Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why I Don't Use Rhyme Worksheets

As I mentioned last week, I'm coming up on a deadline for a song that I'm submitting as an assignment for my songwriting class. I know, I'm pushing it, but I spent far more of my time singing during my weekend camping trip than I did writing, and to top it off I managed to contract some kind of virus which had me sleeping until nearly noon today.

But, to the subject mentioned in the title. Part of the course I'm taking is a rhyme worksheet, where you list nine or ten key words and find a nice collection of good rhymes. I did one for the assignment, as required, and I don't mean to say that they're a bad idea, but on the whole they don't work for me, because of the way I tend to write.

Take the song I'm working on now (I am working on it, in my head, honest). It was inspired by passing one of the local graveyards and seeing that a John Deere backhoe had dug a grave, and that the area was being set up for a funeral. "Too bad," I thought, "but that's the way life goes; it happens every day."

And, being that I'm a songwriter, the inevitable happened, and I came up with an idea for a song that used major milestones in our lives to make the point that as important as those things are to us, individually, any one of them means nothing to the world as a whole because they literally happen every day.

So I did my usual thing, writing the idea out in prose, and working out the chorus. Then I went ahead and did a rhyme worksheet for the class, based on my prose, which talked about all the various emotions that go with these milestones. So far so good.

But after I finished the worksheet and started writing actual verses, I found that I had started with a very concrete idea, using actual items the singer had come across to set the scene. And I decided that switching from concrete "show me" lines to abstract lines about feelings was not where I wanted to go. And there went about 90% of my key words.

My lyrics evolve too much and too fast for me to choose my key words so early in the process. So, while I take every advantage of the theory of rhyme types put forward by Pat Pattison, which is so useful and liberating that I use a chart based on it as a bookmark in my rhyming dictionary, I've decided that the one tool I won't be using from this class is a rhyme worksheet.

But that's just me.

Meanwhile, I have less than 24 hours to complete, record, and post a new song. So I'd better get back to work.

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