Christian Songwriting: Lyrical Hooks - Stuttering

Stuttering is the repetition of the initial sound of a word, and is a technique which, for a couple of reasons, can be very useful. First, you can add real character to your lyrics by employing a device which is still relatively uncommon. People always like to hear something different and are attracted to a song which comes across as having a personality of its own.

Writing a stutter into your lyrics could help you achieve this stamp of originality. Provided you don't overdo it of course, in which case you may really be mistaken for someone with a speech impediment!

Second, if used in the right place and in the right song, stuttering can effectively use up musical beats without detracting from the strength of the lyrics. For example, you may have a song where the melody is complete but you need words to fill in six beats of a line. Perhaps you have toyed with the lyrics for some time but are unable to come up with anything satisfactory. One option is to use a stutter.

The Beatles used the stutter in their song, "Back In The USSR" when they told us, while extolling the virtues of Soviet women, that Georgia was always on their mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mind. They stuttered on that word eight times before finally getting it out! Not only that, but they stuttered on the title, which clearly shows that in songwriting you can stutter on whole phrases.

I don't know which of the above reasons gave Lennon and McCartney the motive for writing in that stutter, or if it just seemed like a good thing to do at the time, but whatever the explanation it suited the tenor of the song perfectly.

However, I don't think that the primary use of a stutter should ever be to fill in some beats. If it were, I suspect it would be plain for all to see, and the quality of your song would be lowered.

The final decision should be based on whether or not it sounds good. Obviously, some kinds of songs would be less suitable than others. For example, songs of worship and gentle love songs would be less likely - but not impossible - candidates.

If you're uncertain whether or not a stutter will sound good, sing your song to someone whose musical abilities you respect and ask their opinion. But be sure not to draw their attention to any of the features you're concerned about before you've sung it. It's a little like asking someone, "How old do you think so-and-so is?" As soon as you ask, they know there's a reason behind the question, and all of a sudden they're not sure. If you don't want to colour their opinion before they even hear it, it's best to sing the song first, then ask for any general comments. What do they think are the song's good points and its bad points?

And remember, if you want to hear the truth, don't ask your mother! She'll think anything you do is wonderful. The important thing to bear in mind though, is that even if you do get a negative review, and you still believe you have what it takes, press on. Music, like all the other arts, is a matter of taste. So get a second opinion.

Lyric Writing - Rhyme | Lyric Writing - Lyrical Hooks | Song Content - Song Plan | Song Structure | Musical Elements | Rhythmic Devices | Melody Writing | Writer's Block