How to Format the Clearest Chordchart Ever

I frequently use chordcharts. Here’s a couple of tips I’ve learnt over the years which make my chordcharts as legible and efficient as possible.

I use Open Office  to write out my chordcharts, because that way I can use an amazing (free!) plugin called ChordTransposer that will transpose the chart to whatever key I wish in less than 1 second. Handy if that singer (or me) has a cold, and suddenly all songs need to be brought down a step…!

For legibility of the chords and to imply rhythm, it’s really helpful to use a monospaced font – a font where all the letters and digits take up the same amount of horizontal space. I use Inconsolata.

I make the margins narrow, to make the lyrics as large as possible and the spacing as expanded as possible:

left margin: 0.7cm

right margin: 0.7cm

top margin: 0.7cm

bottom margin: 1.27cm

Correct line spacing is vital: I use double spacing. At a pinch, for example to fit one more line of a verse on a page and thus minimise page-turns, I’ll use 1.5cm line spacing.

I find font size 22 optimal for reading lyrics & chords.

I make the font ‘black’ for added clarity. If the song has a chorus, I make it ‘bold’.

The relative spacing between lyrics font and chord font is really important: I use a semi-expanded spacing for the lyrics, and condensed spacing for the chords, e.g.

For lyrics: Inconsolata Semi-expanded black size 22

For chords: Inconsolata condensed bold size 22

If a song has long lines, I’ll put the page in landscape format to allow that.

For a section without lyrics: if you’re following the font sizes and margins recommended above, insert 5 blank spaces after each chord to have 2 bars of chords equally spaced throughout a line*.

As a lever harp player, I need to set the key of the harp with levers before I begin to play. So I write the key and levers required in the top right corner of the first page.

Also as a lever harp player, I need to flip a lever every time I play a non-diatonic chord. So I highlight each non-diatonic chord in red.

Pro tip: I created a template file in the format listed above, and I just use that when I need to write out a chart.

I used to print my chordcharts, but now I export them to my iPad and view them with the app Music Book by Caposoft. I turn pages with a bluetooth pedal called the AirTurn PEDPro.

Hope this helps, and wishing you much fun and joy with your music-making!

(*In Open Office, with margins as above, using font Inconsolata at font size 26, one can fit 42 characters on a line. So for a chord chart without lyrics of 2 bars per horizontal line, insert 5 characters per chord.)

Review: Apps For Reading Chordcharts

I like to use chordcharts, and I have a filing cabinet full of ’em. Finally, after years of humming and hawing, I decided to go digital. So then I had to find an app that would allow me to input chordcharts onto my iPad, view them, turn the pages with a bluetooth pedal, and ideally transpose the music too.

I reviewed the vast majority of apps on this site: https://www.airturn.com/apps?query=&page=1

So you can save a few hours, here’s my summary!

One can divide chordchart viewer apps into 2 camps:

a) .pdf viewers: apps which import .pdf files and allow the user to view the .pdf files, with some extra bells and whistles like bluetooth pedal sync options.

b) apps which allow the user to input and edit their own chordcharts, then view them with bluetooth pedal sync options.

In category (a), the app that I found to be the best quality and design for the least money is Music Book by Caposoft. It’s a mere €3.49 for life-time access. I write out my own chord charts using Open Office and import them into this app – sorted.!


In category (b), my favourite by far was SongSheet Pro .This app has absolutely *beautiful* graphic design, and by far the most efficient chord input system. It’s accessibly priced at €5.49 for 1 month or €49.99 for 1 year.


The runner up in category (b) was OnSong. The one advantage of OnSong over SongSheet Pro was the option to use Nashville chord notation. The graphic design is not as legible or beautiful; the input system is pretty ugly and clunky. It’s €3.49 for 1 month, or €26.49 / year. 

A cool little app called Calypso gets an honourable mention for category (b), as I *really* liked their page-turning system. It’s reasonable, with a €16.99 one-off fee.

