One of the hardest tasks when it comes to making music is actually writing good music in the first place. Writing a song that has a good melody, beats, and chord progressions can be difficult.
It is a process that needs to be handled carefully because messing one part up can ruin the whole thing for the listener. You do not want to force your audience to put up with substandard music.
Luckily, through the power of modern technology, the songwriting process has become a lot easier. Software that can help you in your songwriting process has been developed, and this has significantly made it easier for songwriters to create exactly what they hear in their heads.
The best part is that these software come with a variety of really impressive features that are designed to improve the quality of output of the songwriter. Here is a comprehensive review of some of the major songwriting software available in the market today and what you can expect from each one of them.
Hookpad is a software that allows you to write melody and chord progression, enabling you to write music faster and more easily.
The software was created by Ryan Miyakawa, David Carlton, and Chris Anderson, who are the creators of www.hooktheory.com. It was released on August 6, 2014.
The company’s headquarters are located in Berkeley, California. The software is increasingly becoming popular among songwriters with the number of users rapidly increasing over the years.
Hookpad is basically a sketchpad that allows you to write chord progressions and melodies for your songs easier and faster. It has built-in music theory that provides you with information such as the chord to choose next in case you are stuck, or the melody that will sound good over your chord progression.
There are also several instruments available which you can use to hear your song in another style. You can then export your work to a MIDI file, or sheet music to continue your work on other music software.
As a standalone software, Hookpad will cost you $149. Purchasing Hookpad together with the Hooktheory series books will set you back slightly more, at $183.98.
Hookpad has a comprehensive songwriting package that is full of features designed to help you maximize your creative output and songwriting time.
These features include the Chord Palette, which is designed to help you write chord progressions better. It works by grouping chords that work well in a particular key together such that you can create a good chord progression in no time.
There is also a feature that helps you in writing melodies. It does this by highlighting the chords that you choose and then displaying the notes that will create a dissonant sound and the stable notes in a color-coded form.
Hookpad also has virtual instruments that are professionally tuned, allowing you to express chord progressions and melodies whichever way you see fit.
Educational Music Videos
The software also has music instructional videos on a wide range of topics to guide you through the songwriting process.
These educational videos are by composers such as Ryan Miyakawa and Denis Schwachhofer. The topics on these videos include harmonization, songwriting, harmonic analysis, piano voicing, and a tutorial on how to use Hookpad itself.
Another important feature of Hookpad is Theorytab. This feature helps you understand the theory behind songs. It is a library containing more than 10,000 songs by different artists over several years.
Theorytab provides a fun and informative way of learning the music theory behind your favorite songs. It allows you to see the melodies and chords used to make a particular track.
It is also linked to YouTube videos, allowing you to make a proper analysis of the songs’ melodies and chords. The display of melodies is done using colored blocks corresponding to the seven notes of major scales.
The chords, on the other hand, are represented in Roman numerals, allowing you to compare and contrast the melodies and chord progressions even when they are in different keys.
The magic chord is a feature designed to offer assistance when you are stuck. It looks at examples on the Theorytab library and the chords you have already used to suggest the best way forward. When stuck, the feature provides you with choices of the best chords to use.
Hooktheory’s Book Series
Another feature of Hookpad is Hooktheory’s book series. This feature teaches you how to write melodies and chords in a fun way. It also features tactics and examples of how musicians create their music.
The instant exporting feature allows you to export to the lead sheet, sheet music, and guitar tab in an instant. This makes it possible for you to create a lead sheet, score, or guitar tab for melodies and chord progressions in a fast way.
Drag and Drop Feature
The drag and drop feature allows you to move melodies, MIDI progressions, drum tracks, and basslines from the software into your DAW in the easiest way possible. For each instrument class, you can choose several rhythm patterns.
- Provides an easier and faster way of writing great melodies and chord progressions
- The virtual instruments are professionally tuned
- It takes a short time to export your creations to lead sheet, sheet music, or guitar tab
- Has melody guides, music theory, and intelligent chord suggestions to help you in songwriting
- The sound instruments on the platform sound generic and synthesized
Tunesmith is a songwriting software that allows musicians to create and manage their songs easily. It is an essential tool that provides you with the necessary tools to write music and work on your song catalog.
