Tips of the Trade: Songwriting Apps

Friday, 05 Feb 2016

You might not realise it, but you’ve most likely got a very handy songwriting tool in your pocket right now. Mobile apps can help you write, record and keep track of ideas on the go – handy if you’re on the road or struck by inspiration in the supermarket queue. We asked three of our Ambassadors, KLP, Tim Levinson and Kav Temperley to tell us about their favourite apps and how they use them. 

KLP (Kristy Lee Peters)

The best thing about apps is that they’re on your phone, and if you have them synced, they transfer across all your devices. So if I am writing lyrics into Notes on my laptop, it automatically puts the same thing into Notes on my mobile. This makes it very handy to jump up and walk into a vocal booth with just your phone in your hand (way easier than holding a laptop)!

iTunes, SoundCloud, Beatport
These are great for general inspiration.

Voice Memos
On a more practical tip, Voice Memos is great for quickly recording ideas and notes for lyrics (I have soooo so many memos of all types of ideas - big, small, rambling!).

The RODE rec app cost me about $10 and is great for recording on the go vocals through your phone. 99.9% of my stuff I record at my studio at home, but there have been a few cases when I’m traveling and I’ve had to re-sing a line or do a voice-over, and this app has been great for a little bit better quality mic sound. It has lots of great editing tools as well so you can comp a few takes together, normalise etc.


Most creative people have some affection for superstition and ritual. My songwriting ritual is about the physical writing of words on paper - so I fill up rhyme books and cross out words as I go. I love the feeling of finishing a book, and I know how productive I am by how old the most recent piece of writing is. So apps only ever work in support of that part of my process.  

ColorNote and Evernote 
ColorNote and Evernote are handy for documenting ideas, words and phrases and exchanging them on the go. I'll often write notes based on quotes I hear or read, or phrases I come across. They're super handy when you're stuck for themes or jump-off words that kick-start a verse or chorus. 

RecForge ii 
RecForge is actually clunky as hell. But it's the app I use to record vocal ideas on my Android. I'd investigate a better app for this purpose but I'm lazy. 
Thesaurus is handy because I'm just a simple guy and every bit helps.


All of these apps are really simple and allow you to keep working at great speed. I don’t find that they inform the creativity - they just give you some practical help so you don’t get distracted by the boring stuff.

Cleartune guitar tuner
The Cleartune app is a super accurate tuner, so no matter what instrument I'm on or wherever I am, I can really quickly check my tuning and keep moving without having to go searching for a guitar lead etc.

tagBay BPM
tagBay BPM is really handy. When I'm working on a tune and I'm getting close to a scratch demo, I can tap out the tempo without too much fuss.

Voice Memos
My phone is now filled with voice memos. Some of them are from when I wake up in the middle of the night with an earworm, and some are from when a tune pops into my head while I'm driving, but a lot are the catalogued work in progress of whatever song I'm working on. Sometimes I like to go back and listen to a song at its very initial creation so I can marry that essence with the more refined and sophisticated version that it’s become.

Tags: aprap
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