Sometimes the songs just spill out of you. Other times, you sit there staring at a blank notebook until 4AM, wondering if you’ll ever write a song that isn’t complete crap. Songwriting can be fun but it isn’t easy.
If you’re feeling stuck and need a bit of help, these tools and apps may help you get your muse back.
There are many songwriting websites out there and we’ve covered a few of them before. However, there’s one that deserves special mention for all of the great content that it has produced over the years. It’s called Songwriter101 and, as you might expect from a website with its name, it’s the perfect place to learn all things related to songwriting.
The site’s main draw is its collection of articles. They’re split into eight categories that cover various facets of the songwriting realm: Artists, Technology, Songwriting, Publishing, The Band, The Biz, Copyrights, and Finance. Whether you’re a newbie or veteran, hobbyist or professional, you’ll find something of use here.
The site also features an active forum where users can congregate and discuss the various aspects of music creation. Don’t skip it unless you want to miss out.
4 Chord Songs (Windows)
4 Chord Songs is an old piece of free software that hasn’t been updated in a few years yet still remains relevant today. It’s quite simple: you select a progression of four chords, choose a music style (more than 50 available), and hit Play. The program will begin playing that progression, complete with drums, bass, guitar, and piano parts.
If you ever feel like all of your songs sound the same, this program can help you swing out of your rut. Switch up the song’s tempo and key to expand your inspiration even further. It’s the ideal tool for experimentation and improvisation. A wonderful starting point for any new song. 4 Chord Songs is a portable application for Windows XP/Vista/7 computers and is General Midi compatible.
The makers of RoadWriter claim that it’s the “premier songwriting app” for those who need to remain creative on the fly. Mobile phones have proved themselves convenient for on-the-go activities, such as taking notes, and it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a similar app for musicians. RoadWriter combines a lyrics writing app with music playback for songwriting inspiration.
RoadWriter comes with three distinct modes:
- Rehearsal Mode, where you can craft songs by selecting instrumental tracks, typing out lyrics, and structuring them as bridges, hooks, codas, etc.
- Performance Mode, where your songs are played back with full screen lyrics.
- Ad Lib Mode, where you can record a song over an instrumental track. This mode is only available in the full version.
RoadWriter isn’t a recording tool. Instead, it’s a tool that helps you take recorded chunks and splice them together to create a more complete result. There aren’t many mobile apps that can do this sort of thing (in fact, I couldn’t find anything similar at all) so it truly is a one-of-a-kind helper for on-the-go songwriting.
Hum is an all-in-one solution that lets you brainstorm, organize, and record your songs using nothing more than your phone. Have you ever been out running errands only to be struck by a new riff or a clever lyric, yet didn’t have any means to jot it down and save it for later? With Hum, that will never be a problem again.
In basic terms, Hum is a mobile note-taking app that’s specifically designed for songwriting. You can type out your lyrics and record any associated melodies and Hum will store it away for you. In addition, you can add notes to your works-in-progress and they’ll be kept separate from the actual lyrics.
Unfortunately, there is no free version. Hum costs $1.99 USD on the App Store.
Songwriting is hard and it’s a shame that these sorts of helpful tools tend to be scarce. If you’re in need of more tools, check out these Chrome extensions for musicians. What do you use to aid your songwriting? Share with us in the comments!