Author Topic: Plans for a Chord Builder Tool based upon PMT eBook - Your opinion is needed  (Read 8172 times)

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I quite fancy the idea of releasing a chord construction tool that strictly follows the guidelines set by the Practical Music Theory book. Before jumping into it, I'd like hear your opinion about it's features. I'll describe my ideas shortly and after that I'll give you three short questions too. Your answers are appreciated and they would have a great impact on my enthusiasm!

The app will give you 3 powerful tools to construct your chords: an interactive fretboard, a chromatic scale and a list of chord types. Each of these tools can be used for slightly different purposes and they also interact with each other.


1. Fretboard

Display the notes of a scale or chord on a fretboard. Use letters or scale degree. Define grips by selecting groups of notes. Display CAGED shape around grips. Define fingering.

2. Chromatic Scale

Highlight notes of a chord or scale. Display chord equation.

3. Table Of Chords

Table of Chords is a collection of the most frequently used chord types. Table columns correspond to root notes, rows correspond to chord voicing (e.g. maj, min, dim, aug … ). Sort rows either by chord equation ( least change from one shape to the next one ) OR chord sounding ( main types: major, minor, dominant ).

4. Chord Library

Create your own collection of chords and grips. Show detailed information on each chord or grip: diagram, chord name ( or scale degree ), grip name ( e.g. maj, min, … ), related shape ( CAGED ), chord equation.

Optionally show the root notes of chords on a neck diagram ( see "Intervals on the neck" ).


1. Chord Finding Method
Tools required: table of chords, chromatic scale, fretboard

Pick a chord from the table of chords. Display chord equation and notes on the chromatic scale. Highlight all the notes of the chord on the fretboard. Use note letters or tone numbers.

Choose notes to make up a chord grip
Browse pre-defined grip variations

Highlight related CAGED shape around the grip

2. Chord Analysis
Tools required: table of chords, chromatic scale, fretboard

Select notes from the chromatic scale OR select notes on the fretboard. Highlight matching chords in the table of chords. ( Matching chords contain all the selected notes AND any other notes optionally. ) Click on a chord to listen.

Once a chord has been selected, continue with the Chord Finding Method.

3. Best Uses

Construct grips on the fretboard really fast with just a few clicks and see it's relation to the CAGED shapes instantly.

Transcribing chords: see and hear all the chord candidates for a group of notes.


Q1: For what purpose would you use the app?
1.Find chords or grips, 2. Chord analysis ( transcribing chords ), 3. Other, 4. None

Q2: Which feature do you think is unnecessary?

Q3: Would you include any other features?

BIG Thanks for reading! Cheers!
« Last Edit: October 24, 2012, 07:02:17 pm by mckagan »


  • Guest
Re: Chord Construction App
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2012, 10:26:43 pm »
I forgot to mention one more important thing:

Once I get some support from Justin Guitar Community, I'd be happy to make the app (win and mac versions) available for all the community members free of charge. I also hope that such an app doesn't infringe any copyrights of Justin as it's heavily based upon the Practical Music Theory PDF. Please let me know if you think otherwise.

Offline Scooter Trash

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Re: Chord Construction App
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2012, 11:23:30 pm »
I'd love to see an app like this!
A chord-search feature would be nice.. so that if I wanted to learn the fingering for a specific chord I could just enter the chord name and see the chord.
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Offline shearer

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Re: Chord Construction App
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2012, 01:59:30 am »
Hi there is there not similar chords apps already out there.


  • Guest
Re: Chord Construction App
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2012, 06:54:25 am »
@shearer :

That's a good question! I couldn't find any similar app so far that

- allows you to define your favorite grips and re-use them in different chords
- visualizes related CAGED shapes
- can be used to follow the basic steps of the Chord Finding Method

Similar apps out there are often just huge collections of chords containing millions of useless grips. This app aims to place greater emphasis on your own taste and your own shapes.

@Scooter Trash:

A default grip ( w fingering ) is shown on the Fretboard instantly when selecting any chord from the Table Of Chords. This feature becomes more interesting after you've defined your favorite grips. Your favorite grips will be offered at 1st place by default for any selected chord type.

Offline sophiehiker

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Re: Chord Construction App
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2012, 12:43:47 pm »

TuxGuitar (an open source tabluature editor and player in Java) has a chord editor function similar to what you're describing.  It includes slash chords and altered chords.  It's not strong on the CAGED system, so your app would be very helpful there.
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  • Guest
Re: Chord Construction App
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2012, 12:47:26 pm »

Your app idea sounds good.  This is a big player in that market, not free but it's a great app that I frequently use.

Don't know if similar tool exists on Android/PC

Best of luck with your software development.  What are you thinking of writing it in?


  • Guest
Re: Chord Construction App
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2012, 05:43:55 pm »

Thanks for your tip!

