Lyric Writing Basics-
- Learn the song. Follow along with the
Japanese lyrics, and make sure you can at least sing the song in
Japanese in your head. This point is usually the longest, as some
songs are easily forgettable, while others are either so good or so
annoying that you're singing along the first time through.
- Before deciding to dub the song, check out
the direct English translation. I like going to
because they offer the romaji lyrics and the English translation
- Now it's time to actually sit down and
write. The first thing to do is get a copy of the Japanese and English
lyrics side by side in a Word or Notepad file (the printable versions
at animelyrics.com are perfect for use in Notepad). Listen to the
song, while following the English translation as directly as possible.
Try to listen to the song non-stop, getting a feel for what the
overall message of the song is, what each verse is about, and maybe an
idea for a few possible hooks.
(Musical Argot: Hook- The most notable parts of the song that
everybody associates with when they think about the song, and the part
that everybody seems to be able to sing along to. Usually the first
line of the chorus.)
- It's not necessary to write the first part
of the song first. Sometimes it's better to start out with the chorus,
and do the verses later. Whatever is done first, consider the
following in order:
2) Rhyme Scheme
Meter: Meter is the way the
verse flows. English speech has a sort of rhythm to it where certain
syllables are stressed, can have a higher pitch, and are sometimes
held longer. Other syllables are unstressed.
There are four typical of feet that a meter can be made of (O is
stressed, x is unstressed)-
Iambic- xO xO xO xO xO (Shakespeare is
big with this one)
Trochaic- Ox Ox Ox Ox Ox
Dadylic- Oxx Oxx Oxx
Anapestic- xxO xxO xxO
It takes a good ear to be able to pick
these out while listening to songs, but they are there. Try reading
lyrics out loud and try picking them up.
Anyway, there's two ways to handle meter in a song. You can go through
each line and determine what notes are supposed to be stressed.
However, if you have an ear for music or poetry, it's not difficult to
write lyrics and just keep the meter in mind.
Rhyme Scheme: The is the one
that gets people. As much as you all hate to admit it, American music
is centered around the rhyme. Rap artists don't get the big stash
because of a snazzy violin solo (although meter is a big part in what
makes a rap good as well).
A good song doesn't have to be completely filled with rhymes at every
corner, but I'm hard pressed to find any song which doesn't use any at
all. To develop a rhyme scheme, listen carefully to the Japanese
lyrics. Is there a spot in the music where you just think it would
make sense to have a rhyme? Stick one in there! Is there a rhyme?
Definitely stick one in there! It's not usually the case to see
rhyming in Japanese, but it's not as uncommon as you may think. If you
see it, use it. Otherwise, you're on your own to develop it yourself.
The only real suggestions to make are to stay consistent between
verses and don't overdo it. If you get one rhyme scheme for the first
verse, you're stuck with it for the second verse. Not overdoing it is
easy- since overdoing it gives you more work for less quality. And
don't be afraid to mix it up a bit. Use some of the patterns on the
lyrics online (or your favorite English songs) for a guide on how
mixing the rhymes can help out.
Translation: What good is an
anime song in English if it doesn't have the same message? The key
with the translation is to not worry so much about individual lines,
but concentrating on preserving the entire general message of the
song. The individual lines should be used merely as guidelines to
writing the lyrics. They can be kept as intact as the melody, meter
and rhyme scheme allow, or they can be scrapped for your own metaphors
or descriptions. That's why it's so important to understand what the
song is about beforehand.
Lyrics: Taking the three above
factors into consideration, there has to some ideas going in regard to
lyrics. Remember that although the song and message is already in
place, you are writing poetry. Each line has a certain number of
beats, and each line should have a certain power to it. Be creative!
Be flexible! Be willing to try anything! And for God's sake have a
thesaurus on hand! A rhyming dictionary, available at any corner
bookstore, helps too.
- After you've ripped your hair out
completely and have a stunning piece of derivative poetry,
proofreading it is important. Wait... scratch that. I don't mean proof
reading. I mean proofsinging. As in out-loud. If there's anything
awkward, try to fix it. The ideal result is a song that you won't be
ashamed of singing. Whether in the car, shower, or karaoke machine, if
you have something that you can sing easily, you have beaten the
- Submit the song to me so I can put it on
the website so the world to sing along to it as well!