Piano chord charts come in a wide variety of forms from handy picture chord booklets to software to see-it-all comprehensive wall charts.
Any of these forms are generally useful but there are pros and cons associated with each relative to their helpfulness.
Indeed, in addition to a piano chord reference tool you may also want to consider how effective your chart is in terms of its layout for learning.
Depending on your playing level you may want to take advantage of some charts layouts that include chords organized relative to their location in different keys.
Next, also it's prudent to consider where you'd most often refer to your piano chord reference chart.
Home Studio Bound, Road Tripper Or Both?
The first issue one might well consider is whether or not you'd typically be referring to a piano chord chart in your home studio setting or while on the road or both.
With today's lighter weight, portable digital pianos like Yamaha's P-80 or Korg's SP-200 you can more readily travel with a high quality keyboard. Those particular models weigh about 35 pounds each so the idea of traveling with a good sounding "piano" is becoming more practical and more common.
Not to mention many people, maybe you, have been carting around a portable Casio or Yamaha keyboard for years now.
If you play and practice on the road a lot and travel with a laptop computer along with your keyboard then piano chord software may work best for you.
If you're usually at home and or in your studio and have sufficient and close at hand wall space then a wall chord chart can be a much handier reference than a booklet or software program.
This is generally because you can look up the chords much quicker looking at a wall chart than flipping through a book or having to start your computer and or waiting for a program to load if your computer is already on.
And of course having both software and a wall chart may suit your needs best.
Is The Layout Sensible And Informative?
Better chord charts are laid out in very logical patterns such that you may not only find the chord and fingering that you're looking for but you'll also have other versions of the chord depicted and often you'll see where the chord lies relative to it's place in a key and chord progression.
Other issues to consider when looking into the purchase of piano chord charts include the following (consider what your playing level is and what it is that you want learn or at least be aware of):
- how complete is the piano chord chart? there are 30 different chord types in each key, are all these chord types included?
- is the chart, book or software program full of chord spam? (Quite often chord books or computer programs show 20 to 30 fingering positions for a single chord, such as C Major. But only four are actually unique fingering positions. All the others are partials of the four unique fingering positions— chord spam. This is how chord books and computer programs often boast of having "10,000 piano chords." The great majority—80 to 90 percent—is chord spam. Chord spam is very confusing when you're trying to learn new chords.)
- is the piano chord chart arranged in a logical manner? in other words are the chords shown from the simplest to the most elaborate?
- are the chords depicted in such a way that you see where they fall in a particular key and are the piano chords laid out in such a way as to make it easy to transpose the chords to another key?
- are other relevant factors shown like scales and chord inversions (that often make playing a chord easier when transitioning from another chord)?
Some piano chord reference types to consider:
Regarding software based piano chord systems:
This is a good choice if you're reasonably familiar with chords and their various voicings and how they relate to different keys.
Also good software programs for songwriters are geared for writing lead sheets for songs you're working on or preparing to play.
Click here regarding a software based piano chord system.
Regarding paper based (wall chart) piano chord systems:
A well thought out wall chart is an excellent learning tool and can help you write songs as well that are musically adept. And typically a good piano wall chart will be laid out with positioning of the each chord as it would appear in a basic satisfying chord progression relative to its key. Also good charts make chord inversions clear and transposing keys a simple task.
Additionally, if you place a chart in a convenient position, directly in front and above your keyboard relatively at easy eye level for instance, then you can have your hands on your keyboard as you're visually reading the chord positioning on the chart. This is not only useful in terms of saving time but can more strongly reinforce your brain's memorization process as you're seeing the correct chord fingering on the chart and immediately and even simultaneously fingering and playing the chord on your piano keyboard.
Also, if the chart is laid out with the chords of each scale you can observe and play the chords that are relative to each key and begin to ingrain essential chord relationships and scales into your brain. The more visual your playing experience is the more readily you'll be mastering "chord piano" playing.
Click here regarding a paper based (wall chart) piano chord chart.
Want To Learn Or Improve Your "Chord Style" Piano Playing Abilities? Click here for a full explanation on what chord style playing is and why it may very well be the best approach to learning and playing piano/keyboard for songwriting.
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