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in rhyming

Eric VB

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I was reading another book last night about songwriting that was published in '79, and came across a statement I found humorous by today's standards. It was another Joel Hirchhorn book from my local library.


"In rhyming", or rhyming within a line, such as "you think I stink but you're a pink fink". (Yes, a horrible example I just made up. Hahahaha.) :) Anyway, in '79 the author states that this kind of rhyming scheme just isn't popular and can sound very hokey if overused. As I noted here , the author only recently passed away. I wonder if his view of in rhyming changed after rap/hip hop made its debut?


What do you think about in rhyming? Is it something you find natural and can spout at will like Eminem in 8 Mile? Or do you sound like a number of white entertainers from the '80s that tried to add the new fad of in rhyming to rock tunes and ended up sounding like dorks? Or is it something you find little to no value in, like they did in '79?

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Some of the early Springteen stuff rhymed incessantly, yet still worked. Check out the stuff on "Greetings From Asbury Park".


Here's what I think, based upon things that I have learned about writing over the years.... there is a thing called 'willful suspension of disbelief'. It's what enables us to watch 'Starwars', and question some tiny detail about Yoda or something, yet fall for the overriding premise.


When you craft a good piece of writing, the reader or listener is pulled along for the ride, and they are 'with you'.... until you do something to distract them and take them out of the your trip. Get too cute with a rhyme, and they start tp think about the rhyme. If they are thinking about the rhyme instead of your story, you fucked up. That is pretty simple. The amount of rhyming is not at issue, how it 'reads' is what is important.



"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."


Steve Martin


Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.



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Internal rhymes are kind of interesting if not overused; another tool in the kit as it were. The classic four-line ballad verse often used it in the third line. Here's an example from Shelley:

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,

And the nursling of the Sky;

I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;

I change, but I cannot die.


The problem is that to the modern ear it starts to sound too repetitive quite soon. I guess it's best used lightly.


Now, to get off-topic a bit, there's another type of rhyme that's kind of interesting. It's a Burmese Climbing Rhyme. Basically, the rhyme from line-to-line moves to the left a notch each time. Here's a good example from the link http://thewordshop.tripod.com/asian/climbingrhyme.htm




Livings merely the stage

untutored actors age on

nothing sage, nothing profound

happens, only drowned emotions

some uncrowned king inside

continues to hide, refuses

to stride the world

unfettered, flag unfurled against

fates hurled arrows, cannot

invent his plot, must

speak what is penned

for him, suspend himself,

amend, pretend until he

becomes someone free, someone

striding Galilee, crowned messiah

in a world he never meant to be.

© Copyright 1995 Larry Gross


Kind of neat, but off-topic like I said. Just mentioning it 'cause, to me, whether these are in-line or not depends on the punctuation :)


Personally, I can't spout off rhymes at will in any form!

Kawai GS-40 grand & other keys
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Yeah, I know what you mean, Bill. There was a real humdinger in the book I'm reading. In one of the hit songs they wrote they managed to make a rhyme to "silverware" in such a way as to draw attention to its cleverness/cuteness. They contend that's the reason their song only made it so far up the charts. And I agree, when I read the lyrics, that line stood out like a sore thumb!
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Thanks for the tip on the Burmese Climbing Rhyme, Hugo! :thu: That sounds like something I may have heard before, but did not know the name for it.


Is that a 4-line ballad from Shelley? It sounds kind of like a limerick to me. Well, the first two lines don't rhyme and the meter is a little off. Anyway, yeah, I don't know if anyone could pull off limericks outside of blatant humor.

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Ric, that's Shelley for you. From "The Cloud", if I recall right. It's not a true old-style ballad, but the third line illustrates what I was trying to get at. I was just too lazy to look a really valid example up :)
Kawai GS-40 grand & other keys
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