Pay Attention to Meter
“Meter” is the term used to describe the number of syllables in each line of a section of a song and which syllables are emphasized. Volumes have been written about types and uses of meter in songwriting as well as in poetry. For a modern songwriter, simply studying the rhythm and stresses of popular songs will probably be more help than reading about spondee and iambic pentameter. Meter in today's songs often tries to mimic the rhythms of natural conversation rather than force lyrics into rigid poetic forms. That being said, studying meter in songs or poetry can be valuable to a songwriter and there are some things that should be covered here.Sense of Symmetry
With meter, as with rhyme, a certain sense of symmetry is necessary for a song to have a cohesive feel. If you use an 8/6/8/5 meter (each number represents the number of syllables in a line) and an ABCB/ABCB rhyme scheme in the first verse, the second verse should follow suit. Not that you can't occasionally wedge in an extra word, but make sure that the verses feel alike and are easily identifiable as verses. This helps to provide a sense of place within the song, like chapters in a book or scenes in a movie.Stretching Vowels
Sometimes you may need more syllables in a line than you have words to fill them. An alternative to adding unnecessary words is to stretch the vowels in some words to cover multiple syllables. A perfect example of this is found in the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons song “Big Girls Don't Cry,” in which the words of the hook only make up four syllables but are sung as eight.
Decide on the right syllable stretching technique on a case-by-case basis and be careful not to overuse it: Too much and it can start to sound cheesy, or, in the case of “letting it ride,” it can distort the meter.
Some vowels, like the “eye” sound in “cry” and the “oo” sound in “blue,” lend themselves to stretching by being sung as trills or yodels and simply changing notes wherever the melody normally requires it. In “Big Girls Don't Cry,” for instance, this is done by sliding between two notes in the word “big.” The other stretched words repeat certain sounds, but “big” adds a syllable by changing notes. Sometimes you can just let one note ride for several beats.