5 Economical Tools that Save Songwriters Time
Do you ever write down a song idea inside of a notebook, throw it into that stack on your desk, and then forget which notebook you wrote your next big hit in? Or, even worse than that- You just can’t seem to cultivate your creative spark.
Here are five economical tools that will help you stay organized, and productive when it comes to songwriting.
While most of the tools I am listing in this article are free, this one isn’t. That being said, what HookPad has to offer is excellent. Hookpad is self-described as a ‘musical sketch pad’. You can click and drag your mouse to add measures within the software or to change the tempo or key.
What I love about Hookpad is how easy it is to write and organize your music as you go. All of the chords are labeled clearly and are brightly color-coded.
Recently, I was talking to a composer who is one thesis away from his doctorate. He said that he is a visual writer and that he doesn’t think of rhythms or key centers, or instruments when he first starts a piece. Rather, he thinks of working with the space inside of the score and of colors. If you are also a visual songwriter or composer, then Hookpad might prove really helpful to you.
And if you’re not sure if you’ll like it, you can get the free trial to test it out.
Autochords….sounds like cheating. And maybe it is! But it sort of reminds me of something my old comp teacher used to say…”Good composers borrow, but great composers steal.”
Autochords is a free online chord generator. While I always encourage creativity when it comes to chord progressions, sometimes, you just hit a wall. Autochords, and other similar chord progression tools, are great places to go when you want to write but have been hitting that creative block.
With this site, in particular, you can choose the feeling of the song in a drop-down. It has options such as ‘cliche’, creepy, or twelve-bar blues. And remember, once you have your lyrics and melody down, you can always add or substitute chords to make them a little bit juicier.
Are your lyrics beginning to sound like Dr. Seuss wrote them? Then you might need RhymeZone. RhymeZone is a free site that helps you find more creative ways to rhyme lyrics. Not only does this one give you rhymes, but it also gives half-rhymes, too. Tons of lyricists use rhyming tools like this one to avoid sounding too corny.
While ScanScore Pro is a little pricey at first glance, it is worth it. (To be entirely honest, I wouldn’t recommend melody, just because it can only play one line at a time. If you’re going to get the program, at least get Ensemble, or Professional).
Basically, ScanScore is a program that digitizes sheet music and plays it back to you. You can even pan the sound and change the instrument type.
Many composers and classical musicians use ScanScore. But it is also really nifty for songwriters too, for several reasons. Firstly, it helps you out if you have written a song in a notation program, and printed it, but can’t seem to find the digital copy. It saves you time by digitizing the music based on a picture. Let’s face it, we musicians aren’t always the best at keeping track of our own songs and arrangements. So, what you can do in this situation is take the sheet music, and either use the app, or an actual scanner attached to a computer, to re-digitize the music.
Here’s another scenario. Say you are a songwriter who has been asked to either A. Collaborate with another musician or B. Rearrange and improve an existing song. Before optical music recognition, everyone had to either re-write everything on the staff or punch it into your notation program again. But now (unless you just want to) you don’t have to.
While many people use Google Docs to type their lyrics and chord progressions into, another, lesser-known app that is more conducive to songwriting is something called Evernote. Evernote is compatible with both Windows, Android, and IOS.
What I love about Evernote is that you can attach audio sketches to a file with text and lyrics. While Google Docs is only friendly towards text, Evernote is much more compatible with images and audio.
I hope you have found these five tools helpful! I know that I have. Thank you Audio Issues for featuring me on your blog again. And, if you have any more helpful tools for musicians, let us know in the comments!
About the Author:
Aleah Fitzwater is a licensed music educator with a knack for writing, be it songwriting or poetry. You can find her other work here: https://aleahfitzwater.com/