The singers and songwriters category encompasses a wide range of approaches, from guitar-wielding troubadours to vocal powerhouses, to ivory-tinkling composers and even those who store up prime melodies for a rainy day.
But, if you’re serious about making song building your lifelong calling, then this ready-to-use toolkit will ably help you in that quest. While our more genre-specific categories are primarily geared towards improving the overall sonic image of your tracks, here we keep our eyes and ears on bolstering your arrangements – either boosting, creatively suggesting next steps or increasing the sophistication of your works.
1. Free Tracktion Waveform
Waveform has been a respectable workstation for years, and this recent free version gives you an incredible amount of capability that we’re still totally intimidated for a free product. With unlimited tracks, plugin support at all levels, and a singer/songwriter model, Waveform Free is a cool powerhouse.
2. iZotope Voice Doubler
If you’re one of those people who are full of song ideas, but lack the vocal skills to create the demo you had in mind, then iZotope’s free voice dubbing package can quickly and cleanly add extra punch. The sleek user interface comes with sculpting capability and will save you that crucial time when you need to get ideas quickly.
3. Spitfire Audio LABS Soft Piano
Spitfire’s beautiful free LABS pack bottles the sweet, soulful sound currently in vogue that permeates modern singer/songwriter-like gear. LABS Soft Piano adds a graceful touch of muted sophistication to your arrangement. It’s especially useful if you’re new to piano writing and want to inject some class into your piece.
4. TAL Audio TAL 4 Reverb
One of the oldest tricks in the book with vocals and acoustic instruments is to add a touch of characterful reverb. While you record your tracks in your bedroom, the free TAL Reverb 4 can make it feel like you’re playing in the very Royal Albert Hall itself. The vintage sound of TAL Reverb has come highly recommended for years.
This is a very useful little free app, which also offers chord diagrams for guitar and piano and audio previews of your potential piece. After you enter a basic key or chord progression, Autochords will come up with a musicologically sound main progression idea that you can follow or use as a template to experiment with. A nice spade to get out of a creative rut.
6. Exit Arcade
Although we’re cheating a bit here, as the full suite is only accessible for a £9 per month subscription, one month’s trial access is absolutely free. As a self-proclaimed “inspiration machine,” we’ll disappoint you by not mentioning that this vast array of sound-tuning tools can be unlocked for free. The first stop for composers should be the Hooked melody generator.
Pro Tip: Blister Moments
Inspiration can strike at any time – while you’re shopping big, packed on a crowded train, or during a checkup at the dentist. It’s all too easy to pass up those flashes of awesome potential if you don’t have a system for noting them in place.
While most smartphones have some sort of voice note program built-in, free mobile DAWs such as BandLab (iOS and Android), GarageBand (iOS) or Music Maker Jam (Android) let you capture your melodies with clarity and also to add a basic tempo and foundation in chords.
One of the main mindsets of any professional song or melody composer is to be ready and waiting to capture those sudden flashes whenever they arise. So arm yourself now!