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Keeping a songbook: format suggestions?

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 vink
(@vink)
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I want to make up a softcopy songbook to keep the songs I am learing in some organized manner. However, I am having difficult y finding the right format.

I want keep track of the chord patterns, nothing more. The structure that works for me on paper is to have a blank staff separated out in to measures, and then write the chord changes by measure. I can use repeats to reduce the amount of stuf I need to write down.
I don't need to "tab" out the chords, the chord names are enough. However, writing the chord names on top of the lyrics is not as helpful, because that does not give me a measure count.

I can do this well enough with printed out blank staff, but I don't have a good idea on how to do this in softcopy. At one end, I can use a tab program like powertab or tabplayer, but they need the details of exactly how the song is played. At the other end, I can have a text or word file of lyrics with the chords written either in above the lyric lines or in parantheses, but no measure count. What I want is a happy medium.

The only way I can think of right now is to do it on paper and scan them in, and have a collection of PDF files. Any better suggestions?

--vink
"Life is either an adventure or nothing" -- Helen Keller


   
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(@wes-inman)
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Here is a site I found with a wide variety of music staffs in PDF. I'm sure one of these will probably suit your needs.

Music Paper

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 vink
(@vink)
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Topic starter  

Here is a site I found with a wide variety of music staffs in PDF. I'm sure one of these will probably suit your needs.

Music Paper
Wes, Thanks for the site; but, I already have blank staffs I can print out write out what I want by hand. What I would like to do is do this directly on the computer in softcopy form.

--vink
"Life is either an adventure or nothing" -- Helen Keller


   
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(@chris-c)
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Hi,

I've found that whatever I do it's easy to discover later that I've left out one element or another, so I try to keep as much as I can.

My main working book has plastic sleeves that you just slip the sheets of paper into. I put all the written stuff for a single song in one pocket. This might just be a straightforward sheet with the lyrics, key, time signature, melody line and chords written out in traditional notation. But if I have several versions of the same song, or extra memory jogging notes, they all go in together.

On the computer I keep a folder with any sound files (mp3s, wavs, midis or whatever) that I've either collected around the place or played myself and kept for reference. These might be any length - maybe even just a quick reference to a certain aspect.

I don't think the exact method matters, so much as making sure that you remember to keep a some sort of record of as many details as you can. I find that a mixture of the written score (which I nearly always keep a scan of) plus a sound file or two is enough.


   
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(@jaypbaker)
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Wow, I Sure Remember Those days ;0 When i Was First Learning, I Kept a notebook (Which, Surprisingly Enough, My Dad Found This Year And Returned to me After 15 years) That Had My "Collection". I Did A Similiar thing As You Are Saying Simply By Writing A song Out On Staff... But Only Chord And Changes. It Was Really Simple, You Know

em/emsus9/dmaj7 But It Was Effective... Kept 3000 Plus Songs That Way. I've never had theory Lessons, But My Notebook Was My teacher, And From It I Learned How To Read And Write Music.

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 Mike
(@mike)
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Try THIS.

He lays out a nice format and gives you future ideas.


   
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(@mr_clean001)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 88
 

Thanks for the link Tracker - I downloaded the template and will use it. Looks like it may be a nice medium.

"Practice until you get a guitar welt on your chest...if it makes you
feel good, don't stop until you see the blood from your fingers.
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(@noteboat)
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If you work with any cover bands, songbooks are just about required - most working cover bands do at least 200-300 different tunes. I keep notebook(s) for each act I play with/sub for regularly. I use a 3" ring binder with top loading sheet protectors. I use the kind of notebooks where you can slide in a trimmed sheet on the outside spine, where I have the act and volume number. Materials cost maybe $20 per 100 songs.

Each page has the lyrics, with chords over the first appearance of each section (if there are three versus with the same structure, only the first one gets chords etc.). If there's a signature riff, I do that in standard notation, and copy and paste it onto the page where it first appears - after that, I'll just have "(riff)" or "(riff1)" in the lyric. I make the title big - 18pt font or so - and I bold any lyrics I need to sing. In sections where I'm singing a harmony that's different fromt the lead lyric, I bracket the two lines - mine in bold, the lead vocalists in normal font right below it.

I put the songs in alphabetical order by title, and I put an 'artist index' in the front of the book. I list as many artists as I can find for a tune... because if you're working with a cover band, people will often ask for a tune by artist - and it's a great little tool to keep folks happy. Let's say the band is doing 60s-70s pop stuff and some joker keeps shouting "play some Poison". Poison covered Loggins & Messina's "Your Mamma Don't Dance" - you can shut him up and still keep the crowd happy. If a band does 300 tunes, I may have 1000 artist/song lines in columns on about 4 pages in the beginning of the first volume.

I worked with a band once that kept an extra copy of their songbook with just lyrics - they'd invite the fans to look through it for requests.

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(@dsparling)
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I have a part-time job writing out arrangements for a contemporary praise band. I create two types of lead sheets for the musicians and singers. For the vocalists, I generally create a full lead sheet - that is, melody on staff with chords and lyrics. Some folks in the band prefer what I call "slash charts." In the staff, I put "| / / / / | / / / |" like you see in jazz band charts. I also add chords and lyrics.

C G
| / / / / | / / / |
lyrics............

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 vink
(@vink)
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Topic starter  

Some folks in the band prefer what I call "slash charts." In the staff, I put "| / / / / | / / / |" like you see in jazz band charts. I also add chords and lyrics.

C G
| / / / / | / / / |
lyrics............

This is exactly what I was thinking about, except I was doing this on a staff, which makes it hard to have it as soft copy.

Do you just do this in plain ascii text like shown above? Or do you use some software?

Reading the different comments, it looks like it would be good for me to start a real hardcopy notebook with a binder anyway, but I still would like softcopy source because I have a habit of losing pieces of paper..

--vink
"Life is either an adventure or nothing" -- Helen Keller


   
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(@dsparling)
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Some folks in the band prefer what I call "slash charts." In the staff, I put "| / / / / | / / / |" like you see in jazz band charts. I also add chords and lyrics.

C G
| / / / / | / / / |
lyrics............

This is exactly what I was thinking about, except I was doing this on a staff, which makes it hard to have it as soft copy.

Do you just do this in plain ascii text like shown above? Or do you use some software?

Sometimes I use ascii, sometimes I use Finale. With ascii I don't always use the slashes, but I always use barlines.

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 vink
(@vink)
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Topic starter  

Thanks!

I think I will try the ASCII route. I don't have finale, although I have the free notepad version, but it's probably too much for what I need anyway. I am not planning to write out the riffs (yet).

--vink
"Life is either an adventure or nothing" -- Helen Keller


   
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