Christian Songwriting: Lyrical Hooks - Alliteration

Alliteration is a very useful poetic device, and can be defined very simply as a succession of words with the same initial letter or sound. It isn't essential for the words to be consecutive, but they do need to be as close together as possible. Because as the words become further apart, the effect is lost. Now notice the two possibilities in our definition: it can be either the same letter or sound - as in songwriting there is a very important distinction between the two.

Here are two examples of alliteration where the same initial letter is used but not the same sound:

They thought twice. Chic chicks clap certainly.

Obviously, this would be more effective in poetry than in a song where the value lies in its sound. The alliteration in a song needs to be heard, not just read, to be of any real merit. This can occur even when the initial letters are different. For instance, all of the following examples are alliterative:

No-one knows a gnu like I do. Psychologists save cents. Surely Charmaine shall.

Even though the words begin with different letters, the sounds are the same. The real advantage of alliteration is that it makes your lyrics more interesting and more memorable. The following famous verse has lost much of its appeal as I've changed the name of the main character and otherwise removed the alliteration:

Peter Jones chose a large measure of spicy peppers....

The old tongue twister sounds much better and is much easier to memorise when we use alliteration:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers, Peter Piper picked....

Now read: Lyrical Hooks - Stuttering

For more information on alliteration, including terminal and internal alliteration, buy Successful Songwriting. (This link will take you to, a subsidiary of Amazon.)

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