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Chord Maestro provides several features that allow worship leaders and live bands to effectively display chord charts on a computer, TV, or large screen. Here are some of the features provided by Chord Maestro:

  • Easily create and display PDF chord charts on a computer, TV, or large confidence screen
  • Feature rich text editor for creating and editing chord charts written in the ChordPro format
  • Easy rendering of ChordPro files to PDF chord chart files
  • Automatic transposing of chord charts to any key
  • Quickly add navigation anchors to PDF documents to allow for easy navigation through PDF files
  • Control chord chart navigation with keyboard, midi foot pedal, iPhone, iPad, or other MIDI devices
  • Synchronize chord chart navigation with the built in metronome or any device that can send MIDI Time Code (e.g. click track, drum machine, keyboard)
  • Record chord chart navigation synchronized with a click track so that the appropriate chords are displayed as the song is played back
  • Strong integration with Planning Center Online service. Download pdf chord charts directly from Planning Center into Chord Maestro and create/edit Planning Center songs and arrangements inside Chord Maestro
  • For simple text pdf documents, invert background and text colors for improved viewing on a confidence screen (e.g. White <-> Black)
  • Create set lists for hands free display and navigation of multiple chord charts during a live setting
  • Record time based chord chart navigation events associated with a particular tempo and then play back at a different tempo
  • Create complex navigation sequences between anchor points (e.g. for chorus repeats)


Detailed Chord Maestro Features


Chord Queue Library Project

This project type is used to manage chord chart files. These files can be either rendered chord charts in pdf format or text chord charts written in the ChordPro format. Chord Queue Library projects mirror directories on a disk so you can find and work with the files outside of the ChordMaestro application. Chord Queue and ChordPro files can easily be added to a project using the “New File” feature or by dragging or copy/pasting from an external folder.

Chord Queue File

Chord Queue files are essentially pdf files with some additional attributes that define: navigation anchors, target aspect ratio, recorded navigation events, and visual annotations.
Navigation anchors
Navigation anchors basically just identify different locations within the chord chart file that can be used to navigation through the chord chart. Typically these anchors correspond to sections of a song (e.g. chorus, verse). However, there may be more than one anchor per song section if the section is too long to be displayed on a single screen.
Navigation anchors allow you to step through the different parts of a song such that all of the lyrics/chords can be easily read. They can be given a name (e.g. Chorus, Verse) by the user for better readability. Otherwise, they are just given a number.
Navigation anchors can also be sequenced if certain parts of the song are repeated. For instance, we can define navigation anchors for Verse, Chorus, and Bridge, and then sequence the anchors such that stepping through the song gives Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, and Chorus. This capability allows for different arrangements of the song using the same chord chart.
Target aspect ratio
In order to ensure that the desired chords/lyrics associated with each navigation anchor “fits” on a particular screen, it is necessary to know the target aspect ratio. This is the resolution of the screen that will be used to display the chord chart. In many cases, the target ratio doesn’t need to be exactly correct, but large differences between the assumed target aspect ratio and the display screen can result in text getting rendered outside the visible area. Therefore, it is important to have an idea what resolution the projector or monitor screen uses so that you can position the navigation anchors appropriately.
Recorded navigation events
The process of stepping through the different navigation anchors can be recorded such that the chord chart advances automatically during a live performance. Once navigation anchors and sequence is established, the recorder can be used to capture navigation events (e.g. forward, back) at specific times. Once the events are recorded, the song can be “played back” such that the navigation events fire at the appropriate time resulting in hands free navigation through the chord chart.
It often happens that the tempo of a song needs to be adjusted for one reason or another. Since the recorded events are time based, they would seem to be valid for only the tempo at which they were recorded. This is thankfully not the case since, the application allows the user to specify a “playback tempo” and then adjusts the timing to fit with the desired tempo. For this reason, a song with navigation events recorded at 120bpm can be played back at 100bpm simply by adjusting the playback tempo.
Visual annotations
It is often useful to annotation a chord chart with different types of information indicating changes in dynamics or presence/absence of various instruments. The application provides several visual annotations such as text, arrows, and other geometric shapes (circles, rectangles, freedhand) that can be used to annotate a particular chord chart.

