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Do You Use Scansion Techniques?


Scansion Techniques  

9 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you use scansion techniques when writing lyrics?

    • yes all the time
      2
    • yes sometimes
      2
    • never
      5
  2. 2. How do yo urate your understanding of scansion?

    • Very good
      2
    • good
      3
    • ok
      0
    • poor
      1
    • what is scansion?
      3


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Hey

There have been a few discussions about scansion on the boards. So I thought it might be interesting to take a poll about scansion....

Feel free to add comments and forward this topic to your Twitter and Facebook pages!

cheers

John

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What IS scansion?

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(I'm not even gonna google it - I'm want to savor the answer I get here :) ... )

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hey

I'm quite surprised that you guys await an explanation (there are two pretty good threads on the topic on this board too). Why do i feel an article coming on? ;)

An interesting question for me here is - what do you think scansion is?

Are there any particular aspects of scansion that confuse you or is it simply an unknown concept?

Any info you can give here will at least help hone any resulting article :)

Cheers

John

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Honestly, I haven't The Faintest Idea of what it is. Never even heard or read the word, I think. Allthough it kinda reminds me of the millitary, dunno why. I demand an explanation! ;) ...

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My excuse is that I am not a very method-focused-kind of writer. Most of the time I don't conciously use any other method than sit and play, try out things, recording what sounds cool and throwing away what doesn't. My usual way of getting a lyric started is to holler pseudo-english into a microphone for half an hour and see what cool words I come up with. Might not be what you learn at the academy, but it Shure (sic. & pun intended) works for me.

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I'll try and be as concise as I can and describe it in my own words:

Scansion is something that in essence writers already do, and indeed anyone speaking naturally does upon learning a language. It's effectively the rhythm and emphasis of the spoken or sung word. Scansion to a degree formalizes that in that it provides a notation and vocabulary with which to tidy up meter. It was developed for poetry but works well for lyrics too, particularly if you are a lyricist only, rather than a music composer too, as it helps match up the emphasized syllables of the lyrics with the emphasized (stressed) notes in a melody.

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hey Tom

almost.

Lyricists DO write both for an existing melody and without an existing melody (look at many lyricists here). In the latter case melody writers DO have to write the melody for the lyrics. Hopefully they have a working relationship so there is some sort of feedback loop.

Where scansion comes into it's own is the familiar notion of meter. Lyricists write to a meter to make that an easier process for the melody writer. Where the meter wanders the melody writer has either to get the lyricist to adapt, or they adapt the melody. But ensuring syllable count is the same does not automatically ensure that the lyrics will match the melody in terms of how natural it sounds as stressed syllables in natural language don't necessarily coincide with the stressed melodic notes with any consistency. This is where scansion steps up to the plate.

Scansion not only looks at the syllable count, but at the location of the stressed syllables. This ensures that lyrics written before the melody have a consistent and natural rhythm.

For example:

two notes: an 1/8 note followed by a 1/2 note, the latter being the stressed note

the word Choosing has two syllables, natural speech would emphasize it like this:

Choosing

Obviously for our two note melody it would end up being emphasized like this

Choosing

By being aware of not only the syllable count but also the emphasis, a lyric writer can ensure as much consistency as possible in their work ahead of the melody being written :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Although I use scansion techniques, I also blurr the lines. It helps a lot to have a melody already, but unnatural stresses can help to stretch a melody, which is a nice change occasionally. Throw a dog in the middle of a cat fight and they all look around for a second. That itty bitty, notice I didn't say kitty, pause , notice I didn't say paws, catches the ear, makes it stand up and take notice, so the line that comes nest should be worthy of the offense because it's going to get some attention. There are all sorts of tricks I'm finding to accentuate a lyric.

Problem is, a lyric alone can not stand without a melody. If you are like me, a melody will developer while reading a lyric. Someone who has used the scansion techniques will be more apt to have a reader relate to the lyric. Harder still is indicating which beat the lyric starts on. I find many of my lyrics are based on; and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and. So if "The world is turning and I am learning" I actually start singing the word "the" very quietly and rushed to get to the stressed "world".

In written form it just looks like

The world is turning and I am learning.

Not much there, very easy to assume it's off the beat.

The world is turning and I am learning

There is a huge advantage in being a musician. Your natural beat structure of a piece is much more difficult to stray from. It's very natural to write stressed syllables to stressed beats with an existing melody while It's very easy to lose the stressed syllables of words, or bend the meoldy to fit, when it's just in your head. So you scan for strenghts.

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  • 1 month later...

Interesting post. Scansion is important although I use the term 'does it scan well'.Having written melodies for other people they often have to rewrite the lyrics because their original words don't scan well with the melody. An important process.

Good post

JD

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... or ... you could do what I do ... sing the damned thing and listen to how it sounds. If it sounds crappy - change it. Repeat until goodstuff.

What I'm trying to say people: don't get too hooked up in methods and techniques - just use your ears!

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