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Songworks 4 is now available, and as with our other products it represents a complete rewrite of the program that takes advantage of new computer systems.

Songworks is our notation software and can be used to write anything from a leadsheet to a symphony. It has some unique features: an idea generator that composes random tunes with chords in any given key and meter, audible chord symbols that sound according to your choice of accompaniment pattern, a tune harmonizer that suggests chords that might work with your tune - or a tune that might work with your chords. Songworks supports both standard notation and shape note notation (either the 5 or 7 shape systems) and automatically picks the correct shape for any note according to pitch and key. It can also do stick notation (headless) and liturgical notation (stemless). The letter keys of the computer can work as a simple little piano. Text dragged to a "lyric line" automatically lines up with notes. It can transpose your work (and any chord symbols) to any starting note. It can reverse a tune or transpose it "tonally." Basically it's lots of fun.

What's new in version 4? Aside from compatibility with the latest computers (Windows 10 or Mac), version 4 offers editing in either left-right "panorama view" or page view. Space between staff systems is individually adjustable. Printing is sharper. Every staff symbol has an "info window" offering extra options if desired. The old version had two display scales: near and far, but now you can zoom in or out to see the music close up or from afar. As before you can set print scaling so that your music appears in small notes with more measures per line, or big notes with fewer measures on a line. As before, measure lines can be dragged to expand or contract individual measures, but now notes and rests can also be dragged left or right - automatically adjusting the position of any simultaneous notes in other staves. As with the old version, you can play a tune in time with the metronome and the software will write it down. If you're on Windows, the new version takes advantage of new technology in Windows 10 that speeds up sound response to the point we no longer need to install a special sound driver. On the Mac, especially the new Macs with the M1 chip, sound response is virtually instantaneous, like a real piano.

Anyone who has purchased version 3 is eligible for a free upgrade to the new program. If you haven't tried Songworks before there's also a free demo version for Windows 10 or Macintosh. The demo doesn't save files but otherwise you can try all the features.

Be sure to check out the online music library available in the File menu! There you'll find a large collection of traditional songs, classical pieces, fiddle tunes, consort music, Bach chorales - even the complete Handel Messiah to play or sing along with.       •