Songwriter’s Pad for Songwriters

songwriterspad

If you look through my blog, you’ll find reviews I’ve written on a variety of songwriting apps. The reviews are all positive. It’s not because I will write a positive review about anything. It’s because, at the time of the writing, I was having a positive experience with the app and wanted to share the positive experience with other songwriters. Unfortunately, those apps ended up failing on some level, forcing me to try another product. I pay for all of the songwriting apps I review, whatever the cost, and I expect I will get what I’m looking for in the product. That doesn’t always happen.

The songwriting app I started with, over five years ago, was Songwriter’s Pad. It was a great product but was still in its infancy with a lot of growing up to do. There were things about it that needed to be tweaked.  After using it for a bit, I moved on to other apps, always running into one issue or another. Either it wasn’t user friendly, didn’t have an effective way of backing up and exporting, or lacked features a songwriter needs. Whatever the reason, I always moved on to another product. That’s why when I say I’ve tried almost every songwriting app on the market, I’m telling you the truth. I’ve tried songwriting apps for both Apple devices and Android devices, and here’s what I know; after trying out all of those songwriting apps, I’ve come back to Songwriter’s Pad because it is the best of the best.

Songwriter’s Pad is the only songwriting app that has been continually updated since its inception. Even while using other songwriting apps, I kept Songwriter’s Pad on my devices and followed the progress of Paragoni, the company that created and distributes Songwriter’s Pad. Dante Moore, the guy who actually created the software, is still personally involved today and dedicated to making sure Songwriter’s Pad is the best songwriting tool on the market. That’s huge. So many of the other songwriting apps I’ve purchased have either disappeared (after I paid for them) or they don’t get updated. Songwriter’s Pad is always there, getting better all the time.

Are there a couple of wonky things about Songwriter’s Pad that annoy me? Sure there are. The good news is, Dante is always open to listening to users and making improvements based on suggestions. You don’t get ignored like you do with other songwriting apps. You can spend your money on Songwriter’s Pad knowing the product isn’t going to disappear and it will roll with the changes. It’s here to stay, with one purpose, and that’s to make songwriting easier for songwriters. Simple as that.

So yeah, I’ve tried all the songwriting apps that claim to be the one. Songwriter’s Pad is the only one that can make that claim with any legitimacy. It’s been around the longest, it has improved consistently and will continue to improve (there are some great changes coming), and Paragoni will support the product. Dante has answered hundreds of questions from me without ever missing a beat.

Save yourself a lot of wasted time, energy, and money. Buy Songwriter’s Pad. This really is the only songwriting app for Apple and Android devices you’ll need. Anything else is going to give you a headache. I’m tired of headaches. I’m tired of trying out songwriting apps that give me headaches. I’ll be using Songwriter’s Pad full time now.

Paragoni Website

Songwriter’s Pad Facebook

Songwriter’s Pad Twitter @SongwritersPad

Advertisements

Hum Songwriting App

hum

I am picky as hell about the songwriting app I use. I’m also loyal. I used Songwriter HD for nearly four years, then the app was sold to a developer who has no intention of updating the app, leaving me in a real bind. I have been contacted by Apple and Dropbox both letting me know the app will soon be useless. That pisses me off, but hey, it happens, right? Doesn’t make me feel better, though.

What does make me feel better is the heir to the throne, a nifty little songwriting app called Hum. It’s almost everything you need in a songwriting app without the crap you don’t need. It makes capturing your songs an effortless process. It’s an iPhone app, but it does work on my iPad Pro as well. I now have the ability to write and keep all my lyrics and audio in one place. There’s Dropbox support that seamlessly keeps everything backed up behind the scenes, which frees me to focus on writing songs, always with the confidence that what I write won’t disappear.

Hum is relatively new, but rest assured, they are on top of the game and already making changes that will help us to continue to write songs more conveniently. Why? Because they listen to their customers. I have already talked to someone at the company. They are real people with their fingers on the pulse of songwriting. They want to know what makes us happy. That’s the truth. They listen and they are working to develop the best songwriting app possible.

