Friday, May 13, 2016

The best software for ukulele players: Songbook

It would be unthinkable for a series on software for ukulele players to not include Songbook, not just because it does what it does, but also because it is available on so many platforms, including iPhone/iPad, Android, Windows, and Mac OS X. Songbook can be synchronized across your devices by using Dropbox or any other program that will keep files and directories synced. (I use BitTorrent's Sync, myself. Sync is different from the BitTorrent service for peer-to-peer file sharing because no peers are involved in Sync other than your own.)

If a songsheet is in two-line format, Songbook can convert it into the chordpro format it needs to work its own magic. Songbook can do everything necessary to create a personal songbook or a songbook for a ukulele club. Songbook can

  • convert files from chordpro to the easier to read two line text format,
  • transpose to a different key on the fly or permanently, and
  • add chord diagrams.

Highly recommended!

There are a few downsides. While I have not seen the program's source code, it is my sense that it recreates an index of song titles every time it is started. I am also guessing that it sorts the titles into alphabetical order and does it in an inefficient manner. I have more than 9,000 (nine thousand; not a typo) chordpro files. Songbook takes so long on to start on my tablets that it is easy to think that the program has frozen. As I type this, I realize that I don't like the inherent ambiguity in the phrase "so long", so I grabbed my older Asus MeMo ME301T and newer Samsung Tab A. It took 75 seconds for a list of song titles to appear on the MeMo and 70 seconds on the Tab A.

The other is for people like me who prefer to store song files in a directory structure rather than create playlists. Songbook for Android supports only one level of subdirectories. For example, if your chordpro files were stored in a directory called ChordPro, that directory could be subdivided into Rock, Pop, and Jazz, say, but Songbook would not be happy if Rock were subdivided into 60s, 70s, and so on.

SongBook costs $8 for Android, $19 for PC ($17 if you already own Android), $8 for iOS, $18 for Mac.

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