songwriting

5 Songwriting Tools That Help Save Time

The songwriting tools you use don’t make you a better Songwriter. Does a nut file make a Luthier better at making guitars? No, it simply allows him or her to make great guitars faster.

That’s how it is with songwriting. The tools you use should help you thrive as well as save you time. They should allow you to harness your potential and more easily use your talent to create music.

Good tools make things go faster and yield better results.

So with that in mind, we’re going to cover some songwriting tools that can help you save time (and, in turn, help you make better music).

Why Would You Need to Save Time Songwriting?

First, I should stop and answer the question you’re probably asking: why do I need to think about saving time while songwriting? Shouldn’t I just let art happen on its own clock?

Well, yes. But also no.

There are a couple reasons saving time is important.

 
Your Time Is Precious
Maybe you’re a college student. You probably have a full-time job. Or maybe you have a family you need to take care of.

Maybe you have all of those things in your life.

Whatever the case, you probably already know that your time is precious. You may not have much of it in a day so your music-making time may be very restricted. And when that’s the case, you’ll need to make the most of the little time you do have.

If you have 15 minutes before work to write songs, that has to be a productive 15 minutes. Or maybe you have an hour before bed — you have to squeeze as much out of that hour as possible.

That’s where these songwriting tools come in. They’re meant to help shorten the time between having an idea and recording that idea, whether on paper or in audio format.

Your time is not to be taken for granted. And the songwriting tools you use must work with that fact.

Whatever the case, you probably already know that your time is precious. You may not have much of it in a day so your music-making time may be very restricted. And when that’s the case, you’ll need to make the most of the little time you do have.

The Songwriting Industry Requires It

If you want to become a professional Songwriter, you’ll have to get used to writing a lot of songs quickly.

Being a Songwriter for a label or agency means you’ll be writing songs every day. Sometimes you’ll need to write multiple songs in a day, especially if the record label needs new songs for a specific pop artist.

Hit Songwriter Jason Blume says most people treat their songwriting jobs as “real jobs” — they go into their office and just work.

“…Pro Songwriters typically go to an office to write their songs,” Blume says. “They sit with guitars in writing rooms and collaborate with other Songwriters. I did that for more than twelve years and wrote hundreds and hundreds of songs that way.”

“So, there’s not really a ‘typical’ day,” he goes on. “Some days — or parts of days — are spent writing; some are for having meetings; some are for recording demos.”

So you can see why it’s important to maximize the time you have in your songwriting sessions.

The 5 Time-Saving Songwriting Tools

Now it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty of this article. Here are some tools you can use to save time as a songwriter and get the most out of every minute.

 
1. Voice recording app
As I said earlier, songwriting tools should minimize the time between having a song idea and documenting that idea. And your voice recorder app is the perfect example of that type of tool.

Do you remember that time you forgot an awesome melody or a cool chord progression you came up with? How did it feel? Gut-wrenching, right? If this has happened to you, you know what I’m talking about. That feeling haunts you in the days afterward.

Fortunately, we can all avoid this problem.

Every adult (and now almost every kid) has a smartphone. If you don’t, you should get one just for the sake of having an app that can record audio. Whether you prefer Android or Apple, every smartphone has a built-in songwriting tool called a voice recording app.

The point here is to quickly record your idea — a melody, chord progression, rhythm, whatever. Being able to whip out your phone and record the idea before it leaves your brain cuts down on wasted time trying to remember that idea later. (It’s also much faster than trying to notate a melody on paper).

 
2. Timer app
Another songwriting app that comes preloaded on every smartphone is a timer app.

How can you use this for songwriting? If you want to do any speed songwriting and intentional songwriting, you’ll probably want this app.

Speed songwriting is where you set a timer for yourself and try to finish an entire song in that timeframe. This can be a helpful exercise to get your writing juices flowing.

