Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Seven Syllables

I am working on a lyric with an artist right now, or at least the artist’s representative, and some rewrites were requested. Something wasn’t quite right with the last line of the first verse. It was all of six words, seven syllables (eight if you count the grace syllable at the beginning).

(I might as well say right now I’m not reproducing the actual verse, or lines, at least until I know whether or not this lyric will be committed, or will remain at liberty. If this lyric isn't picked up I will at least let you know what the replaced line was. But the process itself is interesting. ).

The line had to rhyme with “deep” and as you know there aren’t terribly many good rhymes for “deep” – at least not ones that you can use without them sticking out in unwanted ways. The few that work are used over and over and over again. I had it rhyming with the half-rhyme “heat” – it’s the kind of lyric that takes to half-rhymes, no worries there.

But the line needed to be redone. I thought of all the “eet” rhymes, and reconsidered all the “eep” rhymes. I moved on to “eed” and “eek” rhymes as well. There are tons of them, as any rhyming dictionary will tell you, but many would not work stylistically, or couldn’t sit at the end of a line, or wouldn’t fit the sentence as constructed.

I noodled around in the early evening, in the mid-evening, and the late evening. I didn’t want to let go of this problem and move on to fixing the other things. I needed to break the logjam. But I Could. Not. Find. The. Solution.

As I was moving on to sleep, I found a word I liked, something that extended the thought in the first three lines, and gave it some poetry. Just one word, with a certain resonance. And a half hour later I thought of a modifer for the word, an adjective, rhythmically pleasing, making it a “new” phrase, something I hadn’t heard before, something that sang. I jotted it down and went to sleep.

The next morning I turned it over and over in my head, and finally found the sentence construction that let me grab an “eek” rhyme that flowed without forcing. So the whole sentence became one with the first three lines.

Five words. Seven Syllables. And I don’t know how many freaking hours to come up with them.

Rewriting – what it’s all about.

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