lyrics do not have a proper melody.  If the lyrics just live on a single pitch, it will be hard to make the music “live on” without the lyrics.

Unless you are aiming for a hip-hop song, I suggest that as you are writing your lyrics you keep a melody in mind.

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Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #43

Another song form style that you can use is the AAA form (of course, it can be longer with AAAA…)

The AAA form is not exactly common today, but it has a lot of potential.  It is great for more single storytelling, or telling a collection of tales that are strung by a common theme.  That common theme can be the title being placed at the top of the verses or at the end.  In addition, a refrain section can be added to the end of each.

Refrains in the AAA form can be ironic or conflicting with the rest of the verse, almost for showing two sides of the coin.  But, because the refrain is held at the end which is a “power spot,” it carries more weight in the meaning/message to the song.

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Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #42

In songwriting, you come across different terms for different sections.  Verse, chorus, bridge, refrain, post-chorus, etc.  But what is the difference between them?  Specifically, what is the difference between the chorus and refrain?

Both the chorus and refrained are sections that repeat unchanged.  In addition, both sections are typically where the title is as well as where everyone in the audience sings along.  Furthermore, they come after a verse-like section.  So are they the same?

Not exactly.  They are a different purpose for the song.  A chorus indicates the start of a new section, while a refrain indicates the conclusion/wrapping-up of the verse section back into a new one.  In addition, refrains are much shorter in length than choruses.

As you are debating on how you want to structure your song, consider the purpose of each line and their function.

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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.

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Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #40

If we are making an analogy that a song’s lyrics is like a story’s framework – it should have a start, a middle, and an end. The start is the first line that will grab the attention of the listeners. As for the middle, that is reserved for the body of the song and how the plot will develop.

The end is the conclusion or basically what the listener will take away from the song at the end. Generally, you should have the conclusion in mind before starting the beginning, but it is always good to come back to it in the revision process to make sure you have hit the mark on how you wanted you end to be.

Conclusions are meant to wrap-up the song and state the meaning as well as the purpose of the song. You can either:

  • Explicitly state the meaning
  • Imply the meaning
  • Leaving the meaning up to interpretation

To explicitly do so, you simply say in your lyrics what you want to say. Implying means that while it is say said directly, a listener can get clues from the story on what you are trying to say. Other times with a song title a lyrics that don’t match, you create ambiguity that leaves the audience to interpret and analyze what you are trying to say.

Listen to a variety of your favorite song and see where do they fall under in each category.

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Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #39

Imagine reading your favorite book, or watching your favorite movie. Compare the stories of those to song.

From the start of a book, movie, or song to the end – there is development. Little by little the plot progresses, offering new information to the audience while constantly keeping control of their attention.

No one is going to appreciate redundancy (unless that is what you are going for) in your lyrics by constantly repeating ideas or paraphrasing to avoid development. Instead, you should be focusing on how you can creatively keep the ball rolling and allow the lyrics to mature.

Some ways of doing that are:

  • Adding descriptive imagery in all the body senses
  • Foreshadowing the conclusion
  • Drama/internal conflict
  • Irony and comedic reflection
  • Withholding information till the very end (like a mystery novel)
  • Reversing the situation from bad to good (or vice versa)

…and more!

However, your song may not call for those ways of development. A protest song wouldn’t need much of these besides a strong call to action and ways to act upon it.

In those cases, start by making a list of your ideas from least to most important/strongest. That is how you should make your song develop.

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