Is there a decent lyrics app for iPad?

Sorry guys, to go offtopic a bit again :smiley:
But y’all know this is the best place for honest and thorough advice :wink:
But my drummer is looking for a perfect app to show the lyrics/notes/chords(?) on his ipad for live situations.
I thought of C3 in the first place but the notes function is to limited.
Any suggestions ?

I use Setlist Helper on Android and really love it. Also, it has recently become available for iOS. The great thing about this app is that it come with its own cloud account, which allows you to easily sync your songs and setlists across devices, so band members can easily share them. Or you can use the web interface to add/edit/delete/print songs and setlists. It has a search function that lets you easily import lyrics and chords from various websites. Very versatile. So far no MIDI support unfortunately, so for the moment I am using a Bluetooth foot pedal for scrolling.

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Thx !!! that’s very interesting !

I would be great if C3 had more functionality like this program built in !
Afterall it’s a most important part of the gig, right?

I use this prog. …with an IPad-Mini

also tested OnSong but sometimes I had problems with Midi

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For me, it certainly is. I make do with using the foot switch, but I have three more foot switches/pedals to work with so getting rid of the one I use for my lyrics would be great.

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Could you import or export docx with it ?

On the iPad, the three main candidates would be OnSong, SetlistHelper and SongBook. Actually, there are TWO SongBook apps: one by LinkeSOFT and one by BauM software.

All of them use the ChordPro format, which is essentially a text file with special commands for chords, comments and other metadata:

# A simple ChordPro song.

{title: Swing Low Sweet Chariot}

Swing [D]low, sweet [G]chari[D]ot,
Comin’ for to carry me [A7]home.
Swing [D7]low, sweet [G]chari[D]ot,
Comin’ for to [A7]carry me [D]home.

I [D]looked over Jordan, and [G]what did I [D]see,
Comin’ for to carry me [A7]home.
A [D]band of angels [G]comin’ after [D]me,
Comin’ for to [A7]carry me [D]home.

{comment: Chorus}

So no importing of docx or PDF files - if you want that, you’ll need something like Mobile Sheets.

I’ve tried OnSong, SetlistHelper and LinkeSOFT, but found them somewhat lacking for live performance - too much effort operating the software, and always missing a feature that I wanted. That’s why I built LivePrompter - it’s free, but Windows only, so if you want to run it on your Cantabile PC, give it a run. And Windows tablets / convertibles are cheap (you can get a pretty useful convertible for around €110), so it may actually be worth getting a dedicated windows tablet just for lyrics.



@So_Godly, Setlist Helper does not import Word docs. However, it’s very easy to just copy and past the content of existing documents into a lyrics file, especially when using the web interface. Then just synchronise your devices and you’re ready to go.

As @Torsten already mentioned, it uses the widely used Chordpro format which is very easy to use. Also, if you use the tool’s built-in search function, you can search for and import new lyrics and chords in less than 5 seconds.

Personally, I find find Setlist Helper very easy to use during live performances. I honestly cannot think how it could be made any easier. It also lets you transpose chords on the fly, supports auto-scrolling and much more. The only thing on my wishlist for this app is to support midi messages, so I can link it to Cantabile like @Torsten’s LivePrompter.

Let me give you some use cases:

  • Setlist Helper requires you to set the speed per song in the app (not in the song file); you can only set an average speed for the whole song - and you don’t really know what “Speed 8” means - will this scroll through the song in the right time? In my songs, I like a varying scroll speed (a guitar solo that has only one line will take the same time as a wordy chorus with twenty lines. That’s why I implemented special tags in LP that will allow you to define precisely where the “current line” on screen should be at what time. If you don’t use these tags, you can at least simply enter the song duration in the song file and LP will calculate itself what scrolling speed it needs so that you reach the end of the lyrics by the time the song ends.

  • If you want to operate most apps via foot pedals, you need multiple pedals (start scrolling, pause/unpause, next song,…). For LP, you can define a “universal key” (also via MIDI pedal) that, depending on LP’s status, will start, pause and continue scrolling, and - once the song has reached the bottom - advance to the next song. You can run a full set list with a single MIDI pedal without ever having to touch the screen.

  • When you “start” a song in Setlist Helper, it starts scrolling immediately (at least it did in the version I tested). This means that the first lines of the song disappear off the screen almost immediately. Given that I usually start scrolling during the pre-count, this means that the top of the song is always cut off. LP will only start scrolling once the “scroll-cursor” has reached a point around one third below the top of the screen - the “screen focus” point (of course customizable). And it even gives you the option to insert a “pause” tag in your song - for those solos when you don’t know when the guitarist will finally get tired of soloing… LP will then stop scrolling at that point and wait for you to press the “universal pedal” to continue.

