If you're like me and write a ton of songs on the regular, you should consider using several songwriting tools to make your process more exciting, productive, and easy at the same time. Many digital and physical tools can take your songs to the next level in terms of creativity and talent if you're willing to try some new things.
The tools mentioned below are completely free, so test a few out or give them all a try and see what works well for your process. If you have other suggestions, leave them in the comment box below and let me know.
When writing songs, one major thing you should have accurate pitches to play with. This can be done with a live instrument or a digital app like Garageband. I use my piano at home and my Garageband app when I'm out on the go.
With a live or digital instrument, you will be able to choose the key that fits your song idea best. If you plan to sing the song as well, try to find a key that fits within your singing range. If you're writing for someone else, keep their range in mind or request it if you don't know it.
With your instrument, you will also be able to play around with the chord progression of the song you're writing. If you aren't familiar with playing an instrument like the piano or the guitar, this is where digital midi instruments can come in handy.
The Garageband app also helps figure out the tempo of the song you're creating. You will be able to play around with different tempos to see what fits the song's tone and message best. The name for the tempo indicator you want to look out for is the BPM (beats per minute).
With this app, you will also be able to practice speaking or singing your song in the correct tempo with the digital metronome option that comes with it. The metronome, or click track, counts each beat in a measure accurately to keep you from slowing down or speeding up while humming, speaking, playing, or singing your song.
You can also get a mechanical metronome if you're interested in doing things in a more vintage way!
There are several options available to you for writing down your song lyrics. You can use a pen and pad if you're old school, or you could use a digital app like the iPhone Notes app. There are many other 3rd party apps available in the app store as well, but we're sticking to the free options for this list.
I use both a physical notebook and my digital Notes app when writing my lyrics down. On rare occasions, I use the notepad in the Garageband app. I know, I sound like I work for Garageband. But I don't! I just love their simple and free tool.
Are you more of a staff and note type of songwriter? Sibelius First is a great free tool that offers songwriters and composers a tool to create their songs visually and by ear at the same time. It's pretty easy to use if you know your way around sheet music and allows you to plug in song lyrics as well.
The paid version of Sibelius does come with a ton of upgrades, but if you're still in the creative and writing stage of your song and are nowhere near ready for it to be published, the free version is a perfect place to start. I've written a few songs with their program and was able to print them out easily for church projects.
If you're writing your melody in addition to your song lyrics, you'll want to keep a recording of that melody so that you won't forget it. You can use a physical voice recorder, or you can use a free app that is on any type of phone.
You can also use a microphone and a DAW (Digital Audio Workspace like ProTools or LogicPro) if you're feeling fancy and professional like I often do. When writing songs, I'm often already in the studio, so I record my melodic ideas in LogicPro and sometimes go straight to the final recording process on the same day if I really feel like the song came to me easily.
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I have a few rhyme dictionaries lying around the house, but I mainly use Rhyme Zone for my songwriting needs. This site/app has a lot of rhymes, similar-sounding words, and other word tools that really have an unmatched amount of results. It has tons of obscure words that many other rhyming tools miss out on.
I really like how this free tool allows you to organize rhyming words by the number of syllables. That ability somehow takes my ideas and creativity to the next level when writing my lines. I get ideas on the syllabic and rhythmic flow of the phrases that I wouldn't really think of if I wasn't looking at the site.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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