Adding Lyrics to a Song

by Joe Waters

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If you have recorded a song and saved it in a MIDI file, you may be interested in adding lyrics to that song. You can, of course, add the lyrics if you have a PC sequencer program that facilitates this and if you are familiar with how to use that program. But you can also add the lyrics directly to your song using the editing capabilities of your PSR. You do this under the LYRICS tab of the SONG CREATOR. Let's see how it is done.

The first step is to load the song you want to work on. It can be a song you downloaded from the internet or one you just recorded and saved to your USER area or one of the other available storage areas. If it's your song, be sure to save a copy, in fact, two copies so if you mess up what you're working on, you still have the original to go back to.

With your song showing in the SONG window of the MAIN SCREEN, press [DIGITAL RECORDING], and then select SONG CREATOR from the DIGITAL REC MENU.

The LYRICS Screen

Song Creator - Lyrics screenThere are six tabs available in the SONG CREATOR. The last tab is LYRICS. Use the [NEXT] button (<TAB> button on more recent keyboards) to cycle through the tabs until you get to the LYRICS page. On the right is a screen shot of the LYRICS tab on the Tyros3. For the remainder of this article, I'll use illustrations from the PSR-2000. However, you can see that the LYRICS screen functions on the Tyros3 still remain the same as those that originally appeared on the PSR-2000.

You will be using the LYRICS page to input your lyrics so it will pay to study it closely. Let's start with the buttons to the left and right of the screen.

Navigating the LYRICS Screen

Song Creator Lyrics TabOn the right is a picture from the PSR-2000 manual that shows the lyrics for Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Each line, or row, in this screen represents a record of information. The screen shows 12 records. The information in each record is organized into columns. The first three columns are used to define precisely where in the song this record's information is relevant. The fourth column shows the kind of information -- "lyrics" in this case, although the very first line contains the "name" of the song. Finally, the fifth column holds the lyrics data for the record.

You can tell what record you are working on because it will be shown in inverse video. In the illustration above, the very first line, or record, is highlighted. You can tell the "field" you are positioned on because the information in that field will be shown as black letters on a white background. In the illustration above, the "cursor" is on the "Name" data field, which holds the title of the song.

Moving Up and Down

The [A] and [B] buttons are used to move up up arrow and down down arrow through the various records. Press [B] and you will see the highlighted text move down to the next line of song data. As you continue to press [B], the highlight moves down the page until it gets to the 9th line. After that, when you press [B], the highlighted line stays where it is, but the whole page of data starts scrolling upward. So, the 12 records visible are not all the records that are in the song. What you see is a 12-line window that you can move up and down through all the records in the song. Pressing [A], of course, moves the cursor upward one line at a time.

Notice button [C], which is next to an upward facing arrow with a line on top of it move to top arrow. If you have scrolled way down into the song and want to get back to the beginning very quickly, you can press [C] and that will take you back to the first record in the midi file.

Moving Left and Right

Buttons [D] and [E] are used to move leftward left arrow and rightward right arrow respectively through the various "fields" on a single line of data. These are very important buttons. They move the "cursor" to the information that you want to change or add. You may be used to moving a cursor in a word processing program by using the arrow keys on your computer. You have up/down and left/right arrows positioned all together normally somewhere on your keyboard. They are also usually positioned so that the "left" key is on the left and the "right" key is on the right while the "up" key is above and the "down" key is below. That makes it easy to relate what will happen when you press those keys. No such luck on the Yamaha. The cursor control keys are all on the left side of the display screen. They do perform the indicated actions, but you may have to look closely at what you are doing before you get used to using them. You might want to practice using those five buttons [A] - [E] and get used to what is happening as you press each one.

Moving by Measures/Beats

On the bottom of the screen, above buttons [1] - [3], is an indication of the exact BAR (Measure), BEAT, and CLOCK represented by the current record. As you press the [A] and [B] buttons, you will see this data change to reflect where you are in the song. You can use the buttons here to also navigate through the song. Button [1] is under the BAR data. If you press the button"above" [1-A], you will move to the next BAR in the song. For example, if the current record is on the first beat of the 5th BAR, pressing the [1-A] button will jump you immediately to the first record in the 6th BAR. Similarly, pressing the [1-B] button would have moved you down to the first record in the 4th BAR. The movement can be confusing on the screen, however. On the screen, you notice that as you go from the top of the screen down toward the bottom, the BAR numbers increase. So, the first measure would be at the very top of the song and, if you scrolled all the way to the bottom, you'd find the last measure of the song. Thus, if you press the [1-A] button to go up to the next measure, the highlight record on the screen moves DOWN to get to the next measure. I find this confusing. Pressing the "up" button causes the highlighted line to move "down" on the screen. Oh, well, it's just something you have to be aware of.

