Expanding On Simple Repetition In Your Lyric Writing

Written by Tommaso Zillio

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Tommaso Zillio - professional guitarist and guitar teacherA lot of people make lyric writing out to be harder than it really needs to be. The key to writing a good tune is not as complicated as you might think and I am going to equip you with the tools to do so.

Before a person writes their first song, chances are that most of their writing experience comes from the endless essays they were made to write in grade school. As I have previously pointed out, writing music requires a much different technique than writing English papers. It is very important to recognize if you yourself are mixing the two.

If you do find this to be the case, fear not. It is actually quite easy to fix this problem. All it takes is for you to do something you are probably already doing lots of: Listen to music. Except this time, really listen to the words and spot the differences between how words sound when sung and how they sound when simply read of a page.

I have written before on how most composers don’t use enough repeated words in their lyrics, and I have explained how using immediate repetition can increase intensity in your music. However, after this technique is used enough, you might find that you are looking for more. This is where you can try using delayed repetition instead.

Describing every rhetorical figure involved in the development of delayed repetition will would require a lot more time and space then we have available here today. So instead, I am going to discuss one specific technique for using delayed repetition and how it can be used in three different ways. The greek terminology for what we are going to talk about is known as “Diacope” (which also mean “cut in two”).

Detailed Diacope

“Minute by minute” is an example of a Basic Diacope (with one word separating the repeat). Its quick, to the point, and sticks in your mind. However, sometimes it just doesn’t do the trick. You might need something that builds in intensity to go with the feel of your tune.

This is where you can try out the Detailed Diacope. All you need to do is add a describing word to the second repeat. It you are familiar with the song “America The Beautiful”, you may have heard the lyric “from sea to shining sea” before. The word “shining” works to add emphasis and intrigue to the repeated word.

You might be surprised, VERY surprised, at how easy this technique is to pull off.

Extending Your Diacope

Are you looking for something that adds even more intensity to your lyrics? Then try adding to that above mentioned repetition technique. A Basic Diacope is ABA, so what if we extended it to AABA? How does that sound? Well, take the most famous quote in history for example “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” You can’t argue with the master that this technique works.

But where is it found in more current lyric writing? Have you heard this classic The Cardigans tune before?

“Love me love me Say that you love me Fool me fool me Go on and fool me”

That tune uses Extending Diacopes in a big way. And again, you can’t really argue its effectiveness. Those repetitions are truly what makes that song so easy and fun to remember.

Your Next Task

You have all this great new knowledge, so what should you do next? Well, go ahead and use it! Now that you know more about it, try to pick up on it in the music you listen to. Try even stringing a few sentences together using various Diacopes. Once your ear is trained to pick up on this kind of thing, it will start to flow into your own writing naturally. So just don’t forget: Listen, practice, repeat!

About the Author

Tommaso Zillio is a professional guitarist and guitar teacher. Visit Tommaso’s site to know more about how to write music. Subscribe to his YouTube channel for more videos.