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Martin Swinger: Resource Page

How to 'Map' the 'Meter' of a Song

 

Sing a familiar nursery rhyme out loud and as you sing, make a dash on the board for each word or syllable of the song. At the places where you naturally take a break or breath, drop down to the next line and continue. You'll discover a song visually makes a shape or a 'Map'. You are drawing empty dashes to represent words and you are mapping them out in a 'lyric' or 'poetry' fashion, as opposed to general sentence or paragraph form:

 

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star  (A series of 3 rhymed couplets!)

 ___  ___   ___  ___   ___  ____   ______

___  ___   ___  ___   ___  ____   ______

 

___  ___   ___  ___   ___  ____   ______

___  ___   ___  ___   ___  ____   ______

 

___  ___   ___  ___   ___  ____   ______

___  ___   ___  ___   ___  ____   ______


      What you are illustrating is the 'METER' of the song. Meter is frequency and rhythm of the words and syllables as they ride over the melody. Your dashes may be long or short according to the emphasis given to each syllable or word, or according to how long the word is held out when singing it.


Row, Row, Row Your Boat

 ____ ,

 ____,

  ____  ___  _____

____  __  ____ __ _______.

__ __ __,

__ __ __,

__ __ __,

__ __ __,   ___  _  __   _  _______.

 

 

Mary Had a Little Lamb (first half verse)

 

___  ___   __  __      ___ ___ ____

                                     ___ ___ ____ 

                                     ____ ___ ____

 ___  ___  __  __           ___  ___  ____ 

 ____  ____   ____  ____  __ _______

 

 

Beats versus Syllables :


            You CAN try to match every syllable of the original lyric with a matching placement of syllables – and for older students, this proves a great creative problem-solving game – but it is not necessary to imitate the meter of the original song exactly to create an effective song. You may find that stretching one syllable into two beats is easy enough to sing – or you may discover you can slip two syllables into a beat that originally only contained one syllable – this is a judgment call you can freely make. So long as your lyrics are pronounceable in time with the melody, as long as the song 'SCANS' and is singable, you have succeeded.

            Each of the following lines can easily be sung to the same melody, even though the METER is different for each version.

 

“Buff-a-lo Gals, Won’t You Come Out To-Night” (10 syllables)

__ __ __  ___   ___  ___   ___   ___  __ ____

“ O - ur moon reflects the Sun” (6 syllables)   OR

____ _   ____  __ ____ __ ____

“ Butterflies like to sip nectar from a flower” (12 syllables)

  __ __ __   __  _  __  __ __  __   _  _____

 

As you develop your song, adding one line at a time, continually sing it back from the beginning down to the next part to be written - this helps keep everyone's brain on the same part of the song and reviews the material at the same time! 

 

 


Copy and Use Song Blanks!

 

      In the following examples I have used letters to represent rhyming words. On your chalk board, underneath words that rhyme, you may use letters or matching shapes (square, semi-circle, zig-zag, ‘X’, etc) or colored chalk - just so each rhyming pair or series share the same identity and leave room to write the lyrics above as you brainstorm them.

 

 

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

 

___  ___   ___  ___   ___  ____   __A____

___  ___   ___  ___   ___  ____   __A____

___  ___   ___  ___   ___  ____   __B____

___  ___   ___  ___   ___  ____   __B____

___  ___   ___  ___   ___  ____   __C____

___  ___   ___  ___   ___  ____   __C____

 

 

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

 

____ 

 ____

  ____  _____  _____

____  ____  ____ ____ __A___

______   (b)   This could be one statement with no rhyme!

______   (c)

______    (d)

______   (e) 

____  __  ___  __  __A___

 

 

Mary Had a Little Lamb  

 ('Optional' lines can freely rhyme with anything without hurting the integrity of the song.)

 

 ___  ____   ____   __  ___ ___  _A___

                                    ___ ___ _A___ (opt.)

                                    ____ ___ _A___

___  ____  ____  __   ___  ___  __A__ (opt.)

____  ____  ____  ____  ____  __B____

 

___  ____   ____   __  ___ ___  _C___

                                    ___ ___ _C___ (opt.)

                                    ____ ___ _C___

___  ____  ____  __   ___  ___  __C__ (opt.)

____  ____  ____  ____  ____  __B____

 

 

 

  Take Me Out to the Ball Game

 

