If you constantly find yourself playing the same old chord shapes, then the rather nifty Australian Chordwizard software might provide a useful source of inspiration. Catering for guitar, bass guitar, four‑string and five‑string banjo, mandolin, ukulele and bouzouki (with both standard and alternative tunings), Chordwizard provides a range of chord‑finding functions that can help add a little variety to your rhythm playing. Lead players can also benefit, as the program includes a range of excellent scale‑related features. Some 54 chord types and 22 standard scale types are supported, but user‑defined types can also be added.
Notes can be selected on the virtual fretboard using the mouse, and the software can identify the resultant chord — useful if you have a nice chord shape but do not actually know what the chord name is. In a separate window, all the alternative fingerings for the same chord are listed. Clicking on any item in this list changes the fretboard display to show that fingering and plays the chord's notes over MIDI, if your PC has the required interfacing.
Chordwizard has a filtering system, allowing the user to restrict searches such that only certain types of chord are found, or only those with a specified root note, finger position or individual note. However, perhaps the most useful feature of the software is it's ability to identify the scale of a song on the basis of a melodic or chordal sequence, using the Notes To Scale and Chords To Scale functions respectively. In addition, the Relation function allows the user to find all chords which will fit a given scale, or vice versa.
Supplied with the software are excellent software help files, and there is also a set of miniature tutorials on music theory. A fuller version of this tutorial is available on the Chordwizard web site, so if you think Mixolydian is something rabbits are prone to, then you really should check this out. As either a handy chord reference system or a way of getting a little more technical about your songwriting, then Chordwizard is an absolute bargain and well worth downloading. John Walden