Chord Chart Files

Chord chart files are text files that conform to the ChordPro file format made popular by the original Chord application that came out several years ago. The ChordPro format allows chord charts to be written in a concise and understandable way by interposing the chords with the lyrics of a song. In addition, the ChordPro format includes several “directives” which specify other important attributes of the song such as title, tempo, key, etc. Once the chord chart has been created, it must be rendered to produce a PDF version of the chord chart that correctly displays the chords above the appropriate lyrics as well displaying the formatted song attributes.
The original Chord program is no longer maintained and is cumbersome to use. ChordMaestro provides two things that make the process of generating chord charts easy: a text editor with syntax highlighting/auto completion and a chord chart renderer that generates nice looking PDF versions of the chord charts. Once the charts are generated, they are automatically indexed as Chord Queue files so that one can add anchors, sequencing, recorded events, and annotations. If the original chord chart changes, it can simply be rendered again without overwriting any of the anchors, events, or annotations.
The Chord Chart files use a syntax checker that identifies invalid directives or unmatched braces. This helps ensure that the PDF rendering is successful.
The Chord Chart editor also includes a “render” view that allows you to see what the rendered chord chart looks like before generating the PDF file. This render view can be opened intermittently or opened side by side with the text editor such that changes are reflected as the chord chart text is modified.

Set List Project

Set List Projects are used to manage one or more set list files. They mirror actual directories and files on the disk. Therefore, the files can be viewed/manipulated outside ChordMaestro if desired.

Set List Files

Set List Files are used to order a group of Chord Queue Files for playback in a live setting. The Chord Queue Files are added to the set list and then placed in the desired order. Then the songs can be projected on a screen or monitor and stepped through in order.
Set List Files allow for easy sequencing of multiple songs as is required when playing in a live performance. Chord Queue Files can easily be added to a set list by dragging/dropping one or more Chord Queue Files on the set list area.
The “Present” button is used to display the currently selected Chord Queue file in full screen mode. The target screen can either be the current screen or an external display. The target screen is defined in the Tools->Options menu.
After entering full screen mode, songs can be either played back (using recorded events) or manually navigated in the desired order. Controls exist for changing songs and navigating through each song’s navigation anchors.

Planning Center Integration

ChordMaestro provides very good integration with the Planning Center Online service. Songs can be created, edited, and imported into Chord Queue projects. The planning center integration window allows the user to login and view/manage the current plans and songs for their organization. New songs can be created along with arrangements and keys. The rendered PDF files associated with a particular arrangement can be opened in an attachment viewer that allows updates to a chord chart to be viewed without having to download the PDF file.
The chord chart text for arrangements can be easily edited using a built in text editor with syntax highlighting. Once changes are applied, that can be viewed in the attachment viewer window.
For any song arrangement, it is easy to import the resulting chord chart(s) into an existing Chord Queue project. There is a right click menu that can be used to specify the target project for the import, but you can also simply drag and drop from the Planning Center Window to the Chord Queue project. Once added to a Chord Queue project, the imported PDF file will become a Chord Queue file which can have anchors, events, and annotations.
If anchors, events, or annotations were added to a particular arrangement in a different key, Chord Maestro gives you the option of applying these attributes to newly imported chord charts with the same arrangement in different keys. This makes it easy to experiment with different keys without having to recreate anchors, recorded events, or annotations.
Several of the Planning Center Online song and plan attributes can be modified in ChordMaestro using the Window->Properties panel. Selecting an item in the Planning Center window displays its properties. Information such as plan title, song key, song tempo and many others can be easily updated without needing to log into the actual Planning Center website. After editing a property, simply pressing tab, enter, or clicking outside the current cell causes the changes to be applied in Planning Center.

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