Slant rhymes, or near rhymes offer you more rhyming possibilities and make your songs sound more sophisticated!
The fastest indicator that I’m listening to a song by a beginning songwriter is the rhyming… the rhymes are too predictable.
There are many types or categories of rhymes. I like to keep it simple and manageable while I’m songwriting so I only consider: Perfect Rhymes and Slant Rhymes.
While the categories of rhyme are interesting, while I’m songwriting this is information overload so 99% of the time, I keep it easy with: Perfect or Slant Rhyme.
Below the video is a summary of everything discussed, followed by examples of slant rhymes in songs and 3 slant rhyme exercises to help you use slant rhymes in your own songwriting…
Components of a Rhyme:
There are three components in a rhyme, the:
- Last Vowel Sound,
- Last Consonant Sound and
- Penultimate (second to last) Consonant Sound (that is the Last Consonant Sound Before the Final Vowel) is different.
When the last vowel sound and last consonant are the same, it catches the listener’s ear. The different penultimate consonant is what triggers the “that’s a rhyme” in your audience.
In a Perfect Rhyme, the penultimate consonant sound is different while the final vowel and final consonant are identical.
Perfect Rhyme Example: Rhyme Time Dime
Slant Rhymes are also called imperfect rhyme, near rhyme and close rhyme. I prefer the term slant rhyme and use these names interchangeably.
A Slant rhyme is like a Perfect Rhyme (penultimate consonant is different, final vowel is the same) except the final consonant sound is similar but not identical (as it would be in a perfect rhyme).
Slant Rhyme Example: Rhyme, Line, Find
Bonus Slant Rhyme Concepts – Not Included in the Video
1. Vowels are the strongest past of the rhyme.
As you speak or sing, the vowel sounds longer than a consonant sound. This is why the vowel sound is the most significant part of the rhyme as your audience listens to your lyrics.
2. A slant rhyme can also have a similar sounding vowel sound but this weakens the rhyme.
It stretches the slant rhyme further than changing the final consonant. I cut this section out of the video but left it here, because it sounded confusing when I explained it… told you there was more depth in this article than the video!
3. A perfect rhyme offers your listener a sense of completion.
A perfect rhyme feels like a period in a sentence. A full stop. A slant rhyme sounds slightly (but not fully) complete, like a comma in a sentence. A string of perfect rhymes starts to sound boring because the energy keeps stopping.
Changing things with slant rhymes or a mix of perfect and slant rhymes makes the lyrics more interesting to listen to…
When you use a slant rhyme at the end of a song section it lets the lyrical energy push into the next section. A perfect rhyme at the end of a section makes it sound as if everything has been said so there isn’t a reason to continue to the next section.
Slant Rhyme Examples:
Here are 40 words that rhyme with… Rhyme:
- Climb, chime, dime, grime, lime, mime, slime, sublime, time, thyme,
- Brine, confine, decline, define, design, dine, enshrine, fine, line, lines, malign, mine, nine, pine, recline, shine, shrine, spine, stine, underline
- Find, declined, defined, grind, hind, kind, rind, underlined, undersigned, unkind
When It’s Not a Slant Rhyme
There are degrees of slant rhyme… as the consonant changes the rhyme becomes less clear and harder to hear. I imagine that slant rhymes are similar to an elastic band, you can stretch them, but if you pull too far… it breaks and you lose the rhyme. If it stretches too far it doesn’t sound like a rhyme anymore.
Using different accents also breaks the rhyme. An example from a popular song is Road Trippin by the Red Hot Chili Peppers… when spoken the words would typically be accented ALlies and supPLIES. (from 0:10 to 0:19)
Road trippin’ with my favorite two allies
Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies
A different accent pattern would break the rhyme. If you’re singing it, you’ll feel the need to change the accents in one of the lines so they match, as Anthony Kiedis does in the song. I like this song, but the accent pattern in these two lines are jarring to my ear.
Rhymes in Context
Here are examples of rhyme in a song. Emoji Girl is the (invented) story of someone trying to create a relationship with a woman who is obsessed with social media and technology.
She says she heart’s me, I LOL!
Not much for conversation, and she can’t spell.
She thinks in pictures, talks with them too!
How do I get through to her? What should I do?
