If I had to describe my songwriting process, it would probably involve words like “scattered, nebulous, and ‘wait, where did I put that?’”.
There are so many songs scribbled in notebooks, with lyrics half written and chord progressions halfway remembered. Not to mention how many voice memos for songwriting are saved on my phone, 219!! Which I just counted up and am shocked to discover.
Maybe it was serendipity that Gabe G’Sell reached out to me about his latest tool for helping musicians and songwriters: Songcraft.
After playing with the app for a week, this is one of the most streamlined method of songwriting I’ve seen. Plus it is going to help me get all that storage space on my phone for what really matters: pictures of my dog!
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Songcraft Basics : What is it?
Songcraft is a new tool for songwriters to use as their go-to, all-in-one songwriting platform. It combines the best features of a shared document, tab writing, rhyming dictionaries, voice recordings, and audio playback of the chords via their built-in studio.
Main interface of Songcraft. This area is your workspace, divided into tabs. The design is simple and easy to navigate. I was working it fully within 5 minutes.
Since Songcraft is entirely online you can access it anywhere you have a connection. That makes it perfect for musicians on tour who are also writing new materials. The work is auto-saved every few seconds so you never have to worry about losing a moment of genius.
The app is built for the desktop and while it works on mobile, you miss out on what makes it so great. I recommend using it only on desktop. Hopefully a mobile app is on the way.
Main Songcraft Work Area
Looking at the main workspace, the area is divided into lyric/tab/chord writing of the song on the left two-thirds and the support features on the remaining third. The page with your song has a lot of cool features built right in. For example, you can write the lyrics directly on the page. The cool part is the ability to then drag and drop chords directly onto the lyric where you need them to land.
An unexpected bonus was the predictive chord structure. Songcraft uploaded music theory and analysis of modern songs into their AI. This gives you the ability to see what could be next if you are ever stuck on where to go.
Double clicking on each chord gives you the ability to hear playback in a guitar chord or piano chord.
In Studio Mode, you have the ability to playback selections of your song to hear what it sounds like to this point.
Moving to the right side of the screen, you have 4 tabs to play with: Music, Lyrics, Audio, and Notepad.
Music shows the entire scale of chords that you can drag and drop onto the music page. Switch back and forth between Major and Minor keys, tab back and forth between key signatures, and have pre-generated chord progressions suggested to you. This was my favorite element of the platform.
Lyrics gives you the option of searching for the right word via a rhyming dictionary. It also includes a list of synonyms, or a list of related words.
Audio replaces your phone’s voice memo and allows you to record directly into the app. This audio isn’t linked up to the tabs/chords, so think of it more like a spot to sing/play your solo before the melody leaves you.
Notepad is the catchall space where you can note anything related to the song. Or maybe you just remembered you need to buy more cereal. Either way, you can note it here.
Moving up in the view, you see a toggle for the aforementioned Studio Mode, allowing for playback of your music. Additionally, you have a metronome, BPM, and a tuner.
Basic vs Pro
After signing up, you receive 2 weeks free of their Pro. This includes everything that I have just talked about. Their Basic package is free, but with less tools at your disposal. A breakdown of the pricing is here:
Having my songwriting consolidated into one web-based app is huge. I can take my songwriting anywhere I go and have immediate access to it. It doesn’t matter if I’m stuck in traffic or in rehearsal, I can always pop into Songcraft and work.
This means I have more time to write since it’s always with me.
It also streamlines the entire songwriting process itself since I don’t need to open another tab to find a rhyme with “amazing”.
What impressed me the most was the chord builder. For just getting the basics of a song onto paper, this allows you to drag and drop your way to a hit single.
I’m really excited to see where this app goes in the near future, as it is a newcomer to the music writing stage (no pun intended).
Support is also really great with a chat box always available and email support that sends you reminders about they are there to support you.
There is (as of now) no capability to live share and collaborate within the app. You can share the song but without an ability to edit. As I worked my way through Grad School, live writing/editing a paper was the only way group projects were accomplished thanks to shared docs and sheets. I wish that this app had that same functionality.
Also, there is currently no obvious way to export your song. It is possible to print or share via a link, but it would be helpful to be able to export into other programs, like ProTools.
On more minor misses, I only had a few.
- You can’t drag and drop from the Lyrics tab if you find a new word you like better for your song. You have to manually erase and replace.
- There are no numbers on the music sheet to help you keep track of measures and beats.
- Erasing my work was difficult as I couldn’t select large batches of lyrics/chords and delete at once. It required me to go in and delete each element.
The ease-of-use of this app plus the massive amounts of abilities makes this a huge win in my book. For the solo-songwriter this is something you should seriously add to your toolbox for making music. For bands, you should give one member the power of being the scribe and transporting into this app every decision you make.
While it is just in the beginning stages, I can readily recommend this app to anyone who is songwriting. If you are ready to check it out for yourself, you can swipe a free 2 week trial via this link here! After using it, make sure to pop back here and let me know your thoughts.