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June 16, 2013 | New from John Baxter: Chordtunes

You know the author of the mandolin website Mandozine, John Baxter who has brought more than a decades worth of online resources including practice tunes, artist interviews, technique tips, recently guitar and uke oriented apps. You might be like many and own a copy of his Mel Bay Deluxe Encyclopedia Of Mandolin Chords published in March 2000, a great compendium for the beginning mandolinist.


In cooperation with EUMLab, Baxter has released another music app resource for iPad, "Chordtunes," a sort of text editor for creating chord sheets for guitar, mandolin, and ukulele. Chordtunes supports six tunings, transposition, three PDF formats, a custom chord keyboard, and Dropbox support.

While we tend to focus here on movable chords up the neck, the app is quite valuable for the beginning mandolinist struggling with first position chords within the first seven frets. We asked John about this during initial development. "I only cover first position chords, with a few exceptions. That's the trade-off with using a keyboard for chord entry. There are only so many keys available on the keyboard. I would have loved to include at least two chords, but each tuning has almost 300 chords, and with six tuning, that's 1,800 chords. Maybe we can offer an extended chord font at an upgrade, but for now we have to live with one chord. We were going to group the chords by major and minor key, but that would have required multiple keyboards, and we decided to get it out, and then revisit the design after we get user feedback."

Resources like Chordtunes are invaluable for anyone starting out, and much handier than flipping through multiple pages of a book, for less than the price of a latte. Our more advanced approach at JazzMando has been introducing chord groups or "sentences" (I.e. 'ii V7 I') in context, being able to move them up the neck, but we remember using the Baxter Chord Encyclopedia starting out.

Purchase information: EUMLab Chordtunes


Mandozine website.

Posted by Ted at June 16, 2013 7:04 AM

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