Losing Songwriter HD ended up being a good thing. I probably wouldn’t have discovered this new gold standard for songwriters. I have seen the future of songwriting apps. Its name is Hum. If you’re looking for the perfect tool to help you write and track your songs in the most convenient, non-intrusive way possible, forget about everything else and get your hands on Hum. This is a songwriter’s dream tool. It really is.

UPDATE (9-8-2018): I no longer use this product. It’s still pretty much what I described in this post, but the problem is, there are some things it needs before it is a real contender and the updates on the app don’t come frequently. If you’re looking fo the songwriting app I most recommend, and the one I currently use, check out my post on Songwriter’s Pad. I don’t mean to be harsh, but I write my reviews in good faith based on what I see at the time, and if things change, I have to point them out. There are some good things in Hum, and they certainly have a good idea, but they need to tweak it a bit.

Website: Hum

Twitter: @justhum

 

Epiphone Dove Pro – A Pure Joy Acoustic

EpiphoneDovePRO

Look at the guitar in the picture above. Isn’t it beautiful? Yeah, it’s beautiful. I have one and I can’t say enough good about it. In fact, if you are unfortunate enough to have watched my Youtube video, you’ll hear me go on and on and on . . . and on about it. Here’s a link to the video if you’re up for the punishment: Epiphone Dove Review.

This guitar is phenomenal. Epiphone is one of my favorite guitars. They are owned by Gibson. The quality is there. It shows in this guitar. This is a great acoustic/electric whether you want to use it for writing songs, performing with a band, or just playing for your own enjoyment. I use it for all of these things.

epiphonedove1

I got my Epiphone Dove Pro from Musician’s Friend. If you’ve never bought any musical instruments online and you want to but your nervous, check them out. I get most of my stuff from them and have never had an issue. Great products, competitive prices, awesome customer service. You get all that from Musician’s Friend. Anyway, I love them, but this isn’t about them. It’s about the beautiful Epiphone Dove Pro you see in my hands.

Check out these specs:

Dove Pro Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Top: solid spruce
  • Body: select maple
  • Neck: hard maple
  • Neck joint: glued-in, dovetail
  • Neck Profile: SlimTaper “D” profile
  • Fingerboard: rosewood
  • Fingerboard Inlay: pearloid parallelograms
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12″
  • Binding:
  • Fingerboard, 1-ply white
  • Body top, 5-ply white/black
  • Body back: 1-ply white
  • Scale: 25.5″
  • Saddle: compensated, imitation bone
  • Truss Rod: adjustable
  • Bridge: rosewood with “Dove”-shaped pearloid inlay
  • Pickguard: imitation tortoise with traditional “Dove” artwork
  • Nut: 1.68″
  • Frets: 20, medium
  • Hardware: nickel/ Grover tuning heads
  • Endpin: 1/4″
  • Strings: D’Addario Phosphor (12-53)
  • Power: 9-volt battery
  • Pickup: Fishman Sonicore (under saddle)
  • Preamp: Fishman Sonitone soundhole preamp
  • Master Volume/tone

This baby came o me set up and ready to play. I wrote a song on it straight out of the box. It’s just an incredible instrument at an affordable price. The original Dove’s came out in 1962 and became an iconic part of the music scene. This new Epiphone Dove carries on that legacy. Get one in your hot little hands today and know the joy of a magical instrument that will inspire you. Epiphone has knocked it out of the park.

Once again, if you want to torture yourself and hear me go on and on about this instrument, go to my Youtube channel. If you’re feeling real generous, like a couple of videos and subscribe to the channel. I’d certainly appreciate the support.

epiphonedove2

God’s Problem Child – Willie Nelson

Willie_Nelson_God's_Problem_Child

Man, Willie Nelson has never been better. At 84 years old, he’s still playing the music that he’s always loved and played, and the kick ass part of it is, he’s playing it as good as he ever has. I can’t say God’s Problem Child is the best record Willie has ever done because he’s done some damn good records. I can say it’s right up there with the best of his records, though. Willie sings and performs on God’s Problem Child as good as he ever has. I mean, this record is a pure damn joy to listen to from start to finish.

