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Topic: Entering lyrics efficiently (Read 6757 times) previous topic - next topic

Entering lyrics efficiently

It seems that some people have troubles with efficient lyrics handling, e.g. in this posting:

I almost never include lyrics in my Files, mainly because I find that entering them in the separate lyrics window, and then switching back and forth between that and the staff to make sure everything is properly positioned and aligned, is too much hard work.

I describe here how I do it (mostly composing for a choir, so there's lyrics all the time), but any critique or other ways of doing it are certainly welcome here!

There's a small bug/problem in NWC you need to know; and you need a "process" - then it's quite easy-going.

First, I almost never use the notes' "Lyrics Always/Default/Never" feature - it is really too much hassle to jump between the score, the lyrics editor and single note's properties windows for me. So all my notes have "Lyrics" set to "Default". For one use of "Always", see "in-word melismas" below.

(a) Write the score without lyrics. You already add the necessary slurs here. If you follow the old way of using beaming for multiple notes per syllable, you can add markers to make all the slurs invisible on beamed groups. Don't be too perfect - errors are repaired later.

(b) Prepare the whole lyrics for a single verse/line in a text editor, where you add all the necessary hyphens. For a long text, it's often easier e.g. to replace "ing " with "-ing " everywhere, as this suffix is typically hyphenated off. Of course you will miss a few hyphenation points and misspell some words - also that will be corrected later.

(c) Paste the lyrics in the lyrics window and close it with Ok (I always use <Tab><Tab><Enter> for this - using the mouse or touchpad is much slower; NWC is a very keyboard-centric program, which makes it so efficient).

(d) Now start reading until the first point where the lyrics are "off" (not aligned with the notes as intended; or there is a simple typo). Ctrl-L will open the lyrics window and remember the right tab - easy. However, the text cursor will sometimes (I don't know when) be at a totally wrong position - now press left-arrow! (not up, not down!! - that's the NWC problem). This will place the text cursor at the position corresponding to the cursor in the score. Now, you can directly correct what's necessary - typically, add a hyphen, but maybe also add an underscore _ for leaving a note without lyrics. Repairing missing or overly long slurs is done directly in the score, of course (marking the respective notes and pressing semicolon).

A special case are lyrics lines that are empty on a long stretch. For example, in a song which starts with an 8-bar chorus, only the first line is filled with lyrics there; but lateron, the second etc. lines will contain lyrics for the verses. For these lines, just prepare a line of many underscores separated by blanks in the text editor (_ _ _ _ _ _ ...) and paste it before the verse lyrics. That lyrics will now be shoved back way too much (if not, add that _ _ _ line once more; repeat until the lyrics is too far back). Close the lyrics and go, in the score, to the place where the verse lyrics should start; now press Ctrl-L and then left-arrow - voila, the text cursor will be at the exact place where the verse lyrics should actually start. Delete all the _ up to the verse, and all is fine.

Another special case are long sequences of notes on a single in-word(!) syllable ("melismas"). Such lyrics are typically not marked with a melisma line (for that, see Melismatic.nw), but with multiple hyphens spread over the note sequence. This is the one place where I set single notes' "Lyrics"  to "Always" (e.g. on the start of each quarter in a run of sixteenths); and replace the single hyphen in the lyrics with -_-_-_-. Each _ will be placed at one of the "Always" notes, and the hyphens are placed nicely in between them. The slur is left completely alone by this (and can be hidden on beamed notes if so wished).

- Repeat (d) through the whole lyrics.
- Repeat (b) to (d) for each lyrics line (verse).

I find that this is really quick work.


Re: Entering lyrics efficiently

Reply #1
I don't compose music but transcribe choral songs, which often feature impossible lyrics. I will try to put your suggestions into practice. Thanks!

Re: Entering lyrics efficiently

Reply #2
   Mike's comment (in the earlier thread) about MuseScore - which I have but don't use - is relevant if the lyrics input processor I hope for doesn't have basic word-processing capabilities. 

   H.M.'s detailed and systematic approach to the NWC entry method is good, and when necessary I already use most of the techniques he mentions for my Files (all of which are intended for Choirs, although in my opinion the Singer should be reading the paper Score, with all its pencil scribbles noting the Conductor's instructions, while listening to the File, rather than looking at the screen).  I particularly appreciate his explanations of how to get from the Score to the right "wrong" place in the lyric, and of how to deal with various different sorts of long word-empty stretches of notes.

   MusicJohn, 29/Oct/21

Re: Entering lyrics efficiently

Reply #3
Apart from H.M. approach,  I'm used to enter the lyrics first, before notating the staff.
The syllables then show themselves one after another with ev'ry note you enter and you can quickly check their correctness..
Always look on the bright side of life!


Re: Entering lyrics efficiently

Reply #4
As a composer, I sometimes have original text to insert. I always use this website first to get the hyphens in place.