When you write lyrics, is it better to make sure that every line has the same number of syllables? Let's say you have 5 lines in a "verse", is it better to make sure that every line has 4-5 syllables, or is it ok if you have 1 line with 8-10 syllables?

Also does symmetry matter? Should your next verse have the same amount of syllables and lines? Not sure if musical theory is involved here...

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    What did you find out when you analysed the lines and syllables of existing songs you like? Commented May 8, 2021 at 6:50

2 Answers 2


This is a question of style and genre, and not one that has an objective answer. In general, lyrics that are too regular can give a monotonous, "sing-songy" effect. This is NOT in accordance with modern tastes, which tend to favor something that more closely emulates natural speech patterns. Assuming you're writing the lyrics first, the composer might also find less regular lyrics more interesting to work with --within reason.

On the other hand, it's good for different verses to at least have the same pattern of stresses (overall rhythm), even if the syllable count isn't exactly the same. This allows them to be easily sung to the same melody. (It's okay, and perhaps even preferable, for the chorus and bridge to have their own unique patterns.)

Depending on the style, it's worth noting that it might be possible for multiple syllables to be sung on a single note, or vice versa, for one syllable to take up multiple notes, so the syllable count may not be definitive in any case.

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    Well put. I was going to answer almost exactly this.
    – storbror
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 20:17

I'm assuming Lyrics = Song Lyrics. (Not lyric poetry...)

Writing lyrics is all about melody. At least when I do it...

Sometimes I have a melody, but mostly I "steal" the melody from songs I like. I get the beat, the number of syllables (and sometimes I add or remove).

Then when I turn the lyrics over to the composer, he has no clue what songs I may have based the lyrics on and creates something new...

Well so did I, of course. It can sometimes be a bit hard to come up with a completely new text, but that can also sometimes be really easy.

Most of the time working with the rhythm and rhymes, the direction of the lyrics is almost predetermined, and it goes its own way... (or the way the muses channels it or whatever is happening, it's a funny experience!)

So, to answer your question; yes and no.

It's more about a pattern that repeats than a certain number of syllables per row. (I think you're thinking different poetic meters? That's not song lyrics...)

But if you just want to count syllables you could come up with whatever pattern you like, as long as it repeats in the verses and the refrain.

Most songs will have a pattern like 5 - 8 - 5 - 8, 5 - 5 - 5 - 9, or something. I.e. not usually the same number of syllables per line.

However, they almost always have the same number of syllables per verse... And the same number of syllables in the refrain...

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