The software is a product of Idolumic, a company responsible for several applications that are useful to songwriters such as Rhyme Genie. The company was established in 2009 and is located in Burbank, California.
Tunesmith has an advanced data backup system that automatically saves and stores all of your data in the application folder.
This is essential as it helps you avoid data loss in case of computer crashes or user errors. The backup can be used to synchronize versions of the data on other computers by copying the folder containing your data to another.
The song catalog feature allows for the administration of your songs. Through it, you can access the song info which enables you to view the copyright information of your songs.
You can create a copyright split sheet that represents the publisher’s portion and writer portion of a song. You can then print a songwriter split sheet that is legally binding.
The software also has an audio file feature that helps monitor the different cover versions of completed songs. Through this, you can store an unlimited number of audio recordings.
The recordings can be stored in several different formats including .mp3, .m4a, .AIFF, and.wav. The feature also has an audio player that provides you with additional playback control options.
Another of Tunesmith’s main features is the lyrics editor. It allows you to revise your lyrics with much ease. The 64-bit version of Tunesmith has a plug-in version of Rhyme Genie that is automatically installed, enabling you to find rhymes quickly just by looking up words.
The feature also identifies potentially misspelled words in your lyrics with a red dotted line and also offers spelling alternatives.
A chord sheet is a lyrics sheet that has chord symbols added to it to show the chord progression of the song. Some more advanced chord sheets may show the specific voicings of individual chords. It can be formatted in the same manner as the lyric sheet.
Tunesmith has two chord dictionaries to help you add desired chords to the chord sheet and explore the various chord voicings available.
There are more than 4800 chord charts offered by Tunesmith through this feature. The two available chord dictionaries are the Basic chord dictionary and the pro chord dictionary. They offer information about a specific chord to help you decide on the most suitable chords to use when writing your music.
Another feature by Tunesmith is the Pitch journal. It gives you the ability to track your song submissions.
- The software can operate on any modern PC
- It has a tutorial to guide its users on how to use it
- It helps musicians to manage their catalogs
- Provides you with the necessary tools needed to improve your songwriting
- The output has a watermark
Masterwriter is a software designed to provide songwriters, authors, and screenwriters with the necessary tools for writing.
It comes fully equipped with an interconnected system of amazing features including a fully integrated dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurus, among other tools needed to come up with the best wording for your music, story, or thought.
In many ways, it is more of a writing platform than an editor. It is primarily a database that allows you to store any information that may be associated with your song.
The data that the software collects includes lyrics, copyright information, demo recordings, notes about your musical style, publishing details, the date you composed your music, just to mention a few.
Masterwriter was founded in 2003 by Barry Devorzon, a composer and the president of the company. The company has about 10 employees and has an estimated annual revenue of about $1 million.
The cost of a month’s license to use Masterwriter is $9.95. There is also an annual fee of $99 or a two-year license fee of $149.
Dictionary and Thesaurus
The main feature of Masterwriter is the specially designed powerful word processor that comes with conventional and phrasal dictionaries, a rhyming dictionary, and a thesaurus. It also has a search function that allows you to find the appropriate wording for your songs.
It is also able to identify alliteration for the words you key in giving you a wider scope of word use. This feature is powered by American Heritage and its functionality is best suited for songwriters, poets, novelists, or journalists.
There are also options to break down words syllable by syllable, and to list rhymes, helping users to enhance the way they express themselves.
Lyric Writing mode
Masterwriter also has the Lyric writing mode, a feature designed specifically for songwriters or poets. In this mode, the screen splits such that you can write your project on the left-hand side of the screen while you search for the convenient words to use on the right.
This makes the whole experience of songwriting much easier.
The pseudo-encyclopedia contains a wide collection of facts about the pop-culture, names of places, products, film titles, famous people, and so much more.
The main function of this feature is to help songwriters get ideas for their content, with accurate references to the said topics.
