Aretha Franklin’s R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is a popular choice for singing contests, but a lot of singers stumble over the ‘spelling’ part of the song. It feels too crowded, so they drop a letter, usually the C. Continue reading Where’s the ‘y’ in R.E.S.P.E.C.T.?
When you’re singing in English, you’ll often come across songs with slant rhymes. When a songwriter plays with sounds, you need to join the game. If you stay with the ‘classic’ pronunciation of English words, you’ll sound wooden and odd; bend too far and you’ll sound odder. Unusual sound rhymes, done well, are a treat for the listener.
For native English speakers, it’s natural and easy to play with the sound of words, while still sounding recognisably English. If English isn’t your first language: be careful not to overcompensate when you pull two words that don’t usually rhyme into a slant/half rhyme. It’s a question of hinting and shading. Think of feathers, not mallets.
Watch Nerina Pallot playing with the words up and stop in her song Put Your hands Up. Without her help, only the p would rhyme. Does she sing up exactly the same every time? And, for extra points – how does she squeeze her North London football club into her video?
You’re writing a song, in English, about a young woman whose life has taken all the wrong turns, most of them involving rock musicians:
Well, sometimes it seems impossible
That the game could get that rough
But the stage is set, the exit’s barred
And the make-up won’t come off
To fit the music, you need a two-beat, two-syllable name for your young, damaged woman. Something that begins with a young, clear-as-a-bell consonant, but dulls into a schwa sound. Better still if the end of her name is a thick, tongue-clogging l, so that you can drag her name down into the dirt when you sing it.
You think I make the choosing of names for songs sound mechanical or cynical? No name finds its way into a song unless its sound serves that song. Layla, Emily and Jane suit the psychology of the songs where they appear. Each name is a sound picture.
To choose your heroine’s name, you start running through the alphabet and come to B. Two syllables, the second one a schwa followed by an l. Beryl. Beryl the rock groupie. Really?
Does the does of those does rhyme with buzz, or with flows? Or with neither?