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23 June 2015 @ 09:24 am
Tablets, ChordPro, and PDFs - Oh My!  
Look, boys and girls! It's a Real LiveJournal post!

Carrying a ton of songbooks in luggage is simply not practical. Using paper lead sheets in windy outdoor situations also lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. And we now have 4 tablets between us (two Android and two legacy HP tablets with a version of Cyanogenmod). This means it is time to start the conversion process.

There's another good reason for me to do so personally - any of my songs prior to about 1990 only exist in a single paper copy from an old print out of Apple ][ files that no longer exist. Should my songbook find itself permanently redirected, they would be lost forever. In some cases, this would not be a bad thing (they can't all be winners), but in others it would be very painful to reconstruct.

We've standardized on Songbook for now - it has transpose, zoom, and auto-scroll features that we need for performing. At some point we might go to bluetooth pedals, but that adds back some of the bulk we're saving.

After some practical experimentation and attempts to streamline my process (Brenda is doing it differently, of course), I'm doing the following:

Scan old paper copies into a text file (OCR gets a little confused on Letter Gothic but it is still faster than retyping)
Edit text to clean up scanos and position chords
Use ChordSmith program to convert to Chord Pro (naming convention: SongName_yymmddBill.pro)
Optional: Create "one chorus" version for pdf/printing
Create PDF using Songsheet Generator (unless I have multiple subtitles, which Songsheet Generator can't handle. Then I use a PC version of Songbook)
Print backup hardcopy from the PDF
Copy .pro file to central Songbook directory
Copy Songbook directory to shared directory.
Download to tablet.

So, this is going to be EASIER to keep track of? Ah, well, the price of flexibility.

I am through the "B" section of my own songs and as needed we have converted songs we play by others as well but not in any alphabetical order. Yet.
Current Mood: determineddetermined
Mandelbearmdlbear on June 23rd, 2015 02:13 pm (UTC)
Heh. I've been using ChordPro-like files since the early '80s. I strongly recommend the combination of git for version control and web deployment, and make for driving conversions and file transfers.

I'm now thinking seriously about re-arranging my lyrics directories to put all of my own songs in one and everything else in another, which will let me publish my songbook on github.

Thanks for the Songbook recommendation.
Bill Roperbillroper on June 23rd, 2015 02:32 pm (UTC)
And this is why my songbook is still on paper. :)
Bill Suttonbedlamhouse on June 23rd, 2015 02:41 pm (UTC)
I began to get more nervous as the size prevented me from taking it as carry-on and the likelihood of luggage loss or long-term diversion increased.

Frankly, using the tablet is So Much Better, it just takes more prep.
hsifyppah on June 23rd, 2015 03:07 pm (UTC)
I put off switching for years because the activation energy of scanning everything intimidated my lazy soul, but once I did it all I could think was WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS SOONER, THIS IS GREAT!

I trust you will fill the extra luggage space with silly hats.
Phil Parkertigertoy on June 23rd, 2015 06:41 pm (UTC)
Not having a tablet, I have no actual experience trying to play a song off of one, but it seems like the screen is too small -- I find that I need to be creative with my use of space to fit most songs on a full 8.5x11 sheet or a long one on two. A pedal seems like it could make it work well -- but does the software do a good enough job of reading your mind to actually scroll the right amount without having to devote too much attention to it? I sometimes find getting a PDF to scroll where I want it to intrusive while I'm just reading on the screen.

Or maybe I'm making excuses, since I have lots of songs that aren't in my computerized book in the state that I want them, but do I ever do anything to fix that? Naah.
Bill Suttonbedlamhouse on June 23rd, 2015 06:51 pm (UTC)
Songbook lets you enter a time that the song takes to play and it scrolls proportionally to that time. I've had to modify how I type things up - I used to only have chords in the first verse and chorus and repeated choruses were just "Chorus". Now I repeat the chorus (with chords) and insert chords in every verse. This means that the autoscroll is surprisingly good, and after practicing I can usually adjust the rate with some inserted pauses.

The pedals take you back/forward one screen per push and the software knows what is on a given screen based on the zoom factor.
gorgeousgarygorgeousgary on June 23rd, 2015 09:27 pm (UTC)
What Bill said. Once you've got the song set up it takes practice to get the scroll speed right, but not a terribly great amount of it. Takes me at most a few minutes to settle on a good speed.

(Staying at that speed while playing is its own challenge of course. Especially if you are like a certain guitarist I am acquainted with who tends to accelerate through songs...*grin*)
Robin June Nakkula: Fridgerobin_june on June 23rd, 2015 08:08 pm (UTC)
Chemical Reaction Activation energy barrier not surmouted. Need Enzyme.
I need to use my iPad in landscape mode, and I actually bought the 4-pedal Airturn to get up & down as well as page forward & back. But trying to find the time to earn how to use the programs I selected (OnSong & Scorceror) has been the pinch point. Another pinch point is learning to use the OCR portable scanner I bought (new HP all-in-ones no longer come with it).
gorgeousgarygorgeousgary on June 23rd, 2015 09:18 pm (UTC)
My Chordpro files reside in a Dropbox directory, which Songbook will sync to. That way I create and edit all the files on my computer at home, save them to that directory, and with one tap Songbook will sync that directory with the one the app creates on my tablet.

Songbook also has a function that can be used to create playlists (i.e. setlists). Once you have a playlist set up for a particular concert, you just swipe from song to song to song.
madfilkentist: hexmadfilkentist on June 24th, 2015 12:26 pm (UTC)
Vous savez exactly quoi, I think.

I've been using ForScore on my iPad; it was one of Steve Mac's recommendations, and I've found it easier to transfer music from my computer to it than to the alternatives.