Making Lyrics Your Own
Lesson time 20:46 min
Learn to use rhyme schemes, word choice, and your personal experiences to write songs that are unique to you.
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars
Topics include: Design Your Rhymes • Have a Dedication to Diction • Take the Personal and Make It Universal • Writing Universal Lyrics: "All of Me" Song Study
JOHN LEGEND: If you want to stand out as a songwriter, you can use tools from the songwriters' toolkit-- rhyme schemes, word choice, and your personal experiences-- to write lyrics that are unmistakably your own. So let's talk about rhyming. First of all, you don't have to rhyme your lyrics. If you don't want to, you can just let these lyrics float out in space, rhymeless. However, you'll notice when you listen to songs and the lyrics don't rhyme, it feels like-- you feel like you're kind of just left hanging, and you feel a bit of unease. Now, maybe that's what you're trying to accomplish with your listener. Maybe that's what you're trying to do. So go for it. Don't rhyme your lyrics. If you don't want people to feel that sense of resolve, you want them to be kind of hanging on the edge, then maybe don't rhyme them. But my advice is, generally speaking, make those lyrics rhyme. It works better. It sings better. It feels better. The audience enjoys it better. So you want your lyrics to rhyme, but there are all kinds of schemes. So you think about patterns. You can do, like, an AABA, or you can do an ABAB, or you can do a AABB. So basically, all those letters mean are, the two things that rhyme with each other are in the same letter. If you think about "roses or red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you," the first and the third line don't rhyme with each other, but the second and the fourth line do rhyme with each other. So it's kind of like a ABCB rhyme structure. So if-- (SINGING) first time we ever got a chance to be alone, we knew it was wrong to do. I guess that's why I was drawn to you. So those all run with each other. (SINGING) First time we ever got a chance to be alone, we knew it was wrong to do. I guess that's why I was drawn to you. So you think about that. I said, first time we ever got a chance to be alone, we knew it was wrong to do. And then-- so "do" rhymed with "new," but then I said, "I guess that's why I was drawn to you." So "drawn to you" rhymes with "wrong to do." So I, like, complicated the rhyme. So-- (SINGING) first time we ever got a chance to be alone, we knew it was wrong to do. (SPEAKING) Just rhyme the last syllable. (SINGING) I guess that's why I was drawn to you. (SPEAKING) I rhyme the last three syllables. (SINGING) And then, I start a new rhyme scheme. First time leads to the third, the fifth, the seventh time. Time. I feel so alive. Kind of rhymes with "time." It won't last, but it's all right. Kind of rhymes with "alive." OK, so that one, I just rhymed time, live, and right. And then-- (SINGING) fleeting joy and fading ecstasy. Here it goes again, oh. Sneaking fruit from the forbidden tree-- So the only thing I rhymed there was "ecstasy," and "forbidden tree." (SINGING) Here we goes again, oh. Sneaking fruit from the forbidden tree, sweet taste of sin-- So "here it goes again," rhymes with "sweet taste of sin," an...
About the Instructor
When 12-time Grammy winner John Legend released “Free” in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, he called it a prayer for peace. Now the recipient of the first-ever Recording Academy Global Impact Award teaches you how he wrote and recorded the song—and his process for creating hits like “All of Me” and “Glory.” Layer melodies and lyrics, develop your musical point of view, and make music that makes the moment.
Featured Masterclass Instructor
John Legend, the EGOT-winning music icon and coach on “The Voice,” teaches you his process for creating music with impact.Explore the Class