Hope this helps you musos out there, and that you get to spend some time playing music rather than faffing as a result of reading this!

A List Of 700 Emotions

Word art

Maybe you tried asking yourself ‘Am I mad, glad, sad, or scared?‘ and you drew a blank? Well, according to research at UC Berkeley, that might not be your fault. They don’t think there’s 4 emotions… they think there’s 27.

Me being an utter nerd, I got the Berkeley researchers’ list of emotions … grouped them as they tend to occur together … and then added synonyms & associated words.

Here’s the result: my master list of around 700 emotions. If you can’t figure out what you’re feeling, try reading through this list and see if any words here strike a chord.

1. disgust: abhorrence,  contemptous,  disapproving,  disdainful,  disgust,  dismissive, distaste,  loathing,  nauseated,  repelled,  repugnance,  repulsed,  revolted,  scornful,  sickened

2. horror: doomed,  dread,  horror,  petrified, terrified

3. fear: afraid,  alarmed,  alert,  avoidant,  bashful,  boastful, clinging, clutching,  coerced,  cold,  controlled,  cowardly,  cynical,  deceptive,  derisive,  devious,  disinclined,  distant,  distrustful, dominant,  dominated,  doubtful, edgy,  fear,  frightened,  gloating,  grandiosity,  guarded,  insecure,  insincere,  judgemental, jumpy,  malevolent,  malicious,  manipulated,  meek, mistrustful, morbid,  nasty,  obedient,  paranoid,  pessimistic,  pious,  quivery,  reluctant,  reserved,  ruthless,  sarcastic,  scared,  sceptical,  self-conscious,  shy,  smug,  spiteful,  submissive,  suspicious,  tense,  threatened,  timid,  unnerved,  unwilling,  uptight,  vengeful,  vicious ,  vigilant, vulnerable,  wary, watchful,  withdrawn

4. anxiety: angst,  anxious,  apprehensive,  cautious,  concerned,  consternation, hesitant, jumpy,  nervous,  trepidation,  worry

5. anger: abominate,  aggravated,  aggressive,  angry,  animosity,  annoyance,  antipathy,  averse,  bitter,  bothered,  cheeky, critical,  cross,  defensive,  disgruntled,  dislike,  displeasure,  ennervated,  exasperated,  fed up,  ferocity,  frustrated,  fury,  grouchy,  hate,  hatred,  hostile,  impertinent,  indignant,  insulted,  insulting,  irked,  irritated,  livid,  mad,  miffed,  offended,  outraged,  peeved,  petty,  petulant,  piqued, prickly,  provoked,  quarrelsome,  rage,  rattled,  reproachful,  resentful,  rude,  sulky,  sullen,  vexed,  wrath,

6. sadness: bereft,  blue,  chagrined,  crestfallen,  crushed,  defeated,  dejected,  depressed,  desolate,  despair,  despondent,  disappointment,  disconsolate,  disenchanted,  disillusioned,  dismal,  doleful,  down,  down in the dumps,  forlorn,  gloomy,  glum,  grief,  heartbroken, homesick,  melancholy,  miserable,  mopey,  morose,  mournful,  regret, sad,  sorrowful,  sympathetic,  teary,  unhappy,  weepy,  woebegone

7. pain: abandoned,  aching,  afflicted,  agitated,  agony,  alienated,  anguish, apologetic,  cantankerous, contrite,  cranky, culpable, defeated, disconnected, discontent, discouraged, dissatisfied, distraught,  distressed, empathetic pain,  grumpy, guilt,  hateful,  hurt,  hysterical,  ignorant,  inadequate,  inferior,  isolated,  lonely,  naive,  needy,  neglected,  perturbed, regret, rejection, remorseful,  shame,  shock,  smarting,  sore, sorry,  suffering,  throbbing,  tormented,  tortured,  troubled,  unappreciated,  uncomfortable,  unsupported,  unworthy,  upset,  wretched

