AABB or ABAB?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,289
    I was just reading through one of Adam Wood's excellent hymn texts, and I was enjoying, among other things, the ABAB rhyme scheme.

    English is so rhyme-poor that every good English rhyme brings delight.

    And I was thinking that one of the pleasures of an ABAB scheme is how long one has to wait for the rhyme to pay off. It isn't the immediate closing-off of the rhyme that you get with a couplet. Instead there's a delayed gratification, with the added complexity of a completed rhyme of line 3 just before the completed rhyme of line 4. A double delight.

    Thanked by 2Adam Wood CHGiffen
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,391
    Yes thank you for noticing! And it's interesting that you point out the delight in the delayed gratification of the rhyme, because I actually do it for a different reason.

    While there are certainly many excellent examples of quatrain hymns with AABB schemes, I personally find ABAB to sound more natural: You have two halves, which could (often) be independent sentences, statements, whatever, which DON'T RHYME - that is, they sound like normal speech.

    It's only when put all together that the rhyme happens, and then this (to me) feels like the rhyme is there incidentally - a happy accident that facilitates singing and euphony, and makes the whole stanza feel like a completed whole.
    (Though, they are not - of course - accidents at all, but hard-won linguistic mini triumphs).

    I also sometimes use ABCB for a similar reasons.

    I'm sure that I have, somewhere, written some AABB texts, but ABAB or ABCB is definitely my default approach.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,566
    ABAB indeed offers delayed gratification over AABB; however, ...

    Give ABBA (or double delight with ABBA ACCA, and also ABCCBA) a try for even more delayed gratification, in one poem/hymn:
    O Word immortal of eternal God
    Author: Justinian I; Translator: T. A. Lacey

    1 O Word immortal of eternal God,
    Only-begotten of the only Source,
    For our salvation stooping to the course
    Of human life, and born of Mary’s blood;

    Sprung from the ever-virgin womanhood
    Of her who bare thee, God immutable,
    Incarnate, made as man with man to dwell,
    And condescending to the bitter Rood;

    2 Save us, O Christ our God, for thou hast died
    To save thy people to the uttermost,
    And dying tramplest death in victory;
    One of the ever-blessèd Trinity,
    In equal honour with the Holy Ghost,
    And with the eternal Father glorified.


    Also, Ursula Vaughan Williams used AABBCDDC as her rhyme scheme in her Hymn for St Cecilia.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • Charles,

    Am I remembering correctly that you've a mathematician's background? The ABCCBA pattern reminded me of some triangle somewhere.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,566
    Chris, I'm indeed a retired academic mathematician (Ph.D. Princeton, 1964). I don't see any real connection of the ABCCBA pattern with any triangle. However, it is the case that the letters, A, B, & C often denote the angles of a triangle, with their lower case equivalents, a, b, & c denoting the (lengths of the) sides opposite the corresponding upper case angles, then several mathematical laws/formulae for general triangles may be expressed in terms of these quantities. For example, the Law of Sines says

    (sin A)/a = (sin B)/b = (sin C)/c .

    And the Law of Cosines says

    a^2 + b^2 - c^2 = 2ab(cos C) ,

    a fact which generalises the Theorem of Pythagoras: if C is a right angle (so that cos C = 0), then a^2 + b^2 - c^2 = 0, or

    a^2 + b^2 = c^2 .
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,391
    ABBA, ABCBA, ABCCBA, and etc. are chiastic structures
    which is a way of organizing stories and rhetoric that was very popular in the Ancient world, and is used by many of the human authors of scripture (Notably, John the Evangelist.)

    while i appreciate it from an academic standpoint, I personally do not care for it in rhyming verse
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,566
    Then, Adam, perhaps you don't care for the rhyme scheme ABBA ABBA for the first eight lines of a sonnet? Besides, above I was describing poetic rhyme schemes, not chiastic organization of stories and rhetoric.
  • Adam,

    Thank you for taking my scorched iron out of the fire. (note lack of purple)

    Charles,

    Adam recognized the "mathematical" in what I saw. At least my memory of your mathematical background is more-or-less intact.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,391
    > O Word immortal of eternal God
    > Author: Justinian I; Translator: T. A. Lacey

    Between the rhyme scheme itself and the pronunciation shift that has made some of these pairs not rhyme (at least in the English I speak), I can't say stanza 1 does much for me, in terms of delighting at the sound of it.

