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How do you organize your "Songbook"

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rcsnydley#1
(@rcsnydley1)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Topic starter  

I had a zippered folder with several pockets that I kept song sheets in. It was difficult to find the songs I wanted - a lot of leafing around.

I recently got back playing with a friend that I haven't played with in a few years. He has a 1" thick black 3 ring binder that he keeps his songs in. I was taking my songs out of the folder and putting them loose in my guitar case. Needless to say, I loved the way he had his together.

So, I went out and purchased a 1" thick black 3 ring binder. Now I take the songs I want in my "Songbook" and set them up so they are all on one page with the title and who did them on top. I use Courier New font at 12 pts. set to bold and shrink the page margins to .5" for the top, bottom and right margins and .75" for the left margin. This always maximum page usage that still is printable on most printers. I use M$ Word. If the lines are too long and run over I set the font line to condensed.

Now I can print them out, use my 3 hole punch and put them in my "Songbook". I also put reinforcements on the holes, I turn the pages a lot and this keeps the holes from ripping out.

I got a binder with four interior pockets (two front, two back) to put printouts of the major and minor pentatonic scales, major and minor scales (things I'm working on). I also have a fretboard diagram for easy reference along with at least one blank tab sheet, fretboard (for diagramming chord shapes) and blank staff paper. I also keep an updated sheet in there with all the songs in the binder (songs I know without cheat sheet in red, songs I need cheat sheet in blue).
I found this works great for me, but I am always looking for better ways and am curious about what others do to keep songs and things they are working on organized.

Looking forward to hearing from everyone as maybe some of the ideas presented will help us all.

Ric

"I've got blisters on my fingers." - Ringo Starr


   
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David Hodge
(@davidhodge)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 4472
 

Actually work out of two systems. First, there's the "Bible," which is a series of three-ring binders with songs in alphabetical order. Usually the songs are simple chord sheets, but some have additional notations (riffs, tunings, arrangement notes) clipped with the song. Currently there are three of these as we've too many songs to deal with.

From the "Bible," we'll take out songs and make copies and then place them into a "songbook." Songbooks can serve a specific purpose, like an upcoming gig or get-together when we know the musical preferences of the musicians taking part. Once a songbook is assembled, then we make copies of those for the purpose at hand.

Ideally, all of this is also on disc, but that is sadly not the case. And that's also where more of my spare time should be going to! Having it on computer, for example, would allow me to email charts to people coming to participate in musical events.

This is just me, though. For the record, I started out with just having a bunch of sheets lying around. It still looks that way most days! :wink:

Peace


   
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Nuno
 Nuno
(@nuno)
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Currently I use this software: http://songs.sourceforge.net/

I generate a PDF and I use it in the computer. When I know that the songs are right, I print the page and put in a folder with the others. I also use another free software for writing partitures or small riffs.

Now I'm trying to organize the songs and riffs for bass.


   
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Wes Inman
(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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I have just recently put a notebook back together for our group. I usually like to arrange the songs in the order we are going to play them at a gig, but that always changes, so I just flip around till I find the song I want.

Truth is, I try not to use my notebook unless absolutely necessary. I try very hard to memorize the lyrics to all the songs. The music comes easy to me, I never forget that, but occasionally I forget the lyrics, usually the first line! :D

I'll ask the guys what the first line is, after that I am usually ok.

Nothing wrong with having a songbook, but when you play in front of a crowd you should try hard to smile and make eye contact. Just looks more professional not to look at the book. But there is nothing wrong with it, I recently saw Billy Joel performing a concert on TV and you could see he had a nice monitor in front of him with all the lyrics. It was positioned so the crowd probably was completely unaware of it.

I use a nice cloth-lined 3 ring notebook with a zipper around it. It has pockets in the front and back and will hold pens or pencils as well. I have the plastic liners to protect the songsheets from rain or spilling a drink on them. I use the front and back of each sheet.

Kinda off subject, but I also have a nice professional grade music stand. Man, those flimsy little stands some people use are horrible, they won't hold any weight whatsoever. So I invested in a quality stand years ago and it was well worth it. It will hold lots of weight and folds up when you want to put it away.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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Vic Lewis VL
(@vic-lewis-vl)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 10264
 

Folder #1 - Sunday Songwriter's Group songs. These are arranged in order of writing - latest at the front, earliest at the back. Written out on A4 plain paper, but with a large - 1+1/2 inch - margin for any notes. Usually just lyrics, with chords written above in red ink, and notes at the side also in red.

