ScalePlay
Documentation

v1.2.0 - release notes

Chords

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So what is the deal with these chords anyway? After all ScalePlay can't even play chords.

We could of course have saved ourselves some time, just provided tabs with scale selectors and be done, but that didn't seem right. In music there is a strong correlation between scales and chords. A minor scale does usually not fit with a major chord. But the bigger argument had to do with composition.

We call these compositions songs in ScalePlay. Could have been pieces, but songs is the popular term for short compositions these days. Now everyone writing songs or playing them is intimately familiar with the concept of chords. String a bunch of chords together and you got a song - or so it goes. And there are a whole bunch of rules to go along with that process. There is the entire field of harmony with its tonics, dominants and subdominants pertaining to the way of how chords should be connected to each other. So for any musician a set of chords makes immediate sense and where it doesn't one can fix that or come up with alternatives. As for those chords, each of them has a finite number of possible scale matches. We organized things from the top down. In the end that makes for better music and is much easier to work with than a bunch of seemingly unrelated scales.

Now that we got that out of the way, let us take a look at these chords in the chord slider and how we can modify them. One final thing before we do so. The number of chords is set in the Song tab of the app's settings window (1 - 32). Chords always get added on or removed from the end.

 

Active Chord Cell

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A single chord cell has many elements. Foremost are the chord symbol (G#m) and the scale name (Bebop Melodic Minor). Below that we see a progress bar. The latter only appears in the current chord when a song is playing and has more than 1 step (i.e. step matrix). We can see that the numeral in the left top corner displays 1.4. That tell us that this is the first chord in our song's sequence and that the sequence has 4 steps in its step matrix. The progressbars indicates that the song is currently playing step 2.

The other 2 elements are a gear icon in the top right corner which we will get to in a second. Below that gear icon is an arrow of sorts. This - like the gear icon - is a button. Tapping it will copy the next chord of the sequence into this one. There is a similar button for copying the previous chord into this one. It is not shown since this is the first chord of the sequence, so there is nothing to copy.

Note: When ScalePlay is not in play mode chord tabs are selectable and the chord slider is scrollable. This is useful behavior because each time a chord tab is tapped the notation view as well as the instrument view update for the current scale.

 

Chord Configuration

Tapping the gear icon in a chord cell gives us this little window. The chord picker shown above has 2 columns, one for the root and one for the chord symbol. So this is where we can change our G Maj to a Cb7 or anything else we want. At the bottom of the window is the scale name shown as Ionian. Tapping it slides in the scale selector.

 

Scale Selection

Here we see our chord symbol in orange at the top along with an arrow button to bring us back to the chord configuration. The rest of the window is now a list of scales that go along with the selected chord symbol.

 

Quick Edit Window

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While it is fine and dandy to change a chord on the fly, it can become cumbersome should one have many chords to edit. That is where the Quick Edit window comes in handy. It combines all of the above and provides us a means to go from chord to chord quickly. A couple of things to note. The letters in the circle of fifths are buttons. Tapping any of them will change the root accordingly. The scale picker in the middle is probably self-explanatory. And at the bottom right corner we have again one of these little arrows ScalePlay uses to copy chords. This one again copies the next chord into the current one.

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The top bar has arrow buttons on each side that move to the next or previous chords. The four up and down arrows are there to indicate that dragging either the root (G#) or the symbol part (m) up or down will change them. A bit like an invisible list view. So dragging up on the m will change it to Maj, then dim, then aug and so forth. Of course each time we change the symbol part (not the root) the list of scales refreshes and resets to the first element.

 

Summary

So that's the skinny on editing chords in ScalePlay. There are two distinct mechanisms for it and let's not forget that adding or removing chords is done in the Song tab of the app's settings window. It is time now to take a look at the main organizing principle in ScalePlay - songs. Or compositions, or pieces, or ...

 

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