We’ve all heard rappers use amazing wordplay and unique rhymes. Sadly, when most of us sit down to write a song, we draw a blank. There are 21 vowels in the English language. How many of them do you know? Knowing all the vowels is one thing but organizing them is another altogether. In this article and video I’m giving you a system to help you with rhyme vowels. By using this information you can come up with unique rhyme schemes, avoid cliche rhymes, and develop your rhyme vocabulary. Let’s explore this rhyme vowels chart.
My History in Rhyme
My journey in understanding rhyme vowels started long ago. Maynard James Keenan, frontman to many popular Rock bands of the early 2000’s, uses a lot of vowel modification modification. Mostly he’s using it for stylistic variation but that technique is also a technical consideration.
Given that I perceived him as an intellectual-type singer, I started researching from an academic perspective. This search led me to the International Phonetic Alphabet. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a huge chart that’s impractical to use as a songwriter. It’s definitely not a rhyme vowels chart.
Later on, after my stint in the Army, I got a hold of Singing Success. Contained within the included booklet was a vowel chart. That chart gave me the understanding I needed of how vowels worked together. Even so, it wasn’t enough by itself to be a comprehensive Rosetta stone of phonics like the IPA chart. I’d gone from overly complex to overly simple and that wasn’t enough.
Vowels and Consonants
Once I came back to California, my rhyme vowel search continued. At this point I had come across Pat Pattison’s Writing Better Lyrics book. In there, he’d placed a consonant chart which has served me well over the years since. Besides the consonants, he talks about ‘lateral’ sounds which are ‘R’ and ‘L’ sounds. These are the ones that native Japanese speakers struggle with most.
If you look at the Singing Success chart, there is no mention of laterals. Should you just use pure vowels then you’ll most likely end up with an Italian sound. English has 21 vowels total, not five, so it became clear to me I needed to continue my research.
Finally, I found one more chart, which I’ve since lost, that was even more complete. Still, it was lacking a few sounds and that made me sad. When I begin something related to music, I often see it to the end. Happily, though, I think I’ve finally put it all together for the ultimate rhyme vowel chart.
Charting the Future
After pouring over dictionaries, the internet, and divining the gods, I finally put together a comprehensive rhyme vowels chart. In it, I break the vowels down into four families: EE, OO, Diphthongs, and Laterals. Brett Manning‘s chart doesn’t mention the last two rhyming vowel families at all.
Not only have I done that but I also included the standardized symbols for every sound. In addition, I’ve placed informal phonetic prompts for easy comprehension. If you’re astute, you can immediately put this into your writing practice. However, if you need more help, I’m probably going to make more material on this subject soon.
My favorite part about my rhyme vowels chart is how I used color. For the first time, you can see visually how all the English vowels, diphthongs, and laterals are related. Take a look at the chart in the video and notice the EE and OO family cell colors. Then look at the diphthongs and laterals to make the connections among them. They’re all one big happy rhyme vowel family!
Rounding it Out
Like I said, this rhyme vowels chart is just the beginning. Pat Pattison has many more cool songwriting techniques in his Writing Better Lyrics book. You should definitely check it out before you write any new songs.
Even if you decide not to get it, I’m going to make more videos about his tips. This rhyme vowels chart, or Rhyming Worksheet as I believe he calls it, it just the beginning. Other techniques like Key Words, other rhyming types, brainstorming, and more will help you fill this chart out. Just stay tuned and I show it all to you here.
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