  • LP has easy MIDI controllable buttons to quickly advance or go back by a half-page (customizable length) - a life-saver when your drummer is nervous and plays at 120% original tempo…

  • I like configurable individual colors for text, chords, headings and comments to make things easy to digest on stage

  • LP is fully linked to Cantabile - I can send commands from Cantabile to start/pause scrolling, to step to the next song or go to the top of the song. Conversely, LP will send bank select / program change commands to Cantabile so that it automatically loads the correct song in the setlist when opening it in LP

  • LP allows you custom comments and custom transpose for individual band members, so that a full band can share the same song files and still have individual instructions, and even individual capo settings per musician

The disadvantage of LP is that it will not let you do as much on-the-fly as some of the Android/iOS apps - if you want to transpose a song or use a capo setting, you’ll have to do that within the song file in advance. If you want to scale the font size for a specific song: insert a tag into the song file and save it. But that’s really mostly by design: LP separates preparation and gig use - during a gig, I don’t want to fiddle with my lyrics app; everything should be set up in advance. on stage, things should just run with as little handling as possible.

But again - to each their own; I like the iPad apps, and I have built myself a little converter tool that will “translate” my LivePrompter files to OnSong’s format (OnSong uses some tags differently, plus it can’t deal with some of my custom extensions), so I can have my song files on my iPad as well. But live, I’ll definitely use LP…



… but I’ll get off my soapbox now - after all, the original question was about an app for iPad, not for Windoze…

Hi @Torsten, I think some of the functions might have been updated since you last tested Setlist Helper.

Songs only start scrolling automatically if you set them to, plus you can set a delay time before they start scrolling. Also, you can enter the total song duration, so the app will calculate the scroll speed for you. If there is a long solo somewhere, you could just add extra empty lines, I guess. Personally, for most songs I just prefer to keep an entire page as is and then press the foot switch to swap to the next page (you can also swap back) or to the next song, but I guess that’s because my tablet is right in front of my face. In addition, you can set the scroll amount (full page, half a page or a quarter page), as well as configure up to four pedals on you foot pedal and determine what you what each pedal to do. And the app allows you to set individual colours, font types and font sizes for different aspects of your songs (just not on a per-song basis).

I really love the idea that LivePrompter is linked to Cantabile. If it were available on Android, I would certainly use try it out…

Hey Herman,

that’s good to hear - may have to revisit Setlist Helper. The delay time feature helps you solve the problem with the disappearing top of the song, so combined with the auto-calc feature, we’re getting close. Still there’s just one average scrolling speed :wink:

Also, I like the fact that LivePrompter gives you a very clear indication (colors of the title bar) of its current status (blue=ready, green=scrolling, red=pausing, purple=finished). I had tested another Android app that allowed section specific scrolling - pretty nice, but I was never really sure if my tap had really started scrolling or not. With LP, it’s pretty clear: once the title bar turns green, scrolling is definitely on, even though the text may not be moving yet.

Yes, I used the extra empty lines with solos with OnSong for some time, just found it too clunky having to count lines to make sure everything stayed on screen. These days, I just use a simple spreadsheet and enter the number of bars per section --> now I have the right numbers ready to customize scrolling; a matter of 3-5 minutes per song.

Good to hear also that setlist helper now allows you to customize colors and fonts - the version I tested only allowed you to decide between black on white and white on black…

I know about the pedal configuration - most of the apps have this - but I haven’t found an app yet that lets you use the SAME pedal for scroll/pause and for “next song”. This has really helped make live usage simple - our guitarist just has a tablet with one USB pedal attached in front of him…

I’m not sure, maybe sometime when I reeeeally have some serious time off, I’ll get into Android coding and give porting LP a shot. It does make a lot of sense - Android is the de-facto standard at the lower end of the tablet market, so having an Android version would certainly open up a broader device range. But it would sure be a massive learning curve for me…




I use Songbook on two iPad 2’s run off a wireless router using Midimux. It works great. There are about 3 songs I didn’t find in Chordpro format, but it was easy enough to do it myself. A binding in C3 calls up the songs. I set the time and can even insert a pause anywhere I want by simply entering the command and length of pause. Great for long intros or solos. It stops, starts, pauses and finishes on time. What more could you ask for. I even have the chords because at times my head is like Swiss cheese. Both iPads also have my remote mixer app for the X18 digital mixer from Behringer, so I just grab either one to be able to walk out front and make adjustments to the mix. Every app has it good and bad, but for me Songbook works exactly as I need it to

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This one is great:

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That’s my preferred app. Have been using the Android app for a number of years now. A pity you cannot link it to Cantabile. I’m using it with a foot pedal.

I Use OnSong

I’m using forScore for several years now. Works fine for me.

I’ve been using Songbook for about two years now. I currently have two iPads running Songbook off a wireless router using Midimux. A binding in C3 selects each song and starts the auto scroll. Works great