You’d think that it would occur naturally to us to read lyrics aloud as an important part of the song editing process. For practically every other aspect of songs, we test them out by actually performing them for ourselves: we strum chords, improvise melodies by humming or otherwise singing, try different instrument combinations, and so on.
But lyrics? It’s funny, but often we simply look at them written down on the page, and try to determine if they’re doing the job.
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But speaking lyrics aloud is a great starting point if you’re trying to improve your lyric-writing abilities. And reading them without the melody and chords attached allows you to hear them clearly in an uncluttered way.
Of course, you can simply read them out loud, but here are some other ideas that will get you to a properly edited lyric faster:
- Read the lyric at different tempos. You may have written your lyric for a ballad, but reading them slowly may not allow you to hear the words as English sentences. So try reading them back to yourself at different speeds. Even lyrics for ballads need to sound “right” when spoken faster.
- Read the lyric and exaggerate the rhythms that the melody will be applying to your words. In other words, as you read, make longer syllables/words extra long, and short syllables even shorter. As you do this, you should find that longer syllables and words are the ones that carry some emotional weight, especially important for chorus lyrics.
- Now read the lyric using the rhythms of your melody. As you read your lyrics, pay attention again to the syllables that are going to be held longer. Longer syllables are interpreted by listeners as a kind of stress or accent, and there needs to be a natural sense of pulse to a good lyric.
- Try reading your lyric while simply playing the chords. The chords should be accentuating the emotional levels of your lyric.
- Try reading your lyric and placing the words high, and then low, in your vocal range. As we move our voice higher, even just in speech, the emotional power naturally increases. As chorus lyrics usually express more emotions, you should find that reading your chorus lyric out loud in a generally high voice should work well, and reading your verse lyric lower should also sound natural.
There’s a lot more you can be doing to improve the quality of your lyrics. It may be time to put your lyrics front and center in your songwriting process. Get “Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process.”
If you’re trying to make your lyrics a much more important part of your songs, you need to read “Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process.” It’s part of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle”, and right now, it’s FREE.