Who doesn’t love breaking the rules?
But, just throwing rules to the wind isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about intentionally breaking the rules for a specific reason.
Some Rules To Break
The Rule: You should have lines that rhyme as couplets (e.g., A|A|B|B) or triplets (A|A|A) or . . . you get the idea. So – create lines with no end rhyme match!
- But, it has to be done for a reason, like the Chorus written in “Mama’s Broken Heart.”
- This song is a great example of using internal rhyme to keep the rhymes going, but giving the chorus a different meter from the verses, speeding it up.
The Rule: No one wants a song that’s more than 3 or 3 1/2 minutes.
To stay under 3:30 you should have 3, maybe 4 verses max. So with this exercise, who cares! Let’s go with ummmmm . . . eight and the hook 18 times. Maximum time 4:45.
- Pretty specific, right? That’s Lucinda Williams’s “Car Wheels On A Gravel Road.”
- Anything over 4:30 works, but try and use the verse and hook guidelines above to ensure the song has a strong reason to go that long.
- Have at it!
The Rule: Don’t use words over 3 syllables or that aren’t simple, common language. Big words aren’t used in hit songs.
- It’s on! My favorite word in a song lately – amphibole. Yep.
- Jason Isbell uses “amphibole” in “Cumberland Gap” – he could have just said mountain.
- Use at least two 3 syllable words in the chorus of a song (didn’t see that coming did you!) Or . . . just a really tough “word of the day” kind of word.