Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Meter-filler in lyrics

Songwronger 08 May 12 - 06:09 PM
foggers 08 May 12 - 07:06 PM
Joe_F 08 May 12 - 08:31 PM
Crowhugger 08 May 12 - 10:03 PM
JohnInKansas 08 May 12 - 11:33 PM
Seamus Kennedy 09 May 12 - 12:04 AM
doc.tom 09 May 12 - 12:42 AM
Vixen 09 May 12 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,Jacob B 09 May 12 - 11:03 AM
Ebbie 09 May 12 - 11:16 AM
matt milton 09 May 12 - 11:19 AM
Songwronger 10 May 12 - 10:50 PM
Phil Edwards 11 May 12 - 02:48 AM
Doug Chadwick 11 May 12 - 03:27 AM
Darowyn 11 May 12 - 05:22 AM
matt milton 11 May 12 - 06:41 AM
Darowyn 12 May 12 - 02:36 AM
Genie 12 May 12 - 03:06 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: Songwronger
Date: 08 May 12 - 06:09 PM

Picked up a copy of a book called THE GERMAN LEID AND ITS POETRY, by Elaine Brody and Robert A. Fowkes. Pubbed in 1971.

It's on my list of things to read, someday, but I've been browsing through it and found a mention of "meter-filler." The book uses the traditional song "Edward" as an example:

"Why dois your brand sae drap wi bluid,
Edward, Edward,
Why dois your brand sae drap with bluid,
And why sae sad gang ye O?"

"O I hae killed my hauke sae guid,
Mither, mither,
O I hae killed my hauke sae guid,
And I had nae mair bot hee O."

About the O at the ends of the lines the authors say, "It is customary to call such a syllable a 'meter-filler,' but its employment in the ballad is almost an expected feature, an idiomatic mark of the genre." Says a lot more too, in a comparison of the Scottish original and the German adaptation by a poet named Loewe.

Anyway, can anyone think of any other meter-fillers that are "idiomatic marks of the genre?" I did a thread search and didn't see this addressed. Thought it might be of interest.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: foggers
Date: 08 May 12 - 07:06 PM

Interesting point. I can think of a few quite common single syllable words such as "Well" that are used as meter-fillers at the start of lines. My hunch is that such verbal tactics link to the oral tradition where certain phrases re-occur as a memory saver, or to buy the singer\story-teller some time to recall the next bit. Meter renders the material more memorable, I guess.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: Joe_F
Date: 08 May 12 - 08:31 PM

And their legs all dangling down, O.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: Crowhugger
Date: 08 May 12 - 10:03 PM

Joe F, that's the first one I thought of too!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 08 May 12 - 11:33 PM

It should be noted that "meter fillers" are also used in plain text.

While you might be aware that at one time the word "the" was the most frequently appearing word in English text and in most speech, anyone spending much time around teens probably has observed displacement of that word by "and-uh-er" and "and-er-uh-um" (often indistinguishable from each other) closely followed by "dude." (or "Bro" in some places?).

The trend has been noted for nearly half a century in some parts of the US, and remains as objectionable as when first heard, but seems necessary to "synchronize" the thought processes of those who exhibit the characteristic, as they appear unable to complete a full sentence without frequent mandatory pauses to let their brain catch up with their mouth (often without much success).

While most readily observed among teens and young adults, some usage is also found among the lower couple of ranks of "managers," especially among those who failed at what they studied for and got a quickie MBA to find a job requiring less work.

But the music and lyric uses are much more interesting - so back to the main topic please.

John


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 09 May 12 - 12:04 AM

How about "like" for "said"?
Will that make its way into song, or has already and I didn't notice?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: doc.tom
Date: 09 May 12 - 12:42 AM

'Sir' in all the songs that use the same metre as in Guy Fawkes or The Vicar of Bray.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: Vixen
Date: 09 May 12 - 10:55 AM

English prosody often demands meter-filler or other non-idiomatic usage to provide consistent scansion or rhyme. Along with the "o" and "sir" and "well" already mentioned, there are lots of examples of transposed syntax coupled with a meter-filling syllable. e.g. "a-courting we did go" instead of "we'll go courting". Languages with lots of vowel endings don't need to employ this kind of prosodic strategy as much, because rhymes are easier to find (we rhyme mostly on assonance (vowel sounds)) Languages with consistent syllabic emphasis also don't need to play tricks on idiom to achieve scansion, because consistent rhythm is easier to achieve if all (or most of) the polysyllabic words are accented on the second or the penultimate syllables.

All this, of course, is, like totally different from, like, the "mental fillers" that like go like this, as JIK so aptly describes!

Constructing formal verse (which most lyrics must be in western music) in English that is simultaneously meaningful and pleasing to the ear is a terrifically fun puzzle!

