5 Essential Songwriting Tools
Elevate Your Songwriting With These Tools
Songwriting is something that takes time. Rarely can someone just jump right in and write a catchy tune in the beginning, though it does happen from time to time. For the rest of us who enjoy writing our original music, it’s easy to come across writer’s block, especially when we partake in writing day after day. Enter songwriting tools.
It’s important to know what resources you have at your disposal to aid you in this process. There are songwriting tools out there that can drastically help you improve your songwriting skills in no time. It’s important to know what you need to get started and throughout this blog, I will share my five favorite tools every songwriter should have in their arsenal.
1. Write It Down
Obviously, if you’re making a career in song WRITING, you will need something to write these songs on. You can never go wrong with classic pen and paper. However, there are more advanced technologies that may speed up the actual writing process.
A modern note-taking app like iOS Notes or Evernote is a great way to write lyrics on the go easily. Most of us have our phones in our pockets everywhere we go, so why not try using it for song ideas. These apps have a desktop version for Mac, allowing you to transition from touchscreen to keyboard without missing a beat seamlessly.
If you are looking for a way to collaborate with other writers quickly and efficiently, Google Docs may be the way to go! Google Docs allows multiple users to write in the same document at the same time! This is an excellent tool for in-person or distanced co-writes. The ability to work anywhere is a great convenience to being a songwriter. Hopefully, these word processing programs will aid you in the process.
If you’re anything like me and don’t have the keenest senses for music theory, Autochords is the thing for you. This easy-to-operate and straightforward chord generator will allow you to create chord progressions without spending years on music theory. This tool will generate up to four different progressions in any key that you specify.
With different writers being comfortable in different keys, this program will allow you to write with just about anyone. Autochord enables you to pick the key, instrument and listen to the progression play through with ease.
3. A Simple DAW And Recording Setup
If you’re unfamiliar to the acronym DAW it’s ok! It stands for Digital Audio Workstation and it’s a program that allows you to record and edit music inside your computer. Now, these can get complicated.
Many have heard of ProTools, which is the industry standard for large format recording studios, though you don’t need Protools to write songs. In today’s day and age, there are many free DAW’s that are user friends and allow you to get straight to work doing what you love.
If you are using a Mac computer, you have one for FREE! GarageBand is available for download for free through the mac app store, and honestly, it’s pretty powerful. If you are just looking to get ideas down or a simple demo, this is more than enough. With built-in drum loops and even a synthesizer, you can easily produce a track that’s ready for the radio.
If you’re not using an Apple computer, no worries, there are free options for you too. Reaper is a free to use stand-alone DAW available for both Mac and PC users. It is extremely powerful, however there is a learning curve to it. My recommendation would be BandLab. A completely free Digital Audio Workstation that operates like its counterparts which often costs significantly more.
When thinking about recording your ideas, you will also need a microphone and audio interface to record acoustic guitar, voice or whatever instrument you prefer to write with. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is very affordable and you can often find it bundled with headphones and a microphone for under $300 USD. It’s essential to do a little research of your own to determine the gear you would like to invest in.
If you are interested in learning more about the gear you need to produce your own music, check out our blog “How To Become A Bedroom Producer” here.
4. Rhyme Dictionary
Rhyming and songwriting go together like peanut butter and jelly. If you’re interested in working as a songwriter, you’re going to have to be comfortable with making words and phrases rhyme. A great item to help with this is a rhyming dictionary!
These dictionaries have features that allow you to find synonyms with ease, similar sounding words, and many more. Sure you can pick one of these up in physical form from amazon, but online versions such as Rhyme Zone and Rhymer are also available.
These sites allow you to search the word you’re having trouble with. The results are separated into categories and will enable you to move on with the process quickly. The results are also clickable, giving you information about the word, ensuring your selection makes sense in the context of your song.
If you haven’t yet tried out a rhyming dictionary, I suggest you put it at the top of your to-do list as this alone will make you a better writer.
5. Transferring and Storing Your Songs
If you’re an avid writer, chances are you have hundreds if not thousands of ideas sitting on your hard drive or taking up your phone’s storage. In most cases, there’s little method to this madness and finding what you want to continue working on can be easier said than done. Working with other writers who live a great distance away, sending files back and forth can also become a task when using email or iMessage.
Personally, I use Google Drive to back most of my ideas up and have them separated into folders subdivided by genre, mood, and tempo. However, you could just as easily do this in another cloud storage system like dropbox. Both Google Drive and Dropbox allow you to share files with others, simply using their email address.
If you are sending a full project, it may be helpful to use a site like WeTransfer. WeTransfer allows you to send files up to 2GB back and forth to an individual with ease. This comes in handy when sending files such as .WAV and full projects that can not fit into an email.
Songwriting usually takes time to master. However, this shouldn’t stop you from putting in the work to bring yourself to the next level. With some of the tools mentioned above, you should improve your songwriting and speed up the process and find yourself in writer’s block less often.
Remember, you got into songwriting because it’s something you like to do. Enjoy the process and improve along the way!
Tie It All Together
If you are interested in an audio engineering or music business career, Dark Horse Institute’s Audio Engineering or Music Business Programs are a great way to take things to the next level!