Rocket Charts

Imagine the ultimate charts for a gigging band.  We’ve all seen the simple charts that show chord and lyrics that every musician who can’t read real music uses.

What would they be like on steroids?

They’d be just like Rocket Charts:

Everyone in the band can see the charts on their iPad.

One band member is the leader.  Whatever song they pick from the set list, everyone else’s display flips to that chart.  Individual musicians can customize their charts for a song, but not everything.  For example, everyone has to be in the same key and tempo.  But, different musicians might choose different Improv/Solo scales for whatever reason.  If a band member adds a chart, it can be optionally sync’d out to everyone’s charts.

Rocket Charts are instrument-based, meaning they have modes that correspond to instruments.  Piano/Keyboard is shown.  Guitar would be the alternate mode for release 1.0.  Future releases might add modes with notations other instruments find useful.

Let’s go left to right, top to bottom:

Set List:  The list of songs the band will play.  Could probably benefit from things like knowing how long each song is so it can say how long the set will last.  Or, the ability to layout a set list by grabbing songs from the band’s master song catalog.

Key/Improv Scale:  Tell the key, a basic progression (if any), and the improve scale for the song.  Should be easy to pick a scale and tell what the valid notes are and what not to play very visually.  I look at the blues scale for D and see I can go D to D on the white keys, skipping E and B and adding Ab.

Tempo:  Every musician sees the same temp where the flasher is flashing at the tempo and all flashers are in sync.  This will make sure everyone is on the same tempo and beat.

Patch / Tone:  What must be done to get the desired tone?  Keyboard patches, pedal settings, alternate tunings, capo position, and so on can be noted here.  Note: depending on how we need to manage screen real estate, we might want to hide this once the settings are established to make more room for lyrics.  Longer term it’d be cool to record the MIDI sequence needed to set the patch and play it back automatically if desired to make setup for a song easy.

Riffs:  A quick notation of any riffs that are helpful for the song.  For example, the flute intro to Can’t She See, and then I just play D-C-G the rest of the way.  On other songs I might want a reminder that I do a little organ stab on the 3 and 4 count or similar.

Chords:  Break down all chords shown in chart so it is easy to see how to play them.  In the spirit of real estate management, should be easy to hide the whole column containing Set List and Chords.

Chart:  Standard two-row chart notation with chords on top and lyrics below.  Make it easy to edit these.  Most text editors are terrible at editing this format.  Provide functions like transpose.  Make it easy to give a URL to an online chart and Rocket Charts will suck them into this view and save them.  Also allow a file to upload with a chart in text format.  When playing, being able to autoscroll would be sweet.  It’d also be sweet if there was a cursor that moved at tempo and the key display at top showed the correct keys pressed for the chords.