Guitar Software For Putting Guitar Chords
To Your Lyrics

By Robert Curtis

Guitar software programs can be very useful tools in your songwriting arsenal, particularly when it comes time to put guitar chords along with your lyrics and song melody. This is known as creating a basic song arrangement. You're basically creating your own guitar sheet music to accompany your song.

One software program for song arranging and songwriting in general that is oriented to guitar is Lyricist. I'll refer to Lyricist to illustrate guitar chord placement and to show the usefulness of this type of software program in songwriting.

Click this image for a LARGER version.If you click the adjacent picture you can see how, with Lyricist, you simply pick your chord and click it in over your song lyrics.

Click on the picture for a LARGER view and even MAXIMIZE the screen that pops up for a full screen display.

Typically, when it comes time to arrange your song, in this case putting the harmony, chords, to your melody, you either create a chord progression to accompany the song or have a musical collaborator do so.

If you have lyrics only then a collaborator may also come up with a melody and rhythm to your lyric or you might create the melody and rhythm and song arrangement with them.

By the way if you collaborate or intend to please check out my collaboration page on the importance of getting a written agreement before you start. On that page feel free to copy the example agreement I use and adapt it to your own situation.

Back to arranging your song, once you've developed your melody and rhythm and picked your chords you'll indicate where the chords are to be played by creating a lead sheet to complete the musical side of your song.

Create A Lead Sheet Quickly With Songwriting Software

A lead sheet, in its most basic form, involves simply placing chords above the words in your lyrics where they would be played coinciding with your melody.

Lead sheets can be more elaborate with your melody written out on music staffs but in the world of songwriting a chord only lead sheet is commonplace.

With a program like Lyricist creating a lead sheet is simplified and automated.

Click this image for a LARGER version.Notice in the picture to the right, from the Lyricist program, how a lead sheet has been created for the noted lyric (click on the picture for a LARGER view and even MAXIMIZE it for a full screen view if you want, then please come on back).

Lyricist has what's called Chord View that you simply click on after you've written your lyric and it automatically copies your lyric over to its own section ready for you to enter chords.

As you'll note along the top of the box where the lyrics are typed in are the tabs for the Chord Charting, Song Arrange and Nashville Charting sections (more on the last two below).

A great thing about Chord View is that no retyping is necessary and plus with Lyricist everything is automatically saved, both your lyrics in Lyric View and now your lead sheet in Chord View.

Also, the diagrams included with Lyricist show both the fret board finger positions and the name of the chord.

With the diagrams it helps prompt you to the correct finger positions, especially if it's a new chord for you, and also the chord is named above which is handy for other instrumentalists who may accompany you like a keyboardist and so you'll know the name of the chord;-).

The Arrange view let's you see just the chords without the lyrics. This is useful when you want a quick chord progression reference for an accompanying musician.

The Nashville charting section allows you to automatically display your chord progressions in the numerical representation which allows any musician familiar with the Nashville number system to play in any key without having to rewrite the chords in.

Whether the lyrical and musical ideas come simultaneously or the musical ideas come first. In any case it's good to write out the musical ideas or at least hum or sing them onto a cassette tape or into your computer ('cause you may otherwise forget 'em later).

Once you have your melody and lyrics together a lead sheet is a handy tool to create.

In review; creating a lead sheet is useful for:

  • having a reference of how the musical accompaniment to your song goes
  • for your own record of the song to begin with (so you don't forget how you arranged you own song two months later)
  • for practicing your song
  • to provide musicians or demo producers whom you may enlist to record a demo of your song so they know "how it goes"


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