Rhyming, The Nexus Of Art And Craft

bobdylan020 Rhyming has been one of mankind’s main methods for making sense of the world for eons. Poems, for centuries, were the chief province of rhymed verse. Not anymore. Now rhymed poetry is rare, whereas songs, regardless of genre, rarely are without rhymes. Sure, there are famous rhyme-free songs, such as “America” by Paul Simon, “Moonlight in Vermont” by Blackburn & Suessdorf, and “I’ll Be Your Man” by The Black Keys. But they are exceptions. Generally in songs, be they rock and roll, rap, folk, blues, funk, or hip-hop, rhymes are integral to the solidity of the lyric. But not without reason. Rhyme adds a completion to a line that nothing else can replace. They not only perfect a line sonically and rhythmically by matching sounds, they also link words in terms of associative meaning. Although Dylan is more famous for exploding the content of song than his mastery of craft, he’s been a remarkably virtuosic rhymer since his first songs, often using intricate rhyme schemes, like abab, which requires each line to rhyme, or aabb, which is also a quatrain – four lines – in which each line rhymes. These are rhyme schemes of interlocking rhymes that romantic poets, such as Byron, Shelly and Keats used. They are complex, yet when achieved with music, flow with natural grace. Normally in songs we get the abcb pattern, in which the second and final line rhyme, and the first and third can be different. But in Dylan’s cinematic song “Joey,” he employs an aabb scheme. But delivered on the momentum of the melody and groove – as opposed to existing on a page to be read – and sung with rhythm and soul, the effect is effortless. The rhymes are seamlessly folded into the imagery and action: One day they shot him down in a... Sign In to Keep Reading

To view this content,

Join Today

or Sign In

The Benefits of Membership:

  • Limited-time FREE Feature Magazine Content
  • Exclusive access to members-only contests and giveaways
Click to Join

We've started a free American Songwriter membership. Click here to learn more.