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Following grammar rules while writing lyrics
Old 23rd November 2016
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Following grammar rules while writing lyrics

Hi!

To what extent do you follow grammar rules while writing lyrics? (in English).

English is not my first language, and I often wonder if I can sacrifice grammatical correctness to make words rhyme in given lines of e.g. a chorus...


My dilemmas:

1)
"You're good, don't deny." - English grammar requires "it" after "deny". But I'd prefer "don't deny" without "it", as it rhymes with the next line.
Do people in everyday life conversations omit "it" in such a sentence?


2)
"She thanks for life." - Can I leave this line this way?
The verb "to thank someone for sth" requires saying whom she thanks, right?


3)
In my lyrics I use a word "always", stressing the 2nd syllable instead of putting the accent on the 1st syllable. Shouldn't I worry about it?
(the rest of the words have a correct accent)


Regards!
Old 23rd November 2016
  #2
Lives for gear
the "rules' don't need to be perfect... but they should be followed as much as you CAN for the sake of clarity.
Poetic license is one thing, mangling the language is another.

So people will, for example, often use "I" when "me" is grammatically correct and vice versa, to make a rhyme work.
and colloquial uses, such as "ain't she sweet?" or "like" instead of "such as" are typical.

Your use of "deny" is probably okay. It makes sense.

But your use of "thanks" isn't really English. It won't make any sense to an English speaker,


hope this helps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TR10 View Post
Hi!

To what extent do you follow grammar rules while writing lyrics? (in English).

English is not my first language, and I often wonder if I can sacrifice grammatical correctness to make words rhyme in given lines of e.g. a chorus...


My dilemmas:

1)
"You're good, don't deny." - English grammar requires "it" after "deny". But I'd prefer "don't deny" without "it", as it rhymes with the next line.
Do people in everyday life conversations omit "it" in such a sentence?


2)
"She thanks for life." - Can I leave this line this way?
The verb "to thank someone for sth" requires saying whom she thanks, right?


3)
In my lyrics I use a word "always", stressing the 2nd syllable instead of putting the accent on the 1st syllable. Shouldn't I worry about it?
(the rest of the words have a correct accent)


Regards!
Old 23rd November 2016
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TR10 View Post
To what extent do you follow grammar rules while writing lyrics? (in English).
Personally I think it's important to write how people speak. So you can say something like "I ain't got nobody" which isn't grammatically correct but sounds natural because it's something that people would say in real life. But if english isn't your first language it might be hard to get a feel for how you can break the rules in a way that sounds natural.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TR10 View Post
"You're good, don't deny." - English grammar requires "it" after "deny". But I'd prefer "don't deny" without "it", as it rhymes with the next line.
Do people in everyday life conversations omit "it" in such a sentence?
That sounds strange to me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TR10 View Post
"She thanks for life." - Can I leave this line this way?
The verb "to thank someone for sth" requires saying whom she thanks, right?
That one sounds even stranger. In both examples, you're missing an object for your verb. Deny what? Thanks who? Those are both transitive verbs which require an object in order to make sense.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TR10 View Post
In my lyrics I use a word "always", stressing the 2nd syllable instead of putting the accent on the 1st syllable. Shouldn't I worry about it?
I personally don't like it when singers do that, but it can sometimes work, especially if you're doing it to intentionally sound awkward. But little details like that tend to make it obvious that english isn't your first language. Which can sometimes sound cool and even be charming if that's what you're going for.
Old 23rd November 2016
  #4
Here for the gear
 

1)
Adjective "thankful" do not require saying whom she's thankful, right?

Does this sound natural? :
"She's thankful she's alive."


2)
Is it ok to omit prepositions "a", "the" in lyrics?

E.g. would the lyric sound natural if I say:
"Simple smile can do miracles."
instead of:
"A simple smile..."



Btw, For you both (wwittman and oche ecaps) English is your first language?
Old 24th November 2016
  #5
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by TR10 View Post
1)
Adjective "thankful" do not require saying whom she's thankful, right?

Does this sound natural? :
"She's thankful she's alive."


2)
Is it ok to omit prepositions "a", "the" in lyrics?

