How to arrange second, third, fourth verses where the lyrics don't match the music of the first verse?

Randy Moore
12/28/13 07:09:38AM

Hi All,

I arrange various ABC formatted music files for stick dulcimer, and the most difficult problem I face is how to match the lyrics to the notes, so I can have a complete song tabled out for stick dulcimer. Most of the ABC files have just the first verse and chorus worked out matching the lyrics to the notes. The rest of the song is left to us to figure out. The problem is that more often than not, the lyrics of subsequent verses don't match the music very well.

To get around these problems I have adapted a few strategies. Sometimes a word can be stretched over two notes, or if you have two words (or two syllables) but just one note, you can divide the note into 2 notes with half the time value. Sometimes I find myself in the opposite situation where there are two eighth notes, and I have to combine them to a single quarter note to match a word. Sometimes I'm forced to modify the lyrics so the words (or syllables) better match the notes (music) available. And many times I at a loss and have to give up on a song because I can find no easy fix.

What are the strategies you employ? If you are an ABC music arranger, maybe we could work on some songs together. Needless to say, it's quite disappointing to work through a song only to find it has some seemly un-resolvable problems.