Making a Scene Presents Tools for the Modern Songwriter
Before we even get into it, let’s be clear. Songwriting is a craft and there are no shortcuts to writing songs. You have to do the hard work and you have to create a discipline in your writing if you want to have success in this business as a songwriter. That being said, there are increasingly more and more tools being made available to the songwriter to help them write lyrics, find melody and make chord progressions.
Now, sometimes a song seems to come to you ready to bring to the studio, and other times you find yourself working harder than you feel like you should to make it happen. Having a collection of Songwriting tools can help the with the process, and keep you from sinking into writer’s block. We bring you a collection of Songwriting tools that are either free or inexpensive to help you and inspire you to write better songs.
Whether you are creating demos for your band of a new song, or you are laying down a groove and chords to create a background to explore melodic ideas, your recording software should be intuitive and and easy to use. For the Songwriter Presonus Studio one is one of those DAW’s that was created with features specifically for the songwriter to help them with the writing process. In particular the their Chord Tracks which allow you to extract chord information from audio and midi tracks. Once you have this information extracted it displays on a bar above the tracks where you can manipulate them by changing the chords (yes, even in an audio track), change the key and even have midi tracks react to chord changes to create interactive bass lines. The Arranger Track along with the Scratch Pad allows you to create song parts like verses, bridges, pre-chorus, etc. and move these whole sections of full arrangements at will. So if you decided you want Verse Verse Chorus instead of Verse chorus you can do it at a click of a mouse! No other DAW has these types of features! The possibilities for the songwriter is just endless.
Now if you are looking for that “Free” Solution to a DAW, you would be hard pressed to find a better deal than BandLab which not only gives you the complete Cakewalk Sonar Platinum for FREE, they also have both an online and app based recording system complete with virtual instruments. In addition, Bandlab is a songwriters social media network that gives you the opportunity to work with other writers and musicians in a collaboration environment, that is once again 100% FREE! This is the social media network for the Songwriter and musician.
Algorithmic Music Theory
Every songwriter knows that feeling when writers block hits. Sometimes it can be broken by something you hear, or something someone says. Inspiration can come from many different places. Captain Plugins is an algorithmic beat, chord and melody generator that is based in the rules of Music Theory. What that means for you the songwriter is you can experiment with different grooves, try alternative chord progressions using new sounds and textures and even generate possible melody lines within the key and chords. This is not a replacement for the craft of songwriting, but is a great tool to find inspiration and shake up your writing a bit to take it in new directions.
Pad Controller -Along with software like Captain plugins using a pad controller will give you the ability to create on the fly and record these inspirations in your DAW or in the case of the Native Instruments Maschine Mikro Mk3 you can use the Maschine software as a stand alone sequencer to capture beats chords and melodies to create complete compositions. Of course the Presonus Atom integrates with Presonus Studio one to make a great inspiration system.
Samples and Loops and More
Splice is a subscription service that on the surface gives you access to a huge library of samples and loops that you can use in your DAW, Pad Controller and Samplers. If this was all Splice was it would be worth it, but as you dig deeper it is a full music creation system. You can also setup a Rent to Own arrangement with your favorite software. If you are looking to spark things up a bit Splice may be a good way to explore new sounds and textures. You can get a Splice subscription for as low as $7.99 a month.
It’s All about the Lyrics
Songcraft is a cloud based songwriting platform that allows you to write your lyrics and add chord symbols. It also gives you some good common chord progressions to help you break out of your normal writing progressions. It has a built in recording for capturing those momentary inspirational flashes. The best part is that it is free to use with a pro version that gives you more features for as low as $5 a month.
Masterwriter is the granddad of songwriting tools. This is a full suite of tools for the songwriter that takes writing lyrics to a new level. The new 3.0 Version has expanded the tools and it now lives as a cloud based system that you can access from any device, no matter where you are. The list of artists that use Masterwriter is long and impressive and include such artists as Rob Thomas, Gwen Stefani, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Kenny Loggins, Jimmy Webb, Carole Bayer Sager, Graham Nash, Kid Rock, Clint Black, LeAnn Rimes just to name a few! If you are a serious songwriter the $9.95 a month is a small price to pay for access to this wide array of tools.
APPS APPS Everywhere!
We use our phones for almost everything today. More and more songwriters are using them as a means to capture ideas or take notes when they hear a good turn of phrase. There is no longer an excuse for that flash of song genius to escape you anymore. The App market changes almost daily and the amount of tools is mind boggling! Just go the the I-phone store or the play store and search for songwriting or music apps and you are immediately hit with the shear number of options. The video below gives you a rundown of some of the good ones out there. They are by all means not the end of the list, just a good starting place.
The craft of songwriting will always be a collaboration between inspiration and perspiration, but this does not mean you cannot look to technology to fuel the inspiration and relieve some of that perspiration. The modern songwriter should be able to use technology to explore ideas, sounds and textures to move their mind into new directions, break out of old habits and create new exciting songs that will could change the world.