Folder #2 - Other songs I've written. Arranged in alphabetical order of title. Written out as above.

Folder #3 - Cover songs. Mostly just lyrics, with chord changes in red ink. Again, arranged in alphabetical order of title.

Folder #4 - Cover songs for open mics. Songs I can play with just an acoustic, plus vocals.

Folder #5 - Ideas that haven't yet come to fruition. Maybe a chorus looking for a couple of verses, maybe a riff looking for a song. In no patricular order.

I also have a folder on the computer desktop with all my SSG lyrics, another one with all my other song lyrics, and another one with an SSG index - links to all my songs in the SSG and the other songwriter's forum, so that I can go back to the original post at any time without trawling through pages and pages searching!

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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gnease
(@gnease)
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it's a pretty simple system. I call it the mic stand system. I either drive up to David's to play with the gang or head to this years RSJ where I collect the latest GBC-bound cheatsheet "fatty" of songs and proceed with whatever event. sometime within the next six months, I lose the [email protected] thing, leaving it at David's or whatever jam/performance/silliness we are doing. undoubtedly, someone who can use it snags it from where I've left it - no problems. during the next musical get-together at which there's an obvious surplus of newly copied (and updated!) versions I grab another, and the cycle repeats. same thing pretty much happens with my mic stands -- except I actually contributed one or two at the start of the process.

oh yeah, the organization: whatever I get, I get, but will note that for whatever reasons, Angel from Montgomery is filed under M, and Something invariably comes before Satisfaction, and that all I usually check is the key, and there is often a note that says "capo on 3" leaving me to wonder if the tune is in G as the chords would indicate or transposed to Bb for our horn buddies :?

(okay ... I also have a sheets all over the place, tucked neatly into file folders, old brief bags and cases, and in many, many folders on my laptop's hard drive ... which crashed and burned this summer.)

-=tension & release=-


   
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rcsnydley#1
(@rcsnydley1)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Topic starter  

First, there's the "Bible," which is a series of three-ring binders with songs in alphabetical order. Usually the songs are simple chord sheets, but some have additional notations (riffs, tunings, arrangement notes) clipped with the song. Currently there are three of these as we've too many songs to deal with.

David, I love this "Bible" idea. Though I am a computer guy and have everything saved on an external hard drive with a copy on my laptop, I still like the paper thing. When I was in high school, late sixties to early seventies everything was paper, so I guess I am still somewhat "old school".
Folder #1 - Sunday Songwriter's Group songs. These are arranged in order of writing - latest at the front, earliest at the back. Written out on A4 plain paper, but with a large - 1+1/2 inch - margin for any notes. Usually just lyrics, with chords written above in red ink, and notes at the side also in red.

Folder #2 - Other songs I've written. Arranged in alphabetical order of title. Written out as above.

Folder #3 - Cover songs. Mostly just lyrics, with chord changes in red ink. Again, arranged in alphabetical order of title.

Folder #4 - Cover songs for open mics. Songs I can play with just an acoustic, plus vocals.

Folder #5 - Ideas that haven't yet come to fruition. Maybe a chorus looking for a couple of verses, maybe a riff looking for a song. In no patricular order.

Vic, I also like your folder thing for differentiating your material.

There are probably as many systems as there are people and sharing and using what works for you is great.

Thanks to all the GN Forum contributors for all the great input and keep them coming.

Ric

"I've got blisters on my fingers." - Ringo Starr


   
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David Hodge
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Unless you're going to be always playing at your computer, or if you're going to have a group of people playing around a computer, paper makes a lot more sense.

But I'll also key into what Wes said. Even though I have all this paper, I don't use it when I perform. It's for the initial learning process, for the occasional "what was that song again?" moment or for use of other players in group situations.

And I don't think I have any of Greg's mic stands, but I'd better look around just in case. :wink:

Peace


   
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katreich
(@katreich)
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Posts: 686
 

I have 3 or 4 3 ring binders, bound songbooks from jams, and PILES OF PAPER, and still can't find a particular song most times when I'm looking for it!