E.g. would the lyric sound natural if I say:
"Simple smile can do miracles."
instead of:
"A simple smile..."



Btw, For you both (wwittman and oche ecaps) English is your first language?

me?
Yes, from England.
and you?

The point here was to discuss what's acceptable, and advisable, in a LYRIC.

Personally, it bugs the #$%^ out of me when someone says "between you and I", in conversation, in print, OR in a lyric... but I understand that in a lyric it's "acceptable" to speak poorly sometimes.
Old 24th November 2016
  #6
Lives for snowflakes
 
12ax7's Avatar
 

When writing lyrics, if you don't occasionally flip the finger at the rules (though ya tried and ya tried), ya probably won't get ya no satisfaction.
Old 29th November 2016
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TR10 View Post
1)
Adjective "thankful" do not require saying whom she's thankful, right?

Does this sound natural? :
"She's thankful she's alive."


2)
Is it ok to omit prepositions "a", "the" in lyrics?

....



Btw, For you both (wwittman and oche ecaps) English is your first language?
Your use of thankful is absolutely correct here. Omitting the indefinite article doesn't work so well, but native English speakers often pronounce 'a' more like a very short and completely unstressed 'u', so when singing it you can almost treat it as not existing as a separate syllable. So I'd leave it in the written lyric, myself.

I am a native English speaker, and sometime teacher, and from my point of view, you've raised an interesting point. I'd say you really don't have to follow grammatical rules slavishly, but knowing when not to could be difficult for a non-native speaker. It can sometimes pose problems for native speakers too!

Finally, like a previous poster, I absolutely hate hearing a word pronounced with the stress in the wrong place. It always grates on my ear. Personally, I always try to make my lyrics follow the rhythms of natural conversational speech.

Last edited by littleeden; 29th November 2016 at 08:59 PM..
Old 22nd December 2016
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TR10 View Post
Hi!

To what extent do you follow grammar rules while writing lyrics? (in English).

English is not my first language, and I often wonder if I can sacrifice grammatical correctness to make words rhyme in given lines of e.g. a chorus...


My dilemmas:

1)
"You're good, don't deny." - English grammar requires "it" after "deny". But I'd prefer "don't deny" without "it", as it rhymes with the next line.
Do people in everyday life conversations omit "it" in such a sentence?


2)
"She thanks for life." - Can I leave this line this way?
The verb "to thank someone for sth" requires saying whom she thanks, right?


3)
In my lyrics I use a word "always", stressing the 2nd syllable instead of putting the accent on the 1st syllable. Shouldn't I worry about it?
(the rest of the words have a correct accent)


Regards!
1. Just make it clear who is doing the denying, because the connotation is quite different.

"You're good, I can't deny". Short for "You are good and I can't deny it."
"You're good, you don't deny". Short for "You are good and you don't deny it."

2. 'thankful' works

3. Most native speakers don't worry about stressed syllables, although they should. It will sound a bit odd especially if the second syllable is on the first beat of a bar.
Old 22nd December 2016
  #9
Lives for gear
 
vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

It's an extra syllable, but you could also do 'you're good, can't be denied.'

If your main concern is rhyming with the next line, there's probably dozens of options that will fit and make some kind of sense. eg 'ain't gonna lie' 'no need to lie.' 'don't have to try,' 'no need to hide' 'don't keep it inside' 'don't ask me why' etc
Old 22nd December 2016
  #10
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

On the other hand, some folks turn their tenuous grasp of English into an advantage.

Old 22nd December 2016
  #11
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

I think it is much more about what connotations it leaves than perfect grammar. Not knowing the rest of your lyric it's hard to say exactly how, but still safe to assume that 'you're good, don't deny' leaves an entirely different aftertaste and meaning than with an 'it' on the end.

This isn't about getting top marks by the imaginary school teacher, this is about inviting openings to worlds and angles. Nor is it about asking for permission whether you are 'allowed' to do it a certain way.........
Old 23rd December 2016
  #12
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AuldLangSine's Avatar
 

This line is from a number one song:

"In the desert you can remember your name 'cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain."

So you can not only break grammar conventions, but you can even create your own language.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #13
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vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AuldLangSine View Post
This line is from a number one song:

"In the desert you can remember your name 'cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain."