The [2-A] button moves up from the current BEAT to the next beat in the measure. Similarly [2-B] moves you to the previous BEAT. Note that these buttons to not CHANGE any data; they merely move you through the midi records that hold the data in your song.

Changing Numbers

data entry keys Before you change any data, make sure that you move your cursor to the data that you want to modify. If you want to change any of the data in a record, you use the [4] and [5] buttons. For changing the numeric data shown for the BAR, BEAT, and CLOCK fields, the [5] buttons change the data 1 unit at a time. The impact of the [4] buttons depend on what is being changed. If you are trying to modify the BAR data, the [4] buttons will move the BAR data up/down 10 units at a time. If you are trying to modify the CLOCK data, the [4] buttons move the CLOCK data up/down 100 units at a time.

Changing Text

Columns 4 and 5 hold text-based data. Column 4 is the type of information, which, on the LYRICS page, will be either "Lyrics" or "Code". You change the entry by pressing either the [4] or [5] DATA ENTRY buttons. This brings up the text edit screen that you are familiar with from other text entry options, such as naming a file or naming a song. For the LYRICS screen, the "NAME" window title shown in the example below would be replaced with "LYRICS". Other than that, the operational is identical. If you need help understanding how to enter characters, review our lesson on File Naming.

File naming edit boxIf you change "Lyrics" to "Code", the PSR will automatically put a "CR" (for Carriage Return) in the column 5 data field. Why is this needed? Well, if you plan to view the lyrics of your song in the PSR's LYRICS screen, you will not want all your lyrics to run together on crowded lines. You would use the "Code" entry to insert a Carriage Return (CR) into your lyrics so that each line in the LYRICS screen would show only one phrase of the song.

Position your cursor over the 5th column when you are ready to enter the lyrics of the song. Press [4] or [5] and the text input screen pops up. The numbered buttons on the bottom of the screen are now used as you enter the text of the lyrics. Press [8-A] to indicate "OK" and you will see your lyric entered on the page.

Remember your lyric data ought to match the note data. For example, for the first measure of "After You've Gone", you would actually put in four lyric lines -- [Af- ], [ter ], [You've ], [Gone ] -- and you would match the BAR/BEAT/CLOCK for each lyric to match the corresponding note in the song. Note that I left a space after each lyric part. If you don't, when you view the lyrics in the LYRICS screen, all the letter would run together:


You obviously don't want this, so add a space or two and the lyrics will show up as:

Af ter You've Gone

Record Actions

The options above buttons [6], [7], and [8] allow you to perform operations on individual records. Button [6-A] will CUT out a line while button [6-B] will INSert a line. (Depending on where you are on the screen at the time, some options may not be relevant, and thus could not be selected. These will be grayed out.) I find it unfortunate that these options are so close to button [5] which is used to change DATA. It is easy to make a mistake here and where you may have wanted to increase a BEAT by two units, you find, to your dismay, that you were hitting [6-A] instead of [5-A] and you have just cut out two lines! Similarly, you might be trying to decrease a number and find that you have, instead, inserted extra lines. I know I've made this mistake several times.

The COPY/PASTE combination can be very useful. Suppose you notice that you need to add a line of "Code" for that carriage return we mentioned above. Add the line where it is needed. Then to add it elsewhere in the lyrics, COPY an existing line and then move the cursor to another line in the lyrics where you want to insert that carriage return. Now select the PASTE option. Your copied carriage return line is inserted into the lyrics. Continue moving through the song PASTING the CR wherever you want it.

Multiple Select

multiple select iconIf we keep moving around the lyrics display screen, we come to the [J] button on the right labeled MULTI.SEL. This can be a very handy button. If you want to select more than one line at a time, hold down the [J] button while you use [A] or [B] to move to multiple lines. All the lines you move to while holding down [J] are now selected.

Why would you do this? Well, you've just painfully put in a whole section of lyrics and part of those lyrics are now repeated in the next part of the song. Highlight everything that is repeated using multi-select, COPY the lines, move the cursor to where you want to put them, and then PASTE the lines. You will have to adjust the BAR and BEAT data, but you won't have to put the lyrics in again.


save iconThe [I] button is critical since that is what you use to SAVE your work. While you may have your song safely on a floppy or usb, you can save working copies in the USER area. From here you can test the song your are working on by seeing how it looks in the LYRICS screen and in the SCORE screen. When you are all finished with your lyrics, you can then save the work elsewhere for permanent storage thus freeing up the working space in your USER area.

Understanding BAR/BEAT/CLOCK

You have to understand how that BAR/BEAT/CLOCK timing numbers work to be able to edit anything on the PSR or Tyros. The way it works in the LYRICS screen is the same way it works in other song or style editing screens. So, if you master it here, you're all set for any other editing tasks.


