Piano Keyboard Software And More For
Learning, Writing and Recording
By Robert Curtis
Piano keyboard software abounds in the realm of learning all the way through to song production.
A piano keyboard is a great instrument when it comes to songwriting as like the guitar it can let you play the harmony and rhythm of your song while letting your vocal handle the melody.
Learning The Keys - Traditional Versus Chord Based Playing
When using the keyboard to just incorporate the harmony and rhythm of your song this type of playing is often referred to as chord based playing.
Most contemporary songwriters learn and use chord based approaches as they're simpler and faster to learn and still offer a very complete rendition of your song harmonically.
Although learning only chord based playing is faster and easier than learning to play melodies on piano - learning to play melodies on piano won't hurt and will in fact help in your music and song composition.
For a fast start you'll do great with just a chord based approach though.
Keep that in mind as you consider the types of software and programs you want to employ to learn or develop your skill set.
Top programs that address the more traditional approach to piano playing include eMedia Piano & Keyboard Method and Voyetra's Teach Me Piano.
A popular program geared toward chord based playing that includes audio lessons (now implementing in podcasts) is the Piano Fun courseware.
Piano Fun has programs for various skill levels from beginner on up and can have you playing songs right away. And you're able to immediately start applying these skills to your songwriting.
Writing Keyboard Chord Charts For Your Songs
Quite often chord based lead sheets of your songs are the main type of lead sheets for referencing your song when sending off to a demo house or sharing your song with other writers or players.
As we discussed last month Songwriting Software Plus' main program for creating chord based lead sheets is Lyricist.
Lyricist is excellent for lyric development too and works hand in hand with the chord construction module minimizing retyping and allowing you to create a lyric and separate chord based lead sheet all within the same file.
And again as mentioned last month PG Music's Band-in-a-Box (versions for Windows PCs and Macs) is a chord based song production program.For all that chord based software can offer a nice standard wall chart of chords can help the process as well with a quick and complete overview of all relevant chords and their fingerings.
The easiest chord charts to reference and the most comprehensive (for practical chords for pop songwriting) are the chord charts from CompleteChords.com.
Complete Chords also has a lot of great free resources on how to optimally craft your songs with chord based approaches.
Software For Writing Keyboard Music
Again, Lyricist and the other programs noted above are perfect programs for preparing chord based music lead sheets, however, if you need to involve writing out your melody as well you'll generally do better with a notation program.
One of the most capable yet easiest to use programs in this regard is Play Music (Windows based, Mac coming).
Play Music is user friendly and takes even the beginning notator by the hand into the process of music notation. You'll end up with professional looking music notation with this modestly priced program. This program is well suited to pop songwriting.
The big guns programs for music notation are Finale and Sibelius and both are highly regarded. They're both vastly featured for intense compositional demands like writing orchestral pieces for example and have price tags to match :-)
For more automated help in getting a melody notated consider programs that can interpret your singing voice or even an instrument creating the notes actually sung or played into sheet music.
Two notable programs that work in this fashion are DigitalEar and Intelliscore.
Recording The Ebonies And Ivories
For recording with your computer via software you're going to use a program called a sequencer.
Today's sequencers record midi (electronic) and audio (vocals and live instruments) and there are certain leading programs for both Window's PCs (referred to as PCs from here on) and Macs.
For PCs top programs for songwriters that are most affordable and generally more than adequate include Steinberg's Cubase SE (works on Macs too) and CakeWalk's Sonar Home Studio edition.
For a very affordable and capable option for PCs check out PG Music's PowerTracks.
Top Mac programs include Logic and Digital Performer and an excellent entry level version of Logic is Logic Express.
All Keys To Your Song Success
With these programs for skill building, writing and recording you're now set for thrill building with your great songs.
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