Cellphones… they’ve become an important part of our everyday lives. But, as a musician, are you using them to their full potential? This article comes from professional musician Chris Senner, who has some great ideas on how your cellphone can become an essential part of your songwriting journey!
Songwriters and musicians in today’s day and age have a definite advantage with the advent of the cellphone. I was thinking about all of the things I use when writing songs and I realized, “wow, I use my cellphone for almost every song.”
Cellphones help musicians look up lyrics, record ideas, and share with their bandmates or team. They have basically made it possible to record and write music anywhere that you go, and it’s only getting better.
I have met hundreds of musicians over the years touring and the one thing we all have in common is the use of cellphones for songwriting.
Even if you like to write lyrics the old-fashioned way with a pen and paper, having your voice memos rolling while you write can be a game-changer.
Let’s take a look at some of my favorite apps I’ve used over the years.
Best Apps For Musicians
Rhymer’s Block (iOS)
I’ve worked with countless producers and songwriters who use this app. This is a great app as it works flawlessly. You type in the name of your song and then start writing lyrics.
The app will start throwing on lyrics that rhyme with your words. This is helpful as it will definitely spark some ideas. I don’t think this is something you want to rely on, as I’ve always liked the idea of unique lyrics.
With that being said, if you use it as a means to find some inspiration and some words, it’s super helpful.
As you can see, I named my song “Waves.” I then typed in “waves” for lyrics and I’m prompted with words that rhyme with it.
Autochords (Desktop & iOS)
Autochords is a great app for beginner guitarists and pianists. You can even use this if you’re an experienced musician who just needs help with chord progressions for songwriting.
You are able to pick your style and then piano or guitar. This is unique in itself since so many apps are geared towards tabs or guitar chords.
If you’re someone looking for chords to play on the piano, you will fall for this app immediately.
Once you pick your style, you can choose your instrument and your mood. This will prompt you with different chord progressions to then play along with.
Beginners should be able to easily start to get the hang of common chord progressions for their own songwriting purposes.
Circle Of Fifths App (Android & iOS)
I have always been a huge fan of the circle of fifths as it helped me all the way back in high school when I was first learning to write my own songs.
This app doesn’t take much space on your cellphone and it’s really easy to use as well. You are able to practice as many chord progressions as you would possibly want to on this app and it’s perfect for those who don’t understand music theory well.
There is a slight audio lag at times; however, I would recommend using this more so for music theory purposes.
Garage Band App (iOS)
The Garage Band app is pretty underrated, in my opinion. When I’m on tour, I’m able to access the app and record any ideas that I might have with a simple MIDI controller.
It doesn’t take a lot of time to set up and it’s really fun to mess around with when you’re traveling.
You can instantly record an idea with up to 32 tracks directly to your iPad or iPhone.
It is also super simple to use and it will help develop your production skills should you be looking to do so.
Musicnotes (iOS & Android)
Note: At Musicnotes, we’ve obviously got a bit of a bias ourselves, but we’re excited that Chris himself recommends our app!
How I Use My Cellphone As A Songwriter
When I sit down to write, I almost always hit record on my voice memos. You never know when you’re going to write something that you really like. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written ideas that I’ve liked only to forget them.
Take advantage of technology here. Every musician likes to write differently, but if you’re like me, inspiration hits you at the most inconvenient times.
You never know when you’ll find a melody popping into your head and all you have to do is just pull your cellphone out and send that voice memo home.
If you’re in a band, I would recommend hitting record on your phone during writing sessions. Even if you’re not the main writer, I suggest you learn as it is such a useful and fun tool to have.
I know this definitely seems like a no-brainer, but writing lyrics on your cellphone is super convenient. You can look up synonyms for words if you’re having trouble coming up with cool words.
You can also write ideas for songs down in note pad. This is nice if you don’t have a title to the song or if you have a cool lyric idea pop in your head while you’re out doing something.
You never know when you’ll be inspired, so having your phone with you to write lyrics is a big plus.
You can actually use cellphones with MIDI controllers now. This means that you can do some fun writing directly into your cellphone. To me, this can be a game-changer in situations that are typically not convenient. For example, you could do work on an airplane or in a car when you’re not driving.
All of the new controllers are designed to work cellphones for ultimate portability.
Listening To Music
One thing I can’t emphasize enough for newer bands is to always be listening to music. You have to stay relevant and have a good idea of what kind of trends are going on in the industry.
I know every band wants to be unique, but there are certain things that are beneficial to know. One main thing is the tempo.
If you’re an artist or a band who desires to be played on the radio, you need to know what tempo songs are typically at for your genre. For example, right now, down-tempo songs are pretty much dominating every platform of music from hip-hop all the way to rock.
Coming in with a super-fast song that might’ve worked 6 years ago, probably won’t work today, unless you have the greatest song in the world.
I recommend listening to music on any platform that you can, but my favorite currently is Spotify. Stay up to date with Spotify as it’s a super important platform for musicians.
Cellphones make it easier to communicate quickly with your manager or band members. If you’re working on artwork or music video stuff, you can easily create chats and send ideas back and forth.
Communication is one of the main reasons that cellphones are so important to people in the music industry. I get you can make this argument for all professions, but for music, I think they are even more helpful.
Chris Senner is the founder of KeyboardKraze. Over the last 6 years, he has toured the country playing keyboards in the band Vinyl Theatre. Chris has been playing keyboards for over 20 years and loves to share his knowledge on his website.