Songsheet Generator chord grids for different tunings

Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) alternative tuning chord grids

Songsheet Generator and ChordPro

I use Songsheet Generator to make my song sheets:

“Songsheet Generator is an application which prints songsheets and songbooks for home, small group, or large group overhead use. The program runs on Microsoft® Windows™ (native .exe), Mac OS X (Java-based native .app), and any platform that supports Java 1.5 (.jar file). Song files must be provided in the ChordPro (Chord Pro) format, a common text format found on the internet (ChordPro files are easy to make yourself, if you can’t find the song you’re looking for). Also Songsheet Generator will import some basic tab (CRD) files, so you can print a songsheet or songbook from any songs you might already have in that format.”

If you are not familiar with ChordPro format or the extended version used by Songsheet Generator, please read ChordPro Song File Format Reference – otherwise much of what follows will make very little sense.

NOTE: The reason I use Songsheet Generator (there are other, similar programs and web apps) is that it allows me to print song sheets in my preferred format, i.e. landscape in two “cells” (columns) per sheet. If fine-tuning of print and/or screen display and/or html output is not important to you and easy switching between different instrument tunings is more of a priority, then you might want to have a look at alternatives such as Linkesoft Songbook or OnSong

Songsheet Generator comes with pre-installed chord definitions for guitar EADGBE and ukulele GCEA. This allows you to print or display song sheets with chord grids for these tunings.  However, you can configure Songsheet Generator to produce chord grids for other tunings. 

NOTE: Stewart Greenhill contributed his Ukulele resources to Songsheet Generator. Stewart’s ukulele chord definitions for standard GCEA ukulele tuning are now built into Songsheet Generator. So, you no longer have to download the chordrc file from Stewart’s web site in order to access ukulele chord definitions in Songsheet Generator.

Custom Chord Editor:

Songsheet Generator includes a Custom Chord Editor:

“The Custom Chord Editor allows chord grids to be defined other than those that are defined by default in Songsheet Generator. A button on the Chords/Grids Options Property Page will open the Custom Chord Editor, and it can also be opened via the menu bar.”

Alternative Tunings:

  • If you are only or mainly going to use Songsheet Generator for a tuning other than EADGBE or GCEA then I would recommend that you use the Custom Chord Editor to define the chords for your personal, preferred standard tuning.
  • If you want to produce song sheets for a variety of tunings then you will need to use Chord Definitions in Song Files (see below).

Alternative Chord Voicings:

The Custom Chord Editor is also useful if you routinely use a different voicing to the default chord definition in Songsheet Generator.  This applies whether you are using the default definitions (for EADGBE and GCEA tuning) or if you have completely re-defined the chords for a different tuning, eg. DGBE.

Alternative chord voicing examples in GCEA tuning:

F7 for ukulele (GCEA) is defined by default as 2313. That is, listing the strings from “nose to toes” (the first string nearest your nose to the fourth string nearest your toes!):

G string: fret 2
C string: fret 3
E string: fret 1
A string: fret 3

However, if your preferred voicing of F7 is 2310, you can use the Custom Chord Editor to quickly and easily change the default voicing for F7 to:

G string: fret 2
C string: fret 3
E string: fret 1
A string: fret 0

You can also add completely new default chords for guitar or ukulele using the Custom Chord Editor. For example, I have added Em7b5 with a default ukulele chord definition of 0201.

What if you routinely use more than one voicing for a particular chord?  

This applies to me with D7. The default chord definition is, as you might expect, 2223. However, I often use the “Hawaiian D7” 2020, where the root note is implied.

NOTE: The fact that 2020 omits the root not of D does not make it “wrong” or a “cheat”, although you might find it easier to play than 2223. This D7 ukulele question on music.stackexchange has some good explanations in the answers.

You can call a chord anything you like.  If you wanted to, you could name 2020 as D7-H (“H” for “Hawaiian”). I prefer to name it D7-2020.  That way the name explains how to play it and I have added D7-2020 to the default chord definitions in Songsheet Generator.

If you want to define a chord differently just for one song or very occasionally there is another option you could use. Rather than adding the definition to the database using the Custom Chord Editor, you can use an “in song” definition.

Chord Definitions in Song Files:

See the “files_chords” Songsheet Generator Help Page

“Songsheet Generator supports the ability to print and display chord grids . . . (i.e. fret board diagrams). Although a large number of common chord grids have been built into the Songsheet Generator executable, additional or alternate chord grids may be defined in song files, via the standard ChordPro chord grid definition syntax:

{define: base-fret frets <a> <b> }
For example, the following definition:
{define: E5 base-fret 7 frets 0 1 3 3 x x}“</b></a>

To create a four string ukulele grid the last two strings are both coded as “u”. Using the examples of alternative voicing for F7 and D7 noted above in GCEA tuning, the definitions to place in a song file would be:

{define: F7 base-fret 1 frets 2 3 1 0 u u}
{define: D7 base-fret 1 frets 2 0 2 0 u u}

NOTE: If you want to produce grids for more than one voicing of a chord within a particular song then you have to name the chord voicings differently. This is not a limitation of Songsheet Generator.  Whether a human or a program is “reading” the song sheet there has to be a way of indicating which voicing should be played in a particular instance.

