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Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.

Austin P 16 Mar 09 - 10:47 PM
olddude 16 Mar 09 - 11:02 PM
Austin P 17 Mar 09 - 12:19 AM
GUEST,woodsie 17 Mar 09 - 02:15 AM
Jim Lad 17 Mar 09 - 03:25 AM
Jim Lad 17 Mar 09 - 03:38 AM
theleveller 17 Mar 09 - 04:33 AM
pavane 17 Mar 09 - 04:57 AM
DMcG 17 Mar 09 - 05:03 AM
Acorn4 17 Mar 09 - 05:40 AM
pavane 17 Mar 09 - 06:20 AM
Austin P 17 Mar 09 - 07:13 AM
Mooh 17 Mar 09 - 07:21 AM
Abdul The Bul Bul 17 Mar 09 - 07:27 AM
Ian Hendrie 17 Mar 09 - 05:46 PM
Stringsinger 18 Mar 09 - 03:03 PM
Austin P 18 Mar 09 - 04:20 PM
Nick 18 Mar 09 - 09:10 PM
JohnInKansas 19 Mar 09 - 04:29 AM
pavane 19 Mar 09 - 04:33 AM
s&r 20 Mar 09 - 04:18 AM
JohnInKansas 20 Mar 09 - 08:20 AM
Geoff the Duck 20 Mar 09 - 09:33 AM
JohnInKansas 20 Mar 09 - 07:10 PM
Austin P 20 Mar 09 - 07:59 PM
Jim Lad 21 Mar 09 - 05:50 AM
Nick 21 Mar 09 - 08:31 AM
GUEST 21 Mar 09 - 02:01 PM
Austin P 21 Mar 09 - 02:19 PM
Nick 21 Mar 09 - 06:43 PM
Geoff the Duck 21 Mar 09 - 07:51 PM
Geoff the Duck 21 Mar 09 - 08:38 PM
Jack Campin 21 Mar 09 - 08:52 PM
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Subject: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Austin P
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 10:47 PM

Does anyone know of any software (preferably free!) that allows you to draw chord shapes, add text/lyrics and save them as printable files?

Playing in open tunings I find I am often making the chord shapes up as I go along - and they can be a sod to remember 6 months (or 6 years) down the line. You know the scenario: "Yes I used to play that!" ... (fingers turn to bananas, mind goes blank).

Even in 'standard' tuning some songs have unusual chords, which once forgotten, can leave one scratching ones head...

I've tried powerpoint etc. but it would be quicker with a Biro and a sheet of paper!

I've tried searching the web but the google results are awash with things like '10000,s of chord shapes! Be a rock god!' and so on.

AP


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: olddude
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 11:02 PM

windows or Linux?
try searching sourceforge


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Austin P
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 12:19 AM

Windows or Linux, don't mind which.

I'll try sourceforge ...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: GUEST,woodsie
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 02:15 AM

I use EXCEL


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Jim Lad
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 03:25 AM

Here.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Jim Lad
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 03:38 AM

Oops! I have Finale Notepad 6 but I'm not sure if you can get that one. Was Free.
Finale Notepad 9 is up and running. Costs about $9.95 which is not a lot, considering the work that has gone into it. You can try it for free, of course.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: theleveller
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 04:33 AM

Chord Alchemy is the best chord finding, creating, drawing and printing tool I've come across. You can do it for any instrument in any tuning. It will even identify the chords you make up and play them for you and you can import the chord diagrams into Word documents or anywhere else. I bought mine online for just a few quid and it's one of the best buys I've made.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: pavane
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 04:57 AM

My program HARMONY lets you display the chords as tablature. Not quite the same thing, I agree, but would achive the same objective of reminding you later. And it can play the chords as well.

HARMONY also allows any instrument and any tuning to be defined.
WINDOWS only though.

Find it at my site


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: DMcG
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 05:03 AM

I've tried powerpoint etc. but it would be quicker with a Biro and a sheet of paper!

There's a lot to be said for a biro and a sheet of paper. By the sound of it, all you would get using software is a neater picture. Is there anything you specifically want from the result apart from neatness?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Acorn4
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 05:40 AM

I've been having a similar problem, in that I would like to be able to write the names of the chords above the lines of the song in the correct places -fiddling about with word takes ages and it's almost impossible with Excel as words are all different length and you can't get the spacing.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: pavane
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 06:20 AM

Acorn4,
You might be able to use HARMONY for this. It can do aligned lyrics to tunes, and the chords are shown above the notes.

But it cannot currently show just the words and chords, without the notes. I might be able to add this if there is a demand.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Austin P
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 07:13 AM

DmCG: Yes, it's neatness.

