Paul Johnson's guide to adding lyrics to a MIDI file

This article was written and provided by a GNMIDI user.

From: registered user
Subject: adding lyrics to a MIDI file
As you’re probably aware I’ve recently spent some time figuring out how to
add lyrics to a MIDI and thought I would put together the following to help
others get started.  Please let me know if you have any comments.

Paul Johnson’s guide to adding lyrics to a MIDI file




Because there are a wide variety of songs there are different ways to add
lyrics to a MIDI.  I’m going to go through a fairly general process for
adding lyrics to a MIDI which has no lyrics.  You may want to alter the
process to suit different songs and your individual preferences.  I’ve only
started trying this out a week ago and I’ve only done a couple of songs so
it’s easily possibly I may have missed some obvious efficiencies.




Once you’ve found a MIDI that you like I recommend first listening to it a
few times.  I’ve been using the VanBasco Karaoke Player because it displays
the different channels.  This is available for free at




Step 1:  Determine the Melody channel


You’ll need to determine which channel carries the melody.  Play the MIDI
using the VanBasco Karaoke Player.  Watch the lower left MIDI Output screen.
If the MIDI only has one channel take note of the channel number.  The top
channel is channel 1 and the bottom channel is channel 16.  If the MIDI has
different channels click the little red boxes in the MIDI Output screen to
the far left of each channel to turn the channels on and off until you only
have one channel playing which has the melody to which the words are sung.
Take note of this channel number.  In the rare case where you need two
channels for the lyrics you’ll need to repeat this whole process for each
channel which carries the melody.


Additional help can be found in the VanBasco Karaoke Player Help menu.




Step 2:  Run GNMIDI


I’ve been using GNMIDI to add lyrics.  This is available for 36 Euro at  Install GNMIDI.  Run GNMIDI.




Step 3:  Slow down the GNMIDI lyrics editors slow play speed (optional)


The GNMIDI lyrics editors run at a normal speed and at a slow speed.  The
following adjusts the speed of the slow speed.  The normal speed is 100 and
the default slow speed is 60.  The following slows this down even further.
You can change this for different songs depending on the tempo of the song
and the complexity of the lyrics.


Quit GNMIDI.  In your documents directory (usually C:\users\username\documents\ ) find the file
GNMIDI.INI and open this for editing using an editor such as Notepad.  Find the line “[Settings]”  Add a new line below this
“KaraokeEditSlowPercent=40” (without the quotes).  If you wanted to go even
more slowly, instead of 40 you could set it to, for example, 20.  Run




Step 4:  Use the GNMIDI Synchronizing editor (optional)


GNMIDI has two ways to add lyrics, the Synchronizing editor which places
entire lines at a time coarsely into a MIDI and the Karaoke editor which
places individual syllables finely with each note.  In many cases it’s
advantageous to make a rough placement of the lyrics first.  For example,
sometimes when you find lyrics a refrain may be repeated but it may only be
listed in the lyrics once.  With the Synchronizing editor it’s very easy to
check for situations such as this and add entire refrains.  This is more
difficult in the Karaoke editor.  Try to do a search at and
search using the word “lyrics” and the title of the song to try to find the
lyrics to your song.  Once you’ve found a website with suitable lyrics copy
these lyrics by selecting the lyrics on the website and then right click 
and select copy.


Open the MIDI file in GNMIDI:  select File -> Open and select the MIDI.  A
screen is brought up with information about the MIDI.  Right click in the
middle of this screen.  Set the Melody Channel to the channel noted in step
1.  You’ll notice that this gets added to the screen.  Select Modify ->
Synchronizing editor.  Paste in the lyrics:  Right click -> Paste.  In
general the lyrics should not extend more than one third to one half of the
way across the Song Text box.  If they do they should be broken down into
smaller lines.  Select OK.  You’re now in the Synchronizing editor.  To the
left of each line it should say “REC” followed by some dashes.  This means
that you can set the time of these lines.


