New Tools For February’s Album Writing Month

Written by January 24th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

A Carnegie Mellon post-doctoral fellow named Burr Settles has come up with two new web-based tools to help participants in February’s Album Writing Month, or FAWM, which challenges songwriters to compose 14 songs in 28 days. The new tools are now featured on FAWM’s The Muse website.

Typing a word into Settles’ LyriCloud will produce a group of “semantically-correlated” words to inspire songwriters. Try “lonesome” and you might get: railroad, rider, rovin, run, stragglers, and sun. Sounds like a decent Texas country song in the making.

Settles’ Titular helps writers who struggle with song titles. In many instances, great songs in pop and country music have begun with a title, and many professional country songwriters today still start songs with a title as their hook. Where LyriCloud allows user input, Titular is all the machine. Click the “Get New Titles” button and you might be offered “Suspended By You” and “Runnin’ On” – not bad – but also the awkward “Enough Of Fly,” the meaningless dirty realism of “Nuclear Tin To Wander” and the boring “Nice To Me.”

If you’re wandering where your new song titles and lyrics come from, the answer is in 137,787 songs by 15,940 artists that Settles probed from online lyric sites. He then used language analysis tools to create templates – like “(-ing form verb) with a (common noun)” – to help Titular burp out (hopefully) logical phrases.

Titular and LyriCloud make nice free additions to the other, more serious, tools on the market to help songwriters and writers – Masterwriter and Tanager’s SongFrame being two of our favorites. The whimsical aspect of Settles’ programs also remind us of Dylan pulling words from newspapers to make collage-style songs or the Beats’ belief in “first thought, best thought.” “Subterranean Homesick Blues”? Now you try.

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