There are 13 awesome tracks on God’s Problem Child. Of those, 7 were co-written by Willie and Buddy Cannon, the producer of the album. While the album isn’t a concept album, many of the songs focus on mortality and coming to the end of one’s life. It’s not as bleak as it sounds, though. Willie approaches the topic with his trademark humor and makes clear that he’s more than comfortable with whatever the future has in store for him. There’s certainly no need to pussyfoot around it. We all grow old (if we’re lucky) and move on eventually. All you can do is make your life the best it can be while you’re here and try to leave something behind you can be proud of.

The first song was written by Buddy Cannon’s mom, Lyndel Rhodes. It’s called Little House on the Hill. A video of Lyndel listening to Wille perform her song went viral on social media in 2016. Here the song opens the album with a bang. It’s one of the standout tracks on the album. This is just the start of something really good.

Other great songs on the album include Delete and Fast Forward (Willie’s commentary on the current state of politics), Still Not Dead (a humorous song that refers to the Internet hoaxes involving Willie’s death), and He Won’t Ever Be Gone (a tribute to Merle Haggard). These are just the songs that came to mind immediately. I could have said Lady Luck, Old Timer, True Love, I Made a Mistake, or the title track, God’s Problem Child, with guest vocalist Leon Russell, who died November 2016. There’s really not a bad song here.

If you’re a fan of Willie Nelson, you know what to expect with God’s Problem Child, and if you’re not a Willie Nelson fan (huh?), this album is a great way to introduce yourself to a wonderful songwriter and great performer. Whether Willie is doing his own songs or lending his signature to songs written by someone else, it’s all pure Willie. Warm, honest, and somehow comforting. Check out Willie’s new album. It’s one of the best of his career.

outlaw-willie

Carl Hose Playing the Muse Youtube

CarlYouTubeBanner

https://www.youtube.com/c/CarlHose1

I’ve started a Carl Hose “Playing the Muse” Youtube channel. It’s basically this blog gone live action. The videos are low budget and focus on the craft of songwriting as well as discussions about some of my favorite songwriters, bands, albums, and the songs that have inspired me through the years as a songwriter. The concept is simple. I believe all songwriters are a product of the music they grew up with, which is why I spend so much time in the videos addressing the music that inspired me.

CarlH

If you’re into music talk in general, you’ll probably dig some of what I do on the Youtube channel. If you’re a songwriter or musician, you’ll dig what I do on the Youtube channel for sure. If you’re a beginning songwriter, you might pick up some cool techniques for bringing your songs to life. At the very least, we’ll have fun talking about awesome bands and great music.

I want to invite you to check out my Youtube, like the videos, leave comments, and if you think it’s something you’re going to like, subscribe to the channel and help me build it. Your comments and suggestions will help me bring you topics we can all have fun with. If you write songs, love talking about music, or just want to watch some low budget rock and roll fun, drop by the channel.

https://www.youtube.com/c/CarlHose1

carl

https://www.youtube.com/c/CarlHose1

Turn on the Power with 2 AC/DC Singers

The debate rages on. It always has and always will. Which AC/DC singer is the best, Bon Scott or Brian Johnson? There are all sorts of opinions with even more opinions to support whatever side you take. I like to meet somewhere in the middle. I recognize the value both singers brought to the band. Before we jump into it, though, there is a third singer (the original, a guy named Dave Evans), who I’m not going to talk about (not because he was bad, but because he was only in the band a short time, before they were big). There’s also the whole Axl Rose thing, which turned out much better than I thought it would. The point is, the focus here is on the two main singers.

bon-scott

brian-johnson

There are great AC/DC albums featuring Bon Scott and great AC/DC albums featuring Brian Johnson. The live album If You Want Blood You’ve Got It with Bon Scott is a killer live album. It’s one of my favorites. Some of their best early stuff is on the album. Riff Raff, Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be, Bad Boy Boogie, Problem Child, Whole Lotta Rosie, Rock ‘n’  Roll Damnation, and High Voltage are just some of the awesome Bon Scott-era songs on the album. The energy and raw quality of the album is off the charts.

As far as Bon Scott-era studio albums, you can’t argue with High Voltage, Let There Be Rock, Powerage (my personal favorite), or the classic Highway to Hell. Those albums are legendary. They set the pace for what would continue in a more polished form on the AC/DC albums that would follow after Bon Scott’s death.

