Tutorial

This tutorial will teach you to create lyrics in LRC format. Lyrics in other formats are created in the same way, but extra steps may be needed (for example, pitch needs to be added for UltraStar lyrics).

This tutorial is based on the example karaoke file “I will survive.mp3″ which was created from a MIDI file using Timidity. This file is compressed at 16kbps, so the sound quality is just awful, but it is small enough to be included into repository, and good enough to serve as example.

Check settings

First thing you want to do is to go to Settings ->Application Settings from menu and check that editor settings correspond to the format you want to create lyrics to. If your karaoke player supports blocks, you want to enable them, and set the maximum number of lines in block to 8 for better compatibility. If you’re creating LRC2 or UltraStar lyrics, you want to
enable “Stop at the end of line”. Depending on the song, you might want to also enable double timing mark per placeholder, and/or “Stop at beginning of next word”.

Before you start

Before you start making karaoke lyrics, you need a Karaoke music file, and lyrics text. Both can be find on Internet. Lyrics are typically found on specialized lyrics sites, and are typically free. MP3 Karaoke music is sold by various online retailers, and some music is also available for free. You can also create the Karaoke music yourself if you have a MIDI keyboard or sequencer – this is MUCH easier than you think. You can also find a MIDI file – typically much easier to find than MP3 file – and convert it to MP3 using Timidity and LAME, both being free software.

If you did not create MP3 yourself, check it for being variable bitrate MP3 and for sync errors as described in FAQ. If your MP3 is encoded using variable bitrate, convert it to constant bitrate as suggested in FAQ. This does not involve recompression, and the quality won’t change – only the file size would increase. Songs with are encoded using variable bitrage has a bunch of known issues with almost every Karaoke player I tested.

Once you have both music, and lyrics text, you’re ready. Note that you do not have to have lyrics in a file – a browser window will work.

New project wizard

  • Press the “New project” toolbar button, or select File->New project from menu.
  • Read the introduction, and press “Next”.
  • Select the desired output lyric format, in our case LRC2. Selected format will affect available options – for example, you can only edit pitch if you select UltraStar format. The selected format may be changed later in Project->Project Settings menu. Press “Next”.
  • Load the music file, in our case “I will survive.mp3″ by pressing ”Browse…” button. Check the Title/Artist fields, and fill/fix them if necessary. Title and Artist must be filled to proceed. Press “Next”.
  • Even if you have a lyrics file, it’s better to select ”continue with empty editor”, and press “Next”. You can import the lyrics file later.
  • Save the project somewhere.

Preparing lyrics

  • Copy the lyrics from your Firefox web browser (you use free software, right?) into editor window by using a clipboard Copy/Paste shortcuts.
  • Proof-read the pasted lyrics, and fix the grammar mistakes, if any. They do happen.
  • Make sure all the lyric pieces are there. Very often the duplicated verses in the lyrics are not present in text, and you’ll only get a “CHORUS” mark instead. Copy the missing pieces, repeating them as many times as necessary. The lyrics in your editor window now should represent the full karaoke song.
  • Reformat the lyrics by merging the lines which are supposed to be sung together, and split the lines which should be sung separately. Also split the lines which are too long to fit into your Karaoke player screen.
  • If your karaoke player supports blocks, separate the lyrics into 4-8 lines blocks by adding an empty line between them. This would ensure the whole block is shown on screen, and the song will look more professionally. The block size should not be fixed, and it’s fine to have four lines for verses and five lines for chorus.
  • If your karaoke player does not support blocks, remove any empty lines.
  • Play the song, and mentally go through the lyrics as the song plays. This will help you to become familiar with lyrics, prepare the foundation for the next step, and find missing or extra pieces of text, if any.
  • Save the project.

Inserting placeholders

If you song needs placeholders, insert them now. Make sure the song is not being played as otherwise a timing mark will be insert. Do not insert them at the beginning of line, as the cursor will stop there automatically. Do not insert them at the end of line everywhere – there is an option in application settings to stop the cursor at the end of each line. Incorrectly placed placeholder can be deleted using “Del’ button, or F8.

Generally they are inserted in every place where there is a hearable pause in the line (not between the lines), or different words in any line are sung different time, and the difference is significant enough to affect user experience. There are no such places in properly reformatted “I will survive”, although if you prefer to   have “Oh no, not I, I will survive” on a single line, you definitely need a double placeholder after the comma.

Inserting timing marks

Close your door, turn off your radios and TVs and ask others not to disturb you for ten minutes. Because of the reasons described in FAQ, seeking in the lyrics is not reliable, and if you make a mistake, you might need to start again.

Now position the cursor to the beginning of the lyrics (Ctrl+Home), and press “play” button on Player Controls dock bar (or Alt-P; same combination works as pause). As soon as the first character on the cursor position is being sung, press the “Insert mark” button (or F5 key).

The timing mark will be inserted at current cursor position, and will contain the value representing the current playing time. Once it is placed, the cursor will move to one of the following, whatever is closer:

  • Next placeholder (which will be replaced by one or two timing marks depending on settings);
  • Next existing timing mark, which will be replaced by a new one;
  • Beginning of the next word (if enabled in application settings);
  • End of current line (if enabled in application settings);
  • Beginning of the next line;

Keep pressing F5 and adding timing marks in the appropriate places until the song finishes. If you pressed F5 incorrectly, i.e. you expected the next verse started and it didn’t, just press F8, the last mark  will be removed, and the cursor will be moved to the previous position.

Once the song is complete, press the “Validate” toolbar icon (or Project -> Validate menu entry). Fix any errors found during validation. Then save the project.

Testing lyrics

First make sure the lyrics are validated (press “Validate lyrics” toolbar icon”). Then press the “Test Lyrics” icon. An empty preview window will pop up, and the song will start playing.

The lyrics will be shown and highlighted as the song goes. They will be shown line by line if blocks are not enabled, or with highlighed characters if blocks are enabled. If you find incorrect block splits, fix the text.

Watch the lyrics, and correct timing marks if necessary. Note that your fixes do not translate into the test viewer window directly; you have to close it and press the “Test Lyrics” again to make it aware about your changes.

Sometime you might think it is easier to redo all the timing marks. This is normal, and usually only after making 3-4 lyrics your first try will be good enough to just apply small corrections. To redo the timings, go to Edit->Remove all marks, which will remove all timing marks, and repeat it again.

Once you’re happy with your lyrics, save the project.

Exporting lyrics into a file

Once the lyrics are ready, you can export them into a lyric file to use with the karaoke player. This can be done by selecting Project -> Export  lyric file menu item. Default export format and extension will correspond to the lyrics format selected when the project was created.

While it is possible to export lyrics in any supported format, not just the one set in project type, this kind of export would typically lose some information, or fill up some missing information with fake values.

Testing lyrics on real karaoke player

The last step would be to test the lyrics in the real Karaoke player. Typically the only issue you can encounter here is a delay when the lyrics are shown on screen, even though everything worked fine in the preview. The reason for this delay is explained here, and the same FAQ section also describes how to compensate the delay in LRC and UltraStar formats.

You are done!

Now to help others to save time – share your lyrics!