Adding Songs

The necessary files for the songs are stored in a folder in the UltraStar directory. To add them, you should create a new folder for each song you add in C:\Program Files\UltraStar Deluxe\Songs (unless you specified a different directory on installation). Give the folder a name that will make it easy to identify, such as 'Cheryl Cole - Fight For This Love.' Within each song folder, as the bare minimum, you will require:

1) A .txt file tailored for the song in question (more on this in a second)

2) An mp3 of the song

Optionally, the following types of file can also be added to the folder. These are not essential but do enhance the gameplay experience:

3) The song's music video (most standard video formats are compatible with UltraStar, such as .avi, .flv, .wmv, .mp4).

4) An image to display in the background of the song while it is being played (this is an alternative option to having a video. If a video file is set to play, then the image will not be displayed).

5) A CD cover image of the song (or the album that it's from). This will then be displayed when you flick through the songs on the selection screen.

I won't go into the latter 3 options at this stage (they're not hard to add, but I'm trying to keep this as simple as possible). Instead, I will concentrate on the 2 files that you really need: a txt file and an mp3.

To get started on adding songs, follow the steps below.

1) In order to obtain a .txt file of a song, there are a number of websites you can use. By far the best one I've found is http://usdb.animux.de. You'll need to sign up with an account first, but this is easy enough. Once you are able to login, you will have access to thousands of .txt files (NOTE: the mp3s are not available here, more on this in a second). Remember, .txt files only contain information about how to display the correct notes and lyrics at the correct time.

2) Select 'browse songs.' On the left hand side, and you can surf this site by artist, genre, or SingStar editions (these files are direct rips from SingStar using a program like the ones I've linked above).

3) Find and click on a song you like. To make this easier, though, try and find one that's rated 5 stars. That's not to say that anything less (or none at all) is a bad file, but it'll make things easier to begin with. In bad text files, notes can be wrong and the lyrics may be out of time.

4) It's also advisable to make this a song that you already own in mp3 format. Unfortunately, this is the only compatible audio format with UltraStar, so if you've downloaded it from iTunes, for example, you may need to download a program to convert it into mp3 format.

5) Click on 'download text.' This will then take around 30 seconds to load, unfortunately. As the site says, you can reduce this time by adding your own song files to the database.

6) When it's loaded, save the .txt onto your computer (preferably in the folder in the UltraStar songs directory that you've already created, e.g. C:\UltraStar Deluxe\Songs\Cheryl Cole - Fight For This Love).

7) Find/obtain an mp3 of the song, and put this in the same folder.

8) Open the .txt file. The document should look something like this:

9) The information at the top of the file is known as 'tags.' Each aspect, e.g. #ARTIST, #SONG, #EDITION, #MP3, #GENRE etc, is known as a 'tag.' The one that we are interested in at this point is #MP3. The filename next to the tag should be identical to the filename of your mp3. If it's not already, then either change the tag to the filename of your mp3, or change the name of the mp3 to that listed in the tag. When you have done this, you have effectively 'synchronised' the .txt with the mp3.

10) Save the .txt, and load UltraStar Deluxe. If all goes to plan, when you go into the 'Sing' option, your new song will appear. If it doesn't, retrace your steps and check the .txt file again. Does it have .mp3 on the end? This is essential. Is there a rogue space somewhere? It needs to match the filename exactly.

11) You may want to try playing the song now. Do the lyrics start at the right time and enlarge at exactly the right points? If so, then you're very lucky. If not, then it's to be expected. This is because not all mp3s are the same – some contain a significant amount of silence before the song starts (and others don't), though you may not realise it. The person who made the .txt file will have been working with a different mp3 to the one that you own (or possibly the video version of the song, which tend to have longer introductions).

12) If you're one of the lucky ones, and the lyrics of the song effectively pop up as Cheryl Cole is singing, then you don't need to do any more at this stage. However, you'll probably need the next bit of information, because the next song might not be as simple!

13) Press escape to exit the song, and again until you're back at the song menu (where it's showing a preview of the song, just before you select it to start singing). Instead of pressing enter, hit the letter 'E' on the keyboard. This brings up the built in song editor.

14) What you need to do, now, is adjust the #GAP tag on the song's .txt file so that it allows the exact amount of time you need before the lyrics start, no more and no less. This can be achieved using this built-in song editor, on screen now.

15) The #GAP is a given amount of time in milliseconds before the very first note/syllable starts. For Cheryl Cole's Fight For This Love, this allows for a brief instrumental introduction at the beginning (and for most songs, this is the case).

16) You'll notice that the first line of the song is displayed, and the first syllable highlighted. Press the space bar. It will play a very brief snippet of the audio that is currently set to appear at that point. Is it before the syllable you want, or is it after? A general giveaway for this is whether it sounds instrumental (the song starts too early) or whether it is the singer’s voice (it starts too late).

17) If it is too early, you need to INCREASE the gap by pressing the '0' (zero) key. If it is too late, then you need to DECREASE the gap by pressing the '9' key.

18) You'll see the #GAP tag on the above section starting to change. This may require some trial and error. As you alter the #GAP, press space every so often, and see what difference it's made.

19) Remember that you are decreasing/increasing the #GAP a millisecond (1000th of a second) at a time, so you'll need to press it a few times. If the song is drastically out of synch, then press 'shift' + either 9 or 0. This will change the #GAP a second at a time, but this may be too much of a jump if the song is only slightly out of synch.

20) In short, what you are looking for is for the first note to play the syllable at the start of the song, nothing more and nothing less. In this case, I want Cheryl Cole saying 'Too,' not a slight bit of music and ‘T-’. It's tedious, but once you get the hang of it, it's straightforward.

21) If this note doesn't give you much to go on and you're finding it a struggle, you can try playing around with a different one. Navigate between notes using the left and right keys, and to different lines using the up and down keys. If the audio synchronises with the new syllable, it will synchronise with the rest.

22) Hopefully you'll achieve this without too much hassle, and remember that once you get the hang of it, the process will be much quicker (I usually jump straight to this editor before I even play the song, after adding a new one).

23) BEFORE YOU EXIT THE EDITOR...

a. Have you managed to make the song synchronise with the text? If so, press 'S' to save the changes. It will not prompt you to do this, so it's very important to remember!

b. Have you made a complete mess of it and want to start over? Just press escape and exit without saving… no harm done!

24) Exit the editor by pressing escape. It will take you back to the song selection screen. Select the song you were working on, and hopefully it'll display perfectly!

25) OTHER THINGS TO BEAR IN MIND...

a. A small number of .txt files have a set starting point as well as a #GAP. It's difficult to explain this, but if you come across one of these .txts, you can put the #GAP in negative figures if necessary! You don't need to worry about this for now, just remember that it's a possibility.

b. It's very likely that you'll want to use the song's official music video - if this is the case (and the video is available), then the easiest way to do this is to use the music video for both the audio and the video. Therefore, you might want to look at my Adding Videos guide next.