Lyrics on Trial

The New York Times has an article today about a man on trial (link). His song lyrics are about to be used against him in court. If you read this blog you probably know some of my own music. This could very well be my worst nightmare.

“SHOULD rap lyrics be used in court as evidence of a crime? Next week, the Supreme Court of New Jersey will hear a case that could help decide just that. At issue is a prosecutor’s extensive use of rap lyrics, composed by a man named Vonte Skinner, as evidence of his involvement in a 2005 shooting. During Mr. Skinner’s trial in 2008, the prosecutor read the jury 13 pages of violent lyrics written by Mr. Skinner, even though all of the lyrics were composed before the shooting (in some cases, years before) and none of them mentioned the victim or specific details about the crime.” – NYTimes.com

For more info: nytimes.com/rap-lyrics-on-trial

Inspiro

Inspiro is an iOS App that could help you write song lyrics (among other things). Three modes help you on your creative journey: The Muse, Scenarios and The Daydream Machine. I always have a thesaurus or Masterwriter open and I just added this guy to my tool chest. It’s current in the App store for $3.99: click here

“INSPIRO is more than an idea generator, it’s an “imagination stimulator”. Using dynamic word randomization and an easily customizable vocabulary, this engaging app is always ready with fresh concepts to inspire any creative activity, game or daydream. Lyricists can find the words for their next song. This nifty app may just be the final cure for writer’s block.” – inspiroapp.com

For more info: inspiroapp.com

Hack lyrics into the Ableton Live lessons area.

I’m playing live tonight at Tresor. It’s one of the more well known clubs in Berlin. On stage tonight I will be keeping a secret from the audience. Don’t tell anyone ok? The secret is I will have a cheat sheet with on it lyrics in front of me. In fact, I will play a song tonight where as I sit here right now typing this I can’t even remember the opening line! My lyric cheat sheet won’t be on a Textedit or Word document. It’s built right into Ableton Live. Remember when you first opened Live there are those Lessons that pop up on the right part of the interface? If you forgot about them and want to see them again just open Live and under the View menu choose Lessons. See them now? Let’s hack these Lessons and get our own text in there. Here’s how to do it:

Create and save a Project (song) in which you would like to have some of your own text in the Lesson area. Next, find the Project folder that was created when you saved your song. Inside that folder create a new folder with the exact same name as your Project followed by the word “Lessons”. Inside this folder create a plain text document and name it LessonsEN.txt

I use TextWrangler (free!) but you can use the plain old Mac TextEdit too. Type your lyrics or whatever reminders and notes you need. You can create separate pages by using the following syntax:

$Page Name of Song

If you add a: / before text it makes the text italic and bold. I like to make most of my text like this because it’s easier to read. Save the LessonsEN.txt and open Ableton and your Project to see your lyrics. Click on the screenshots in this post to view them larger.

Chris Pirillo talks about lyric website Lyricsfly.


Chris | Live Tech Support | Video Help | Add to iTunes

Uber geek Chris Pirillo lives his life online. He’s talks about all things tech while streaming live video using Ustream. He names, tags and archives the best clips. This morning I noticed he posted a clip about a Lyrics website called Lyricsfly.

When you a hear a new song for the first time, you want to know all the words to it. How exactly do you find those words though? – chris.pirillo.com

It’s true that most lyrics sites are full of pops up, spyware and crazy blinking adverts. He likes Lyricsfly because the ads are minimal, there are options to print or save the lyrics and they have an API.

Do you ever use a lyrics site? Which one?

Link: lyricsfly.com

Write Rhymes is a site that helps you make lyrics.

Write Rhymes, www.writerhymes.com is a new site that can help you when lyric writing. Type a word, option-click it and a bubble pops up with words that rhyme. I have a bunch of these kinds of sites book marked including my favorite thesaurus.reference.com. Write Rhymes also has convinent save button which quickly shoots a .txt file of your text onto your desktop.

