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How do you organize your song book?

Posted: June 21st, 2010, 7:52 am
by Nuno
One of my goals for the next few months is to organize the songs I play. When I learn a song by ear I take some notes in a notebook, usually the riff (if the song is riff-based) or the notes for the verses, chorus, etc. If the song is easy, I post it in standard notation in my blog. If it is hard or it has many sections, it is lost in the notebook pages or even in a "post-it" paper.

How do you organize the songs? Do you use a folder? A notebook? A computer program? Standard notation or tablature? All the song or just the parts? Just the chords and you improvise the lines?

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: June 21st, 2010, 8:48 am
by Laz
For my blues band, I use a 3-ring binder with plastic sleeves for each page. I usually arrange the songs in alphabetical order, but I'll rearrange them into playing order when we have a gig. Most of my charts are just words and chords, with maybe a reference to whether the blues song as a "quick IV" shift, or a notation for a specific intro or outro riff.

In addition, I have several jam books which are always in alphabetical order by title. Thanks to Nick, David and others for compiling most of these books.

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: June 21st, 2010, 9:44 am
by Minotaur
Three ring binder with color tab dividers, songs in alphabetical order on 8.5 x 11' sheets, either sheet music or Word docs with chords and/or tabs. I have a separate iTunes playlist in the computer for my "guitar songs", backing tracks and videos. I use the printed playlist as a table of contents in the three ring binder. I also have regular published books.

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: June 21st, 2010, 10:56 am
by lue42
Three ring binder.

I generally transcribe all songs into Guitar Pro so they have a similar look and feel - also, I can compress them, etc.

Since I don't have a huge repertoire of songs yet... I have 3 sections:
current songs in the order of my favorite first. These get changed around once in a while depending on what I am working on.
alternate tunings - pretty much only dropped D - in one section as I don't like retuning very much
not-current songs - these are songs I am not sure if I like yet, haven't started to practice but want to learn eventually, or are a little too hard at the moment. I generally go to this section when I want to challenge myself.

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: June 21st, 2010, 1:14 pm
by notes_norton
I used to keep it in a 3 ring binder, but after we got over 400 songs in the book (we have over 500 now) the book got too heavy, too cumbersome, and it took too long to get from song to song.

In 2002 I bought a ThinkPad laptop computer, and it is still on stage with me today.

For more information, go to http://www.nortonmusic.com/backing_tracks.html. While it also deals with how I make my backing tracks, it also goes into how I use the computer on stage.

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: June 21st, 2010, 7:26 pm
by jwmartin
I have a 3 ring binder and great intentions. I try to print out lyrics and chords and organize it alphabetically. For songs I'm learning, I either find a good Guitar Pro file or create my own and then print out just the sheet music (so I don't get lazy and read the tab). Unfortunately, I don't keep it very up to date.

For songs that I learn at a jam session where someone just tells me the chords, I have a spiral notebook where I make notes of the structure and chords on separate pages.

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: June 22nd, 2010, 5:42 am
by Nuno
jwmartin wrote:I have a 3 ring binder and great intentions.
:lol:

Yeah, great intentions, I know what you say. Sometimes I can be planning tasks or methods for weeks but I never finish them when they start. :(

Thanks for the ideas!

And do you write down all the song or, for example, just the riff and how many times you have to play it or comments like "verses riff", "chorus riff"? For example, for blues, do you write the riff or something like "boogie"?


It is curious. I think I already commented in similar topics for guitar players. You can only find 2-ring binders or 4-ring binders in Spain. 2-rings are not enough, the sheet "turns" and usually breaks the upper hole. I always fail with 4-rings and make the holes too closer.

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: June 22nd, 2010, 4:54 pm
by jwmartin
Nuno wrote:
And do you write down all the song or, for example, just the riff and how many times you have to play it or comments like "verses riff", "chorus riff"? For example, for blues, do you write the riff or something like "boogie"?
Most of them, I just have the chords and the lyrics with the structure (intro, verse, chorus, etc.) I'll make notes if I have trouble remembering a certain part.

For my blues stuff, I'll note if it's a boogie and for walking lines, I'll write out the pattern (e.g. 1-3-5-b7-8-b7-5-3)

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: June 23rd, 2010, 3:38 am
by Nuno
Thank you, Jeff! :D

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: August 6th, 2010, 6:58 am
by banre
Late to the party I know, but I use google docs. Then just print out what I need. For gigs, I have a one page sheet with about 40 boxes in it. Each box is for a song. I put notes in there if I need, like what key we play it in, reminders to not miss the walk here or there. Even reminders not to forget to step up the mic and do back up vocals, because I'm prone to get to jamming and forget that!

Here's the sheet in it's current form, shared from Google Docs. https://docs.google.com/View?id=dgwmbr2w_1hpctb6c8 I don't have all our stuff on there because I don't need it. Actually, looks like I can take a ton off there now, but might as well leave them just in case I have a brain fart on stage.

I take that sheet and our set list and put them on the amp. At the end of each song I look at the setlist for what's next and if I need a reminder on it, I'll take a look on my little matrix.

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: August 6th, 2010, 11:34 am
by jwmartin
banre wrote:Even reminders not to forget to step up the mic and do back up vocals, because I'm prone to get to jamming and forget that!
Glad to know I'm not the only one that does that. I sing back up on most of our songs' choruses and I very rarely sing during the first one because I forget.
banre wrote: Here's the sheet in it's current form, shared from Google Docs. https://docs.google.com/View?id=dgwmbr2w_1hpctb6c8 I don't have all our stuff on there because I don't need it. Actually, looks like I can take a ton off there now, but might as well leave them just in case I have a brain fart on stage.
That's a very cool idea. Hope you don't mind, but I bookmarked it for later inspiration.

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: February 14th, 2017, 8:55 am
by hthiew
I just got back from my first jam session and will seriously need to look into organizing my song book. The 3 ring binder comes out a lot here. So it's going to be what I'll be going for.

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: March 15th, 2018, 12:40 am
by DanielRid
I use 3 ring binder. I usually transcribe all songs into Guitar Pro so they look similar. Works well for me. :)

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: June 19th, 2018, 7:28 am
by kimmysawi
banre wrote:
August 6th, 2010, 6:58 am
Late to the party I know, but I use google docs. Then just print out what I need. For gigs, I have a one page sheet with about 40 boxes in it. Each box is for a song. I put notes in there if I need, like what key we play it in, reminders to not miss the walk here or there. Even reminders not to forget to step up the mic and do back up vocals, because I'm prone to get to jamming and forget that!

Here's the sheet in it's current form, shared from Google Docs. https://docs.google.com/View?id=dgwmbr2w_1hpctb6c8 I don't have all our stuff on there because I don't need it. Actually, looks like I can take a ton off there now, but might as well leave them just in case I have a brain fart on stage.

I take that sheet and our set list and put them on the amp. At the end of each song I look at the setlist for what's next and if I need a reminder on it, I'll take a look on my little matrix.
Thanks for sharing this google docs links, as it save my life :P kidding but useful seriously (Y)

Re: How do you organize your song book?

Posted: June 19th, 2018, 8:10 am
by Alan Green
Interesting - I just clicked the link and it said the document had been deleted