The passion for your poison

Everything in the world has it's nerds even songwriting. If you don't belive me keep reading because I'm about to talk songwriting theory. Some of which is very accurate and some that will spark debate with other songwriter nerds. 

Further down you hear a song I wrote a song with a Stable Verse created by stacking two unstable sections. The unstable sections have a rhyme scheme of AAB AAB. Here is an example of what I mean.

A - Mellow
A - Fellow
B - Hi

A - Jell-o
A - Cello
B - Bye 

The balance comes from the rhyme of Hi and Bye. 

The Chorus is unstable because the rhyme scheme is AAXX. It just kind of ends with a cliff hanger because there is no resolution in the rhyme. In the below example we just end with a horse and a cat. Your brain seeks stability and resolution so will want you to continue to a nice resolution somewhere else in the song. 

A - Hello
A - Fellow
X - Horse
X - Cat 

Warning: Deep Nerdistry ahead

In this song I used both Perfect and Family rhyme along with similar line lengths to create a sense of stability in the verse. While the chorus on the otherhand is all different line lengths using assonance and consonance rhyme to create it's instability. 


Where did my mind go? 
Where did my time go?
I think you took them with you.
Why did my life go? 
Why did my wife go?
I think I'll blame that on you.


The passion for your poison lives deep within me
It's nothing that I want
But everything that I need
I wish you were something I could quit
But I can't.

And so concludes me nerding out over songwriting. If you disagree with anything I wrote feel free to do it in the comments. 


A rhyme like a pixel.

Every craft has a level of detail that will often go unnoticed except by other craftsmen. I can appreciate a painting but an artist will appreciate the brush strokes. I can appreciate the way a movie looks but a phototographer will appreciate the film grain. I can appreciate your great lyric but Pat Pattison will notice your additive rhyme creating stability in your chorus. 

Here are two lines. The first end with please. A long 'e' vowel sound ending with a 'z' sound lengthening the word. While the second line ends short with flee leaving only the long 'e' vowel sound. 

There was a time I was ready to please
Now is the time when I'm ready to flee

This is a subtractive rhyme. The long 'e' vowel sound gives the words there similarity but because the second line ends with less sound it leaves it a tiny bit unresolved. There is a tiny part of your brain that is trying to fill in the length of the two lines and wanting more to come of the song to fill that tiny space left by the missing 'z'. 

Here are the two lines again with the two last words reversed. 

There was a time I was ready to flee
Now is the time when I'm ready to please

Not only does reversing the words change the sentiment but the tiny change of adding the 'z' sound creates a resolution to the lines that was lacking in the first version. This is an additive rhyme. 

I compare this incredibly subtle tweak to a designer shifting a line by a single pixel. You may not notice that it happened but you'll appreciate the effect when the shift is in the right direction. 

Turning Instability into Stability

It's always darkest before the dawn.

Things'll get worse before they get better. 

You have to break eggs to make an omelette. 

I don't know if the last cliche belongs in the list but it seems to say the same thing. No matter how bad things are now ... they may well get worse before they get better. As pessimistic as these can sound they all say something better is waiting in the end. 

You have to go through the rough stuff so you can appreciate when the good comes 'round again. 

Same goes for songs. If a song has all it's lines the same length and rhythm there is nothing to tell you when the verse changes into the chorus. This is a pretty simplified explanation of what songwriting coach Pat Pattison calls Stable and Unstable.

Unstable keeps the song going, keeps the listener leaning forward expecting a little something more. Stability is the resolution that makes the listener sit back in their chair and exhale. (Then hopefully press restart on your song :)

One of the ways to build stability and unstability is with line length. In this example I've created a verse with 5 lines and the last line is half the length. Keeping it unresolved so the listener feels like they need to keep listening until the resolution comes. 

No need for tomorrow

Today is all you need

Yesterday is a lesson

One you feel not one you read

live and learn

Then in the chorus we use an even number of lines with the lines the same length. 

Once you learn what your life is for, go live it 

Once you live what your life is for, go love it

Once you love what your life is for, believe it

Because all we can do is live, love and learn


It's this last line that brings the resolution and lets the listener relax. Ready to take on the rest of the song and enjoy the story you are telling. 

When the parts in your life seem a little rough or unresolved you need to go find what rhymes with you. Find your balance so you can lean back in your chair for a bit, exhale and get ready for the next bit of instability.

Here is a rough recording of the above song so you can here the instability lead it's way into a nice resolution (at least that's my hope).

I was talking with Jay Baydala recently and it came up that I write songs. When he asked if I had something he could hear I said “I'll send you a link to my failed blog.” A few days later he said he told me he enjoyed my site and asked why I had described it as a ‘Failed Blog’. I really didn't have an answer.

The only reason it failed was because I stopped updating it when I was learning about copyright on the internet and part of it was I found it hard to record a song every week (new babies take up way more time than you think they will). But as they say Failure Breeds Success and I've since made a few descisions, read a lot of books, written more songs, learned more about the music industry and re-connected with someone who'll be acting as a producer for me. I've got some performances lined up I can record and share. I also have some guitar & voice demos I can put up as well.

So, just shy of 50 weeks after my last update I'm back at it and looking forward to sharing everything I've learned so far and everything I'm going to learn as I move forward.