Take Songwriting to the Next Level with Songwriter’s Pad

One area that hasn’t really been exploited in the app market is that of apps for musicians. And by that, I don’t mean apps for recording and producing, I’m referring to apps for songwriters.

Maybe there’s a reason for that? You could use a simple text editor to write songs, but what if you could also have an app that helped you make the songwriting process more organized, and gave you a few tools to make songwriting easier? That’s what Songwriter’s Pad claims to do. Let’s take a look and see how it fares.

Getting Started

Songwriter's Pad

Songwriter's Pad

Songwriter’s Pad is advertised as “the ultimate songwriting Mac app”, and at first it seems to have all the features to claim that title. It says it can help you find words that go well with a mood or with other words, it supports chord notation and it can even record bits and pieces of your songs.

Songwriter’s Pad is a paid app ($29.99), don’t let the free version deceive you. All it is is a demo where you can only create one song and no more. Is it worth the high price tag? Let’s take a look at its features.

The Interface

Interface

Interface

The dark Songwriter Pad interface isn’t exactly simple, but it is pretty and it’s not very hard to get around. You have the toolbar on the top, where you can find the controls to create new songs and elements within them, as well as a few configuration settings.

Then there’s the main frame, where you are supposed to write the song; but beside it there are two sidebars that can help you accomplish that. The left one is where you can add stuff that might make it on the song (words, rhymes, phrases), and the right one is where you can find the things that you’ve recorded for the song.

Writing Songs

Writing Songs

Writing Songs

The navigation of the app is a little tricky at first, but you can get around it after spending a few minutes with it. To write anything, you first need to add a “Song Block” to your current song. This means you have to add a section, like a verse, intro, chorus, pre-chorus, outro, etc. Once you’ve added one of these, they will appear in your main frame as the type of block that it is. If you double click it, the cursor will appear below it and you can start writing the lyrics for that section.

The main reason behind the blocks is organization. Having your songs broken down into sections can make the whole songwriting process easier. Also, within the app you can rearrange or delete the sections whichever way you’d like them to because of the blocks.

Complementing the Songs

Other Tools

Other Tools

If you run out of creativity, you can use the “Get Ideas” button, which will bring up a small menu where you can find some inspiration. Here you can find rhymes, a dictionary, a thesaurus, phrases, and words. The first three work simply by typing in any word. The last two work by generating the word or phrase from a selectable variety of “moods”, such as love, hate, happy, sad, and a few more. Once you find an idea that you like to explore later in the song, you can select it and add it to the stickies that live in the left sidebar, where you can quickly find them and add them to your song.

You can record from your microphone and add a backing track exported from another app (you can also combine those two features and sing over a backing track, which will then overlap both tracks to create just one). Other cool features include the chord support, which allows you to easily add chord notations inside the lyrics, displaying them as little text boxes.

The Much Discussed, But Never Concluded “Analog vs. Digital” Argument

“Songwriter’s Pad” is a fun experiment and was a fun app to try out, but I don’t think I’ll be using it much. In fact, I don’t think I’ve never really found a “songwriting” app or anything related to it that works in a way that fits my personal process. They all seem to complicate the process rather than simplify it. There are some things where the old way is (at least for now) better, and my personal opinion is that songwriting is one of them. For me, pen and paper are better, at least until someone can truly figure out how to digitize the process of scribbling to put together a song, and without having all these distractions around you.

That’s not to say that this app is useless; some will no doubt find it to be quite useful, it simply doesn’t fit with my personal method of songwriting. I do think because of the chord notation feature that makes it very easy to transcribe songs to the computer, it could work for me as a place to store all of my finished songs as a backup. It could work for you in some other ways, or perhaps you could even adapt your whole songwriting process to the way the app works.

I want to hear from you, what do you think of these sorts of apps? Have you tried any of them, and have you digitized your songwriting process? Even if you aren’t a musician: do you still prefer to do some things “the old way”? Which ones? Discuss in the comment section below!


Summary

Songwriter's Pad has plenty of features that can help optimize your songwriting process, like chord notations and tools for finding rhymes, words and phrases.

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  • http://imeerocks.net Imee

    This seems pretty interesting! I might download the trial to see all the hoopla for myself. It could be helpful, I think the dictionary/thesaurus thing is convenient, especially for idea generation and rhymes. I used to have a similar piece of rhyming software on my old Windows laptop, with syllable counts included, so this is kind of like a high-end version of that.

    I now personally just use Evernote since it syncs all my ideas from my iPad to my MacBook and my office PC (hurray for cross-platform!), with the ability to add recordings too. That’s of course, in addition to my actual, tangible notebooks where I jot down stuff, and my mobile phone (it’s a Blackberry, mind you). That, along with GarageBand on my iPad and MacBook, is pretty much all I need right now ;)

  • http://www.izzymariehill.com Izzy Marie Hill

    Thanks for the great review. There’s also a version out for the iPad (although no demo unfortunately) which I might check out. A few months back I released my first album (available on iTunes plug plug!) and much of that was written on my iPad using Garageband and notes etc. – so I’m certainly into using technology to help the songwriting process.
    However, most of my lyrics start out as scraps of paper sellotaped to spider diagrams (which help me form and plan the story), so I’m not sure if such a rigid structure would work for me or not.
    Either way, thanks for the review

  • http://www.songwriting-ideas.com/songwriting101.html/ Paul

    Wow finally something great in songwriting for the iPad. I like the simple interface and this would be something useful when you’re on the go. I would rather use my iPad than write it down on a piece of paper for later. Great work, thanks for the review!

  • Sid

    Anybody tried Songwriter’s Companion? It’s also available on the Mac App Store. Same idea. Database of songs, an audio recorder, a rhyme dictionary, etc.

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