You are here

Integrating Lyrics In Studio One Projects

PreSonus Studio One Tips & Techniques By Robin Vincent
Published January 2023

Lyrics can be typed directly into the Global Lyric track.Lyrics can be typed directly into the Global Lyric track.

Your Studio One productions can now have integrated lyrics.

We have an interesting integrated lyric engine with the shiny new version 6 of Studio One. It’s peppered all over the place, finding itself in its own track, in a lane under other tracks, attached to notes in a score and running karaoke on the Show Page. As I mentioned in my review of Studio One 6 last month, it’s not a unique feature, but the way it threads itself about the DAW is really well thought out. So, for this workshop, we’re going to look at how you can add lyrics to your songs in Studio One.

Global Lyric Track

The best place to start is with the Global Lyric track. This resides at the top of the arrange window where you also find the Chord track, Markers, Tempo track and so on. Within this narrow band of space, you can double‑click, whereupon a box appears into which you can type a line of text. All that matters is the starting place, which will probably be the start of the bar where you’d start singing. Pressing Return closes the box and opens a new one for a new line at the next bar. Tab does the same but without starting a new line in the Lyric Display.

The words you’ve entered are held in a box which you can move about on the timeline. You can add boxes for every line or every word if you wish, although that can get a bit unwieldy. The best practice here is to use it to roughly sketch the words alongside the arrangement. Your level of zoom will have an impact here, as it does on other tracks, where word boxes will overlay each other. There’s no problem with that other than not being able to see all the words when zoomed out. There’s a certain amount of connection between the boxes. If you move one down the timeline past another box it will move along with it. So while you can change the position of a line, you can’t actually rearrange their order on the Lyric track. If you try to bring a line in from a later point, Studio One won’t let you drop it in front of another lyric.

One cool lyric‑arranging tip is that you can position the song pointer where you want the lyric to start and hit Alt+Return to send the selected lyric to that spot. It then auto‑selects the next line. So you can play the song through and sit there hitting Alt+Return to tidy up the placement of every lyric.

Lastly, you can drag lyrics in from the browser in the form of text or MIDI files. They appear as a string of lyric blocks, separated by bars, one for each line in the text file. You can drop them in and then use the Alt+Return function to put everything where it needs to be.

Alternatively, lyrics can be dragged and dropped from the Studio One browser in the form of text or MIDI files.Alternatively, lyrics can be dragged and dropped from the Studio One browser in the form of text or MIDI files.

An important thing to realise is that the lyrics in the Global Lyric track are not bound to anything. So, if you move audio and MIDI events around, the lyrics will not automatically follow them. You also can’t select audio/MIDI events and lyric events together and move them that way. However, this is where the Arranger track comes to the rescue.

The Arranger track is extraordinarily useful for making huge, sweeping changes to your songs. Once you’ve defined the sections of your song (which is simply done by placing a box and calling it something like ‘verse’, ‘chorus’ or ‘bridge’), you can rearrange these sections, and it takes everything with it, including the lyrics. If you’ve never used it before, now is a good opportunity to start because it’s incredibly efficient. It’s also the only way to include the lyrics in your rearranging.

Lyric Display

Hit the big ‘L’ on the Global Lyric track, and the Lyric Display will pop up. This displays your lyrics line by line and situates them in the context of the timeline. As the song plays, each line is highlighted so you always know exactly where you are. It’s like lyrics are being used as markers. And the best thing is that if you click on a line, your song will jump straight to that point. This is perfect for when a singer wants to go from a certain line, and it’s a terrific way to navigate your song.

As the song plays, each line is highlighted so you always know exactly where you are.

You can edit the lyrics here and you may find that some lines you typed into the Lyric track didn’t go to a new line — that’s an easy adjustment. Hit the pencil button, and the lyrics are shown in the Lyric Display with a timeline. You can’t move or rearrange text directly, but you can copy, cut and paste to get everything in order. Under the spanner icon, you can set text alignment, offset the highlight so it runs ahead of the actual song position, and increase the font size up to 60 point.

