In this article, I’m going to share some advice that will help you the next time you’re trying to get your rap lyrics to fit within your bars properly.
I often get asked a question that goes a little something like this. “Cole, how many syllables should my rap lyrics have per bar?”
Pretty straight forward right? I usually respond with saying that 11-14 syllables are a good generic syllable count to shoot for.
The reason being is because rappers typically rap using 16th notes for the majority of the time while occasionally using 8th and 32nd notes. So even if you were to use fourteen 16th notes you would still have two 16th notes or one 8th note of flex space to either breathe or sustain a syllable. Check out this lesson for an in-depth look at musical notes.
WARNING About Counting Your Rap Lyrics Syllables
But here’s a quick warning! Counting your rap lyrics syllables aren’t a precise way to determine how much space they will take up within the bar. Here’s why…
The number of syllables you will need per bar will be determined by several factors. Two of which are…
-The tempo of the instrumental that you’re writing too
-And the cadence that you’re going for
The slower the tempo of the song is the more space there will be to fill in each bar. This is why faster rappers typically pick slower beats to rap too because they have more room to fit all of those rap lyrics within each bar.
If you would like to see me demonstrate how this works then make sure you check out this video on picking which rap beats to flow on.
But there are two more factors that play a role in how many syllables you will use per bar and I already mentioned them!
– The first one is pauses and breathes. These technically take up space in the bar and you gotta take a pause for the cause at some point! I recommend taking a breathe every one to two bars.
– The second not so obvious factor is how long your syllables are held or sustained.
You see all syllables aren’t created equal. For example, say “YO” and then say “TASK” out loud. Even though both words are only one syllable it takes you longer to say the word Task than Yo. This is because certain words or syllables require more space in order to be enunciated properly. This is precisely why counting syllables isn’t an accurate form of measuring your rap lyrics! It’s not to say it’s not a good general measurement because it certainly is it’s just not 100% accurate.
As you’re filling in your bars with syllables make sure you’re giving yourself enough space to say everything clear and comfortably. It’s easy to be tempted to overload your bars with too many syllables to show off how skilled you are. But be careful because this can negatively impact the quality of your vocal delivery due to you running out of breath and slurring your words.
Also don’t feel obligated to cram a complete thought within one bar. You typically have 16 bars within a verse so don’t be scared to use several bars to get a particular point of yours across.
If you would like to see examples of how all of these factors play a role when trying to find that balance between your lyrics and your cadence then make sure you check out my video lesson on translating cadences to lyrics.
If you enjoyed this article or have any questions let me know by sounding off in the comments section below. I hope this helps you Be A Better Rapper Now!