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I realize that this may be somewhat open-ended, but although I am not a poet, I want to try my hand at writing a song, perhaps a hymn, and wonder if perhaps iambic pentameter is best, or perhaps tetrameter? Shakespeare did a lot of iambic pentameter, I understand, but his works were not intended to be sung. Can you put Hamlet's Soliloquy to music?

Anyway, I will accept the most erudite response which convinces me what meter to use for my poem/song.

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Many hymns and nursery rhymes are in tetrameter. There’s also ballad meter, which is 8/6/8/6. –  tchrist Jun 25 '13 at 23:23
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@Mitch If you have to call it something I suppose it would be paeonic tetrameter with internal rhyme, varied with spondees; but it's very rare outside of song lyrics; it's just too rata-tata for anything but comedy and satire, and it's damnably hard to sustain. The only example I can think of is Peacock's War-Song of Dinas Vawr, from The Misfortunes of Elfin, and that's irregular. –  StoneyB Jun 25 '13 at 23:58
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There's no 'best' meter. Start writing whatever you have to say and see what meter it demands. Or select your tune and see what meter that demands. Mechanical form will yield only mechanical content. –  StoneyB Jun 26 '13 at 0:25
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@Kristina: This is a place where "most common" may not be best. The song Money by Pink Floyd is written in 7/4 time; it may be loathed by drummers by it's rightfully beloved by bass players. My point? In musical composition, sometimes uniqueness contributes to greatness. One of the few hymns that could give me consistent goosebumps was when an 80-year-old pianist banged out the haunting minor chords of this hymn. I think one of the reasons I liked it so much is because it stood out as being so unlike the rest of the hymnbook. –  J.R. Jun 26 '13 at 0:44
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Oh, this question, so subjective, hard to answer, though we try! / FumbleFingers could not bear to cast a close vote by and by. / Is this English? Is this poetry? Is this folly, or germane? / All I know is: Music greatness, ’tis elusive to explain. –  J.R. Jun 26 '13 at 0:58
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closed as off-topic by MετάEd, Kristina Lopez, Matt Эллен, KitFox Jun 26 '13 at 11:02

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