If you’ve ever tried to write a song, you know that it can be a challenge.
Sometimes you feel uninspired; other times you know what you’d like to say but may not be able to find the right words.
Then, of course, there’s the pressure of writing a song that people will actually listen to and like.
The good news is, there are countless resources out there that can help you improve your songwriting. Whether you’re just getting started or you’re a seasoned songwriter looking to streamline your process and write better songs, there are techniques you can learn and tools you can use.
In this article, we’ll share 10 apps and 10 books about the art of songwriting that will make your creative process more enjoyable.
The songwriting apps will allow you to move beyond pen and paper and write your songs in a way that’s more efficient and productive. They provide words, rhymes, chords, and other suggestions to help you bring your ideas to life without getting stuck or interrupting your creative flow. Many are free to use or cost just a few dollars.
The books will provide you with exercises, writing prompts, examples, and practical advice on how to write great lyrics, melodies, rhythms, and harmonies. They’re written by award-winning songwriters and many are used as textbooks at the Berklee College of Music.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the songwriting apps and books that will help you take your craft to the next level.
10 songwriting apps that will change the way you write songs
1. Word Palette (free, iOS)
Word Palette is the perfect app for getting over writer’s block. It lets you switch between a regular keyboard and a collection of scrambled text, from which you can borrow words and generate new ideas. You can use the app’s built-in collections or create your own by importing your favorite articles, poems, quotes, and other song lyrics.
2. Simple Songwriter ($4.99, iOS)
Simple Songwriter is a handy tool if you don’t play an instrument or don’t have one on hand. You can browse a selection of chords, try them out, and record a simple progression. You can also record your singing at the same time. After you’ve recorded the chord progression, you can change the key, swap out any of the chords, and fix the timing.
3. BandLab (free, iOS, Android, and Desktop)
BandLab is a mobile DAW you can use to make music anywhere. It’s a great tool for songwriters because you can use it to record your ideas on the go, be it melodies, harmonies, basslines, or any other instrumental parts. It features a looping station you can use to generate new ideas and a notepad for writing down lyrics.
4. Rhymer’s Block (free, iOS and Android)
Rhymer’s Block can streamline your lyric writing process by suggesting rhymes as you type. It’s perfect for finding the perfect rhyme or getting over writer’s block and coming up with new ideas.
5. RhymeZone (free for Desktop, $2.99 for iOS, and $3.99 for Android)
RhymeZone is another great tool for finding rhymes and inspiration. Simply input a word and browse a list of its perfect rhymes, near rhymes, synonyms, descriptive words, and much more.
6. Suggester ($13.99 / free lite version, iOS and Android)
Suggester helps you choose chords that work well together. You can try out different chords to see how they sound and build progressions that give your song the exact mood and emotion you want to create. It’s perfect for songwriters who aren’t well versed in music theory, but want to be able to experiment with a wide range of possibilities.
7. Hum ($3.99, iOS)
If you currently use a note app to write down lyrics and a separate voice recorder to capture melodies, you’ll love Hum. It combines these two features into one app, so you can store all your ideas in one place. You can also organize your songs by key, tuning, use of capo, and even mood.
8. Lyric Notepad (free, iOS and Android)
Lyric Notepad is an all-in-one tool for songwriters. It lets you record yourself singing and attach the recording to any part of the lyrics, find rhymes, count syllables, take notes, and much more.
9. Autochords ($4.99 / free lite version, iOS)
Autochords provides chord progressions so you can focus on writing lyrics and melodies. You can select progressions in a variety of styles and moods, as well as change the tempo and key of your song. The app also displays chord diagrams for piano, guitar, and ukulele, so you can learn to play an instrument at the same time.
10. Songwriter’s Pad (free lite version, iOS, Android, and Desktop)
Songwriter’s Pad is another all-in-one solution. It can help you find rhymes, note down chords, and capture recordings. It’s also a handy tool for overcoming writer’s block—it has a built-in idea generator that will provide you with words and phrases based on a selected emotion.