_____  ____  ____  ____  ____  ______  ______

_____  ____  ____  ____  ____  ________

_____  ____  ____  ____  ____  ___  ____  ____  __A___

_____  ____  ____  ____  ____  ____  ____  ____  _A____   (  ____   ____  )

_____  ____  ____  ____  ____  _____   ______

___  ____  ____  ____  ____  _____  __B____

____  ____  ______

            ______

            ______  ____  _____  ____

____  ____  _____  _____  __B_____

 

 

Yankee Doodle

           

(verse)

___ ___ ___ ____ ___ ___ ____

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ A___

____ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

___ ___ ___ ___ ___A ___

 

(chorus)

           

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ____

___ ___ ___ ___ ___B ___

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

___ ____ ___ ___ ___ B ___            

             

 

 

About Rhyme Patterns

 

     Rhyme patterns come in all varieties. Think of words that rhyme in a song being represented by the same letter.

A song might have a rhyme pattern of ‘A-A, B-B’ like this :

 

Rock-a-Bye, Baby in the tree TOP   (A)

When the wind blows the cradle will ROCK   (A)

When the bow breaks the cradle will FALL    (B)

Down will come Baby, cradle and ALL    (B)

 

O it might be ‘A-B-A-B’:

 

Way Down Upon the Swanee RIVER  (A)

                                 Far, far AWAY   (B)

There’s where my heart is yearning EVER   (A)  (soft rhyme)

There’s where the old folks STAY  (B)

 

Repeating Words or Lines:  

Some songs lyrics are simply a repetition of a word or phrase:

            “Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb.

             Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was white as SNOW.

Every where that Mary went, Mary went, Mary went 

Every where that Mary went the lamb was sure to GO.

 

'Wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and ROUND.

Wheels on the bus go round and round, all through the TOWN.


           If the message of your song is simple and direct (Brush your teeth up and down, up and down, up and down…) it makes sense to repeat as the original tune suggests.

 

            However if you have multiple 'info-bites' to fit into the tune, allow yourself the flexibility to override the repeats with new information and skip some rhymes.

   When there are an ODD number of repeated words, try an 'A-B-A' type pattern, alternating rhymes with non rhymes so long as the last word rhymes with something from above. (Brush your teeth every day, after meals, before you play…). An ‘A-A-A’ rhyme could become ‘A-B-A’ and an ‘A-A-A-A-A’ (Bingo) pattern might become ’A-B-A-B-A’ or ‘A-B-A-C-A' or even 'A-B-C-D-A'.


             If there are an EVEN number of rhymes or repeats, you may choose to insert a pattern which helps convey more information than simply repeating. You can try ‘A-A-B-B’ pattern, an ‘A-B-A-B’, an ‘A-B-B-A’ OR an ‘A-B-C-B’ pattern.  In the following sample I’ve used an ‘A-A-B-B’ pattern.

SAMPLE #1

            “He’s got the whole world in his hands.   (A)

            He’s got the whole world in his hands.    (A)

            He’s got the whole world in his hands.    (A)

            He’s got the whole world in his hands."  (A)


There are a hundred pennies - in a dollar  (A)

And twenty-five pennies - in a quarter  (A) (soft rhyme)

And ten pennies - in a dime   (B)

And a nickel is a penny five times.   (B)

 

SAMPLE #2   

There was a farmer, had a dog, Bingo was his name-oh.  (A)

B -I -N -G -O   (A)

B -I -N -G -O    (A)

B -I -N -G -O   (A)

And Bingo was his name-oh!   (A)

For this song, rhymes were left VERY loose, sometimes abandoned, or rhymes were completely coincidental, and yet, the song is still singable!

Seven Traits of Writing (Carabassett Elementary) Tune: BINGO


Traits of writing help us write (A)

Ideas and sentence fluency   (B)

Organize all our thoughts    (C)

Strong word choice and lots of voice   (D)

Convention, checklist, capitols   (E)

Check spelling and punctuate!   (F)

 

Don't forget the 'Bold Beginning'   (A)

And the 'Mighty Middle'   (B)

End with 'Excellence'   (C)

Good stories make good sense.   (C)

That's how we present  (C)

The 7 Traits of writing!  (D)

 

 

 


RhymeZone is FUN!

 

This FREE website is helpful to discover rhymes you may not have thought of, synonyms, antonyms, homophones, dictionary, spellings, similar sounding words and MORE!!

The list of rhymes alone can suggest interesting possibilities to solve that creative word puzzle that makes your song jump up and SING!

Encourage your students to explore language in their down time on this site!

http://www.rhymezone.com/r/rhyme.cgi?Word=sing&org1=syl&org2=l&org3=y&typeofrhyme=perfect

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