Lyric Writing – How exactly to Turn Cliche Phrases Into New Ideas, Part 2


In a previous article, I talked about the overuse of the idea of heartbreak in songwriting. We saw so it started as a very good metaphor, but it’s basically lost its coolness because of overuse. We then looked over the way the band, the Script, managed to breathe some new life into that phrase once more, by adding new information to it.

Just in case you missed it, that article is on this website and is called “Lyric Writing – How exactly to Turn Cliche Phrases into New Ideas.”

In that article, we saw how heartbreak became fresh again pal pal dil ke paas lyrics by adding new lyrics across the old phrase. In this short article I want to show you how heartbreak has been made fresh again by the way the phrase is handled musically.

In art, prosody is when your entire elements are achieving one thing. Related to songwriting, plenty of times prosody identifies the manner in which you tie this is of one’s lyrics to your music, so that they work together.

With this in your mind, take a pay attention to the very first minute of the song, “Fidelity” by Regina Spektor. Do a search for it on YouTube, if you’re not familiar with the song.

Did you find anything interesting in regards to the chorus (which starts on the line “It breaks my heart” about 47 seconds to the song)? Can you hear the way she sings the phrase “heart”? Like it had been multiple syllables? She took that one-syllable word, heart, and chopped it down into a bunch of little fragments. It’s interesting that she “broke” the phrase “heart,” isn’t it? She “broke” her “heart” musically, while singing about her broken heart, lyrically. That is a good example of prosody in songwriting. The idea of a damaged heart as a metaphor, became a damaged heart in her delivery of the phrase “heart” as well. I do believe it works well here, because it’s not as in-your-face. You barely make the bond unless you’re trying to find treasure in the details.

Get back to that line in the chorus and pay attention to it again. Imagine what it’d sound like if she’d sung the phrase “heart” together single continuous note. Can you picture just how much more complete that could sound? That could be cool, but it wouldn’t fit the idea of the lyric, would it? In this case, the broken heart concept is not merely literal in the broken-up nature of how it’s sung, but it addittionally makes the line feel a bit unbalanced, which is how our lead singer is feeling for the reason that moment, since she’s a damaged heart and all. Therefore it works well in that way too.

Singing it for the reason that choppy, broken-up way also ties to the quirky feel of the song. Another score!

Initially when I hear the words “it breaks my heart,” all the songs in the universe that have already used that phrase begin to flash before my eyes. But here I found myself being interested again, because it had been presented in a fascinating way. It ought to be noted that Regina Spektor also does this in the 2nd chorus on the phrase “it breaks my fall” and it works well there too, in all the same ways we’ve talked about up to now.

Experiment with having your lyrics tie into your music. Start small by trying it on several phrases here and there. Maybe have an email slide down on a lyric that ends on the phrase “down.” Then get bolder and expand your techniques to possess your current musical vibe tying into your entire lyrical concept.

Try not to be too extraordinary with it, or you’ll run the risk to be cheesy. Keep it fairly subtle and you will end up in good shape. But as always, experiment with it and see what works best.