April 2020 Exercises


Error message

NSAI will be closed on Friday July 3 in observance of Independence Day. Have a good holiday weekend!

Do you know all 7 Basic Rhyme Schemes?

A rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhymes at the end of each line of a poem or song. It is usually referred to by using letters to indicate which lines rhyme; lines designated with the same letter all rhyme with each other. There are 7 basic rhyme schemes you can apply to your everyday writing. Most of the time we get stuck using ABAB or AA. Using different rhyme schemes will aid you to look at your songwriting from another angle you wouldn’t normally try. It forces you out of your usual writing habits. New rhyme schemes also create fresh patterns of suspense and release, like a chord progression does in a song. When you rhyme words, it can make them sound more musical. Listed below are 7 different types of rhyme schemes and examples of how to use them.


ABAB  - ABAB is a frequently used rhyme scheme with interlocking rhymes, sometimes called alternate rhyme. To write in the ABAB rhyme scheme:

• Rhyme line 1 with line 3

• Rhyme line 2 with line 4

Here’s an example of ABAB in the song Maps by Maroon 5. Notice how the last word in the first line rhymes with the last word in line three, as well as the last word in line two rhyming with line four.

A: I miss the taste of a sweeter life

B: I miss the conversation

A: I'm searching for a song tonight

B: I'm changing all of the stations

XAXA - This scheme’s a more unpredictable, because it has two lines that don’t rhyme with anything. This allows for more creative freedom. The two non-rhymed lines allow you to focus on what you want to say. To write in the XAXA rhyme scheme:

• Rhyme line 2 with line 4

• Make sure that lines 1 and 3 do not rhyme with each other or with any other line

Here is an example of XAXA songwriting in all female group Fifth Harmony’s song “Sledgehammer”.

X: I don't admit it

A: I play it cool

X: But every minute

A: That I'm with you

AABB - This scheme divides a section of four lines into two rhymed couplets. The first two lines rhyme and the second two lines rhyme. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is a great example of this.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are.

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

AAAA - Also known as monorhyme this rhyme scheme where all the lines have the same ending. This can be difficult to pull off without sounding monotonous, but to relieve the monotony you can try shortening some of the lines and making others longer. Varying line length will make it sound less predictable.

Night Storm by Marie Summers

It came in a winter’s night, a fierce cold with quite a bite. Frosted wind with all its might sent ice and snow an invite to layer earth in pure white and glisten with morning light.

AXAA and AAXA - These are similar rhyme where one line is left hanging allowing for the freedom to use different words that might be hard to rhyme, like orange or words that have specific meaning or connotation. This adds tension to your writing. For example, Noah and the Whale’s song 2 Atoms and a Molecule demonstrates the AAXA scheme:

“We were inseparably entwined

Like a piece of rope made out of two pieces of vine

Held together, holding each other

With no one else in mind”

ABBA - Also known as en enclosed rhyme where a rhyming pair is sandwiched inside of another rhyming pair. An example of abba is found in the first verse of Matthew Arnold’s “Shakespeare”:

Others abide our question. Thou art free. We ask and ask—thou smilest and art still, Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill, Who to the stars uncrowns his majesty,…

AXXA - AXXA is where the two middle lines are unpredictable, not rhyming with any other line in the stanza. This one’s a personal favorite of mine; I like the way those two middle lines keep the audience in suspense until the the last line finally releases the tension.

Material Adapted from https://lyricworkroom.com/have-you-mastered-all-six-of-thesebasic-rhyme-...



1. Look through some of your songs you have written and see if you can find rhyme schemes you typically use.

2. Write a song using a rhyme scheme you are unfamiliar with.

3. Listen to 5 of your favorite songs and see if you can determine what rhyme scheme is being used.