If you want D7 to be played sometimes as 2223 and sometimes as 2020 within a song then you need to give one of those voicings a new name. As mentioned above, my preference is to add the definition to the chord name of the non-default definition. So, I would use the chord name D7-2020 for the chord definition 2020:

{define: D7-2020 base-fret 1 frets 2 0 2 0 u u}

Within the song, when there is a D7 to be played, you would type either [D7] or [D7-2020] depending on which voicing should be played at that point.

Making song sheets for other four and six string tunings:

You can also use song file chord definitions to create song sheets with chord grids for more six and four string tunings than the standard EADGBE and GCEA tunings, e.g.

  • to create “Baritone Ukulele” song sheets for DGBE tuning (“Chicago Tuning”);
  • to create “D tuning” ukulele song sheets for ADF#B tuning;
  • to create alternative guitar tunings, including ADGCEA for Requinto Guitar or Guitarlele aka Guilele.

NOTE: I experimented with a 5 string banjo tuning definition, coding just the last string as “u” but Songsheet Generator produced a six string grid. So, it would appear that only four and six string tunings are supported.

Examples of “alternative tuning” song sheets:

In all these examples I am going to use a song that I have written: “Love Hearts (Sugar Lips)”. Firstly, I do not need to ask anyone’s permission – because the copyright is mine. Secondly, nobody can complain that the lyrics or chords are wrong. Well, they can try but they won’t get very far with that. There is a later version but . . . Thirdly, I know that Jim Carey is going to include this version in the next edition of Jim’s ukulele songbook, so providing versions for other tunings seems a helpful thing to do.

  • You can use any song file you like to follow this process if you do not want to use the example provided.

I am going to use the original key of F for “Love Hearts (Sugar Lips)” in all the examples below.  The DGBE example is the most complete, in order to outline the whole process once only.

First, catch your song!

  • Copy and paste the song file text below into a simple text file
  • Save it with this file name wherever you normally save your Songsheet Generator files:
    Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 GCEA.txt

{t:Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) GCEA}
{st:Liz Panton}
#{st:Words and Music Ⓒ Liz Panton 2015 (v1)}
{Key:F}
{footer:Words and Music Ⓒ Liz Panton 12/12/2015 (v1)}
{c:VERSE 1:}
[F]Love Hearts are better than a Fortune Cookie
When it comes to divining your [C]fate

Tell a tale o’ tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor
And don’t forget the First [F]Mate!

{soc}
{c:CHORUS:}
[F]Spoil me, Sugar Lips! Spoil Me, Sugar Lips!
What does my heart [C]say?

“Bye bye, My Angel”, “I Hope, Love Bud”
“My Love” is here to [F]stay.
{eoc}

{c:VERSE 2:}
[F]Love Hearts are better than a Fortune Cookie
When it comes to divining your [C]fate

Rich-man, poor-man, beggar-man, thief
And don’t forget the First [F]Mate!
{np}
{soc}
{c:CHORUS:}
[F]Spoil me, Sugar Lips! Spoil Me, Sugar Lips!
What does my heart [C]say?

“Bye bye, My Angel”, “I Hope, Love Bud”
“My Love” is here to [F]stay.
{eoc}

{c:BRIDGE:}
[C]Don’t toss a coin, don’t flip a card
See what the Love Hearts [F]say
[G]Don’t gaze at crystal or draw the short straw
See what the Love Hearts [C]say.

{soc}
{c:CHORUS x 2:}
Oh! [F]Spoil me, Sugar Lips! Spoil Me, Sugar Lips!
What does my heart [C]say?

“Bye bye, My Angel”, “I Hope, Love Bud”
“My Love” is here to [F]stay.
{eoc}

{c:OUTRO:}
[C]“My Love” . . . is here . . . to [F]stay.

NOTE: I save my song files in a “Songbook” folder on Dropbox so I can also access them with Linkesoft Songbook on iPhone and share them with other people.

You can use that file straight away with Songsheet Generator to produce pdf file song sheets with either standard GCEA chord grids or standard EADGBE chord grids, e.g. GCEA

Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 GCEA

 

NOTE: The appearance will vary depending on how you have configured the Print Settings in Songsheet Generator. For example, I like the Chorus to be indicated by a heavy line along the left of the lines. You might prefer the Chorus to be highlighted in a box.  Please also note the {np} Chordpro directive in that file. This generates a new “cell”, column or page depending on your Print Settings. Delete or move it if you do not want it or if it is in the wrong place.

However, you need to do a bit of work to customise it for other tunings.  You need to edit the file:

  • on a Mac I would use Text Edit
  • on Windows I would use Notepad
  •  on iPhone I would use Linkesoft Songbook
  • if you use something like Microsoft Word, Open Office, Libre Office, etc. please note that you need to save the file as a text file with a .txt file extension.