The BAR is equivalent to a measure in a song. The first BAR is numbered 1 and the BAR number is incremented with each additional measure. Thus the BAR measure will vary between 1 and "n" where "n" is the last measure in your song. The score doesn't necessarily start in BAR1. It definitely doesn't if you use an INTRO. If you are using quick record, you may start with an intro and then start playing your song when the intro is over. Record this and then play your midi and observe it through the SCORE screen. You will see that each bar is numbered. If you used a 4-bar introduction, the main part of your song would start on the 5th measure. This is important because when you start putting in your lyrics, the beginning of the song, and, therefore, the lyrics, will be starting in measure 5, not measure one.


BEAT measures the number of quarter notes in a measure. For a song in 4/4 time, the BEAT would vary from 1 to 4. For a waltz, the BEAT would vary from 1 to 3.


Now for the tricky part, CLOCK. Notice at the top of the SONG CREATOR screen shown above, you see the notation "4/4 1920PPQ". This means the song is recorded in 4/4 time and that there are 1,920 Parts Per Quarter note (PPQ). The CLOCK, in effect, divides an individual quarter note into 1,920 parts. Therefore, the CLOCK value varies from 0 to 1919. It is used to identify note values smaller than the quarter note.

If your song started out with two eighth notes, how would you specify that? For the first note, BAR=1, BEAT=1, and CLOCK=0. This is the very beginning of the song. For the second eighth note, the timing would be BAR=1, BEAT=1, and CLOCK=960. How is that CLOCK calculated? The second eighth note would be played half way through that first quarter note, which, like all quarter notes, lasts for 1,920 ticks of that clock. Half way through is 960 ticks (1,920/2). So the clock value would be 960. What if we had a 16th note and a dotted 8th? These two add up to one quarter note. If you divided the quarter note into 4 parts, the 16th note would take up the first part and the dotted 8th note would take up the remaining three parts. Divide 1920 into four parts and you see that a 16th note would last for 480 ticks and the dotted 8th note would last for 1440 ticks. Now, how about 32nd notes? There would be 8 of those in a single quarter note and each one of those would last 240 ticks. The table below shows the clock values for two 8th notes, four 16th notes, and eight 32nd notes in a single beat.

32nd note 0 240 480 720 960 1200 1440 1680
16th note 0   480   960   1440  
8th note 0       960      

Some Examples

Let me illustrate some of these ideas with a couple simple examples. Look at the first line of Any Time shown below:

000:1:0000 Name Any Time
004:3:0000 Lyrics An-
004:4:0000 Lyrics y
005:1:0000 Lyrics Time
006:2:0000 Lyrics You're
006:3:0000 Lyrics feel-
006:4:0000 Lyrics ing
007:1:0000 Lyrics Lone-
007:3:0000 Lyrics ly
007:3:0000 Code CR Carriage Return
008:3:0000 Lyrics An-
008:4:0000 Lyrics y
009:1:0000 Lyrics Time

You can see the lyrics that you would want to add to your song. In this example, I assume that a four-bar introduction was used and the main song starts with the 3rd beat of the 4th measure. So, for the purposes of lyric input, the first two notes would be in BAR 4. The first note starts on BEAT 3 and the second note on BEAT 4. Measure 5 has only one note and it starts on BEAT 1. Here's how this data would look on the SONG CREATOR LYRICS tab. The 4th record is selected and the cursor is on the type column with "Lyrics" highlighted.

Since this song fragment uses only quarter notes and half or whole notes, the BAR/BEAT information is all that is needed to identify where to put the lyrics -- all the CLOCK settings are set to zero. Note the insert of a "Code" line to force a carriage return after the word Lonely.

Now let's try a slightly more complex example with the first line of "After You've Gone."



After You've Gone






























CR Carriage Return




























This example has 8th notes and 16th notes and dotted quarter notes. Assume the first measure is, in fact, BAR 1. You might try an exercise to see if you can write out the timing (BAR:BEAT:CLOCK) for each note (lyric). I've tried that exercise and put my results in the table shown here. When you are done, compare the results and see if you've got it.

Well, how'd you do? I could put in an even more complex example, but, hopefully, you get the idea.

When you are creating lyrics for your own songs, you could use the INS key to insert each line as you add the lyrics. You could also insert a whole bunch of lines and then go back to edit the bar:beat:clock data and add lyrics. Start with a very simple song to see how it all goes. Don't forget to SAVE your work as you go alone. After you do the first phrase or so, check things out with the SCORE screen and the LYRICS screen to see if the results are what you expect. It may take some time to get the lyrics in, but once they are in, they're there and available any time you want to play that song and have a friendly sing-a-long with family and friends.



This page updated on March 3, 2014 .