It's the chord shapes I want, not the chord names which tell you nothing, and as they are often repeated it would be a pain to redraw them over and over.

The effect I am after is similar to commercial music (without the notes).

Thanks for the suggestions guys, I'll have look ...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Mooh
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 07:21 AM

I sometimes use the font "Seville" in the word processing software "WordPerfect". Seems to work well for adding chord boxes over lyrics.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Abdul The Bul Bul
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 07:27 AM

Thanks for the heads up on Chord Alchemy Leveller, looks the biz. Will get that.

Al


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 05:46 PM

Virtual Fretboard is another possibility. Though a few years old and a little quirky it isn't as intimidating as Chord Alchemy which is rather intimidating, and on a short test failed to recognise a basic chord and then crashed.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Stringsinger
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:03 PM

Here's the problem. The chords really should be shown as a chord grid and there should not be only one chord but different voicings (inversions) for the same chord. These chords need to be applied to songs following the musical principles of good voice-leading, playing area and the proper use of them in a chord progression. As far as I know, there is no program that does this.

The Guitar Grimoire by Adam Kadmon Pub. Carl Fisher comes close.

It's important to have a teacher show you how to use the chords effectively in a tune.
It's not enough to find a chord, you have to know how to apply it.

For example: Fm7//// |Bbm7////| Eb7//Eb7b9//| AbMa7////| DbMa7////
| Dm7// G7b9//| CMa7 //// etc.

Shows you a jazz progression for a well-known jazz tune based on a standard.

Now you have to know which of the chords to use. Here's what determines that.

1. The right inversion.
2. The geographic location on the guitar neck.
3. The sequence of the chords to run smoothly using principles of voice-leading.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Austin P
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 04:20 PM

Frank: I see what you mean, but where I am coming from is that I have already worked out the inversions, and the positions, I just need an easy way to write them down.

For example - in Modal C (CGCGCD) there are an awful number of ways to play a note (the different 'weights') in different positions. Add in the fact that many of the played chords are 'starved' chords (two or three fingers), they need to be noted down in chord boxes.

In open tunings, where the open strings often act as sympathetic resonators or drone strings, the name of the chord is essentially meaningless. This is the problem AL Lloyd referred to when he described conventional notation as 'Piano Tuners Music'.

Mind you TAB is a nightmare too. Not that it doesn't work - it just takes an age to write down!

Hope this makes sense.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Nick
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 09:10 PM

The easiest way I can think of is to create an empty chord box in something like Paint Shop pro or similar (even Paint) with enough frets to fit your hand (5?)

Open a Word document and insert it as a picture.
Make it the size you want so that you can read it and use it.
Copy it (say) 8 times across the page
Leave a line or two for words etc
Copy it (say) 8 times across the page

Continue to end of page.

Print or photocopy as many as you like and use a biro and put fret number next to box. You can carry it anywhere. It would fit any song - if it has loads of chords and changes you spread the words out - if there are few leave the chord boxes empty.

Nice low tech solution and you can use it anywhere!

I've uploaded I made quickly here which you can get the idea from or use if you have Word and it works for you.

All the best


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 04:29 AM

I'm not sure how practical it would be for the used described, but many users may have fonts for printing "chord fingerings" in music notation. I'm not sure whether any of these fonts are included with Windows as part of the basic set, but if not they come with, as part of, nearly any notation programs.

A particularly common set is named FretsA, FretsB, and FretsC. The most commonly used are in TTF (TrueType) format, although they're available as Adobe Type 2. If you don't have them, you probably can find a place to download the TTF version, and just past them into your C:\Windows\Fonts folder to make them available.

The utility "Character Map" (Start|Programs|Accessories|System Tools|Character Map) will let you look through the characters you've got, Select, Copy, and then Paste to Word or other "saveable" kind of document. You'll probably need to reformat after you paste them - to something like at least 14 pt or larger to actually see them. (Word can make any single character up to a full page tall on normal letter size paper.)

The problem with this method would be finding the chord pattern you want. The fonts appear to contain almost any "fingerable" pattern, so all you have to do is find the one you want, and perhaps add the fret number for the "top fret;" but I haven't explored it enough to know if there's a "logical"1 order to how they appear in the charts that would make it easy to find the ones you want.

1 "logical" to ordinary hoomin beans is not necessarily in any way related to what font designers (or Microsoft) think that it means.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: pavane
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 04:33 AM

You say that TAB is a nightmare and takes a long time to write down

HARMONY, which I mentioned before, uses either abc notation (multi-voice is available) or alternatively drag and drop, to place notes on the staff, which can be immediately reflected in the guitar tab.

If you just input the melody and chord names, you can then generate the chord notes automatically and then edit the notes as required.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: s&r
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 04:18 AM

Slight thread creep - CPM manager is no longer supported - anyone know of a similar program, and is there one for Macs?

