I've been learning many different concepts as a beginning songwriter and have been working on applying them in my work. However, I can't seem to full understand how to control lyric meter and lyric pulse. Can someone please help me better understand how to control this in my writing? Thank you!

  • 1
    Look up metrical index : This is a listing of the tunes to which a given text may be sung. They are arranged by a complex- looking series of numbers which simply represent the number of syllables per line in the text/poem, which in turn should match the number of beats in the corresponding line of the tune. This is most helpful if a user likes the words, but wants to look for a different tune. Warning: always try singing such a change out loud to make certain the emphasis falls on the proper syllable. fredshymns.com/metrical-index Feb 17, 2020 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


I think you will find lots of information by reading about poetry and meter. Scansion is the "scanning" of a line of text to determine its meter. That is probably an important thing for you to look into. The basic idea is poetry (lyrics) can be written to fit into regular metrical patterns like iambic which is short/long or weak/strong. There are several other traditional meters. Writing within a meter can be one of several reason for choosing different words in a lyric.

  • As the question asked "how to control...", I would just add that with the information about the different patterns (and which ones are more usual in a particular style), then it comes to practice and judgment of the results, as in a song it could be usual that some other parameters come into play. For instance, sometimes you may write a line that at first sight goes "against" the natural stressing of the words, but in the whole it gets perceived as a natural declamation (and words remain rightly stressed), be it for the nature of intervals or whatever other reason.
    – Pipetus
    Jul 17, 2020 at 16:13

Some church hymn books contain an index of songs and of tunes and a metrical index:

enter image description here

In this metrical index the songs are organized regarding their lyric meters, in purpose that the song lyrics can be used together with different tunes.

If you once know a collection of some hundreds of hymns and songs (you don‘t need to know the lyrics of course) you will develop a feeling for the rhythms, the verse measures, jambic, trochaic etc. and also for the length of meters.

All you have to do is to know of each kind of meter a exemplary song and an standard tune from which you can develop your lyrics using the existing melody with the meter you are looking for.

Of course you can also count with your finger the beats and accents like we count the rhythm. (Mind the up beat and the syllables between the beats) or you sing the melody, count each note by number and find out the rhythmic mode.

enter image description here

The numbers tell you the syllables per line!






This means: this is probably a song existing by a verse of 4 lines (2 pairs of 2 lines: 6 and 7 syllables) and a chorus (4 lines of 8 syllables)

The pairing is concerning the rhymes.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.