    The last part, starting at "Save us...", is very elegant.


    > don't care for the rhyme scheme ABBA ABBA for the first eight lines of a sonnet?

    I confess I don't care much for most sonnets.
    Though, I will further confess that, not enjoying the ones I read in my formative years (mostly Shakespeare, of course), I haven't sought out much else in the genre.

    (Sidenote: I have often joked that the best evidence for the theory that Shakespeare didn't write the plays attributed to him is that we know he wrote the Sonnets, which are not nearly as good.)

    (Exception: I am partial to EBB's Sonnets from the Portuguese, though not for their rhythm and rhyme in particular.)

    I've given this some thought, actually, because I love poetry.... but only some poetry.
    And-
    I think there's an aspect of this that is sort of like appreciating fine wine, or Mozart: you have to really be into it to learn and enjoy the subtleties. I enjoy drinking wine - and I even have a preferred variety - but the difference between a $3 shiraz and a $100 one is quite lost on me. I likewise enjoy Mozart when at a concert or opera, but I cannot sit through listening to a recording without the visual and social reinforcement of live performance.

    This is, of course, not a weakness of Mozart or wine, but a weakness in me.

    The ABBA, ABCCBA, and similar rhyme structures strike me as extremely subtle in their approach. I'm usually not expecting a rhyme to happen when it does, and sometimes I don't even notice that it did. This is too subtle for me; it might as well be unrhymed as far as my dopamine is concerned.


    What triggers my delight in rhyme is precisely the expectation that one should be there, and the inevitability of it. In comedy, what makes it funny is the outlandish lengths the writer goes to in order to get the rhyme to work ("Modern Major General" is the best example of this, and it shows up all over G&S work generally). In serious poetry, especially religious poetry or hymnody, what I especially enjoy is the way the inevitability of the rhyme reinforces the inevitability of the word's meaning: as if God directed the evolution of grammar, pronunciation, and doctrinal formulation such that it couldn't possibly be any other word than the one chosen, and the rhyme makes the idea sound like it must be a true statement.

    (But that's just me.)



    > describing poetic rhyme schemes, not chiastic organization of stories

    Yes, of course. I was just saying there is a similarity there that I found interesting.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Don't know about AABB or ABAB, I prefer ABBA - they have some great music!
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Carol
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,566
    I'm sure that I have, somewhere, written some AABB texts...

    Yep, Adam, you have, for which I am grateful:

    https://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/15788/hymns-based-on-office-of-dead-responsoriessongs-of-farewell/p1
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,289
    A delicious use of the delayed-gratification model is Christopher Idle's magnificent versification of Wachet Auf: Wake, O Wake, and Sleep No Longer.

    Throughout the piece, Idle, who is very capable of rhyming, refuses to. It's astonishing. He develops a pattern of near- rhymes throughout. There are two exceptions. In the penultimate line of each verse, there is a perfect interior rhyme. And then, in the last moment, there is a perfect rhyme on the word King.

    To me that is a perfect Advent work of art. It's extremely vigorous as well.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Adam Wood
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,391
    > Yep, Adam, you have, for which I am grateful

    Thanks! I had forgotten about those.
    They're not bad either, if I say so myself.
    (I really need to catalog all my texts.... I think I've written more than I think I've written)

    And your selection and harmonization of the LM tune is very much appreciated.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,391
    Kathy
    We should do a podcast.
    Thanked by 1Heath
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,391
    Christopher Idle's magnificent versification of Wachet Auf: Wake, O Wake, and Sleep No Longer.


    I just read it and I agree that it is great.

    extremely vigorous


    very curious what you mean by this
    (i have guesses but, they're just guesses)

    Kathy We should do a podcast.

    Really no we shouldn't, but like what if yes we actually should?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,289
    Adam: yes.

    Vigorous: you can kinda tell when someone is feeling their way tentatively forward.

    And then you have someone just vigorously say: TWELVE THE GATES INTO THE CITY.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,391
    i did love that line.

    it's like - I didn't even think to ask how many gates there were.
    NOW I KNOW THAT I NEEDED TO KNOW