Displaying Foreign Language Songs and Lyrics Together

One possible way to learn more of a foreign language or culture is to listen to songs in that target language. Some language teachers play songs in classrooms with accompanying lyrics; this is also a great idea for personal language study. This blog post will present one tool for setting lyrics to display with music, for those who use iTunes. This tool, called Cover Version, is a plug-in for iTunes that can display song lyrics during song play using the iTunes visualizer. Here is a screenshot of the tool in action (you can click on the image to enlarge it):

Screen shot 2013-09-21 at 10.47.21 AM

This is a song in Hebrew that I own in iTunes, and this tool allows me to play the song and view the lyrics simultaneously (note that this picture is customized to my settings—you can also display the cover art with the lyrics, change the font, etc). I will go over the steps required to use this plug-in:

  1. If you do not already have iTunes and are interested in downloading it, you can get it for free at http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/. Make sure you specify whether you want iTunes for Mac or Windows by clicking ‘Get iTunes for Macintosh/Windows’.
  2. Go to the web site for the plug-in Cover Version to download it, at http://www.imagomat.de/coverversion/. There are instructions for downloading it on both Windows and Mac. In addition, you will get a ‘ReadMe’ file with the download that contains the same instructions. You can check to make sure the download worked by opening iTunes and going to View > Visualizer, and making sure Cover Version shows up as one of the options.
  3. With Cover Version downloaded, you now just need to add lyrics to songs on iTunes. This can be time consuming if you have a lot of songs to add lyrics to, but it is worth it since the lyrics will always display with these songs. There are many online sites to find lyrics. As an example, I will go to the site http://shironet.mako.co.il/, which is probably the best site for lyrics in Hebrew. On this site I can look up the song from the screenshot above, “ממעמקים”. This song shows up as the first result, and I can open the song and copy the lyrics.
  4. Now that the lyrics are copied, open up iTunes and select the song corresponding to the lyrics you just copied. You can open up the info for this track by right clicking the song and choosing “Get Info”, or going to File > Get Info. In the dialogue box that opens, choose “Lyrics” from the menu bar at the top. Finally, paste the song lyrics into the “Lyrics” text field. You will then end up with something like this:

Screen shot 2013-09-21 at 11.23.35 AM

Now just hit “OK” to add the lyrics, and that is it! Now whenever you play this song, you can open the visualizer by either going to View > Show Visualizer or using a shortcut on your keyboard (command + T for Mac, or control + T for PC). Remember that you can change the preferences for how these lyrics are displayed in the visualizer. Instructions on changing these preferences can be found on the Cover Version download site.

This is just one way to display lyrics during song play, so that they are easily viewable from your computer or an overhead projector. Do you know of any other such tools, perhaps with different strengths? Do you know of any such tools with karaoke-like functionality? If so, comment below!


One response to “Displaying Foreign Language Songs and Lyrics Together

  1. cchung90 September 26, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Thanks for the post & the instructions! Luckily, some folks who do this post on YouTube and we benefit from their work…

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