So you can not only break grammar conventions, but you can even create your own language.
Yes, but it is reknowned for having some of the most meaningless lyrics ever.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #14
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vincentvangogo View Post
Yes, but it is reknowned for having some of the most meaningless lyrics ever.
If those particular lyrics were meaningless, they'd be better.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #15
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vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
If those particular lyrics were meaningless, they'd be better.
Then again after nine days wandering around the desert he couldn't even think of a name for his horse.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #16
Registered User
Know the rules then break the rules. I don't like lyrics to be proper formal English - I find that boring, predictable and like being lectured by an lawyer or accountant. Ya gotsa brake the rulez, bro. Mostly, I like the lyrics to flow like conversation. But even that can be boring and predictable. I like something strange to give it spice.

I really like it when words are sung with a different emPHasis on the syllAbles ... to my ears it makes the word sound like it is foreign and exotic. I also find it intriquing when a word is undecipherable and ambiguous. That's the sort of thing that plays tricks on your mind, and makes you want to revist it again and again to try to work it out.

I believe the Beatles and other revolutionaries int he 60's used to deliberately double track conflicting words (often raunchy words, disquised with an equal volume acceptable word, so it was there but indistinct). I used to think these were doubling mistakes, but the more I learn these were not mistakes at all.

Other times people have deliberately made up a word or used a word that nobody knows what it means. Or, a different dialect or pronunciation gives a unique flavour that is irresistable to listeners.

With lyrics the musical value overrides the meaning. Nonsense is perfectly acceptable for art and lyrics. The only real consideration is whether people will find the end result attractive, and without hearing it in context it is impossible to tell. Anything too silly to be said can be sung.

At face value - "she thanks for life" does not appeal to me. But in a musical context, it could be perfect ... hard to say without hearing.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #17
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vincentvangogo View Post
Then again after nine days wandering around the desert he couldn't even think of a name for his horse.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #18
Lives for snowflakes
 
12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
[...] Other times people have deliberately made up a word or used a word that nobody knows what it means. [...]
...Ya mean like "Sussudio"?
.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #19
Lives for gear
 

"Love Me Do" isn't proper grammar.

I'd say don't think of grammar at all, don't even have that as a thought in your head. Follow what sounds good.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #20
"'Cause I speak of the pompatus of love."

WTH? Yeah, I'm in the camp that says if something makes people react the way YOU WANT THEM TO, then do it. We don't know what type or style of music you're writing. Whimsy and emotion can a long way if it's appropriate.

In the OP's examples, the preceding or following lyrics could absolutely make the intent clear. Or, maybe the intent is to be circumspect and ambiguous? Art can be a tricky thing.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #21
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by conleec View Post
"'Cause I speak of the pompatus of love."

WTH? Yeah, I'm in the camp that says if something makes people react the way YOU WANT THEM TO, then do it. We don't know what type or style of music you're writing. Whimsy and emotion can a long way if it's appropriate.

In the OP's examples, the preceding or following lyrics could absolutely make the intent clear. Or, maybe the intent is to be circumspect and ambiguous? Art can be a tricky thing.
.....and generally asking permission to check whether you're 'doing it right' never made much interesting art......
Old 25th December 2016
  #22
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AuldLangSine's Avatar
 

This lyric takes the cake that was left out in the rain:

No one I think is in my tree; I mean it must be high or low
That is you know you can't tune it, but it's all right;
That is I think it's not too bad.


Huh?

from that gem-- Strawberry Fields Forever

Last edited by AuldLangSine; 28th December 2016 at 01:44 AM..
Old 9th April 2017
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AuldLangSine View Post
This line is from a number one song:

"In the desert you can remember your name 'cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain."

So you can not only break grammar conventions, but you can even create your own language.
Absolutely. Sometimes the nature of a song requires that the writer either abandons grammatical rules, or substitutes a new set of his own making.
For example, I have a very primitive song called 'Love Trouble' that doesn't allow conventional plurals:

Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Sailor man he travel far Never worry 'bout his heart
Follow sun and ride on wind Only friend his bottle gin
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Sailor man he lonely Joe Girl in port he long to know.

Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Cowboy man he ride the range Years go by he never change
Feed his horse and milk his cow No romancing anyhow
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Cowboy man he stop in town When at last he settle down

Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Soldier man he fight all day Then at night he gotta pray
Keep him safe, out of harm way Let him fight another day
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Soldier man he earn his pay Thought of love they far away

Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Drummer man he make big noise Always playing with the boys Crashing cymbal much too loud Far and wide he get big crowd
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
'Spite big sound stixman he shy Got no love he sometime cry

Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Farmer man he work the land Got no time to make love plan Hand are rough and arm are strong Out in field all day long
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Farmer man want loving wife Hope for woman all his life
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart Love only bring trouble
Old 9th April 2017
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

Might have been quicker to just post my Soundcloud link


https://soundcloud.com/albrookessongs/lovetrouble

Old 9th April 2017
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
Know the rules then break the rules.

I believe the Beatles and other revolutionaries int he 60's used to deliberately double track conflicting words (often raunchy words, disquised with an equal volume acceptable word, so it was there but indistinct). I used to think these were doubling mistakes, but the more I learn these were not mistakes at all.
.
Some great tips here. I accidentally double tracked a lyric with different words when I change the line between takes, so 'dirty blonde hair' was changed to 'Shiny blonde hair', one version on each track. I didn't change it because I liked the sound.


https://soundcloud.com/albrookessongs/vanity-fair
Old 9th April 2017
  #26
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vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AuldLangSine View Post
This lyric takes the cake that was left out in the rain:

No one I think is in my tree; I mean it must be high or low
That is you know you can't tune it, but it's all right;
That is I think it's not too bad.


Huh?

from that gem-- Strawberry Fields Forever
But that was intended, to convey a sense of disorientation.
Old 9th April 2017
  #27
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Lenzo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by vincentvangogo View Post
Yes, but it is reknowned for having some of the most meaningless lyrics ever.
It is also paying royalties decades later. I'll take royalties over meaning any day.
L.
Old 9th April 2017
  #28
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vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenzo View Post
It is also paying royalties decades later. I'll take royalties over meaning any day.
L.
I doubt improving them would have meant it would have failed to sell.
Old 9th April 2017
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuldLangSine View Post
This lyric takes the cake that was left out in the rain:

No one I think is in my tree; I mean it must be high or low
That is you know you can't tune it, but it's all right;
That is I think it's not too bad.


Huh?

from that gem-- Strawberry Fields Forever
But that's a guy who KNOWS the language PLAYING with the language. And that's why he's able to create something that makes its own kind of sense.


A lot of these scenarios are a case by case basis. Y'know...it works because it works or it doesn't because it doesn't. Non-native speakers are typically at a disadvantage here but some (I'm thinking of some Swedish pop-writers/artists in particular), seem to be able to turn it to their advantage in writing dumb-words-that-work in a more interesting/novel way than native speakers can.
Old 9th April 2017
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnS37 View Post
Absolutely. Sometimes the nature of a song requires that the writer either abandons grammatical rules, or substitutes a new set of his own making.
For example, I have a very primitive song called 'Love Trouble' that doesn't allow conventional plurals:

Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Sailor man he travel far Never worry 'bout his heart
Follow sun and ride on wind Only friend his bottle gin
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Sailor man he lonely Joe Girl in port he long to know.

Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Cowboy man he ride the range Years go by he never change
Feed his horse and milk his cow No romancing anyhow
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Cowboy man he stop in town When at last he settle down

Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Soldier man he fight all day Then at night he gotta pray
Keep him safe, out of harm way Let him fight another day
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Soldier man he earn his pay Thought of love they far away

Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Drummer man he make big noise Always playing with the boys Crashing cymbal much too loud Far and wide he get big crowd
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
'Spite big sound stixman he shy Got no love he sometime cry

Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Farmer man he work the land Got no time to make love plan Hand are rough and arm are strong Out in field all day long
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart
Farmer man want loving wife Hope for woman all his life
Love only bring trouble Love only get you broken heart Love only bring trouble
Cool. This nearly reads like "jamaican grammar". (for want of a better way of putting it!)
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