If your looking for a full featured song writing helper and database check out MasterWriter: www.masterwriter.com

Liptikl is a new lyric writing tool from Intermorphic.

liptikl - screenshot

Liptikl which is pronounced “lip tickle” is a new application from a company called Intermorphic. It’s basic function is to help you create lyrics. When you launch the program the main window is separated by three sections: ideas, lyrics and verses.liptikl - logo

To start of you need to put some text snippets into the ideas section. You can use your mind and just chuck in some words or head online and grab text from Wikipedia entries, poems, song lyrics, news articles, basically anything.

After you have the text ideas in their containers you click the “Create Lyrics” button and liptikl will spit out a verse. The processing does seem a bit random but you can keep clicking the “Create Lyrics” button repeatedly to get new verses. According to the user guide liptikl is applying internal rules:

There are many internal rules used to create lyrics within liptikl. When the liptikl lyric engine is figuring-out what to do, it combines all these rules together in combination with your source material, and respects them as best it can, but ultimately liptikl makes its own choice as to exactly what to do. In other words, you can give the engine brain lots of guidance, but ultimately (like a child) you let liptikl makes the final, detailed decisions as to what to do.

The reason this all works, is that at its heart, the liptikl lyric engine uses random events in combination with a powerful set of rules. How you interpret what you read is filtered through your own internal knowledge of language. This combination of chance and logic is what allows liptikl to keep coming-up with ideas that are fresh, interesting and unpredictable.

You can apply Lyric Rules which tell liptikl how to create your verse. For example “4 5 4 5″ tells liptikl to use four words per line, the first and third and second and fourth lines ryhme, four lines total.

When you get a verse your happy with head into the last section and click “Add” which then saves your verse in that last section. Repeating that process you eventually build up a song.

I’ve been using the 30 day demo and I am undecided if liptikl is worth $99. They do offer a Masterwriter - screenshotversion for $59 but you can not use liptikl’s output in a commercial project. I would recommend that most people should buy Masterwriter first (screenshot on right). As a song writing tool its a far more comprehensive product. But liptikl is different enough to justify owning both if you have the cash and are a full time musician (is that possible?).

For those of you who have zero dollars to spend there are some free and fun online lyrics generators. For example the always dark “Random Goth Lyric Generator” or even more scary “Alanis Morissette Lyric Generator“.

One thing to keep in mind when using liptikl is if you source your original text from a news clipping, poem, other band’s lyrics, make sure the output is far different enough so that your not plagiarizing or stealing someone’s copyrighted ideas.

Synthetic speech in your music.

Robot Hed - photo

Have you ever used a speech synthesizer in your music? I’ve used a 1970′s Texas Instruments Speak & Spell, Apple computer’s built in MacInTalk text to speech synthesizer, Magnavox Odyssey² video game peripheral “The Voice”, AT&T’s “Natural Voices” for telephony, Commodore Amiga’s “Soft Voice” synthesizer and a handful of other talk making algorithms.Speak & Spell - image

You can hear synthetic voices in a lot of popular music. Most recently Benni Benassi’s song Satisfaction highlights Apple’s MacInTalk speech synthesizer.

In my own music I sometimes have the synthetic voice mirror the last few words in a verse acting as a robotic backup singer. In my live version of the song “One Night in NYC” I have a synthetic female voice tell her side of the dark story. I recorded a futuristic minimal track with German producer Miro Pajic titled “Gigabytes Numbers” and the last minute of the song a male synthetic voice with a British accent rambles gibberish and well large numbers. To increase the futuristic effect on his voice we put it through a TC Electroinc’s Filtrator plug-in and then automated some delay effect times using Ableton Live’s standard Ping Pong Delay plug-in. Here’s an audio sample:

Here are a few online places you can go right now and create some synthetic voices:

What’s next? Software that creates real singing vocals of course. Yamaha’s Vocaloid software takes a stab at it but the technology really is not ready for prime time. However, I could see using Vocaloid for interesting sounds. You can jump over to Sound on Sound Magazine to hear a sample.

Keep in mind we are not “talking” about vocoding in this article. Vocoding uses a carrier signal and a real human voice and will be a subject of a different post in the future. For a current stream of updated info on Text to Speech check out the Text to Speech blog!

photo credits: redomestication and inju