The Ultimate Guide to Rhyming in Songs Like a Pro

Rhyming in songs is a big part of songwriting, but often times we don't give much thought to the rhymes that we choose for our songs.

It's easy to get stuck into autopilot mode when writing rhymes, and your songs and your words can start to sound similar in nature.

Becoming intentional with what types of rhyming patterns you introduce into your songs can be liberating and inspire tons of creativity!

rhyming in songs

This blog post will go over everything you need to write exciting rhyme schemes and when you would want to use one over the other so you can choose the perfect one for your next song.

Let’s dive in!

What is a Rhyme Scheme?

Quick Helpful Tip:

Stressed Syllables = Syllables in the word with a higher, more emphasized sound.

Unstressed Syllables = Syllables in the word that are non-pronounced.

Consonant = Non-vowel sounds in words.

A rhyme comes from two words sharing the same stressed syllable. Rhymes help you create flow in your lyrics and also predictability for the listener.

A good rhyme sets up a tension that wants to be resolved.

For example: 

Roses are red, violets are blue.

Sugar is sweet, and so are you.

You’re able to anticipate and predict that rhyme.

Compare this with:

Roses are red, violets are blue.

Sugar is sweet and my favorite snack.

This is jarring and doesn’t resolve the line in a way that will be satisfying for the listener.

Let’s discuss the basic rhyme schemes you’ll come across in your everyday songwriting.

End Rhyme

An end rhyme is when the final word of a line rhymes with the last word of another line. This is the most popular rhyme type, especially when it comes to songwriting.

End rhymes generally establish the structure of a song and lyrics.

Internal Rhyme

Internal rhymes rhyme words within the line of a poem or song. This could be a rhyme within the same line or rhyming with another line in the section.

These types of rhymes are not as popular as an end rhyme.

However, these rhymes can add great rhythm and flow to a song and make lyrics less predictable and fun.

Masculine Rhyme

A masculine rhyme scheme is when the last stressed vowel of two words sounds the same.

For example:

Express / Confess

Feminine Rhyme

A feminine rhyme scheme is when a stressed vowel, followed by an unstressed vowel of two words, sounds the same.

For example:

Writing / Fighting

Triple Rhyme

A triple rhyme scheme is when two words have the same stressed vowel followed by two unstressed vowels.

For Example:

Meticulous / Ridiculous

A triple rhyme can be very bouncy, rhythmic, and fun. So keep this in mind if you are trying to convey an upbeat and playful vibe in your music.

Identities

When the stressed syllable and unstressed syllables have the same sound, this means the words have the same identity.

For Example:

Book / Look

These types of rhyme schemes can be problematic to differentiate between the words when singing. So proceed with this type of rhyming scheme with caution.

Types of Rhyme Schemes

Not All Rhyme Schemes Are Made the Same

It’s crucial to understand different rhyme schemes. As well as how they can affect how the listener perceives your music.

Lines that rhyme perfectly will sound more stable than non-rhyming lines. As we move through the different rhyme scheme types, we will start with the most potent connecting rhymes to the weakest.

Perfect Rhyme

Perfect rhymes are the strongest rhyme type in the bunch. This is when the stressed syllables and the following consonant sounds identical.

Think of every nursery rhyme you’ve ever heard. These are all primarily written with a perfect rhyme.

Because it’s one of the most common rhyme schemes used, it has a very predictable sound because we’ve heard most of these rhymes before. But, unfortunately, this can make things come off a bit cliche if you aren’t careful.

Some styles of music will be more forgiving with this than others. So be aware of what you can get away with and experiment.

Example:

Checked / Wrecked

Family Rhymes

Before we can get into the sound of family rhyme schemes, we must first explain the three categories (families) of consonants.

Nasals (mmmhhhhm): m, n, g

Plosives (Puh!): b, d, g, k, p, t

Fricatives (essss): ch, f, j, s, ss, sh, th, v, z, zh

Family rhyme schemes have a stressed syllable followed by a consonant sound in the same family but different in sound.