Unfortunately I don't have the app you've mentioned, so I started to dig myself into feature specs and reviews. It offers several really strong general-purpose chord finding features. Maybe it's one of the best on the market. It appears to have some limitations however when it comes to applying Chord Analysis or Chord Finding Method as described in PMT.

Chord equations are not used for example, chord notes don't appear along the fretboard ( which could be useful when experimenting with chord variations ) and the CAGED system is not used at all. You can't define your favorite grips and re-use them when constructing new chords. Grips are moveable while chords in GT are not. That is, each time you want to add a new chord using the same grip, you have to construct the chord shape and fingering from scratch.

Maybe some of these features are included in GT but they were left out from the feature specs. I guess you have a better picture of it. Please correct me if I was missing something!

It seems that, among others, the CAGED system and the theory of moveable shapes were a real eye-opener for many of us when first reading PMT. I think it would be a shame to leave them out from a chord construction app built around music theory.

Offline Majik

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Re: Chord Construction App
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2012, 06:13:56 pm »
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  • Guest
Thank You for all your feedback so far!

Once again, here are my questions for those of you who fancy building your own book of chords as described in the Practical Music Theory eBook. The questions are about a specially designed Chord Builder Tool that follows the principles of the PMT eBook. The app is outlined in the first post of this thread.

Q1: For what purpose would you use the app?
1.Find chords or grips, 2. Chord analysis ( transcribing chords ), 3. Other, 4. None

Q2: Which feature do you think is unnecessary?

Q3: Would you include any other features?

Q4 ( to Admins or Justin ): Do you think that an app like this would infringe copyrights?
Most ideas and principles come from the PMT eBook.

I'm still considering whether to start working out this app in details or not. Your answers could help a lot!
« Last Edit: October 24, 2012, 11:42:31 pm by mckagan »


  • Guest
I've created a mockup of the Chord Builder Tool as pictures can tell more than 1000 words. More details and questions can be found in the first post of this thread.

Use Case 1 - Chord Finding Method

Select a chord from the table of chords.
Chord equation is shown on the chromatic scale.
All the notes of the chord are shown on the fretboard.
An A-Shape grip is also shown.
Experiment with different grip variations on the fretboard.

(Click image to enlarge)

Use Case 2 - Chord Analysis ( Transcribing )

You're trying to transcribe a chord from a recording.
Select notes on the chromatic scale that you can hear in the chord.
Matching chords are shown in the table of chords ( matching chords contain all the selected notes AND any other notes optionally ).

(Click image to enlarge)

Select a chord that sounds similar to the one you're trying to figure out.
The selected chord is shown on the fretboard with an A-Shape grip.
Experiment with different grip variations on the fretboard.

(Click image to enlarge)

Please note that these figures are here to demonstrate the basic features ( Table of Chords, Chromatic Scale and Fretboard ) of the app. Some additional controls are not shown.

Please feel free check out my questions in the first post of this thread. Thanks!
« Last Edit: October 26, 2012, 03:43:03 pm by mckagan »


  • Guest
I like your mock ups as they show some interesting ideas.
However the interface you have provided seems to target towards a pc.
So what tool are you trying to provide to the guitarist?
A 'gig bag chord book' with interactive features?
If so then you need to focus on either small tablets or smart phones as your target market is likely to be more mobile than your average office worker.
With that in mind you need to streamline your interface.

On a side note the app I mentioned previously does offer different chord positions all over the neck and allows the user to switch between notes/intervals/fingers very simply.

Does prior application existing mean you shouldn't develop it? Not really as you sound young and a project like this could help with employment prospects. It could be a very useful educational experience.
However you may have other ideas you may wish to pursue instead, it's entirely your choice.

All the best with your project.

Offline justinguitar

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I was working on an app like that but my buddy David Mead did one so I just decided not to bother for the time being!!
"You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room." Dr. Seuss


  • Guest

Designing great software and relying on authentic sources of information ( your teaching material in this case ) sounds cool. On the other hand, you could feel like someone's stealing your ideas and methods and this is something I'd really like to avoid! I'm a bit confused now.. :)  I can make the chord builder tool less dependent on the PMT eBook OR I can publish it as a free practice tool dedicated to the JustinGuitar community as a compensation.

( …and in the future I hope to include it in a transcribing tool aimed to help guitar players to make up their own songbook! )


You're right, i've mentioned the word "app" previously and it makes people think of a mobile phone application. But I'd like to target mac and pc first for a simple reason: I think that it's much easier to visualize the relationship between scales, chord shapes and chord types on a relatively large screen.

The mac & pc version would be more like a "Chord Editor" tool than a "Chord Book". This would obviously narrow down the target audience but I wouldn't mind it if I could offer several unique features to guitar players with some basic understanding of music theory.

After preparing your own book of chords, it would be a cool idea to transfer the chord sheets to a mobile phone app and re-use them on a "Chord Book"-like interface.


  • Guest
This is a more recent sketch of the Chord Builder interface:

(Click image to enlarge)
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 04:42:29 pm by mckagan »


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