Another similar but slightly different method is intentional songwriting. You still set a timer for yourself, but instead of trying to write a whole song before the buzzer, you just give 100% of your focus to that song without the expectation of finishing it.

Just chip away at it. Finish a verse. Come up with a bridge. Whatever it is, just make progress.

So whether you try speed songwriting or intentional songwriting, you will need a timer app. Giving yourself a timeframe to do something can often spur you on to be more productive.

 
3. Evernote
Although Evernote wasn’t designed for Songwriters, it’s just about the perfect songwriting app for those who are technologically inclined.

It’s basically like Notepad 2.0. With Evernote (which is free), you type your lyrics into a “note.” Then you can store that note in a “notebook” and also use custom tags. It’s the organized Songwriter’s dream.

What’s really cool is that you can embed an audio file directly into a note. So let’s say you have your lyrics and you don’t want to forget how the melody goes. Just attach your audio file (that you recorded with your voice recorder app) and you won’t have to worry about it. (You can also record audio directly using Evernote, but the audio is almost too poor to hear clearly).

And even if you don’t have a smartphone, you can still use Evernote on a browser.

 
4. Songspace
Songspace is kind of like Evernote, but a little different. It follows the same general idea of writing your lyrics in a Notepad-style setting and organizing those notes into folders. It, too, is available as an app or on the browser, but the browser offers more options and easier navigation.

Songspace is geared toward Songwriters, specifically Songwriters writing with other Songwriters. Within each song (on the browser), you have three main tabs called “Lyrics and recordings,” “Notes and files,” and “Publishing information.”

Here’s a quick explanation of each:

  • Lyrics and recordings – this is where you write your lyrics and upload your audio (it doesn’t appear to allow uploading of audio via the app, only the browser). You can also add genres, tags, and iTunes MP3 comments.
  • Notes and files – this is where you can add any notes (maybe thoughts about new lyrics) and files (like a co-songwriting contract).
  • Publishing information – this is mainly for co-writes. You can note how the publishing and songwriting rights will be split between the Songwriters.

It also keeps track of the different versions you’ve had so you can see how the song progresses over time. Also, there’s an “Ideas” section for any new song ideas.

Overall, it’s a pretty cool service. But it seems to be browser-focused because you can’t do as much on the app.

Do you remember that time you forgot an awesome melody or a cool chord progression you came up with? How did it feel? Gut-wrenching, right? If this has happened to you, you know what I’m talking about. That feeling haunts you in the days afterward.

 
5. A Rhyming Dictionary
Let me be clear about one thing: you don’t always need to rhyme. Sometimes, if you try to force a rhyme, it feels and sounds awkward. And the listener can probably pick up on that.

However, if you really want to rhyme and you’re having trouble coming up with a word that rhymes with “shenanigans,” you may want some help. That’s where a rhyming dictionary comes in handy.

Here are a couple dictionaries that could really help you.

Doppelreim
Doppelreim (app and browser capability) gives you not just words that rhyme with your chosen word, but you can ask for related phrases that rhyme or that sound kind of similar.

For example, if we use the above example of “shenanigans,” Doppelreim spits out “still have visions,” “ships are prisons,” and “his hand glistens.” Or, for a more realistic example, the phrase “I love you” gets matched with “find none who,” “light up two,” and “guide us through.”

You get the idea.

RhymeZone
RhymeZone (app and browser capability) differs from Doppelreim in that it’s also a thesaurus. And you can choose to find near rhymes, synonyms, and example sentences.

So searching for “shenanigans” yields the results “methanogens,” “bananas in,” and “manakin.” Very different results than Doppelreim.

You could try both of these websites/apps and get two totally different lists of words that rhyme. Whichever one saves you more time.

Find The Songwriting Tool For You

Whether you’re a pro Songwriter, indie artist, or hobbyist, I strongly recommend you pick one (or multiple) of these tools and try it out.

Whatever thing makes you save time and write better songs is a thing worth keeping. Because remember — your time is precious. And so are your songs.

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