Play along with ChordPro

A Troubadour's Life

Article from Issue 236/2020

If you play a stringed instrument and want to record lyrics and chord changes, ChordPro gives you an elegant and convenient approach to getting it all on paper.

The prejudice that guitarists can't read music is as persistent as the assumption that bassists don't have a girlfriend. And there is some evidence to support the former – at least when you think about campfire songsters and shopping mall bards. But even these string instrumentalists can't manage without at least some notation and music theory. They add standardized chord names to their lyrics and can then read and accompany known songs without any problems. To do this, you simply enter the chord abbreviations in every second line above the word where the fingering changes (Listing 1).

Now imagine that you're making the move from handwritten notation to a word processor. This can work quite well as long as you use a monospace font. The problem is that with proportional fonts, chords might be offset when the font parameters are changed and this would cause havoc with the rhythm and harmonies of the song. Also, aligning superimposed characters at different positions within a line is often a difficult and time-consuming task in a word processor.

This is one reason you may want to turn to a specialized program such as ChordPro [1], which can take much of the load off the musician's shoulders by simplifying the correct placement of lyrics and chords. Also consider what happens if the chords in your song don't happen to match your vocal range. In order to accommodate different vocal ranges and basic tunings of instruments, whole pieces of music can be shifted in terms of pitch – or transposed, to quote the technical term. To do this, all notes are shifted up or down by the same interval. While not even the best-equipped word processor in the world will offer a macro for that, a specialized program like ChordPro can greatly simplify this process.


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