Gone are the days of writing lyrics on paper napkins. Now we can just whip out our iPads and jot it down without worrying about wiping our fingers on the napkin and throwing it away without thinking.
There are a lot of iPad apps out there, but only a few really good ones for songwriting. Below are my personal choices for each phase of songwriting. It isn’t an exhaustive list; I’m sure there are others equal to or even better. It’s simply some of my own favorites, as well as one or two others that seemed to fit.
To find the apps mentioned, scroll down to the end of this article for the full list.
Writing the Lyrics
Songwriters can write lyrics anywhere and on anything, as we’ve all learned with the napkin trick. One handy iPad app for lyricists is Songwriter’s Pad. At
$19.99 $9.99, it is a little more expensive than others, but if you would like a writing pad that includes a rhyming dictionary, a thesaurus and normal dictionary all in one place, you might find it’s worth it.
With Songwriter’s Pad, you can write all of your lyrics in “blocks” (verse blocks, chorus, bridge, etc.) and rearrange them even after you are done. You can also tap the microphone button and record a rough copy of the tune you have in mind for the song. Songs (including recordings) can be exported to email and/or Dropbox at anytime as a backup.
If you already have a writing app that you like, try RhymeZone for $2.99. It is a good one to help with rhyming lyrics and synonyms, too.
Picking Out the Music
When you are writing a song and have a tune or melody you want to pick out, there are a couple free piano apps worth downloading. One is called Virtuoso Piano Free and the other is Piano Free with Songs. Both have the options of adding a double row of keys for each hand, with other simple features located in the Settings areas. They are both very easy to use. Open and start playing, that’s it.
For guitarists, look at Guitar Free with Songs by the same developer as Piano Free. GarageBand will be mentioned again below for recording music, but it also has instruments that can be used for picking out notes for a new song. The guitar with GarageBand seems easier to handle, but some might rather Guitar Free.
Composing the Sheet Music
Sheet music is optional. Depending on your personal writing preferences, you may have someone else to put it on paper for you, or not at all. I use Finale on my main computer, so when I want the sheet music on my iPad, I open it with the Finale SongBook app. Some people have issues with it, but it works great for me. And it’s free.
For those who want to compose directly on the iPad, consider NOTION, which is a notation editor and playback tool for your iPad, according to their official description. The reviews are pretty good, and the company has, so far, kept up with updates. Current price is $14.99. I’ve never used it, but it looks nice.
Try Musicnotes Sheet Music Viewer when you already have a song composed. Like Finale SongBook, it’s a great way to carry your songs around with you.
Recording the Song
Songwriters who want to record a good home demo of their song should definitely consider GarageBand by Apple. At a mere $4.99, it is amazing all that this app can do. You can use the onscreen instruments or plug in your own electric guitar, as well as certain USB keyboards, then record and mix your song with up to 8 tracks. For vocals, you can use your iPad’s built-in microphone or use a more professional one, and sing along with the instrumental you’ve recorded.
When you are done recording, tap My Songs, then press and hold your finger down on the song until it starts to wiggle. Tap the square with the arrow that will appear in the top left corner, then share the song with Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud, iTunes, or just send it to your own email.
You can find better multi-track programs for your computer, but not for your iPad and not for such a low price. It almost makes me want to trade in my Windows PC for a Mac just so I can buy the full GarageBand version. Try it out. If you’re serious about your music, you won’t regret it.
Listening to Your New Song
This one is easy. Now that your song is completed, you can use the already-installed Music app on your iPad to listen to it. Sit back and enjoy your hard work, play it for friends or start sending out demos. You’re ready.
Get to writing!
Apps Mentioned in Article:
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