Why would musicians be interested in Songsmith?
Sure, Songsmith lets novice musicians get their first taste of music creation. We’re really proud that we’re giving people that opportunity. But we’re also musicians, and this project has been intended to help both novices and experienced songwriters from day one.
Is Songsmith going to replace the craft of songwriting? Never. Could it be a super-useful “intelligent scratchpad” for exploring new melodies and ideas? Definitely. If you’re a songwriter, you’ve probably had the experience of coming up with a melody, then reaching for the nearest object with a “record” button on it, just to get your idea down. Imagine that first quick experience also letting you explore chord progressions, styles, even basic arrangement ideas. Then of course you’d work with other tools, other people, your instruments, and your own musical intuition to really develop a song. But Songsmith can be a great tool that lets you quickly explore new ideas in places where you couldn’t before (on the go, on the bus, in the airport, etc.). And Songsmith works great with instrumental input too...
What features does Songsmith have for musicians?
First and foremost, the core functionality of Songsmith – automatic accompaniment for melodies – is every bit as useful to musicians as it is to novices. Explore chord progressions you might not otherwise have tried, explore styles and sounds you might not otherwise have tried, and do it all quickly, in places you might not have worked on a song before. But Songsmith does more than that... here are a few other features we want to point out to musicians; these are things we love to use every day:
Edit chords directly if you want to work your ideas in with Songsmith’s suggested chords. Songsmith can work with a huge variety of chords, and it understands lots of chords that it may never generate automatically.
Play an instrument instead of singing into Songsmith; Songsmith works great with instrumental melodies.
Export to MIDI and toss your MIDI into your favorite host application as a skeleton, just to get started working on a new song. Sometimes the hardest part of getting started on a demo is just getting that skeleton in place, and Songsmith is a great way to do that, even if you don’t keep a single note from the original Songsmith track.
The samples you hear in Songsmith aren’t toy sounds... they’re a high-powered general MIDI set from Garritan, one of the biggest names in the industry. And in fact Garritan will be offering instrument upgrades Songsmith if you’re looking to take the sounds to another level. Songsmith is even compatible with Garritan’s newest professional line of virtual instruments.
Type in chords directly without ever playing or singing a note if you just want to generate some backing music for jamming or practicing.
Exported audio is time-aligned to zero, no matter where you started singing, which makes it really easy to drag clips into any host application that supports snapping clips to measure or beat boundaries (which, in 2009, is basically all of them). This is a great way to work with multiple vocal takes, or to put the background and vocal takes separately into a host app and put some effects on one or the other. That’s exactly how we made this recording, for example.
Intelligent “suggest” feature suggests new root chord (triad) substitutions based on progression context and melody. Not a replacement for your own ear, but a great way to audition chords you might not have tried on your own.
I want to hear more about how other musicians are using Songsmith.
Over at our community forum, we’ve set up a musicians area just to “talk shop”. This project would never have happened if the folks who came up with the idea for Songsmith weren’t musicians ourselves. And we can’t tell you just how excited we are to talk to other musicians and get you pumped about Songsmith, so count on us being available in the forums.