The rhyming connections are strong with this rhyme type. However, a lot of creativity can be used with a family rhyme scheme because of the looser rules compared to a perfect rhyme.

Example:

Grows / Toes

Additive/Subtractive Rhymes

The stressed syllable will rhyme with additive/subtractive rhyme schemes while adding or subtracting the following consonant.

These have a decent rhyming connection and can be pretty flexible to making lines rhyme.

Example:

Time / Lines

Assonance Rhymes

Assonance is a lot like family rhyme schemes. However, the big difference is that the ending consonant will be in a different family.

The rhyming connection with an assonance rhyme is relatively weak and unstable sounding.

This is a good option if you are trying to create unresolved tension in your lyrics.

Example:

Slow / Road

Consonance Rhymes

The weakest rhyming connection out of the bunch is consonance rhymes. The stressed syllables don’t rhyme, but the following consonants do rhyme.

This is one rhyme scheme that can add a lot of interest to your lyrics, but only use it if it makes sense to the flow of your words.

Example:

Pitter / Patter

Rhyme Scheme Structures

To explain rhyme schemes in this section, we will refer to the first lines that rhyme together as A, the second lines that rhyme together as B, and lines that don’t rhyme together as X.

You can use any combinations of these rhyming patterns within four-line schemes or six-line schemes.

I’ll discuss some of the most popular schemes so you can write better lyrics for your next song.

We will start by discussing song structures that have four lines.

Couplet (AABB)

A couplet rhyme scheme is when the first two lines rhyme and the third and fourth lines rhyme.

This rhyme scheme is one of the most basic rhyme schemes for modern music, and you will hear it in many songs.

A couplet rhyme scheme is an excellent choice for a Chorus because of its resolution to a group of words.

One song example that uses the couplet rhyme scheme is:

“Sunday Best” – Surfaces

Ay, feeling good, like I should (A)

Went and took a walk around the neighborhood (A)

Feeling blessed, never stressed (B)

Got that sunshine on my Sunday best (yeah) (B)

Mono-Rhymes (AAAA)

The AAAA rhyme scheme where every line ends with the same rhyme.

A song example is “Levitating” by Dua Lipa

If you wanna run away with me, I know a galaxy

And I can take you for a ride (A)

I had a premonition that we fell into a rhythm

Where the music don’t stop for life (A)

Glitter in the sky, glitter in my eyes

Shining just the way I like (A)

If you’re feeling like you need a little bit of company

You met me at the perfect time (A)

This example does an excellent job of introducing some internal rhymes as well. “Premonition and rhythm.” This helps to break up the repetitive nature of mono-rhyme schemes.

Also, the use of near rhymes (or slant rhymes) helps add variation to the feeling and vibe of the track.

Alternate Rhyme Scheme (ABAB)

When the first and third lines rhyme and the second and fourth lines rhyme, this is the ABAB rhyme scheme. This structure of rhyme is widespread in popular music.

“Girl From North Country” by Bob Dylan is an excellent example of the ABAB rhyme scheme.

If you’re traveling in the north country fair (A)

Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline (B)

Remember me to one who lives there (A)

For she once was a true love of mine (B)

Enclosed Rhyme (ABBA)

Enclosed rhyme is a type of couplet. The first line rhymes with the last line, and the two lines in between them rhyme with each other.

This rhyming scheme isn’t very common but worth mentioning for those who strive to be different in their songwriting.

The “Make a Line Emphasized Rhyme” (AAAX)

Ok, I made up the name of this type of rhyme, but it really makes a lyric pop!

This is a rare to find rhyming pattern, but the AAAX is excellent for emphasizing the very last line of your section.

Every line will rhyme until the last line, which breaks from the format.

An example of this form is in “Blindsided” by Bon Iver:

I crouch like a crow (A)

Contrasting the snow (A)

For the agony, I’d rather know (A)

Cause blinded, I am blindsided (X)

Using Non-Rhyming Schemes (X) 

Using phrases that don’t rhyme together allows the lyric writing to be more creative and unexpected. This can be an excellent technique for keeping your listeners engaged with the lyrics. It can also create great tension and a “break of flow” when it is desired.