8. surprise: astonished,  astounded,  bombshell,  disbelief,  dismay,  dumbstruck,  flabbergasted, flustered,  revelation,  shock,  startled,  stunned,  surprised,  thunderbolt, ‘wow’-ed

9. relief,  abated,  allayed,  alleviated, “a narrow escape”,  appeased,  assuaged,  comforted,  completed,  consoled,  delivance,  discharged,  dulled,  eased,  exemption,  finished,  freed,  lessened,  liberated,  mitigated,  processed,  reassured,  reduced,  released,  relieved,  repose, safe,  solace,  soothed,  succour

10. excitement: anticipation,  edgy,  excitement,  hyper,  intensity,  jittery,  manic,  pep,  restless, stimulated,  thrilled,  vim, wanderlust,  zest  

11. interest: absorbed,  allure,  anticipation,  appeal,  attentive,  attraction,  charmed,  compulsive, curious,  eager,  engrossed,  enthralled,  enthusiastic,  expectant,  fascinated,  focused,  immersed,  inquisitive,  inspired,  interest,  introspective,  involved,  keen,  meditative,  obsessed,  passionate,  pensive,  reflective,  seduced,  tempted,  zealous

12. satisfied: appeased,  assuaged,  content,  eureka!,  fulfilled,  gratified,  pleased,  proud,  satiated,  satisfied,  triumph,  victorious

13. awkward: awkward,  cumbersome,  cumbrous,  difficult,  embarrassment,  fiddly,  humiliation,  inappropriate,  inconvenient,  inopportune,  lumbersome, mortified,  shame,  silly,  tricky,  uncomfortable,  unfortunate,  unpleasant, unsteady,  unwieldy

14. amused:  amused,  cheered,  diverted,  engaged,  enlivened,  entertained,  funny,  giggly,  humorous,  in convulsions,  jocular,  laughter,  mirth,  mischievous,  naughty,  playful,  regaled,  smiling, tickled,  whimsical,  witty,  zany

15. joy: aligned, authentic,  blissed-out,  buoyant, buzz,  carefree,  cheerful,  click,  content,  creative,  deliciously lazy,  delighted,  ebullient,  ecstatic,  elated,  enlightened,  euphoric,  exuberant,  exultation,  fulfilled,  gay,  glad,  glee,  grateful,  happy,  harmonious,  hopeful,  jovial,  joyful,  jubilation,  kick,  lighthearted,  nice, pleased, pleasure,  rapture,  rejoicing,  thankful,  upbeat,  uplifted,  vivacious

16. adoration: adoration,  affable,  affection,  agreeable,  altruistic,  attached,  caring,  charitable,  comforted,  comforting,  compassionate,  concerned,  connected,  considerate,  cooperative,  devoted,  empathetic,  fond,  friendly,  hospitable,  kind, liking,  lovable,  loved,  loving,  pity,  reassured,  reassuring,  secure,  self-compassion,  sociable,  supported,  supportive,  tender,  thoughtful,  trusted, valued,  warm

17. admiration: acclaim,  accolade,  admiration,  adulate,  amazed,  applause,  appreciate,  approve, bowled over, blown away,  compliment,  esteem,  exalt,  extol, impressed,  laud,  plaudit,  praise,  proud,  regard,  respect,  touched,  tribute,  venerate

18. awe: astonishment,  awe,  honour,  idolise, impressed,  inspired,  lionise,  moved,  respect,  revere,  reverent,  venerate,  wonder,  worship, , 19. aesthetic appreciation, attend, notice, note,  value,  respect,  prize,  cherish,  treasure,  admire,  comprehend,  perceive,  sense,  aesthetic appreciation,  touched,  moved,  wonder

20. craving: aspiring to,  broody,  covetous,  craving,  desire,  dreaming of,  envious, greedy for,  hankering after,  have a yen for,  hoping for, hungry,  impatient,  infatuated,  jealous,  longing, malnourished, pining,  possessive, rivalrous,  sated,  satiated,  seeking,  thirsty, undernourished,  wanting,  wishing,  yearning

