Harmony is a difficult and complex part of music theory with chord spelling and construction at its very basis. What is a chord? Is it C - E - G# or C - E - Ab? You like the sound of those four notes on your guitar, but is it a chord? And if so, what is it called? These are typical issues facing the creative musician when trying to bring a new song to paper. Music theory is often complex and correctly spelling a chord that may have sharps and flats, double flats or double sharps is not always easy. This is where the traditional chord books and apps become useless and ChordLab steps in. ChordLab involves the ear and showcases the finer shades of harmony available with each alteration, voicing and inversion based on the concepts of music theory. It is a great aid where chord spelling and voice leading are concerned but also delivers when a fingering for an unknown chord is needed.
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- chord spelling for all common chords found in fake books (i.e. Real Book)
- music notation and textual representation of chord tones
- chord finder finds correct chord descriptions for triads and seventh chords
- alto, bass, tenor, treble clefs, TAB and grand staff
- all possible inversions
- all standard voicings
- virtual piano and guitar instruments
- chord tone labelling in instrument views
- all common open and alternate tunings presets (guitar)
- alternate fingerings (guitar)
- chord rating
- automatic reduction to 3 or 4 voices
- automatic root and fifth substitution
- key signatures for all major modes (circle of fifths)
- degree structure in Roman numerals for all major modes (circle of fifths)
- support for left-handed players
- high quality guitar and piano samples
- European and American chord notation
- arpeggiated and block chord playback
- support for sound libraries
- high resolution graphics for Retina®
- Academic discounts available
- Localized into Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish
ChordLab differs in its top to bottom approach that begins with a basic chord form which can then be put through permutations like inversions and different voicings. It features all the standard voicings commonly used in Jazz, Rock, Pop, and elsewhere. In that sense it serves as a color palette or sounding board that automatically generates valid fingerings for the piano and guitar in addition to the correct music notiation. The result is a much deeper and better understanding of the underlying principles of harmony.
The Circle of Fifths
Another essential tool found in ChordLab is the Circle of Fifths which is implemented in a manner that allows to use it interactively. It not only allows to look up key signatures for major and minor scales, but all modes derived of the major scale, like dorian, phrygian. So it is possible to display key signatures for all mixolydian scales for example and simultaneously highlight the other degrees for that mode. Additionally ChordLab displays degree structures for a key in standard Roman numerals. This is extremely useful when putting together chord progressions.
The chord finder feature in ChordLab allows you to input 3 or 4 notes to determine their harmomic quality. ChordLab will always find the enharmonically simplest solution and does not require you do know whether a note is called G# or an Ab. C-Gb-Bb-D for example will resolve to a D aug7 chord with a correct spelling of C-F#-A#-D. This is especially useful for guitarists that seldomly encounter chords in root position due to the tuning of the instrument. In addition to the note picker interface for the chord finder there are also interfaces for guitar and piano. That makes it easier to input chords when one is not entirely sure about the name of the notes included.
The guitar instrument has a tunings window. All common standard and open tunings as well as a custom setting are available from the tunings picker at the top of the window. Using any of the slider will override the current tuning and generate a custom tuning. Strings can be tuned by 7 semitones higher or lower than the standard tuning. Experimenting with tunings is a great way to find chord voicings that are not available in the standard tuning and thus expanding one's vocabulary.
ChordLab comes with built-in guitar and piano instrument sound libraries that can be assigned to either virtual instrument. In addition ChordLab also supports sound libraries as In App modules that can be purchased separately. There are currently 21 sound libraries available divided into 7 instrument packs. The guitar instrument features a tuning window to facilitate open and custom tunings. Custom tunings are available in right-handed or left-handed modes.
There are several settings available in ChordLab. Some affect the chord playback and allow arpeggiated playback vs block chords or enable Auto Play to have chords sounded automatically when inversions or voicings are changed. A show all notes setting highlights chord tones in instrument range that are not currently in the selected voicing. Other settings allow to switch between a variety of clefs, grand staff and TAB or switch the virtual instrument. A setting for handedness affects the guitar instrument and switches between left-handed and right-handed views. The chord notation switch toggles between European and American chord notation.
Putting music theory into words often makes it sound overly complex. Chords are color and nobody would say that red or blue are complicated. ChordLab is not an application that shows you 1000 different colors. It is an application that lets you work with colors, identify them, make them brighter, darker, less complex, more complex and then shows you how to play them. It is very a unique tool for musicians, song-writers, professionals and music students and one that you will find yourself coming back to again and again.