With more new songs being written every week than ever before, songwriters are finding it harder to sound original and find rhymes and phrases that have not already been used. Now, a new kind of rhyming dictionary—titled Surprising Rhyming—aims to make it easier for writers to avoid clichés and craft rhymes that people may not have heard before.
Built on the findings of an in-depth study of the kind of ingenious rhymes used by some of the world’s greatest songwriters and lyricists, Surprising Rhyming offers an astonishing array of thousands of alternative rhyme options. It contains rhyme types that are much broader than those found in traditional rhyming dictionaries which tend to show only ‘perfect’ or ‘true’ rhymes.
Using too many perfect rhymes can sometimes make a lyric sound tedious and predictable—and prone to clichés. To avoid this, Surprising Rhyming focuses instead on off-the-wall false-rhymes, half-rhymes, slant-rhymes and near-rhymes that are less predictable than exact rhymes … and therefore more likely to surprise an audience.
The book also includes many new words that have been added to standard dictionaries in recent years.
The thousands of ‘surprising’ rhymes crammed into Surprising Rhyming’s 624 pages are based on analyses of the unconventional ‘imperfect’ rhymes that have been used by influential songwriters and lyricists such as: Chuck Berry, David Bowie, Sara Bareilles, James Bay, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Sia Furler, Hozier, Jay-Z, Billy Joel, Carole King, Michael Kiwanuka, John Lennon, Lorde, John Mayer, Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Bonnie McKee, Randy Newman, Dolly Parton, Christina Perri, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Paul Simon, Stephen Sondheim, Taylor Swift, Cat Stevens, Bernie Taupin, James Taylor, Jimmy Webb, Lucinda Williams, Stevie Wonder … and many more.
The concept of the book was inspired by a remark made by Stephen Sondheim, the legendary Broadway composer and lyricist. In a PBS News Hour interview, Sondheim described how people’s ears have come to expect certain rhymes and suggested that writers should try to fool their audience by coming up with rhymes that will take listeners by surprise.
The ‘surprising’ rhymes listed in this book are typically formed by words with similar but not identical sounds (such as rain/blame or day/late) rather than the more predictable ‘perfect’ rhymes found in traditional rhyming dictionaries (like rain/pain or day/stay).
“Surprising Rhyming is a new kind of rhyming dictionary that encourages writers to be more adventurous in their approach to rhyming,” explained the book’s creator and editor, Brian Oliver, author of the five-star rated book How [Not] to Write a Hit Song! 101 Common Mistakes to Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success.
He said: “Many of the cleverest perfect rhymes have been used so many times over the years that they’ve now become tired clichés and writers are struggling to find rhymes or phrases that haven’t been heard before. Surprising Rhyming is designed to enable writers to challenge themselves and make their rhymes bolder and more original … and less predictable.”
The book is laid out clearly to make it quick and easy to find the perfect word to achieve a memorable rhyme. There are separate sections for one-, two-, three- and four-syllable rhymes, along with many useful tips on rhyming.
Surprising Rhyming is now available as a 624-page paperback from Amazon in North America and the UK and Europe.
Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA) and HERE (UK).
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