Example 1: DGBE tuning song sheet (“Chicago Tuning”)

  • Duplicate that song file you just created or create a new file with exactly the same content
  • Name it: Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 DGBE.txt

Now change the first line in the file, which codes the song title.

Original first line: {t:Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) GCEA}
New first line: {t:Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) DGBE}

If you have versions of a song in different tunings this means that you can easily identify which one is which in the Songsheet Generator “Songs Available” list:

2015-12-29 Songsheet Generator Songs Available

Next you need to add the DGBE chord definitions for F, C and G.

Copy and paste these lines into your Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 DGBE.txt file. I would paste them immediately before the first verse.

{define: C base-fret 1 frets 2 0 1 0 u u}
{define: F base-fret 1 frets 3 2 1 1 u u}
{define: G base-fret 1 frets 0 0 0 3 u u}

If you open your file “Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 DGBE.txt” with Songsheet Generator you should see that you have the correct chord grids for DGBE tuning.

Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 DGBE

However, if you try to transpose the song you will be back to default chord grids for GCEA tuning – unless the transposed song happens to include F and/or C and/or G. This is because you have only defined the chords F, C and G.

In order to transpose and generate DGBE chord grids you need to add definitions for the chords that F, C and G would be transposed in to.

Songsheet Generator provides for transposition by half-steps, eg. F to F#. However, I am assuming that most people would transpose only by full steps.

Here are the lines that you need to copy and paste into your “Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 DGBE.txt” file to generate DGBE grids when transposing into the keys of G, A, Bb, C, D or E.

NOTE: If you do not like any of these voicings, just change the definition to one that you prefer.

{define: A base-fret 1 frets 2 2 2 0 u u}
{define: B base-fret 1 frets 4 4 4 2 u u}
{define: Bb base-fret 1 frets 3 3 3 1 u u}
{define: D base-fret 1 frets 0 2 3 2 u u}
{define: E base-fret 1 frets 2 1 0 0 u u}
{define: F# base-fret 1 frets 3 3 2 2 u u}

Example 2: ADF#B tuning song sheet

Duplicate your original file or create a new file with exactly the same content but name it: Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 ADF#B.txt

Now change the first line in the file, which codes the song title.

New first line: {t:Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) ADF#B}

Now copy and paste these lines into your Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 ADF#B.txt file. I would paste them immediately before the first verse.

{define: C base-fret 1 frets 3 2 1 1 u u}
{define: F base-fret 1 frets 0 3 3 1 u u}
{define: G base-fret 1 frets 2 0 1 0 u u}

Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 ADF#B

If you want to be able to transpose the song by full steps and generate ADF#B chord grids you will also need to add chord definitions for the following chords: A, B, Bb, D, E and F#

Example 3: ADGCEA tuning song sheet

Duplicate your original file or create a new file with exactly the same content but name it: Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 ADGCEA.txt

Now change the first line in the file, which codes the song title.

New first line: {t:Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) ADGCEA}

Now copy and paste these lines into your Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 ADGCEA.txt file. I would paste them immediately before the first verse.

{define: C base-fret 1 frets 3 2 0 0 0 3}
{define: F base-fret 1 frets x 3 2 0 1 0}
{define: G base-fret 1 frets x x 0 2 3 2}

Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 ADGCEA

If you want to be able to transpose the song by full steps and generate ADGCEA chord grids you will also need to add chord definitions for the following chords: A, B, Bb, D, E and F#

More alternative-tuning chord definitions?

If I ever get around to doing more alternative tuning chord definitions I will post them. Or, if you already have some and are happy for me to link to them, please do post a comment to let me know. I would be very grateful as it would save me a lot of time doing it myself – and why re-invent the wheel?

RESOURCES:

Brian Amberg’s Chordlists: Brian’s Huge Chordlist Collection

Chorderator – multiple tunings: Chorderator

ChordPro – Songsheet Generator Extended ChordPro: ChordPro Song File Format Reference

Chord sheet ADF#B Ukulele Arts: ADF#B Chord Chart

Chord sheet DGBE Ukulele Arts: DGBE Chord Chart

Hawaiian D7: D7 ukulele question on music.stackexchange

Jim Carey’s Ukulele Songbook: Jim’s Ukulele Songbook

Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) ADF#B: pdf file Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 ADF#B

Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) ADGCEA: pdf file Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 ADGCEA

Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) DGBE: pdf file Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 DGBE

Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) GCEA: pdf file Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) v1 GCEA

Love Hearts (Sugar Lips) YouTube video:

OnSong App: OnSong

Songbook: Linkesoft Songbook

Songsheet Generator: Songsheet Generator – TenByTen Software

Stewart Greenhill – A Different Tune: http://stewartgreenhill.com

Ukulele Chords: ukulele-chords.com

ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS:

Please, if you spot any mistakes do post a comment to let me know and I will post a correction with an acknowledgement.

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One comment on “Songsheet Generator chord grids for different tunings
  1. […] my previous blog post Songsheet Generator chord grids for different tunings I used the song file for “Love Hearts (Sugar Lips)” to demonstrate how to code […]

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