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Years ago, I wrote a lyrical poem and submitted it to an American Song Festival contest. Happily, I came in second place (Folk Category) and won seventy-five bucks. Hey, back then seventy-five bucks was, well, seventy-five bucks. The way I did it was probably a little unconventional – I thought of a song written by Arlo Guthrie and hummed it while making up my own words. (The contest was just for lyrics, so the only thing submitted were the words . . . in case you were thinking, "Hey, that Stan is a plagiarizing creep.") Though unconventional, my lyrics contained a rhythmic beat and carried an emotional message. If you are a lyrical poet, you will definitely want to keep an eye on the rhythmic flow of your words. Generally, though, rhyming poems or lyrical creations have a natural flow to them, unless of course you are like Steve Martin's character in the classic movie, The Jerk. His character, Navin, had not an ounce of rhythm, not even in his little toe.
In much of today's music, rhyming is not a necessity, but flow and rhythm are. For example, below are the first four lines of a song by one of my favourite groups, Coldplay. The song is titled Yellow, and is an example of a song with lyrics that do not necessarily rhyme. Still, the flow is marvellous:
"Look at the stars
Obviously the word yellow does not fit into the rhyming scheme, but if you have heard the song you will notice that just after the last syllable in yellow, the rhyme is created musically; a guitar chord provides a sort of "do" sound, which rhymes with the line before, a genius bit of creativity.
There is no question you must write with your heart, but you also must remember form, rhythm, and rhyme. In other words, keep your head about you. Don't be afraid to try some new ways to say, I love you, I hate you, or this government sucks.
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