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electronic MUSICIAN

MasterWriter MasterWriter 2 (Mac/Win) Quick Pick Review

By Michael Cooper | August 1, 2009

MasterWriter 2

The Word Families dictionary in MasterWriter 2 shows grouped and filtered words and phrases related to your search item.

When MasterWriter songwriting software (offered by the company with the same name) was released five years ago, I threw away my traditional rhyming dictionaries and never looked back. The stand-alone program (reviewed in April 2004, online at emusician.com) included separate proprietary dictionaries containing tens of thousands of rhyming words, rhyming and non-rhyming phrases, alliterations and pop-culture references. Also included were a traditional dictionary, thesaurus, a rudimentary hard disk recorder (for capturing melodies and basic song arrangements), a database for basic song-publishing administration and the company's Songuard song-registration service (a proxy for interim copyright registration). As a testament to the program's strength, I used it to write the lyrics to a song that was recently cut by a prominent indie record label based in Nashville.

MasterWriter 2 features greatly expanded content and some unexpected and terrific new features. I reviewed MasterWriter 2 on an 8-core 2.8GHz Mac Pro running Mac OS 10.5.4.

MASTER MAKEOVER

MasterWriter's user interface has been thoughtfully redesigned and is now resizable. The Lyrics and Sketches windows now conveniently show all your Favorites collected from searching MasterWriter's proprietary dictionaries. The Song Flags, Publishing and Recordings pages have also been consolidated into one multi-pane window under the Song Info tab. The Audio window now sports a full-sized window for viewing complete lyrics. AIFF, WAV, MP3, MOV (QuickTime) and AU (Unix) file formats are now supported, and you can import and export as many songs at a time as you wish.

The new Word Families dictionary is a great tool for both songwriting and creative prose. Type a word in its Search box, and then choose whether you want only adjectives, adverbs, nouns or verbs in your search results. In addition to synonyms, lists of unique and highly creative words and phrases not found in a thesaurus are provided. The search results can be filtered further to show only those containing a specific number of syllables or a word ending in “s”, “ed” or “ing.” For example, I performed a search on the word “love” and filtered results to show only verbs ending in “ing.” This yielded colorful phrases such as “getting a kick from,” “having a blast” and “beaming from ear to ear.” Word Families wasn't yet fully developed when I wrote this review; be sure to check the company's Website for a planned free update.

The new Parts of Speech dictionary is mostly useful in alliterative song forms such as rap. The dictionary is an alphabetized collection of words filtered according to their moderately or intensely positive or negative connotations. You can filter your results further by specifying the number of syllables or the word class (adjectives, adverbs, nouns or verbs) you want to see. For example, choosing positive, intense adjectives starting with the letter “f” returned words like “flat-out,” “favorite,” “foxy” and “frisky.” Filtering results again to show only nouns produced the word “flame,” among others. Imagine how long it would take you to come up with a rap lyric like, “You're my flat-out favorite, foxy, frisky flame, girl.” Using MasterWriter, I penned it in under a minute.

I was thrilled to note MasterWriter's Sound-Alikes dictionary has been greatly expanded in Version 2. Tired of predictable, sing-song-y rhymes? Sound-Alikes suggests phonetically similar “imperfect” rhymes that'll keep the listener guessing until the moment the singer delivers the lyric. MasterWriter 2 also includes a complete, searchable version of the Bible — both Old and New Testaments. You can also directly access the Wikipedia Webpage for any item selected in MasterWriter's Pop Culture dictionary.

A data-migration tool (for copying songs from MasterWriter 1.x to V. 2) should be available by the time you read this. And the company plans to add hundreds of new phrases and pop-culture entries to its respective dictionaries. All these updates will be free to registered owners of MasterWriter 2.

I hope future versions of MasterWriter will allow users to store their own Sound-Alikes. It would also be great if the included MIDI loops (accessible in MasterWriter's Audio window) could be exported to a DAW or a MIDI file arranger such as Toontrack EZplayer.

GUARD SERVICE

As was the case with earlier versions of MasterWriter, V. 2 comes with a free one-year subscription to the company's excellent Songuard service, which offers a money-saving alternative to costly copyright registration of unpublished songs. After the first year, the subscription cost is $30 per year (still a screaming deal).

MasterWriter 2 costs $249. Members of BMI, ASCAP and SESAC receive a special discount, and V. 1 users can upgrade to V. 2 for $119. It's money well spent. Whether you're an amateur or a pro, MasterWriter 2 will greatly improve your songwriting. I wouldn't want to write a song without it.


Overall rating (1 through 5): 5
MasterWriter
masterwriter.com

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