Getting the Basics of Rhyme Structure

Added on Thursday 14 Jul 2011

Knowing full well you might get a laugh or two from some of the examples I’m about to use, I’ll give them to you anyway to simplify and illustrate the point, and provide you with the confidence required to master the almighty art of rhyme. If you are old enough to read, you most likely know the simple children’s song “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and can easily recall the lyrics:

Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are

The words star and are are the rhymes. They have the same sound at the end of them because of the ar sound — pretty simple stuff, eh? This is rhyme at its most basic. You might chuckle at this example, but think about it. You remembered this couplet the second you heard it as a child, and can recite it today as if it were second nature. I’m ready to put my money on the fact that every person who is read this knows “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” It’s the rhyme of this little piece that you remember, and that’s what renders it unforgettable. This is the perfect example of how powerful rhyme can be!

When you sit down to compose a song, you’re basically writing a poem and setting it to music. At its basic foundation, simple poetry has words that have a “beat” to them — and the last word of every line sounds the same. As in “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” the words star and are share the same sounds — about as perfect of a rhyme as you can find. Chances are good that your first-ever attempt at songwriting had a rhyming scheme that was similar. Perfectly legit, but if you have three verses of a song that all feature the same rhyme, it’s going to get really boring really fast!

In “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” the rhymes come at the end of every other line. It’s perfectly acceptable to have the rhyme come at the end of the first line, and then have it hit on every other one. You can double it up, as well, having the odd lines rhyme in one way, and the even lines rhyme in another. As you can begin to see, the possibilities of rhyme are endless.

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