Sound Devices

souh-nd dee-vih-ses

Sound devices are anything writers use that improve or emphasize the sound in a piece of writing.

E.g. The poet uses sound devices, such as alliteration and assonance, to build a vivid and memorable picture of the landscape.

Sound devices are sometimes referred to as musical devices and are concerned with examples of euphony, cacophony, dissonance, and assonance. When a writer wants to create sound in a piece of writing, they use a wide variety of techniques. Repetition is one of the most important. They can repeat syllables, words, individual letter sounds, and more. Sound is one type of imagery in poetry. It appeals to the reader’s sense of hearing and should help the piece of writing feel more real and more interesting. 

Sound devices


Definition of Sound Devices 

Sound devices are techniques writers use to make them sound more prominent in a piece of wiring. It’s these devices that make poetic writing sound different than prose writing. Through examples of anaphora, alliteration, assonance, consonance, and more, writers make the sound of a piece of writing more important. Sound devices can create a feeling of unity between lines or even create a specific atmosphere (which may be light-hearted, gloomy, etc.). 

Examples of Sound Devices in Poetry

Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare 

Rhyme is one of the most important ways that writers emphasize sound in poetry. It’s perhaps the best way to do so. There are numerous types of rhyme in poetry, but perfect end-rhymes are the easiest to recognize. In this Shakespearean sonnet, the poet makes use of a regular rhyme scheme that is used throughout his 154 sonnets. Consider these lines: 

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

In the first four lines of Sonnet 130,’ the poet uses the end rhymes “sun” and “dun” and “red” and “head.” These are perfect end rhymes that set up the rest of the pattern. The entire poem rhymes ABABCDCDEFEFGG. This is an alternate rhyme scheme that ends with a couplet. Often, the couplet summarizes the poem or presents the reader with an alternative point of view. This is known as the turn. The rhyme in this poem is most effective when read out loud. It evokes a musical feeling that is traditionally associated with poetic writing. 

Read William Shakespeare’s poems, including his 154 sonnets.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe 

When considering sound devices, euphony is crucial for understanding how writers create specific feelings. It is a literary device that refers to the musical, or pleasing, qualities of words. In ‘The Raven,’ readers can find a few good examples of euphony. It’s created through the use of repetition, rhyme, meter, and more. The poem’s subject matter is dark, mysterious, and disturbing. But, Poe’s skilled use of euphony makes the poem a pleasure to read. Consider these lines: 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

Only this and nothing more.

While end rhymes can be effective, internal rhymes are also quite important when creating rhyme and euphony. For example, “dreary” and “weary” in the first line. Alliteration is also present as an important sound device in this poem. For instance, “nearly napping” and “nodding” in the third line and “weak and weary” in line one.

Explore more Edgar Allan Poe poems. 

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll 

In this famed Lewis Carroll poem, the poet uses several good examples of cacophony, one of the most important sound devices. It is his best-known poem and is often cited as the best example of nonsense language in contemporary verse. Consider these lines and how sound is used: 

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch!

His use of loud and harsh-sounding words in this passage creates a jarring noise and conveys the danger that the Jabberwock poses. In many cases, the use of consonant sounds like “k” and “ch” make up examples of cacophony. 

Read more Lewis Carroll poems. 

Cacophony and Euphony 

These two literary terms are connected to one another, but readers should be aware of how different they are from one another. Euphony refers to the quality of sound in a piece of writing. It, along with cacophony, are ways of describing what the sound in a piece feels like. A cacophonous piece of writing lacks melody or harmony. It’s often unpleasant to hear/read. A euphonious piece of writing is the opposite. It is pleasing to the ear and uses unified-feeling vowel sounds, repetition, and perfect rhymes. 

Why Do Writers Use Sound Devices? 

Writers use sound devices when they want to give their poetry a specific feeling, make it sound more musical, and unite elements. They are used most commonly in poetry but can also be found in prose. Usually, it is sound devices and the use of syntax that set verse apart from prose. When used well, sound devices can make writing a pleasure to read. They create emotion through the use of rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, meter, and more. Sound devices are also an important part of a writer’s ability to create imagery. 


What are sound devices?

Sound devices are techniques poets use to make their work sound more pleasing or displeasing to the ear. It can create a sense of unity and make a poem, or even a piece of prose, feel more musical.

How are sound devices used?

Sound devices are used when the writer wants to make their work sound more musical. They are most common in poetry but can also be found in prose. Sound devices are generally what set poetry apart from prose.

What are examples of sound devices?

Some examples of sound devices are: rhythm, rhyme, repetition, alliteration, and euphony.

Why is sound important in poetry?

Sound is important because it allows readers to better envision scenes and feel moods the writer was interested in. It can create an interesting atmosphere and make a poem more engaging.

How to identify sound devices?

Look for examples of repetition, count syllables, and read the text out loud.

  • Internal rhyme: occurs in the middle of lines of poetry. It refers to words that rhyme in the middle of the same line or across multiple lines.
  • Assonance: occurs when two or more words that are close to one another use the same vowel sound.
  • Consonance: the repetition of a consonant sound in words, phrases, sentences, or passages in prose and verse writing.
  • Eye Rhyme: a literary device used in poetry. It occurs when two words are spelled the same or similar but are pronounced differently.
  • Exact Rhyme: a literary device that’s used in poetry. It occurs when the writer uses the same stressed vowel or consonant sounds.
  • Repetition: an important literary technique that sees a writer reuse words or phrases multiple times.

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