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20 October 2010

IDOLUMIC RHYME GENIE 2 | $24.95

REVIEW
Ere we polish the lamp to summon a refreshed version of lyricists’ friend Rhyme Genie, may I refer you to 23 June 2010? On that date, I posted searing approbation of Rhyme Genie 1.3, about which the developer, whom I shall code-name Pete, was ecstatically gratified. Unless, of course, you’ve already read the article and are blessed with an eidetic memory. No? OK, click here and we’ll hook up again presently... Welcome back. Now then, time has trooped on a number of leagues since June and we’ve now version 2 over which to pore.



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A product update ever presents a worry. Is it an improvement, or has the developer knackered it? Will it still run on my OS and has it, like an increasing number of the dear ones about whom we care (I am, of course, talking about software, not wetware), become bloatware? Do I need to completely re-learn how to use the bloody thing? We shall see. Pete promises free updates for the life of your computer once you’ve paid your $24.95 reg fee, so he’s obviously never worked for Microsoft, among a host of other companies. Hence there’s no financial hit in upgrading, but should you? Lyricists can be fragile creatures, so I’ll attempt to soothe furrowed brows and browse the new so as not to induce shock and curtail the benefit of lifetime upgrades.

Agent Pete has certainly been busy in enhancing Genie’s capabilities for the songwriter. A special Songwriter Dictionary has been added which is compiled from more than 100 million words in more than 600,000 song lyrics. Now you may think such a facility will encourage lyricists to churn out the homogenised; to end up sounding like everyone else. However, used properly, this new resource should produce exactly the opposite. Inadvertent plagiarism is endemic in songwriting - how many times have you sprung out of bed of a morning with a great idea for a tune, only to hear the exact same tune on the radio a few days later? ‘Oh shit, that’s where it came from’ is a common enough thought among creatives, hence the means to readily compare your scribblings against those of hundreds of thousands of others could well make you a rather more original songsmith.

More than 48,000 titles of charted songs are included, so naming your meisterworks should be made that much more original, too. The assembled covers American sayings, clichĂ©s, idioms, popular names, places and trademarked brands (Nike - psyche - spiky - talkin’ about Mikee, anyone?). Version 2 also brings a 30 per cent boost in the number of parts of speech, as compared with v1.3. We’ve now more than 84,000 nouns, 18,000 adjectives, 23,000 verbs and 5,000 adverbs with which to play. If grammatical nomenclature is not your strong point, let’s just say that it all adds up to more than 130,000 parts of speech. There’s an additional 7,400 rhyming dictionary entries and, you know what, I actually sat there and counted them (he lied).

Overall, then, Rhyme Genie totes in excess of 300,000 rhyming references, its rhyming engine able to generate mono and multisyllabic results with but a click, and you can fuzzy things up by reducing the similarity of sound. ‘Groove’ need not inevitably be followed by ‘move’ - try for ‘grieve’, or ‘children of the grave’. Hang on, that last one’s been done. Whatever, enhancements have been made to the AI engine in that Genie can better distinguish between primary and secondary stress in words, so near-rhymes are generated with greater accuracy. You’ll know from the v1.3 review the wealth of rhyme types that the software can handle, but you may not have seen it in action. Time to put that right...



Other tweaks in Genie 2 include the correction of a few erroneous entries and a revision of certain interface elements. It still takes longer than you’d expect to load, and to shut down. Also, there’s a flicker to the interface when resizing the Windows version, but Pete tells me he’s aware of this and is working on a solution. Perhaps it’ll appear in v3, which is slated for launch in January 2011. Remember, however, that upgrades are free, so buying in now shouldn’t mean yet another lump out of your budget come the New Year. Just make sure to keep your registration details in a safe place.

As with its predecessor, Rhyme Genie, when sat next to a word processor, helps loosen creative blockages, getting movements flowing more freely. This djinn provides a welcome tonic for those of a spirited lyrical bent (cent - dent - Lent - rent - vent - dement - High Time We Went) and, at only $7.95 for additional licenses, you can affordably stick it on both in-studio workstation and laptop so you shall have lyrics wherever you go. Sadly, the computational capabilities of handhelds, such as the iPhone, Blackberry or whatever flavour of mobile you favour, are not up to coping with Genie’s demands, but come the iPhone 7, who knows? For now, Rhyme Genie 2 represents a genuine improvement on v1.3 and is one of the more essential tools in my songwriting armoury. If you’ve not given it a go, download the demo, rub the lamp and discover that what emerges grants more than the requisite three wishes.


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