The Lyricist Brings Simplicity To Songwriting
Interview with Virtual Studio System founder Eddie Imbriano
By Anne Freeman,
am a songwriter. An unorganized one ... that is until I discovered
"Lyricist ... the Songwriter's Best Friend," (TM) songwriting
software by Virtual Studio Systems, Inc. What I love about
Lyricist is its simplicity, no steep learning curve. Install or
download Lyricist and read a few directions - much of it is intuitive,
so once you learn it, you won't forget it.
The heart of the program is in the "Song Views," which
in version 3.0 now has four pages: one to develop lyrics (Song Lyrics),
one to create chord charts (Chord Charting), one to create arrangements
(Song Arrange), and one to create a number chart (Nashville Charting).
Together, these are power tools for your songwriting.
On the "Song Lyrics" page, develop your lyrics, set
styles (Fonts, Colors, etc.) for Title, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, and
Copyright, and save your styles for all future lyric sheet documents.
Lyricist includes a spell checker, thesaurus and rhyming dictionary,
which can be accessed from any song view. They are easy to use,
but the rhyming dictionary is limited to perfect rhymes. I found
all of the tools useful for quick ideas and brainstorming.
Choose from guitar, piano or the Nashville Number
System to create song chords charts on the "Chord Chart" page. Using
the Chord Selection tool, select your chord root, color (for example,
major/minor), and voicing, and "Chord Select" will insert a chord
where you left your curser. Don't know the name of a chord? The
Chord Wizard fret board allows you select the notes, and Lyricist
will search through its database of over 4,000 versions of chords
to give you a list of possible chords.
Chord Charting and Chord Wizard are flexible tools
that will help you not only identify chords, but also find interesting
chords and less common chord voicing. You can define your own chord
voicings and save them into your chord database, as well. Some other
neat tools include a left-handed fret board, inserting tablature,
and "Song Notes, " which is a "sticky note" where you can write
notes about the song that don't necessarily belong in the lyric
pages or arrangements.
In the "Song Arrange" page, develop full arrangements
of your songs, including time signatures, key labels, beats, codas,
repeats, intros and outros, and more. Create Nashville Number charts
on the "Nashville Charting" page, or transpose your guitar or piano
chord charts from any standard key into the Nashville Number system.
In fact, transposition is one of the real workhorses of Lyricist.
You can transpose between guitar, piano and Nashville Numbers, and
you can also transpose between keys. All with a click of a mouse!
Lyricist organizes songs files into "Albums." My cowriters
and I tend to do a lot of rewrites, so I create an Album for each
song. I also organize final versions of songs in Albums, such as
"Freeman/Harley/Lind 2003." My songwriting notes and documents
are on their way to being organized for the first time in my songwriting
Other features include color print outs of song pages,
e-mailing song documents, and attaching media files to your song
documents and e-mails. Lyricist offers a link to OfficialCopyright.com,
a company that provides on-line copyright services with the United
States Copyright Office, as well. I took the opportunity to
talk with one of Virtual Studio System's founders, Eddie Imbriano:
[Anne]: You and your
partner, Stephen Iacovelli, founded Virtual Studio Systems in 1999.
Everybody at VSS is a musician. I've been a musician/songwriter
for over 30 years, and my partner, Steve, is a great guitarist and
has been a songwriter for over 25 years. We were working together
in a computer systems environment, writing code, and we became partners
and started working together. At the same time, we were playing
music, recording music in a digital home studio, and we felt that
there was a need for some tools. After looking at the market, what
we were looking for wasn't out there.
We wanted a songwriting software that was simple to
use, didn't have a huge learning curve, and didn't include notation
programs. Most notation programs are cumbersome to learn and use,
and most songwriters don't write scores and don't need to do all
of that. As a songwriter, I don't score anything I write. I'm more
interested in getting down my lyrics and my chord progressions.
My cowriters and I would sit down with a guitar or at a piano, fool
around with a melody, come up with a hook, and suddenly you end
up with a bunch of scribbled notes in a pile or a file somewhere,
or in a Word document. Next thing you know, you've got songs here,
notes there, stuff all over.
You know my life as a songwriter! (Laughter)
[Eddie]: Exactly. We thought, why don't we
come up for a cool solution for that problem? We created Tracknotes
first, to keep track of the documentation for our recordings. Lyricist
was actually a module of Tracknotes. We liked it so much we decided
to break it out as a separate application and create a program just
[Anne]: One of the great
features of Lyricist is that it is very easy to use.
[Eddie]: We felt that the user interface was
primary to a user-friendly product. Of course, every time you try
out something new, it can feel a little intimidating, but the feedback
that we've been getting is that Lyricist is very easy to use. We
also know that songwriters like to mix the chords with their lyrics,
so that when they're introducing a song to someone else, musicians
want to know where the chord lands on the lyric. We get a lot of
feedback from Lyricist users that the Chord Chart and Chord Wizard
are some of their favorite features. They are features that we expect
will drive a lot of songwriters to purchase Lyricist.
[Anne]: Tell us about
the e-mail and media features.
[Eddie]: You can e-mail your song to anyone.
If you're working with a cowriter or a publisher, and you both have
Lyricist, you can e-mail all four views by e-mailing the entire
file. Behind the scenes, what we do is Zip up the song file and
send it out using your e-mail provider. What turns up on the other
person's screen is your e-mail with the song as an attachment in
an attached ZIP file. The other person simply imports the ZIP file
from their hard drive and opens it up in Lyricist. The entire song
file opens up in the Lyricist program, with all four views. In addition,
the song is stored in the Zip file in RTF format that can be loaded
into most word processors. So even if the other person doesn1t have
Lyricist he or she can still view the song. That's a nice feature.
[Anne]: What about linking
[Eddie]: It's easy to. You can attach any MP3
file and up to five versions of a song. Once you've archived a media
file, you can play the file using your default media player, and
look at your song lyrics, chord charts, arrangements or Nashville
Chart as the demo is playing. It's a nice feature. You can also
include the media file in an e-mail.
[Anne]: Eddie, what system requirements
are there for using Lyricist on a PC?
[Eddie]: One thing that Lyricist was written
for was simplicity. It doesn't take up a lot of storage. Lyricist
will run on about 95% of the machines that are in use today. It
goes back to Windows 95. We don't recommend it, because that is
a very old operating system. But it will operate.
[MC]: Tech assist. How
can you get it for Lyricist.
[Eddie]: We designed Lyricist for simplicity,
as I've mentioned. We've designed it to not need tech support. We
have a support page that identifies issues such as problems in people's
operating systems as they come up, along with how to fix the problem.
We have a forum where people discuss Lyricist and TrackNotes, as
well. Of course, users can contact VSS directly via e-mail or telephone.
[MC]: Thanks for talking
to us about Lyricist. Any final words?
[Eddie]: From the responses that we've been
getting from Lyricist users, which is in the thousands now, we've
been told that Lyricist should be in every songwriter's and every
musician's arsenal. It's a simple program to use. If you haven't
used Lyricist, take a serious look at it. The price is right - that's
obvious. Go out and get it - help us out! (Laughter!)
by the MusicDish
Network. Copyright © Tag
It 2004 - Republished with Permission