It allows you to type in lyrics and insert chord names above the appropriate words.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 08:20 AM

Almost any "notation" program allows you to click in the notes, type in lyrics with sillyballs synchronized with the notes, attach a chord name and/or a "fret diagram" with each of as many notes as you want.

When you get done, the program will play the notes (but usually not the chords) and most mediocre to fairly decent programs allow you to export (save as) a .midi file as well as saving in whatever notation format the program uses.

You can also quite easily type lyrics with chord names above them in any word processor provided that you use the one absolutely necessary and irrevocable rule:

YOU MUST USE A MONOSPACE FONT, such as Courier

- - so that every character you type has the same width on the page. Once you've lined things up, in a "typewriter" font, they should stay lined up as long as the font/typeface isn't changed.

Since each visitor to a web site gets to choose what font to use to display normal text, if you post a "typed-synchronized" text in a monospaced font and want it to stay the way you typed it, you put a <pre> in front of the text and a </pre> at the end, and the browser is forced to display it as you typed it - if it can.

(the <pre> tag stands for "preformatted.")

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 09:33 AM

Austin - As I read your problem it is pretty much as follows.
1 - You use non-standard tunings on a guitar.
2 - You create your own arrangements of tunes / chords using fingerings which may be completely individual to you.
3 - You need a method for noting down what you have done.
4 - You are not interested in having "the dots" in either standard musical notation or tablature. That is NOT your requirement.
5 - What you DO want is a method of typing out the lyrics of a song, then adding your (possibly invented) chord shapes above each lyric line.
6 - You would like to be able to do this using your computer, to give a neat printed output which you can also save as a computer file and maybe modify at a later date.

                        ******************************

The main problem which you are up against is that computer programmes tend to be designed to do a particular job well, but if that isn't what you want, they can be worse then useless. I suspect that there isn't one designed to do quite what you want.

I would go for a solution similar to that suggested by Nick_, creating fingerboard diagrams which you can insert into a word processed document.

My suggestion would be to use Open Office, partly because it is Free Software, partly because it runs on Windows, Linux, Macintosh and other computer systems, but mostly because it only took me about fifteen minutes on Open Office to produce a result similar to what I think you are asking.

Open office is a free download which installs as a bunch of linked applications including wordprocessor, spreadsheet, database, onscreen presentations and a structured drawing package.
The useful thing about structured drawing is that it is made from elements which you can individually alter without changing the rest of your picture. It is incredibly easy to do straight lines and dots, which is what you need for fingering diagrams.

First download and install OpenOffice.Org (if you use a Windows PC I would recommend Portable Apps, a suite of software which will run from a USB stick, but will also install on a PC without adding crud to the registry).

Start Open Offic and open a new document in "Draw". This will give you a blank canvas for your chord diagram. Go to the menu at the top and find View/Grid. You need to see the grid, so check "Display Grid" and "Snap to Grid". Your blank page should now be covered with tiny dots. As "Snap" is enabled, when you draw a straight line, the ends will go to the nearest grid point, perfect for drawing evenly spaced horizontal or vertical lines.
Find the "Line Drawing" tool (symbols at bottom of screen) to Draw your "strings", 6 for guitar, 4 for mandolin etc. - how long depends on the number of fret positions you need to notate. I drew strings horizontally, with a grid dot spacing between each string, but you could do it vertically like Nick_ did. Frets are lines across the strings, I found spacing at every 4th grid point worked neatly.
To add fingering, find the "Ellipse" tool, which will draw you a circle. The grid snap points are at corners of a square surrounding your circle (rectangle for ellipse), so if your circle fills 2 grid points square, when moved, it will snap to a position where it covers a "string" line.

You can copy and paste individual elements, or group them together so they behave as a single element. This would help when creating a set of chords.

Once a chord is made, you can select the diagram and copy it to clipboard. Once in clipboard, you can go to an Open Office "Write" wordprocessor document and paste your diagram into it. You will need to resize the diagram, but that is not difficult (right click on diagram and find menu item for Position and Size).

Type in a few lines of lyric, leaving enough spacing between your lines to allow for the chord diagram, size the diagram to fit, move it to where it aligns and Bob's your Uncle!

Remember that you can save your chord diagrams (or blank fretboard diagrams ready to add spots) as Draw documents ready to create new tunings and new custom chords.

Hope that helps.

Quack!
Geoff the Duck.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 07:10 PM

Easier way to draw the fret/string grid might just be to make a table and set the "show lines" for the table grid.(?). Five cells in the row makes six strings, or you can have a blank column on each side (seven columns) if you want the frets to run across the strings. You can use a heavier grid line for the frets, to keep a good visual picture.