Although this is undoubtedly useful, most of the information available on this pseudo-encyclopedia is only relevant to American culture.
The help option is the support system where you get to learn more about the software and its features. There is a help icon that directs you to an online help guide that contains video tutorials and a quick start guide.
- It is available on a wide variety of devices
- Has an advanced rhyming dictionary
- You can readily access both perfect rhymes and half-rhymes
- Has a comprehensive encyclopedia that provides reliable phrases and pop culture references
- Has a song guard that allows you to confirm authorship in case if a dispute.
- You have no choice over the information displayed about your songs
- Has an inflexible song list
- It is difficult to incorporate the symbols for guitar chords
Guitar Pro is a song-writing software designed for editing both standard sheet music and tablature for bass, guitar, among other fretted instruments with 3-10 strings.
The software also gives you the ability to edit music notations from other instruments such as drums, strings, keyboards, percussion, and wind instruments.
It is equipped with the necessary tools to write songs, improve your level of playing, and produce backing tracks that sound great. The software works well for both Windows and Mac OS.
Guitar Pro is a product of Arobas Music and was founded in 1997. The company is located in France.
It comes with a 30-day free trial period and will set you back $75 to purchase a new license and $37.50 to upgrade an old license.
With this feature, editing of most elements of the score on Guitar Pro is possible with just a single click. This allows you to change the key signature, clef, title, chords, tuning, sections, tempo, among others so much more easily and faster.
Guitar Pro has an impressively designed track-tuning window that allows you to customize string by string the tuning of your Guitar Pro tracks. This feature allows you to change the number of strings in your chord in a one-click process.
Customizable MIDI ports
The software has several options for importing MIDI files, giving you the ability to import higher-quality files, import onto existing files, choose a notation and sound, etc.
The software also has an advanced file browser that enables you to locate all the Guitar Pro files on your PC with much ease. There is also an audiovisual preview of the files, making it even easier to find your songs. You also gain access to files purchased on the website and to the mySongBook score library when you subscribe to it.
- You can import and export a large variety of file types
- Has impressive features that work very well
- Has a library that is equipped with a vast supply of tabs to experiment with, learn, and test
- The software has special packages designed with education in mind
- Has impressive virtual sounds continuously improving with each upgrade
- Android and iOS apps are more expensive with the Android app charging $5.49 more while the iOS app charging $6.99 more.
- Android and iOS apps have limited functionality in writing and editing
Noteflight is an online cloud-based music notation software. The platform is an excellent option to help you develop your composition. It is an outlier since the software gives you the ability to compose musical scores without including synthesizers or objects that are electronically simulated.
When you write a song, the software simply plays it note for note. This software requires you to learn how to compose music according to traditional sheets, therefore making it difficult to use if you are a novice at music development or are not able to produce and read sheet music.
It is best suited for people that study classical and other traditional forms of music.
Noteflight, however, is not powerful enough to perform commercial tasks. Nonetheless, it has all the necessary tools needed to perform simple tasks such as creating simple and complex scores.
The platform also allows its users to sell their compositions or purchase arrangements that they can edit to suit their needs through their online marketplace.
Noteflight was founded in 2008 and about ten years, the online platform has already accumulated a membership of more than 4.2 million members. It is located in the United States.
To use the software, the platform charges a monthly fee of $7.95 or an annual fee of $49. Noteflight has a Noteflight Learn plan that costs slightly higher since apart from providing the same services as Noteflight Premium, you also get a private website specifically designed for music distribution.
Community and Private Groups
Noteflight also has sharing and collaboration features. Through this feature, the software allows you to share your scores with groups, individuals, or with the whole Noteflight community.
As the owner of the score, you will always be in control and you can choose to set each of your scores to be for viewing only, for both viewing and commenting, or even allow other people to edit your scores which is important when it comes to collaborations.
With this feature, not only has Noteflight managed to make sharing the finished easy but also the songwriting process itself.
Noteflight has a platform where you can sell your music among other original works known as the Noteflight Marketplace. With this feature, you can also arrange for copyrighted songs to be available on the Marketplace song catalog.