The editing in the Lyric Display is not particularly sophisticated, but what it’s doing is enormously useful.

Show Page

Before we get into the Lyric lanes within editors and instrument tracks, we should visit the Show Page. Lyrics here refer to the Global Lyric track and are displayed in the same way as on the Song page. Any additional words in Lyric lanes will be ignored. Otherwise, in the Show Page, the Global Lyric track and Lyric Display, lyric editing is exactly the same.

You can place the Lyric Display window on another screen for your vocalist, but at the moment, lyrics do not appear on the Perform page. Hopefully, that’s something that will come along in a future update.

Lyric Lanes

Another, more versatile, option for entering lyrics is in the Lyric lanes in the piano‑roll editor. This lets you get down to the juicy details of attaching words and syllables to actual notes, rather than floating them about in the Global Lyric track.

You can add lyrics to any instrument track, but as you’re attaching them to notes, it makes most sense to use a melody track. It occurs to me that this is not something I’ve ever created, because my melodies are most often sung. In which case, the Global Lyric track seems like a much better idea. But assuming you have mapped out a melody, let’s dive in.

The Lyrics lane lets you assign specific words and syllables to MIDI notes.The Lyrics lane lets you assign specific words and syllables to MIDI notes.

You open the Lyrics lane the same way you would the velocity lane or automation lane in the editor: with the tiny mountain range icon beneath the piano keyboard. In there, you’ll find the Lyrics tabs. Under each note is a little space that’s patiently expecting your poetry.

Double‑click in that first space, and you can begin to type your lyrics. If you press Space it will jump to the next note for the next word. If you want to break a word up into syllables, use the ‘‑’ key. If you use space for syllables they will appear as gaps in the Lyrics Display, whereas the ‘‑’ signs will be ignored, and you’ll see a complete word.

You can copy and paste, and even drag in lyrics from a text file, but it’s a little weird. If you copy a phrase and then double‑click to open the first lyric field and paste it, it will just run from there on that one note. To paste it across multiple notes, which is what you want, you mustn’t have the field selected. Instead, have the editor and lyric lane open and in focus, and then hit Ctrl+V to paste — it’ll work! This is one way of pulling the lyrics from the Global track into a lane. There’s no special relationship or tool; you just double‑click the lyric in the Global track and copy the text.

Dragging in a text file doesn’t seem to work quite right. It puts the words very nicely into the lane, but ignores the notes completely. So typing them in is probably the best approach to get everything exactly where you want it. What’s nice about all this is that the Lyric Display window will now highlight each word in turn rather than each line. You can also put in line breaks and corrections here, as they are harder to identify in the lyrics lane.

Once you’ve written your lyrics into a lane, you can display them in the Global track. In the header of the track is a drop‑down menu where you can select from a list of all the instrument tracks in your song. If they have any lyrics in lanes, they will be displayed. Now, these lyrics will move with your MIDI track because they are part of that track’s note information. No need for the Arranger track in this instance.


The Lyric lanes all translate beautifully to the Score editor. There’s a new symbol called ‘Lyr’ which you can use to enter text under notes if you would rather add your lyrics in the Score view. It’s all the same action and key commands as in the piano‑roll editor. You would expect to be able to move the words around on the page, but you are restricted to deleting, moving to another note and re‑entering.

You can also add lyrics to the Score view, using the same keyboard shortcuts as in the piano‑roll editor.You can also add lyrics to the Score view, using the same keyboard shortcuts as in the piano‑roll editor.

Overall it feels like the Global track acts as a lyrical notepad for ideas and overviews, whereas the Lyric lanes really get down to the nitty gritty of matching your lyrics to the melodies in your song. So, get friendly with the Arranger track, and when exporting to the Show page, remember to select the right track for lyrics in the Global Lyric track. Now, go and write some songs.

Buy Related Tutorial Videos