Alliteration in a Song

Alliteration in a song happens often and the reasons to use it are many. It’s one of the easiest techniques available to song crafters. Music publishers can spot it readily. It’s also very effective. It will make your song catchier and more memorable.

What is it? Alliteration is a literary technique you can use in a song lyric. At its simplest it’s simply repeating a consonant sound at the beginning of adjacent words. Need an “alliteration in a song” example? How about Terrible Twos?

The two T’s begin each word and use the same sound. Hearing it It imparts a satisfying “it has a ring to it” thought on the listener. That’s alliteration. Make Me Merry, Mary would be an example with four instances.

Rockin’ Robin is a classic lyric that is fun to listen to and even more fun to sing partly due to the alliteration sprinkled throughout the lyric: tall oak tree, big black crow and bird bandstand

Sometimes the alliterated words are separated by a word or two. Rock Me Rhonda is alliteration and it sits so well rhythmically it is even stronger than most words-back-to-back examples. Too much separation though, and the effect is lost. Use your judgement.

It’s important to note that alliteration works because of the sound being repeated, not necessarily the letter itself. Phoenix the Pony has two P’s but the word’s beginning sounds, “P” and “F,” are so different, it’s not alliteration.

Sara Smile offers the obvious use of alliterated words beginning with “S” in a song title but Sunshine on My Shoulders presents an interesting study. “Sunshine” and “Shoulders” begin with “S” and the “Sh” sounds are close enough to create a form of alliteration. But it’s the two “sh” sounds in the phrase that really make it work.

While Sunshine on My Shoulders, while close, isn’t true compound alliteration, compounding is also a valid avenue to explore. Within one lyric line, or within a song’s title you can use more than one sound to achieve alliteration. “As the winter winds litter London with Lonely hearts” is a line in a Mumford & Sons song.

Alliteration can be used in the title of your song or anywhere in the body: in the verse, chorus, pre-chorus or bridge. In fact, taking an interesting word and playing with alliteration may help you create a line or a title.