Bonus: CoSo (free, iOS and Android)
One bonus entry to conclude this songwriting apps section is Splice’s very own CoSo. The app allows you to easily create unique ‘Stacks’ of up to eight loops that can serve as great instrumental beds for writing toplines and developing lyrics.
10 songwriting books you need to read
1. Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison
This book has been a must-have in the songwriter’s toolkit since it was first published in 1995. The new 2010 edition will take you through over 20 hit songs and examine what makes them great, so you can apply the learnings to your own lyrics. You’ll also complete 50 exercises that will teach you how to turn your ideas into powerful, compelling songs. Get ready to practice songwriting every day, put in the work, and watch your songs come to life.
2. Songwriting Without Boundaries by Pat Pattison
Looking for even more lyric writing exercises? Pat Pattison has got you covered with another songwriting book, complete with over 150 prompts you can use to practice your craft. It features four 14-day challenges to help you commit to a routine and make songwriting a habit.
3. The Craft of Lyric Writing by Sheila Davis
Published in 1985, this book has stood the test of time and helped countless songwriters develop their lyric writing skills. It covers song forms, tools and techniques for writing better lyrics, putting them to music, common songwriting mistakes, and much more. Each lesson is illustrated with examples of real songs, so you can see the techniques in action. And don’t be deterred by the fact that these examples are a few decades old—everything you’ll learn is still very much relevant and applicable to modern music.
4. Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting by Jimmy Webb
This book offers a glimpse into the life and creative process of award-winning songwriter Jimmy Webb. Part autobiographical and part instructional, it shines a light on every aspect of songwriting, from crafting to selling your songs. Expect to encounter a bit of history, personal anecdotes, songwriting techniques, music theory, industry advice, and everything in between.
5. Songwriters On Songwriting by Paul Zollo
Get your hands on the revised and expanded edition of this book to read 62 interviews with some of the greatest songwriters of our time. Get up close and personal with musicians like Bob Dylan, Alanis Morissette, Madonna, and Leonard Cohen and hear directly from the source about their inspiration, creative process, and musings on the art of songwriting.
6. Melody in Songwriting by Jack Perricone
This book will teach you how to write interesting and memorable melodies, and use harmony to take these melodies to the next level. It also breaks down hit songs to examine exactly what makes them special, so you can use the same techniques in your own songwriting.
7. The Songwriter’s Workshop: Melody by Jimmy Kachulis
This book uses a hands-on approach to teach you how to write melodies and make use of rhythm and structure. It even comes with access to recordings, so you can practice your newly learned songwriting techniques in real time. Once you’ve finished this book, be sure to check out its sequel, The Songwriter’s Workshop: Harmony.
8. How To Write One Song by Jeff Tweedy
If you’re new to songwriting and are lacking the self-confidence to get started, this book is for you. It focuses on finding joy in the creative process and will gently guide you through writing your first song. After reading this book, you’ll not only finish your first song, but feel inspired and empowered to write many, many more.
9. The Addiction Formula by Friedemann Findeisen
If your goal is to write radio-ready pop songs, this book is a must-read. It breaks down over 300 chart-topping songs from artists like John Legend, Maroon 5, and Rihanna, and uncovers the secrets of their success. It goes beyond lyrics and melody to discuss things like arrangement and production, so it’s a helpful read for producers, too. No matter what your role is in the music creation process, you’ll learn how to craft songs that are captivating, engaging, and addicting.
10. The Ultimate Book of Song Starters by Ed Bell
No matter how much songwriting experience you have under your belt, there will always be times when you feel creatively stuck and out of ideas. That’s where this book comes in—it features over 500 songwriting prompts in the form of word starters, chord starters, and rhythm starters. The next time you feel uninspired, pick an idea from this book and see where it leads you.
Use these songwriting apps and books to create your best music yet
With these songwriting apps and books in hand, you have everything you need to improve your songwriting skills. The only thing left to do is establish a regular writing routine and practice your craft every single day. In no time at all, you’ll be able to write without waiting for inspiration to strike and bring your songs to life in a way that’s easy and fun.
Best of luck with your songwriting!
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July 7, 2022