With Noteflight, you can create and compose any number of songs you want. The platform has score templates that you can use to write your music and create beautiful performance materials with ease.
The platform has more than 85 high-quality instruments you can use to compose your music. It also has an inbuilt audio mixer that you can use to adjust volume and customize playback experience. You can also record live audio through this feature into scores.
The Private website is a feature only available to users of Noteflight Learn. The website is specially designed for the users specifically for music education purposes.
Through this feature, you can arrange classes for fellow songwriters, use an included library of lessons and musical scores, create assignments with ease, among other tasks.
- It is easy to customize
- You can browse through existing musical scores with ease
- It is very student and teacher-friendly
- Users can have forums and share their musical scores easily
- Has a marketplace where users can sell their work
- It is not powerful enough to perform commercial tasks
- It is geared to musicians who are experienced in producing and reading sheet music.
- Has limited audio mixing abilities
Finale by Makemusic
Finale is a songwriting software that was developed and released by Makemusic in 1988. It is one of the first songwriting software to be developed.
It is mainly used by songwriters, arrangers, and composers to create sheet music. The software is flexible and can be used on both macOS and Windows. The software was created by Phil Farrand.
Purchasing the Finale software will set you back $600. There is also special pricing available for the academic and theological package that costs $350, and a university student package that costs $99. To upgrade from any previous version, it will cost you $149.
The software offers its users complete freedom to create their music in whichever way they find most convenient. You can choose to create your work in a Broadway score, a simple lead sheet, or an unorthodox way as long as it works for you.
Finale users get to enjoy flexibility when it comes to writing their songs as with this feature, they can write music in any way they wish.
Finale also has the Human playback feature that ensures that the music playback is done so with the nuances of a human performer. The platform also has a wide variety of Garritan instruments sound in its vast library of world-class instruments to ensure that the sounds you receive have impressive realism.
Finale by Makemusic has a social feature that enables you to share your music. When you create your music, you can share your work with fellow users of the platform through MusicXML support.
You can also receive feedback from fellow songwriters on the platform. Your work can be shared in the form of printed sheet music, pdf format, audio files, among other ways.
Finale also has the editorial input feature that allows its users to change keys, move measures, and transform their music in any way possible. The editorial input can determine if a note that you have written is out of an instrument’s range and inform you to rectify it.
- Has high music playback quality
- Has a large variety of musical instruments to choose from
- Songwriters have complete freedom to create their music in whichever way they want
- Novice songwriters may find it difficult to use
Songcraft is an online software that allows its users to write music and share their work with other songwriters. It was founded by Gabriel Grazier G’Sell and the company is based in San Francisco, California.
The platform has two payment plans; the basic plan and the pro plan. The basic plan is free while the pro plan costs $5 per month.
Songcraft has a real-time collaboration feature that allows users to collaborate in real-time with fellow songwriters. This feature enables you to send links to fellow writers privately and receive feedback from them in no time.
Songcraft has several tools integrated into its system. These tools include a rhyming dictionary, a tuner, audio recorder, among other tools to help enhance your creativity and make your songwriting experience more pleasant.
The smart recommendations feature enables the software to recognize the key of your song. Whenever you are stuck, the software then recommends several progressions and chords that may go well with your work.
The software also has an auto-save feature that automatically saves your work. This feature is important because Songcraft works on any device, meaning that you will be able to access your work on any device without worrying about losing your work.
- Offers smart recommendations
- Saves your work automatically
- Can be used on a wide range of devices
- Allows you to collaborate with fellow users of the software
- Cannot be used for commercial purposes
Songwriting softwares have greatly revolutionalized the writing processes for many songwriters. They help create the structure and lay the foundation for your song. In doing so, they help songwriters create better content and finish faster.
All these songwriting softwares are impressive in their own ways, with a variety of very advanced features, and providing quality services. Each software has a unique feature that makes it stand out from its competitors.
It is true that some of these products were established more recently compared to their competitors, so they still have room to grow. So whichever one you end up choosing, I hope this article will help you come to a great decision.