Lyrically, Bon Scott was a genius. He knew how to use metaphor, wordplay, and double entendres to make his point. His lyrics were the song equivalent of the limerick. Brian wrote a lot of great lyrics, but Bon Scott just had a way with words that couldn’t be beat.

Besides Powerage, which I can’t get enough of, there’s Let There Be Rock. Bad Boy Boogie, Overdose, Whole Lotta Rosie, Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be, Go Down, Problem Child, and the title track are just some of the killer songs on that album. Powerage only had Rock ‘n’ Roll Damantion and Riff Raff as hits, but tracks like Sin City, Gone Shootin’, and Down Payment Blues showcase Bon Scott’s lyrical genius as well as anything on Let There Be Rock. For me, choosing my favorite between the two is impossible. Both are great albums.

Of course, you can’y argue that the biggest album the band had was with Brian Johnson. Back in Black is beyond legendary. It’s a beast unto itself. You Shook Me all Night Long, Hells Bells, Shoot to Thrill, and Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution are just a couple of the gems on the album. The follow-up album, For Those About to Rock, was another killer effort from the AC/DC camp. A couple of standout tracks on that one, besides the super cool title track, are Put the Finger on You, Let’s Get It Up, Evil Walks, C.O.D. are all great AC/DC songs. I like For Those About to Rock slightly better than Back in Black. Maybe it’s blasphemy to say that, I don’t know, but it’s true.

It’s hard to really call an AC/DC album bad, regardless of whether it comes from the Bon Scott era or the Brian Johnson era. AC/DC is just one of those bands that delivers one great album after another. Even albums like Flick of the Switch and Fly on the Wall offer a few little gems, and then there’s Blow up Your Video, one of my favorites for sure. There are some great overlooked classics on here. Heatseeker, of course, which was a hit, and then some awesome stuff like Ruff Stuff, Kissin’ Dynamite, Some Sin for Nuthin’, and Nick of Time. It’s really a classic album that never became classic.

More great albums followed with Brian Johnson, who has obviously logged much more time with the band than Bon Scott. In fact, there’s a couple of generations of fans who don’t even remember AC/DC had another singer, believe it or not, and that’s a shame. Even if you grew up on the Brian Johnson-fronted AC/DC, you should be aware of the contributions made by Bon Scott. AC/DC would not be AC/DC as they are today without the contributions to its history from Bon Scott. Instead of debating which era is better, I’d rather acknowledge what each of these great frontmen brought to the band.

Tickling the Keys with Ozzie Ahlers

ozzie-2

Ozzie Ahlers has played alongside some of the most iconic artists of our time. He is a composer, performer, and all around musician. In fact, he is probably a musician’s musician. He believes in the power of music and has left his stamp on musical history with his studio work, his original bands, his compositions, and his live performances. In this interview, Ozzie generously shares his knowledge of the business and his advice to young and aspiring musicians today.

Ozzie-live

Carl Hose: Ozzie, I appreciate this. You’ve got a lot of years doing serious business in the music business, so talking to you is awesome. I mean, Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Jerry Garcia, Greg Kihn . . . I don’t want to drop names, but you’ve been associated with some top notch and iconic musicians. You’ve written a soundtrack for Gumby, you’ve played on many great albums, toured with the best, and had your own successful bands. Any regrets about the path you chose or has it worked out the way you originally intended?

Ozzie Ahlers: Yes, I had a very different picture for my career. At 18 years old, I had planned on being in a very successful band. We had a movie deal and everything. Unfortunately, that dream fell apart . . . more like shattered. I guess when you’re young and living in a laundromat in Greenwich Village, you wonder if it’s all worth it. But it caused me to strive to the next level and work with my new band Glory River, and to be produced by Jimi Hendrix. There were many low times, but those were far eclipsed by the high times. When you work alongside great musicians, your field of vision gets enriched, not just by the audience appreciation, but with the feeling that you’re on the right track; that you’re doing the right thing and you’re connecting with other musicians and the listeners out there.

OA: Wow! That could be a very long list. Eric Clapton comes to mind because his journeymen approach to music is much like mine. Nothing too flashy, just always tastefully crafted. I know it’s too late for a few, but the great Stevie Ray Vaughan comes to mind. I love his flow. I like his approach to the blues, and being a keyboard player, I could have respectfully added my very best blues comps behind him, just be the support team. Another is Bob Marley because I dig reggae music so much, and his approach was so casual, I felt I could have grooved heavily with him.CH: Anybody you would have liked to play with that you haven’t had the chance to play with?

