Songsmith Help and How-To

Real-time help | Online help | Community forum

Tutorial videos | Tips and tricks | Keyboard shortcuts

We’ve tried very hard to make Songsmith easy to use, but we also want to make sure that there’s lots of information available if you get stuck or just want to learn more. This page shows you a few places you can learn about Songsmith, and provides a few of our favorite tips and tricks for using Songsmith.


Real-time help

Your first stop for learning about Songsmith is the “real-time help” system built right into Songsmith. Just place your mouse cursor over anything you see on the screen, and this area will give you a short description of what you’re looking at.

Real-Time Help Screenshot


Online help

If you press the ‘F1’ key any time while you're using Songsmith, you’ll be whisked away to our online help system, which will tell you more about whatever part of Songsmith you’re working with right then and there.



Community forum

We hope everyone who’s using songsmith will head over to our community forum to ask questions to the Songsmith team and to other users, and of course to share your Songsmith creations. We want to hear your voice... literally.



Tutorial videos

We’ve prepared a series of (hopefully fun!) tutorial videos about Songsmith. These videos will guide you through a few things you might do with Songsmith. You definitely don’t need to watch these videos to use Songsmith, but these videos are a quick way to see how Songsmith works, and maybe to pick up a few things you can do with Songsmith that you didn’t notice on your own.


Songsmith Tutorial Videos

Name

Watch Online

Download

Creating Your First song

Go to video page

Download video

Changing Your Sound

Go to video page

Download video

Re-Recording Your Voice

Go to video page

Download video

Saving and Sharing Songs

Go to video page

Download video

Making Music Videos

Go to video page

Download video



Tips and Tricks

Here are some Songsmith features that you might not notice the very first time you use the app, and a few strategies that we’ve found helpful for getting the most out of Songsmith.

Re-Recording

The first time you record a new song, you’re just listening to the drum beat. But if you press the ‘record’ button again after you’ve created a song, you'll be able to sing again with your music in the background. Whether you’re an amateur or a pro, you’ll deliver a better performance when you have some music to sing along with, so this is definitely an important step in getting your song just right.

The chords for your song won’t change right away, but if you move the ‘happy’ and ‘jazzy’ sliders around after re-recording, Songsmith will be choosing chords to match your new vocal take.

Advanced Rhythm Notation

You can always edit any chord just by clicking on it and typing. But if you’re looking to add a little rhythmic and arrangement excitement to your songs, there’s a special notation for turning instruments on and off and for creating drum breaks or “hard stops”. You and can add ‘.’, ‘..’, or ‘...’ to any chord to create silence, a hard stop, or a hanging stop respectively, and you can use the notation ‘d.’ (or ‘d..’ or ‘d...’), for example, to say “everything but drums should stop here”, with ‘b’ for bass, ‘k’ for keyboard, ‘g’ for guitar, and ‘s’ for strings. So, for example, the chord “Cminbd...” would be a C minor chord with a hanging stop on everything except the drums and bass. Note that if you move the ‘happy’ or ‘jazzy’ sliders around to change the chords, these special annotations will be lost, so you might want to use the ‘lock’ feature (right-click on a chord and select ‘lock’) to lock in any special annotations you add to a chord.

You can see this special notation in action in one of our online demo songs – “Another Boring Love Song” (Songsmith file) (audio file) – which uses a ‘..’ in the last measure to create a hard stop at the end of the song.

Recording In Parts

Often you may want to work on a song in sections, for example maybe you want to work out one line at a time in your verse, exploring a bunch of different ways to back up that line before moving on to the next. Here’s a great way to take that approach with Songsmith:

  1. Record your one or two lines, as if that were the whole song.
  2. Fiddle with the chords until you’re happy. Move the ‘happy’ and ‘jazzy’ sliders around, try out the ‘suggested’ chords that you get if you click the little arrow next to the chord, etc. Maybe you hear a chord you like that makes you think about the melody a little differently, so you can try ‘locking’ that chord (click the little arrow next to the chord and select “lock”) and recording the line again.
  3. When you’re good with your line, lock all the chords you’ve recorded (by clicking the little arrow next to each chord and selecting ‘lock’, or by right-clicking each chord and selecting ‘lock’), so these chords won’t change until you unlock them.
  4. Add a bunch of empty measures to the end of your song. You can do this by setting the combo box below the main chord area (called “Add/remove bar at”) to ‘End’, then clicking the ‘+’ button for each measure you want to add.
  5. Now record again, and sing your old line and your new line. Songsmith won’t touch the chords you already worked on (because you locked them), but will make new chords in the empty measures.

This is a great way to work on a song piece by piece, and a great way to work on a song where you already have some idea what the chords should sound like for part of the song, but want Songsmith to help out with other parts.



Keyboard Shortcuts

This is a list of some useful keyboard shortcuts available in Songsmith, available when you’ working in the Songsmith main window. As with most windows applications, pressing the ‘Alt’ key will underline most of the keyboard shortcuts available at any given time.

Alt-N

Bring up the “New Song Starter”

Alt-L

Load a song

Alt-S

Save your song

Alt-Z

Bring up the “Save As” menu (then use ‘S’ for “save as” and ‘E’ for “export”)

Alt-R

Record a new vocal take

Alt-O

Stop playback or recording

Alt-P

Play your song

Alt-U

Undo

Alt-E

“Clean slate”, i.e. erase your song and start over

P

Preview the current chord (when a measure is selected)

P

Preview the current chord (when a measure is selected)

Alt-Y

Select the “choose style” combo (then use the up and down arrows to change styles)

Alt-W

Bring up the “choose style” window

Alt-B

Select the “choose chords per bar” combo (then use the up and down arrows to change the chords per bar)

Alt-A

Select the combo box that lets you choose whether to add or remove bars at the beginning or end of the song. Then use the up and down arrows to change the value, and use ‘Ctrl-plus’ and ‘Ctrl-minus’ to actually add or delete bars.

Ctrl-Plus

Add a bar to the beginning or end of the song

Ctrl-Minus

Delete a bar from the beginning or end of the song

Alt-T

Activate the “tempo” slider, which lets you change the tempo of your song. Then use the left or right keys to change tempo. Only available when you have not recorded any voice for the current song.

Alt-H

Activate the “happy” slider, which lets you change the feel (happy vs. sad) of your song. Then use the left or right keys to change the “happy” value.

Alt-J

Activate the “jazzy” slider, which lets you make your chords more traditional or more advanturous. Then use the left or right keys to change the “jazzy” value.

Alt-C

Activate the “voice volume” slider. The use the left or right keys to change the voice volume.

Alt-M

Activate the “master volume” slider. The use the left or right keys to change the master volume.

Alt-X

Open the “mix” window

Alt-T

Open the “advanced options” window

F1

Open the Songsmith online help system