21. calm: at ease, calm,  certain,  chilled out,  complacent,  composed, content, equanimity,  fatalistic,  free,  loose,  mollified,  nonchalant, nurtured,  pacific,  pacified,  peaceful, philosophical,  placated,  placid,  quiet,  reasoned,  relaxed,  repose,  resigned,  self-possessed, secure,  serene,  soothed,  still,  sure,  tranquil, trusting,  unruffled

22. entranced: absorbed,  beguiled,  bewitched,  captivated,  carried away,  engrossed,  enraptured,  enthralled,  entranced,  fascinated,  gripped,  hypnotised, intrigued,  mesmerised,  riveted,  spellbound,  touched

23. confused: addled,  baffled,  befuddled,  bemused,  bewildered,  chaotic,  clueless,  conflicted,  confused,  consternation,  demented,  disoriented,  jumbled,  lost,  mixed up,  muddled,  nonplussed,  puzzled,  stuck,  torn,  troubled,  uncertainty,  unclear,  undecided,  uneasy, unsure,  volatile

24. bored: absent,  ambivalent,  apathetic,  blasé,  bored,  careless,  detached,  disengaged,  disinterested,  distracted, ennui,  inattentive,  indifferent,  jaded,  lacklustre,  lax,  listless,  monotonous,  mundane,  palled on,  passive,  preoccupied,  rash,  reckless,  spiritless,  stultified,  stupefied,  tedious,  unmotivated,  vacant

25. nostalgic: bittersweet,  emotional,  evocative,  homesick,  maudlin,  nostalgic,  reminiscing,  romantic, sentimental,  wisful,  yearning

26. romantic,  affectionate,  amorous,  doting,  dreaming,  enamoured,  fantasizing,  fond,  intimate,  lovey-dovey,  loving,  mushy,  passionate, romantic,  tender-hearted,  visioning

27. sexual desire: amatory,  amorous,  ardent, aroused, attracted,  carnal,  erotic,  horny,  hot,  impassioned,  intimate,  lustful,  passionate,  randy,  sensual,  sensuous,  sexual, stimulated,  sportive,  turned on

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, contact Samaritans (Ireland and Northern Ireland) on 116 123 or Lifeline (Northern Ireland) on 0808 808 8000.

References:

Emma MacAdam, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

https://news.berkeley.edu/2017/09/06/27-emotions/

Oxford English Dictionary

Emotions: The QuickStart Guide

Am I mad glad sad scared

As I mentioned here, a useful first step in processing emotions is to try and name them.

Most eye-witnesses can’t draw a picture of someone they saw committing a crime. But if you put them in front of a police line-up,  they can immediately recognise the perpetrator.

So how about a police line-up of emotions?! And to keep it really simple, let’s limit it to just 4 … that rhyme with each other. 🙂 Ask yourself:

Am I …

mad?

glad?

sad?

scared?

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, contact Samaritans (Ireland and Northern Ireland) on 116 123 or Lifeline (Northern Ireland) on 0808 808 8000.

References:

Emma MacAdam, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Thanks to Kate Aherne for the wonderful image!

Emotions 101

101

I was just part of a national conversation on how difficult it is for people to talk about feelings.

Sometimes it’s worth stating the obvious. So here’s emotions 101, as I understand them:

– emotions are helpful signals.  

– if you don’t process them,  you’ll end up physically or mentally unwell,  and your relationships will suffer.

– processing your emotions is a skill like any other,  which you can learn and improve at.

– a useful first step in processing emotions is to try and name them.

I’ve completed the first few videos and exercises on this course on processing emotions,  and so far,  it’s *excellent*. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, contact Samaritans (Ireland and Northern Ireland) on 116 123 or Lifeline (Northern Ireland) on 0808 808 8000.

References:

Emma MacAdam, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

www.rte.ie