CH: Do you have a particular method when you compose? Is there a routine, a particular time you like to write, any funky habits you’ve developed over the years?

OA: My method, or I should say my inspiration, for music usually comes to me at the most unlikely times. I love to compose when I’m riding my bicycle. I come up with a phrase or a feel, bring it back to the studio, then get it down as quickly as I can. I could also hear a song that has nothing to do with what I’m writing, but I will take a piece of it or feel from it and make it my own. I learned early on that my take of someone else’s music is usually so far from the original sound that it is unrecognizable to anyone else. So there’s is the rule for plagiarism; steal from many and it becomes yours. As far as funky habits, yes, I definitely love to get a brand new instrument, whether it”s a keyboard, guitar, organ, piano or synth, and just try some sounds on it, and the moment that I’ve tried a new sound, there’s a possibility that it may spark a piece of music in my head.

CH: Do you prefer the recording studio or playing live?

OA: I don’t have a particular preference for either one because they are such different animals. Playing live has an energy all its own, especially when you’re working with musicians you like. We feed off each other and there is a telepathic communication. The recording studio allows you to try to get that unattainable perfection we strive for. As we try to get down to music exactly recorded, exactly as we think we hear it, we may falter. Although we can get inspired to give our best performance and hope that’s the take. One thing is for sure, as they say, album projects are never finished; they are just abandoned. There is always more to do.

CH: Do you remember when you knew music was the only way for you to go, when you knew it was going to be the career path you followed.

OA: I was about 10 years old and I started playing the guitar and I was emulating all the rock musicians out there; Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, just to name a few. I put together my first band when I was only ten years old, for my 5th grade talent contest. I enlisted some good friends on an accordion and a small set of drums, and I played the guitar. I won that talent contest and a few others in school, but that wasn’t what drove me. My passion for music is not really explainable, other than it’s where I feel most alive and it is the one thing that has never failed to give me goosebumps. When you are onstage playing your own music, it is a unique feeling. I always dreamed of that and I got my wish; I am very grateful for that.

CH: Was your family musical?

OA: My family was only musical in the sense that they took piano lessons and read some music, but that wasn’t what I wanted to do. The music that I wanted to play had not been scribed yet. The sheet music for early popular songs and the first rock-and-roll songs were an embarrassment at best as to what the the artist really had in mind. So I took it upon myself to play those 45 RPM records over and over and to learn just what they were doing by copying their sound.

CH: Who is the most memorable musician or band you’ve played with and why?

OA: I guess that would have to be Chuck Berry. Being my earliest musical idol and being such a distinct personality to say the least, playing his music at his side was a great experience. I was only 20, and he called me “blue eyed soul.” He was openly angry about having been ripped off over the years, but he still had so much to teach me. Not only in his musical ability, but his business sense, stuck with me. I watched him go head to head with the promoters of the shows we were playing. His contract demanded cash as the balance of payment at a gig. Not a cashier’s check, mind you, but real cash. And if you didn’t have it, the show wouldn’t go on. And I experienced just that one snowy night in Buffalo, New York. No dough, no show. That was a lesson learned at an early age.

As far as the most memorable band that I have played with, it’s someone you probably haven’t heard of. The Edge was a rock reggae band that I formed with my friend Jimmy Dillon during the 80s. We had a symbiotic relationship between the members and it showed in our music. We wrote together and played together. We had a very smooth flow and a unique sound. But the success music Gods didn’t shine upon us and we were forced to break up. But I’ll never forget the experience of playing music I loved with like-minded players. As I mentioned, playing your own music to audiences is a great and very satisfying experience. Craig Chaquico (ex-Jefferson Starship) and I got to do that for16 years. We wrote the music for 10 albums and performed live around the world.

CH: Do you keep up with the musical technology that’s made home recording and composing so much more convenient, or are you still old school, where the band gets together and does business. I mean, nowadays one person can record an entire album, but I feel like there’s a lot of creative give and take missing, which just steals so much of the heart and soul of music.