Just my $0.02 on my favorite topic...your mileage may vary

V


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: GUEST,Jacob B
Date: 09 May 12 - 11:03 AM

Canady-I-O. Two syllables worth of meter filler.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: Ebbie
Date: 09 May 12 - 11:16 AM

I don't know the book but I would suggest that the title is German LIED, not "GERMAN LEID".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: matt milton
Date: 09 May 12 - 11:19 AM

the one that mildly annoys me is the "Yes and..." that Bob begins so many lines in "Blowin in the Wind" with. Actually it's not so much meter-filler as rhythm-expander. But still irritating. mildly.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: Songwronger
Date: 10 May 12 - 10:50 PM

Yes, it should GERMAN LIED, and not LEID. Can't keep the I before E rule straight in English, much less German.

I listened to some John Lee Hooker today. He did a lot of humming while singing, to fill in gaps.

Interesting point on English using assonance to rhyme. I've read about that, and I know that Spanish, with its strict conjugation rules, has an easier time with rhyming.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 11 May 12 - 02:48 AM

Standard epithets ("bold William", "a lady gay") are handy for metre, as well as for rhyme schemes. Then there are what you could call verse-fillers, repetitions of entire lines in slightly different words to pad out a verse:

"You rise early tomorrow morning
Rise before the break of day
There you'll see your true love William
Walking with a lady gay."

Not to mention song-fillers - entire verses repeated with minor alterations, when the sense could have been conveyed by the words "and that's what he/she did":

"She rose early the morrow morning
She rose before the break of day
There she saw her true love William
Walking with a lady gay."

(Examples from William Taylor, of course.)

When you start to look at it, traditional songs are full of this kind of thing. It's quite alien to contemporary songwriters, which is why so much writing in a traditional style isn't. As you might say,

They try to write in a style so folk-ish
They try to write in a traditional style
With standard phrases and metre-padding
And repetition all the while

But they can't write in a style so folkish
They can't write in that traditional style
With standard phrases to pad the metre
And repetition all the while


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 11 May 12 - 03:27 AM

Is it possible that the "-O" suffix comes from the days of pre-amplification and marks distinct points in the song, thus keeping the audience in touch. In the same way, a scrap-man on his round might be calling "Any old scrap iron-O", making his call ring out and more distinctive.


DC


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: Darowyn
Date: 11 May 12 - 05:22 AM

Doug may have a point in that "O" or "Oi" is a very open throat vocalisation, and easy to emphasize.
To me, some of the things posted are more in the category of fixed epithets than metre fillers. Fixed epithets are like you find in Homer, Vergil and suchlike Classical writers. The sea is always "wine dark", dogs are always "noisy dogs" etc. Similarly, in folk songs, every May morning is 'fine'or 'bright', (oh yeah?- just like now, hey?) birds, especially songbirds are always 'small', and ladies are 'gay'.
I think there are two types of metre filler, those that, if omitted, would leave a distinct hole in the rhythm, and those that come before the first stressed syllable in the line, and could be omitted with no change to the metre. The latter are often improvised by performers as a sort of count-in.
The former are definitely part of the folk style, and probably reflect a contemporary popular view of the accepted way to be 'poetic'- which is why that they are so gratingly inappropriate in a modern composed song. Which is what I, to you, am trying to say!!
Cheers
Dave


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: matt milton
Date: 11 May 12 - 06:41 AM

"Then there are what you could call verse-fillers, repetitions of entire lines in slightly different words to pad out a verse"

Well, if it's different it's not a repetition. For one thing, there's a difference in nuance between rising early in the morning and rising before the break of day. The latter is much more charged, implying an urgency, a cut, a... "break"! I don't call that padding; it's not as if words are merely a vehicle that allowed a singer to sing. (They may be that, but they're always more.)

But even in instances where it really is repetition, again, it's not filler - it's essential. Repetition is an effect; there's nothing superfluous about it. It's poetic, a legacy of ritual. Is a song's chorus padding? Are the repetitions in religious liturgy padding?

I think it's also a stretch to suggest that various stock folk adjectives are simply there on account of convenient meter. If so, why stop there? You might as well say that use of the word "horseman" or "maiden" is filler. Why is "bold" necessarily any more or less significant than "fisherman"?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: Darowyn
Date: 12 May 12 - 02:36 AM

The ultimate metre filler occurred to me yesterday evening.
I don't know if the old Cockney/Music hall song,"Knees up Mother Brown" is known in the US, but it goes like this:-

"Knees up Mother Brown, Knees up Mother Brown,
Under the table you must go,
E.I.E.I.E.I.O*
If I catch you bending, I'll saw your legs right off**
So knees up, knees up, dont' get the breeze up,
Knees up Mother Brown- Oi!***"

Footnotes:-
*A whole line of metre filler!
** Casual violence is a part of the local customs!"
*** Illustrating Doug's point!

Cheers
Dave


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Meter-filler in lyrics
From: Genie
Date: 12 May 12 - 03:06 AM

"She loves you,
Yeah, yeah, yeah ... "



"Cupid, draw back your bow
And let your arrow go
Straight to my lover's heart for me.
Wo-oh-oh-wo-oh.
..."

"He's so fine,
Doo lang doo lang do lang ... "


"I love coffee, I love tea,
I love the java jive and it loves me.
Coffee and tea and the java and me,
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 23 October 2:22 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.