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Poetry VS song lyri...
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Poetry VS song lyrics

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Active Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 8
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So, I know some feel very strongly that there is a big difference between poetry and song lyrics, but when ever i sit down to write a song, a poem generally is the end result. The hardest part is putting it into music.

Does anybody have any suggestions on how to get around either of these two issues (being keeping my lyrics from turning into a poem or putting music to lyrics)


PS I tried writing the music first, but that was even harder.

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A-J Charron
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 121

It's not that it cannot be done, but it's rarely been done. One of the reasons is the limits imposed by poetry. In poetry you must have so many syllables in a line or stanza or whatever it's called. In lyrics, you can get around this by dragging a syllable so that all your lines don't need to have the same amount of syllables.

Lyrics are more care-free or care-less, depending on how you look at it, than poems are. Overall, most (but not all) experiments in turning poems into song have been rendered with mixed results. Most great lyricists are bad poets and vice versa.

Remember that you're also limiting what you can do musically. Then again, that might be a challenge.

As for starting with the music, that comes on later on. With experience, lots of it, you somehow get to know how to twist the lyrics around the music and inspire the music through the lyrics. It's an art and like all art, experience and time and hard work are needed.

Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 167

First thing, poems don't need a set amount of syllables in a line, as long as there is rhythm, in modern poetry this is created using 'stressed' syllables rather than a definite number of syllables. Some poems generate rhythm on a line-to-line basis rather than a set rhythm throughout the whole piece. Modern songs often have a far more structured approach to verse than modern poetry.

The thing with song lyrics is you are free to do a lot more with them, you can get around structural rules by dragging a note, merging one word into another, and combining 'musical' techniques along side poetic ones, after all song lyrics are technically a style of poetry (the phrase 'lyrical ballad' is a poetic term which has transcended into music).

I feel the best way to write lyrics are to write a melody first; this will help avoid the trappings of purely rhythmic lyrics.

edit: the opening of this post sounds extremely arrogant and aggressive. it was not intended to, im just having a bad day.

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Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 98

I'm in that boat with you..I've gotten maybe 2 actual songs outta my writing but most of the time it ends up a poem...but dont u think that poetry help u mold into a song writer? and yea..the starting off with music doesnt work for me either..I guess the further u go into music the better u get at it..thats just my little opinion on this matter.

BarnaBus RoX
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2957

Try going to SSG (Sunday Songwritters Group ) and write more often helped me ...

And you will get positive feed back of where you are going wrong


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Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 350

I agree with azriel, poetry is more flexable then some think, but since people will usually always hear lyrics, there exist a great deal of exeptions.

On the other hand, I wouldn't seperate lyics from poetry so much. In a way it's basically poetry with the phonics side of it stressed. Another words sounds are more important.

Really though, the best way to learn the rules of either is to do it a crap load and figure it out for youself. So if you want the answer to your question, write songs continuously and it'll eventually come to you.

"Like the coldest winter chill. Heaven beside you. Hell within." -Jerry Cantrell