Personally, I'd print a copy and then scan it to make a "pasteable" .jpg that you should be able to clip into any place where you want one, if doing it in a table; although I'd probably do it in Photoshop Elements to begin with - make one rectangle, and then just Copy and Paste Paste Paste ... and drag the pasties to fit. Flatten and save.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Austin P
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 07:59 PM

Geoff:

Got it in 1!

I have open office (I use Ubuntu Linux), but I haven't tried it for this yet. In the past I have tried Powerpoint - Open Office has the same facilities and I am switching to that.

The problem is that I find it time consuming. Maybe I'm a bit just a bit lazy. The sequence goes like this.

1. Open the master 'chord shape template', which has a blank and where I store the chord shapes I have already constructed.
2. If the chord isn't there create a new one. This entails copying one of the library of 'blobs' (hammer-on,hammer-off,hold,slide etc) on to the finger position.
3. When it is finished shrink it down to the corect size.
4. Cut and paste into the lyrics page.

The problems are (in powerpoint) are:

(a) it's hard to snap circles onto the fret string lines. They always seem to come out to one side or the other. Therefore the 'snap to grid' grid spacing has to be small, and the diagram big, before shrinkage.

(b) It's hard to get the shrunk diagrams a consistent size.

I suppose I'm asking for a moon on a stick, but it would be nice to have a program with drop down menus to drop the chords on the page. I suppose I'll have to code one myself one day...

Most computer programs* concentrate on music notation and 'standard' tunings if any. I'm going to try the 'Harmony' program suggested by Pavane, I'm interested to investigate 'place notes on the staff', which can be immediately reflected in the guitar tab. now that would be squaring the circle.

AP

* Geek note: 'Program' as in 'computer program', or 'washing-machine program' is not an Americanism. 'Programme' is something you watch on the TV or they give out in theatres. It's in the Oxford English Dictionary if you don't believe me...

PS For our American readers:

'Aluminum' is the correct for name of the metal. 'Aluminium' is British back-formation to make it consistent with all the other 'ium' metals. But wrong.

'Gotten' is grammatically correct English. As in 'misbegotten'. ;o)

PPS You still can't pronounce 'Herb' and 'Solder' though.

;O)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Jim Lad
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:50 AM

Well now we've all been corrected.
Feel better?
You're welcome.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Nick
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 08:31 AM

>>'Aluminum' is the correct for name of the metal. 'Aluminium' is British back-formation to make it consistent with all the other 'ium' metals. But wrong.

Only apparently not... OED is against you on that one


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 02:01 PM

Another "low-tech" solution is to purchase a guitar chord grid rubber stamp, available at most music stores, along with an ink pad. Then back to your biro.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Austin P
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 02:19 PM

Nick: Thanks, I should always check and not depend on hearsay!

AP

PS It was all meant as a bit of fun.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Nick
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 06:43 PM

It was taken as such.

What is truth?

Still with the biro - you can always scan it


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 07:51 PM

Austin - Using the Open Office route, the question of producing a consistent final size for the chord diagrams shouldn't be too difficult.
Starting in the Draw bit of the package and using the same basic grid for the diagrams, you should be importing a standard size of diagram into the word processor.
As you import into the word processor you get a graphic element which is quite big relative to the page, but when you find the resizing controls, they allow you to a pretty fine control over the reduction in size. The two things to remember are firstly that if you get it wrong, there is an "Undo" function in the Edit bit of the menu. Secondly, in the resize box for the imported graphic, you need to check the box to keep "aspect ratio" when you alter one dimension to keep the other in proportion. If you are using a grid with strings horizontal, it will be 6 strings deep. The chord diagram might be 4 frets long or 6 frets, so is a variable . The 6 strings for a guitar is fixed. Use the 6 string "height" as the dimension you alter, and the variable width of the diagram kept in proportion to the number you change ought to give you a chord diagram size the same each document.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 08:38 PM

Forgot to mention - when shrinking the graphic - Make a note of the numerical value of the dimension you have changed - write it down somewhere - use computer and save in a text document (maybe the one you do the lyrics and chords in (then delete it before saving file with a new name).
If you scale ALL your imported chord using the same dimension, they ought to match on the lyric layout.

Of course, if all you need is something neater and more printable than a hand drawn scrap of paper, you don't actually need them identical size, it just looks nicer if they are. Of course - if it was for professional publication, you might want it more precise, but personal use is a different bag.

Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Software for drawing guitar chords.
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 08:52 PM

Why not create the chord diagrams using Erich Rickheit's generator:

sniff.numachi.com

and copy/paste whichever of the resulting choice of graphics you want?


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