Rhyme Scheme: AABB
LOL / Spell and too / do are perfect rhymes.
Oh-oh-oh-oh… Lovin’ an emoji girl
Oh-no-no-no… Lost in her emojis
Oh-oh-oh-oh… Lovin’ an emoji girl
Oh-no-no-no… She’s lost in her emoji world.
Rhyme Scheme AXAA (X doesn’t rhyme)
Girl and World are slant rhymes.
Watch me perform the song and read a complete song analysis of Emoji Girl
Theory of a Deadman: Slant Rhyme Examples
I’m a big fan of this band. They have a dark vibe, but very intelligent, articulate lyrics and some awesome music.
Glass Jaw, From the album Wake Up Call, © Tyler Connolly, Dean Back, Joseph Dandeneau, David Brenner, 2017
Verse 1: 0:00 to 0:30
Swinging fast, you attack, slow to my defense (fast/attack)
All a blur, I was sure this is how it ends (blur/sure, defence/ends)
Hit the mat on my back, that was it for me (mat/back)
Stinging sweat, out of breath, begging for relief (sweat/breath, me/relief)
Wish I knew you were through, I’d protect myself (knew/through)
But now I’m down, bleeding out, begging for the bell (down/out, myself/bell)
You bob and weave, lie and cheat to get me in the ring (weave/cheat)
In defeat I can see clearly everything (defeat/see, ring/everything)
My comment: The last line is “see clearly everything” to maintain the tight rhythms and rhyme scheme, otherwise “I can clearly see everything” sounds more natural.
Slant Rhyme Cheat
My favourite rhyming dictionary is B-Rhymes: http://www.b-rhymes.com/
You’re offered 100 slant rhymes for every word. It’s a great cheat to find slant rhymes, even if some choices won’t work in a songwriting context.
Writing With Slant Rhymes: 3 Slant Rhyme Exercises
Slant Rhyme Quest
Choose some of your favourite songs and check for slant rhymes. Some professional songwriters use more slant rhymes than others. Many hit songs only have perfect rhymes so don’t be surprised if you find songs without slant rhymes.
Slant Rhyme Brainstorm
Choose a word and find as many slant rhymes as you can. Check with b-rhymes.com when you’re done. You will improve with practice, so try this several times over your next few writing sessions.
Slant Rhyme Your Songs
Use slant rhymes in your next song or the one you’re working on now. Slant rhymes will feel awkward if they are new to you, but keep at it until you write some interesting lines.
- If you have an old song with a line that’s always bothered you, dig it out and find 5+ slant rhymes, then write an alternate line with one of them.
- You can give yourself a constraint, perhaps write only using slant rhymes in the verses or even the entire song.
- The next level of difficulty is to choose when to use slant rhymes. For example, with the rhyme scheme ABAB you could decide to use a perfect rhyme for A and slant rhymes for B. In an AAAA chorus, you might decide to use a slant rhyme in the 2nd and 4th line and a perfect rhyme for the third line. When I use slant rhymes in a verse, I try to use them in the same place in all verses.
Remember, in a songwriting exercise the goal is control. With a song you want to finish and release, focus on creating an interesting song your audience will love. They don’t care how much effort you put into the rhymes in your song, only that the song keeps their attention and has an emotional impact on them.
Slant Rhyme: Summary
Slant rhymes offer you more:
- Lyric vocabulary
- Possibilities to write about
- Surprise for your listener
- Sophisticated sounding lyrics
Use the 3 songwriting exercises to improve your control of slant rhymes
- Slant Rhyme Quest – find examples of slant rhymes in your favourite songs
- Slant Rhyme Brainstorm – practice generating slant rhymes
- Slant Rhyme Your Songs – write slant rhymes into your own songs.
Experiment with the difference between perfect and slant rhymes… observe how they affect the forward energy of your lyrics. The closure of a perfect rhyme completes a thought. A slant rhyme slows the forward momentum less than a perfect rhyme.
Additional Songwriting Resources
Here are more songwriting articles to help you level up your songwriting skills and write songs that your listeners will love even more…
There are numerous classifications of rhymes that I ignored in this article...
They are fascinating but don’t directly affect your songwriting. Read all about rhyme classifications and categories: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhyme