Glowfly Press was born from the idea that music makes us better. In particular, I sincerely believe that studying music & the art of creating it has a profoundly positive impact on the human mind and spirit. Science backs me up! My goal is to help people love learning to play music. One way to do that is through better learning materials. I am so excited to introduce this line of innovative chord charts. They will help you learn to play songs more quickly and easily than ever! I believe that once you see what we’ve created, you’ll be excited too (that happens all the time).
Why We're Different
Chord charts are everywhere. You can get one at the music store, on your phone, or download one for free off the internet. They're all pretty much the same; pretty boring. It doesn’t have to be that way. I believe you'll find our charts are one of the most useful tools you have... something you reach for again and again.
The old standard chord chart is a piece of paper with some diagrams on it. The selection of chord diagrams you can fit on that piece of paper is limited, so it's creator had to make some tough calls about what chords should be included.
A standard-sized sheet of paper will fit in a guitar case, no problem, but what about smaller instruments? Cut that piece of paper down to fit in a soprano ukulele case, and forget about it. There are only going to be a few chords on there, and they are going to be micro-sized. Hope you have your magnifying glass handy.
The first thing that's different about our chord charts is the piece of paper. The current leading guitar chord chart uses just over 90 square inches (228 square centimeters) to show you 56 chord diagrams, and those diagrams are tiny, less than 1 square inch apiece.
Our charts, on the other hand, are printed on over 530 square inches of stock (3420 square centimeters). This allows us to give you 144 chord diagrams that are big, beautiful, and easy to read. They also contain much more useful information than you are used to seeing.
Yes, that's a big piece of paper, but you will be surprised at how portable it is.
See, I found my first inspiration in the glove compartment of our family's pickup truck: it was an old z-folded map of Washington State. Lightbulb moment! If they can fit all of Washington in my glove compartment, just imagine how many chords I could squeeze in there.
Depending on which of our chord charts you are using, you'll find either 7 or 8 z-folded, laminated panels. They're super sturdy and packed with information, but they will easily fold down into a small space, like Tiny Tim’s gig bag. (Folded size approximately 4 inches wide by 8.3 inches high...that's 101mm x 212mm).
Diagrams only need to be so big, so what did we do with all that extra space? First, we gave you lots more information. In most portable chord charts, you get a grid of lines representing strings and frets, and a few itty-bitty black dots to show you where to put your fingers. It's a hint in the right direction, but sometimes those dots are a little mysterious. "You want me to do what with my fingers?"
The finger dots on our diagrams are much larger, and printed in color, with a different color for each finger on your non-dominant hand (the one that forms the chord shapes). In case you are more of a numbers person, the dots also each have the number of the finger that goes in that spot. One for pointer, two for tall man, etcetera.
We've also included chord tablature notation at the top of each string, which is the number of the fret that you should be pressing down. At the bottom of each string we've shown the voicing of that string, meaning the individual note that it will play when you strum or pick the chord.
Of course, we also tell you the name of the chord, and on two out of three of our charts, we show the corresponding scale degree of the chord. If you don't know what that means, don't worry. We will come back around to that in a minute.
Chord charts as you know them are strictly for reference. People use them like this:
- Pull out the chart, look through the "A" chords.
- "How do I play an A7 chord again?"
- "Ah, yes."
Charts are useful in that scenario, and we have created a Chord Catalog in our awesome z-fold format to meet those needs. Each panel contains 12 of the most common chords for each of the 12 root notes, from A through G sharp, for a total of 144 chords, all in one handy reference.
Then I got to thinking. What if you were trying to learn a song, and you could look at your chord chart, and the chords you needed could kind of just jump out at you. What if your chord chart was arranged the way music is arranged? Here's where it gets really cool.
In our major and minor keys charts, instead of assigning a single root note to each panel, we have assigned a key to each panel. Take the key of A, for example. When you play a song in the key of A major, you don't just play A chords, of course. There's going to be an A chord, yes, but you're also going to be playing a D chord, and an E chord, and maybe an F sharp minor as well.
Experienced musicians are familiar with the concept of diatonic chords. These are the chords that just sound nice together naturally. Each major and minor key has 7 of these diatonic chords, one for each note of the corresponding scale.
What this arrangement will allow you to do is open your chart to the key of the song you are trying to play and, chances are, have all the chord diagrams you need staring right back up at you. We've also included 5 common chord variations on each panel to further round out your choices.
Our major and minor keys charts have some other great features that we think you are going to find very useful.
Nashville Numbering/Roman Numerals
As we mentioned earlier, each of the chord diagrams in our major/minor key panels is labeled with a roman numeral. Those roman numerals represent the scale degree of the chord. Upper case roman numerals are used for major chords. Lower case roman numerals are used for minor chords. This is a version of the Nashville Numbering System, which is going to work some magic for you.
In our charts, we've used a different color for each roman numeral, and put these roman numerals to good use with our next two bonus features.
Many songs follow a predictable pattern of chords. If you don't believe us, take a look at Axis of Awesome's hilarious "4 chords" video on YouTube sometime. These patterns are often referred to as "chord progressions". If you ever want to try your hand at writing your own song, or experimenting with your own chord progressions, this flowchart will give you something very useful to pair with one of the panels of your major/minor key chart.
It works like this: Start with any circle on the chord chart. We'll pick the purple vi for our example. Find the purple roman numeral vi on any of the key charts and play that chord. Follow the arrows and discover that the next chord you would likely play would be a ii or a IV. Try those two chords out and see which is the one you want. Easy!
Building your own chord progressions can be fun, but honestly, we're standing on the shoulders of giants here. So many songs recycle the same chord progressions over and over, mostly because they sound awesome.
We've included a panel with 10 of the most common chord progressions in music. These chord progressions are presented in roman numeral format, so it's easy to turn to the panel of any key you want and try the suggested sequence of roman numerals.
To Sum This Up...
If you've made it this far, hopefully you are anxious to get your hands on these amazing charts and try them out for yourself. We are releasing three types of chord charts (Chord Catalog, Major Keys, and Minor Keys) for four different instruments (Guitar, Ukulele, Banjo, Mandolin).
Currently, the designs are done. The patent applications are in. Now we just have to get these beauties made so we can ship some to you. Because our charts are a custom size and fold, we have to get them custom made by a map printer in order to get the quality up and the costs down. We're working with an excellent print company. These charts are designed and made in the USA.
What You’ll Get
At the Single Chord Catalog Level, you will receive a single 144 chord catalog chart. This expanding chart will fit in your gig bag or pocket, and contains the 12 most common chords in every key.
At the Major & Minor Keys Charts Level, you will receive two laminated, folded chord charts. Each chart contains 144 chord diagrams, organized the way songs are...by key! These charts also contain our chord progression builder & 10 most common chord progressions. Every panel features Nashville Numbering to make it simple to transpose songs between keys.
At the One Set Level, you will receive all three separate z-folded and laminated chord charts for the instrument of your choice.
At the Two Set Level, you will get everything in the one pack level, plus an additional pack of charts. You can choose the same instrument for both packs (you are a really good friend/bandmate), or two separate instruments (You are a double threat. Nice!)
At the Three Set Level, you will get three separate packs of charts (9 charts in all), as described at the One Pack Level. You can choose up to three different instruments here. You’re kind of a music geek, aren’t you?
At the One of Each Level, we will send you three chord charts for each of the four instruments (guitar, ukulele, banjo, and mandolin). You really are the master of strings. We’d high five you, but our collective finger calluses would really be in the way. Awkward.
This idea started on a random Saturday when I took my 6 year old son into a local music store. He'd just received a beautiful little ukulele as a present, and he was excited to start playing some songs. Music has been part of my life since I was his age, and I sincerely believe that the discipline of learning to play has opened many doors in my life. It's a gift my parents gave me, and I'm very serious about passing it on to my boys.
I thought I'd grab a chord chart for him to use, and the helpful sales lady at the music store placed one in my hand. "This is the best one we've got", she said with a smile, and I bought it without too much thought. Chord chart? Check! Simple.
We got home and I pulled the chart out to explain how to read chord diagrams, and we ran into a couple problems. The diagrams were so small and unclear that he was having a hard time focusing. After a few minutes of that, we were done, and I turned to stick the chart in his gig bag. No dice. The standard letter-size paper wasn't going to fit in there, and the heavy lamination was durable, yes, but it prevented me from even folding the chart. "We'll just stick this in the piano bench", I told him. "You can grab the chart when you need it." It's still in there.
We checked online for a more kid & ukulele friendly option and came up empty, so I started putting together our own chord chart for him to use. The kid wanted to play songs, not randomly memorize chords, so I decided to try grouping together the chords he'd encounter in his favorite tunes. He asked nicely for some bright colors, so we worked that in, too.
In the end, our homemade, home-laminated chord chart was pretty solid. It had just what he needed, and was custom sized to fit anywhere his ukulele would. It seems I'd accidentally applied the concept of "continuous improvement" to my kid's chord chart. The chart has continued to grow and develop into the products we're presenting today. You know, just in case you want to expand your repertoire beyond "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in the key of C.
Now these chord charts are the result of years of experience, months of work, and lots of collaboration & consultation with music teachers and musicians. The features that separate them from other charts are straightforward, but the end result is creative enough that I’ve submitted a provisional patent application. I’ve shown our prototypes to musicians at all skill levels and their positive reactions always amp me up.
Risks and challenges
Because we're talking about delivering physical goods, the largest risk would be supplier issues. Fortunately, we have competitive quotes from multiple print houses in the US, so any issues should be able to be resolved quickly.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)