However, when using non-rhyming techniques, be aware of not making the line sound too distracting.

A songwriter who is masterful with these non-rhyming schemes like the XAXA is the songwriter Tom Waits.

His song “Take it With Me” has multiple examples of this type of rhyme scheme.

XXXX

Phone’s off the hook, no one knows where we are (X)

It’s a long time since I drank champagne (X)

The ocean is blue as blue as your eyes (X)

I’m gonna take it with me when I go (X)

AAXX

Old long since gone, now way back when (A)

We lived in Coney Island (A)

There ain’t no good thing ever dies (X)

I’m gonna take it with me when I go (X)

XXAA

Far far away a train whistle blows (X)

Wherever you’re goin’, wherever you’ve been (X)

Waving goodbye at the end of the day (A)

You’re up and you’re over and you’re far away (A)

XXXX

Always for you and forever yours (X)

It felt just like the old days (X)

We fell asleep on Beulah’s porch (X)

I’m gonna take it with me when I go (X)

XAXA

All broken down by the side of the road (X)

I was never more alive or alone (A)

I’ve worn the faces off all the cards (X)

I’m gonna take it with me when I go (A)

XXAA

Children are playing at the end of the day (X)

Strangers are singing on our lawn (X)

It’s got to be more than flesh and bone (A)

All that you’ve loved is all you own (A)

XXXXXX

In a land, there’s a town (X)

And in that town, there’s a house (X)

And in that house, there’s a woman (X)

And in that woman, there’s a heart I love (X)

I’m gonna take it with me when I go (X)

I’m gonna take it with me when I go (X)

Six-Line Rhymes

Sometimes sections of songs can be written into six lyrical phrases instead of four.

There are many benefits to having six lyric lines in a section of your music. One, in particular, is you can get really creative with mixing and matching your rhyme schemes. In addition, you can keep a listener engaged when this is done correctly and create some really sophisticated rhyme schemes.

We aren’t going to go into all the different combinations, but mix and match the schemes you have already learned in this blog post.

I’ll give two popular song examples that use a six-line rhyme structure.

One is a classic, and one is a modern-day smash hit.

The Beatles “Come Together” (XXXXAA)

Here come old flat top (X)

He come grooving up slowly (X)

He got joo joo eyeball (X)

He one holy roller (X)

He got hair down to his knee (A)

Got to be a joker he just do what he please (A)

24kGoldn ft. iann dior (AAAAAA):

“Mood” by 24kGoldn (ft. iann dior) uses a six-line mono-rhyme.

Why you always in a mood? (A)

messin ’round, actin’ brand new (new) (A)

I ain’t tryna tell you what to do (A)

But try to play it cool (cool) (A)

Baby, I ain’t playin’ by your rules (rules) (A)

Everything looks better with a view (A)

Be Careful With Identical Rhymes

It’s good practice to not use the same word to rhyme your lyrical lines.

There are popular songs that do this, so it isn’t a hard rule, but generally, it can be viewed as lazy songwriting.

The next time you are writing songs, check to make sure that you don’t have any “you, you” rhyme going on.

Lyrics Before Rhymes

You might come across one downfall now that you have all this knowledge because you might start putting rhymes over your lyrics.

It’s easy to search for the perfect rhyme. However, this comes at the sacrifice of the story that you are trying to tell with your song.

Remember that flow of your words will always be more important than how your words rhyme.

So make sure to listen to what you write in the context of the entire song and not line-by-line.

This will ensure the flow of your words stays intact.

Alliteration

Alliteration is when the starting consonants of two words sound the same.

For example, “She sells seashells down by the seashore.”

This isn’t a rhyme scheme, but alliteration can go a long way with creating fascinating rhythms within your songwriting.

So don’t overlook it!

What to Do Next?

It’s time to jump in and write and finish your next song.

Thankfully, I’ve written an article that will help you do just that!

Go check out my blog post on How to Write a Song, and don’t wait another day to write your next masterpiece!

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