OA: Yes, I keep up with musical technology, especially for home recording because most of my projects are done at my (home) studio, unless I am overdubbing at a studio. My new technology is the interactive streaming online with interesting new players. I love doing my webinars because I am able to reach out to the people who want to learn keyboards. The people who are in touch with me have questions and are truly involved in learning and growing in music, no matter what their background or ability. These in my mind are very cutting edge people. As far as technology being cold or taking away from the heart and soul of music; yes, the paint by the numbers music that is out there is a little frightening. But there are so many people who are still being creative. There are still the folk singers, the R&B artists, the jazz people, the singer songwriters who want to write that next great song; and because of that, it will be great.

CH: What is the one song you wish you’d written, either because royalties would have made you comfortable forever, or simply because the song is perfect?

OA: Hah. Of course, that one song would have to be White Christmas by Irving Berlin. Not only because it is the most covered song in world history but because it is perfect. Take away the short verse (common with most songwriters in the 30s and 40s), when you get to the actual chorus of “I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas,” the entire song is only 16 bars. Amazing, huh? That’s probably about 10 million dollars a bar.  As far as a perfect song,  I would have to say on any given day I have a new one.  It could have been Hey Jude or Johnny B Goode or Blue Suede Shoes or What’d I Say. Too many great songs to even imagine one. Possibly a list of a thousand would scratch the surface.

CH: What’s your favorite piano or keyboard. What kind of setup do you use for recording or live?

OA: As far as the pianos go, my favorite keyboard would have to be a Steinway grand. It is of course the feel and warmth of touch that we all want. My favorite overdub instrument is the Hammond B3 because it speaks so perfectly with all those beautiful voices. You can solo, comp, or put a beautiful melody line behind a voice and it just blends in perfectly. It almost mixes itself. It is the most expressive instrument that I know. The setup I use for recording is a weighted Korg SV88. It still gives me a great warm sound as well as all the sharp attack that I need. The live shows that I play usually require back line, so I will use a Korg whenever I can, but a weighted keyboard is the way to go. If I’m lucky enough to have a real miked grand on stage, that is my most comfortable instrument.

ozzie-jam

CH: Okay, a couple of fan questions. Coffee, tea, or neither?

OA: New Orleans dark chicory coffee with real cream.

CH: Beatles or Stones?

OA: Both. George Gershwin or Robert Johnson?

CH: I feel either answer is the right answer, and leaving one out over the other is sinful. I’ll say Robert Johnson, but they are two extremes. Man, yeah . . . Robert Johnson. What’s your favorite food?

OA: Creamed Finnan Haddie, or almost anything served at Commanders Palace (in NOLA).

CH: The music business has changed severely. I don’t have to tell you that. If somebody starting out wants to make it in the music business, is there still a way to do that, say for a session musician, songwriter, or somebody just wanting to put a recording band together?

OA:  You just said it. Putting a band together or being a studio musician gets you in the thick of it. Contacts in music are real important, both for creativity and the pure business part. I always tell younger aspiring musicians that it’s great to have success with a band, it’s great to be a successful studio musician. But in the end, I wanted to be a songwriter and producer. After the gig is over, that’s when the royalty money will allow you to still be supported in your creativity, even when you don’t have that band or studio gig.

CH: What are you up to these days, Ozzie?

OA: Right now I’m very focused on my The Keyboard Klub and live webinars, as it keeps me in touch with all the students and younger musicians who are striving for success in their careers. I have a worldwide audience and the diversity keeps me on my toes at all times.

CH: Any projects, anyplace people can check out your work?

OA: I am working on a new DVD/CD project with Craig Chaquico to redo some of our hits from the ten albums we did. They will be recreated with an inspiring National Parks theme and sold to a target audience.

CH: Is there a way to follow you on social media?

OA: I let go of Facebook sometime ago. My website Oz@ozzieahlers.com is open for business 24/7/365. I am able to answer every email and every question sent to me, and it is also a driving force behind my webinar material. I am even able to do custom DVD’s for my professional musical clients. Staying in touch with people on a personal level is very important to me. 

CH: Thanks again for giving your time to Playing the Muse. Much respect from me to you.

OA: My pleasure to work alongside a talented guy like you.