Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The best software for ukulele players: ChordSmith

Thus begins a series of occasional posts describing some of the best software for ukulele players. There's no better program to start with than ChordSmith. It's written in Java, so it will run on any platform that supports Java.

It performs a bunch of tasks that can be found in other programs.

  • It can convert lead sheets in two line text format (one line chords, the line lyrics) to Chordpro. It also converts Chordpro to two line text.
  • It transposes.
  • I can be used to edit song files.

WAKE UP! I know it sounds boring because so many other programs do the same thing. However, ChordSmith has a batch mode! It can transform hundreds of files in the blink of an eye. If you've never faced this problem, then ChordSmith is probably not of interest. Other programs edit, transpose, and change format quite nicely (stay tuned for Songbook). However, over many years back in the last millennium, I created a collection of 200+ songs from Tin Pan Alley that I enjoy. I wanted to be able to use them on my tablets with apps that requires Chordpro format. The thought of transforming them one at a time was distressing, not because I couldn't do it, but because I could! I could, but it would be an arduous task. Google led me to ChordSmith, which accomplished the task in minutes, including the time it took to download the software. ChordSmith is giftware. I sent a gift. I had to. If I didn't, I'd still be feeling guilty about how much work it saved me.

I don't use ChordSmith as much now, but there are still occasions where it's the right tool for the job. For example, I might create a set of songsheets by cutting and pasting them in two line format from the Ultimate Guitar Archive. Then, I used ChordSmith to convert them to Chordpro format. However, for onezies and maybe twozies, I'll use other tools, including my modification of the Uke Geeks' Song-a-Matic editor. My modification retains any blank lines that appear in the songsheet file. The original Song-a-Matic strips them, which I find makes their resulting Chordpro file difficult to read.

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