View Full Version : 5-string chord software

Dec-09-2004, 9:01pm
I occasionally get e-mails from new 5-string owners, asking if I know of a 5-string chord book they can use. Of course I never give the reply I'm dying to give: "If you'd spend a few measly hours learning some basic music theory, you'd understand the relationship between the chords you already know and the ones you seek. Furthermore, you'd understand the relationship between the frets and the notes, and between the notes and the chords, so you could figure out any chord you don't already know, whether your axe has a C string or not. Now leave me alone!"

Seriously, I do see the value of chord books: they're a great shortcut for people who learn visually or don't have a lot of time (building a new chord from your knowledge of theory may take a few minutes), or who just prefer not to reinvent the wheel. (I still maintain that you're shortchanging yourself if you just learn the chord fingering from the book without bothering to learn which steps of the chord are under which fingers, or what it is that makes your chord minor, major, augmented, sixth, seventh, suspended, whatever.) But there is no chord book fulfilling the specific request I sometimes get.

All of which is a rambling and unnecessary preamble to this announcement: a chord software product called Chord Alchemy 3.3 (http://www.tonalalchemy.com/index.php), which has an option for 5-string mandolin. I haven't tried this product, so I can't say I endorse it, and of course I'm not affiliated with the company selling it. But it's there. Now I'll have something I can actually tell people when they ask me that question. It's fun to be curmudgeonly, but probably better in the long run to be helpful.

Dec-09-2004, 9:21pm
You can use Chord Wizard also. If there's not a preset, you can set any number of strings with any tuning you want.

Dec-10-2004, 11:08am
Let me start by saying that anyone who has taken a college-level intro theory course probably understands the nuts and bolts of western harmony better than I do, but I'm consistently astounded by how many string players simply do not know what they're playing! I think this has a lot to do with the difficulty in finding really good rhythm players these days, people don't know their triad spellings well enough to really do anything other than just hammer through the changes. I've found that time spent working on tenor guitar has really helped me to better understand the workings of my mandolin, and the relations between it's strings, pitches and frets...


Dec-10-2004, 7:24pm
Yeah, the more instruments you play, the more you're inspired to find the connections between them.

Guitarists are worse at this than mandolinists IMHO. I've played with a recording artist, great guitarist with a degree in performance, really solid rhythm, clean fingerstyle playing, talented guy. Knows his chords all over the neck in standard tuning, but once he picks up his DADGAD guitar all bets are off. Can't tell you what he's playing or spell it.

Dec-12-2004, 6:58am
Yeah, the more instruments you play, the more you're inspired to find the connections between them.

Almost too true - it seems that staying focused on one instrument is like bing a horse on blinders. Exploring the relationships in instruments - tuning variations will do nothing but enhance both your playing and the understanding of what the guy next to you is doing.

Switching between C and G tuning on mandolin / mandola / tenor guitar has really helped my playing more complicated music. For me - the real help came from the 'relationships' pull down menu in Chord Wizard. To see which chords can fit with certain arpeggios opened up my aging eyes. I just downloaded Chord Alchemy and it also looks useful in getting some of the esoteric chords under my fingers. I can't comment on it - yet - but for the price it does seem useful.

I also like Chord Wizard for the theory explanations - it's nice to have something "right there" to refer to when the understanding starts getting fuzzy.

As above - I have no financial interests in either of these programs.