Falling in love is like learning to play the guitar; first you learn to follow the rules, then you learn to play with your heart.

www.soundclick.com/kathyreichert


   
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gnease
(@gnease)
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And I don't think I have any of Greg's mic stands, but I'd better look around just in case. :wink:

Peace

even if you do, it's all part of the same these days. too bad we can't so easily swap guitars and similar.

-=tension & release=-


   
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notes_norton
(@notes_norton)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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I used to carry around a big 5 inch 3 ring binder with all the songs I play in my duo http://www.s-cats.com , The Sophisticats. But as we learned more and more songs (we now do almost 500) it got bigger, bulkier, heavier and more time consuming to find the "next song".

We don't do set lists, but call songs to react to the crowd, so the decision of what to play next can be made a few seconds before the end of a song, and to keep the dancers on the floor, it might be important to start the next song immediately after the previous one ends. Leafing through a huge ring binder can take a lot of time.

Since I had an old copy of Encore (notation program) I digitized everything and put it in the computer (IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad). I should have done this sooner. The computer is smaller and lighter than the notebook was, and a few taps on the keys is all that is needed to bring up the next song. It's much quicker than leafing through a notebook (even with index tabs).

I'll never go back to paper.

Notes

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


   
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rmorash
(@rmorash)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 108
 

I use both paper and digital. Like Nuno I have a folder in my computer that I've created pdf's of songs so I can play along when I'm first starting to learn a new tune. The advantage there is that you're not dealing with a lot of paper and trying to get the pages in order. Also, as mentioned earlier they don't take up space on the bookshelf (or floor) and when I jam with some buddies, I'll take them with me on a memory stick (just pop it in the guitar case). For paper, I have at least a dozen three ring binders that have songs that I've collected over the years. This is not to suggest that I know how to play all of them off by heart or even well; they are songs that I've heard and want to, at least, play at some point. One folder has songs that when the neighborhood crowd gets together there are copies for non-guitarists to use to sing along with. The rest are basically organized confusion in that they are a mix of different things - fingerstyle, bluegrass, traditional, songs from the 60's and 70's that I grew up with, etc. For two page songs I punch the holes so they are face to face to avoid having to flip pages. I'll also put tabs on the pages I'm really interested in and label it so I can find it in a hurry. Like katreich, I don't know how many times I wanted to try a song only to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find it (that's where the pdf's come in handy). I'm actually trying to get away from paper because, in the past, I've found that I relied too much on it and not "listening" to the song such that my ear has gotten lazy - this is forcing me to pay attention to the chord progression


   
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rcsnydley#1
(@rcsnydley1)
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Topic starter  

My 3 ring binder has only songs I am presently working on or that are part of my repertoire. I do not like to take it on stage, I figure if I'm going to play it on stage I should know it cold. When I was playing keyboards professionally I would only have my set list on stage. However, I might jot down notes on it like certain chord changes or patch settings as reminders.

I have a separate binder and my laptop with a much large repository of songs. If I'm getting together with others I find taking a binder much easier than my laptop. However, if I need several copies to hand out I can print them from the file on the laptop.

Ric

"I've got blisters on my fingers." - Ringo Starr


   
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cnev
 cnev
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Two 3 ring binders one for the guitar notation and the other the lyrics. I also have all the lyrics on my computer.

Really only use them when I practice by myself and rarely use them when I play with the boys.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


   
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notes_norton
(@notes_norton)
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<...> I do not like to take it on stage, I figure if I'm going to play it on stage I should know it cold. When I was playing keyboards professionally I would only have my set list on stage.<...>

I used to memorize everything, and most of the songs I do in my duo http://www.s-cats.com , The Sophisticats are memorized. But because I play with backing tracks that I make myself (see: http://www.nortonmusic.com/backing_tracks.html for details), and because backing tracks are completely inflexible in their arrangement, I find having the music or words up there a help for those times when you are distracted by somebody coming up in the middle of a song (while I am playing and/or singing) and requesting another song or asking for a "Happy Birthday" or something else.

I could never understand why people do that. It is very difficult for me to sing the words to a song, play the guitar, and try to understand what that person is saying to me. Can't they wait until the song is done? I guess they don't realize how difficult it is for the musician.

Perhaps they are used to a piano bar where the pianist is in control of the song and can vamp while the customer makes a request and then pick up afterward.

Oh well, I just do the best I can with the situation.

Notes

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


   
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