I normally like to use the mouse when working on a computer but for the
following it’s advantageous to use the keyboard keys.  You may want to read
through this entire paragraph and be familiar with the keys before you do
any of the following.  Press the F3 keyboard function key to start.  When
the melody reaches the first syllable of the first lyric line press F5.  If
you make a mistake press F6.  You can continue to press F6 to undo as many
mistakes as you’ve made.  Select the slow speed if the melody is too fast to
accurately determine the placement of the lyrics.  Redo Step 3 if you would
like to change the speed of the slow speed.  Select Part and then All if
youwould like to redo all of the lyrics or select a portion of the lyrics
and then select Part to redo a portion of the lyrics.  Press F1 for further
help but note that the option Part is covered under the description for
option Range in the help page.  Select OK when you’re happy with what you
have.  If you’re only interested in course line at a time placement of the
lyrics select File -> Save As and you’re done.




Step 5:  Use the GNMIDI Karaoke editor (optional)


Use this editor if you want to accurately place individual words and
syllables within the MIDI.  If you’ve skipped Step 4 open the file and set
the Melody Channel as described in Step 4.  Select Modify -> Karaoke editor.
This defaults to the Melody channel you’ve set.  If lyrics are present you
have the option of removing them.  Select OK.  If there are no lyrics you’ll
now see a Song text screen where you can paste in the lyrics:  Right click
-> Paste.  In general the lyrics should not extend more than one third to
one half of the way across the Song Text box.  If they do they should be
broken down into smaller lines.  Select OK.  You’re now in the Karaoke


Lines of lyrics are designated or terminated with a “<line>”.  Stanzas or
paragraphs of lyrics are designated or terminated with a “<par>”.  If you’ve
done Step 4 or if the MIDI had existing lyrics the <line>s will be locked to
prevent changing the position of existing lyrics and I find it easiest at
this point to unlock all of the <line>s by going through all of the lyrics
and click on the red keys to the left of each of the <line>s or <par>s to
turn off locking.  Note that in addition to using the scroll bar you can
scroll through the lyrics with the scroll wheel of your mouse or the Page Up
and Page Down keys.  If you don’t have a scroll wheel this is a valuable
feature if you plan to do much editing with the Karaoke editor.


Select the normal button to change it to Slow if you want to play the slow
speed.  Select play to start and the MIDI starts playing at the top of the


Select stop to stop the MIDI at the first note where lyrics are sung.  Note
the time to the left.  Now find the first word to be sung and highlight it
by clicking on it with the mouse.  If you have a long musical interlude
before the first note is sung you’ll see the advantage of Step 4.  Press F6
to move the word down the song or F5 to move the word up the song to the
note whose time you’ve noted.  Scroll up a bit using the scroll wheel on
your mouse or scroll bar on the screen, select play and check your work.


I find that by far most of the time I’m moving lyrics down and the most
convenient way to use the Karaoke editor is to keep my right hand on my
mouse and the index finger of my left hand on the F6 function key.


If the word has multiple syllables that are sung on different notes select
the word to highlight it then select between the syllables to position the
mouse cursor (the flashing vertical bar) between the syllables, then press
F7 to split the syllables.  For example, say you want to split the word
“decided” because the “de” is sung on a different note than the “ci” which
is sung on a different note than the “ded”.  Select the word “decided” by
clicking on it and position the mouse cursor between the “e” and the “c” and
click the mouse.  You should see a flashing vertical bar between the “e” and
the “c”.  Now press F7 and the word will be split.  Repeat the process to
split “ci” from “ded”.  Note that in general syllables sung start with a
consonant and end with a vowel.


The lyrics should not extend beyond about half way in the lyrics window.  If
it does highlight the last word or syllable in the line and select Line.
This adds a <line> below the word.  If this is the end of a stanza or
paragraph of lyrics select Paragraph instead.


Repeat this process until each syllable is properly placed.  Select Save
when you’re done.


Press F1 for further help on any of the above or for the other features of
this screen.


When you’ve completed this select File -> Save as.


Now go back to the VanBasco player, sit back and SING!

Addition from GNMIDI author: since GNMIDI 2.48 <line> and <par> don't exist anymore in 
this way. The paragraph and line end are now single character symbols that are behind 
last character of the text line inside same field (not anymore in a new field).
Adding line and par works still same. The new display makes it easier to move text line 
 together with par or line symbol.
You find information and a demo to this software at
The GNMIDI synchronisation editor also supports inserting and synchronising lyrics into mp3 music files.