EasyProjector – free musician’s chord chart software for all Musicademy subscribers
EasyProjector – a musician’s prompt
We were contacted recently by Paul Ganney, a musician and all round technical person who wanted to let us know about some software he’d written to ease his life as a worship musician that he has very generously offered to share free of charge with Musicademy subscribers. Here he tells the story of EasyProjector’s development and give you the links so you can download it for yourself.
In 2005 I was invited to stand in as lead guitarist for a gig by theREIGN, a prominent (and more so now) Praise & Worship band in Hull who also did the odd cover and several original songs. As there were a lot of songs to learn in a very short time, I could see I wasn’t going to achieve this without notes. So I decided that, rather than a pile of paper and a light, a backlit-screen would be much easier to see and so I put all my notes into PowerPoint – one song per slide. I also built a footswitch to advance through the slides (actually much easier than that sounds – just buy a cheap mouse and a cheap footswitch and solder the contacts from the footswitch onto the left button switch of the mouse).
A couple of years later and I was still “standing in” and still hadn’t learned enough of the songs to just be able to play them (they had a big repertoire and they kept writing new ones). My church had also decided to experiment with projected song words. Rather than splash out on Easy Worship when we had no idea if this was going to work, I wrote a program to do enough to prove the concept, called (in a fit of unoriginality) EasyProjector. It had the same schedule-based approach where you keep all the songs in one list and put them together into various ordered lists (called schedules) which you then save. This worked well, so the church bought Easy Worship.
Meanwhile, I had become fed up with having to re-arrange my PowerPoint slides for theREIGN for every gig/service only to have to put them back when “next week’s the same set as a fortnight ago”. A schedule-based system seemed the way to go. So I adapted EasyProjector to do this. I was also getting fed up with rapid page-turning and swapping books/scores/handwritten notes in church (and we’ve all had issues with the 5-page score that needs 3 music stands to display – especially when it keeps going back to earlier bits). EP was already doing several screens per song in its EW-clone mode, so I realised that a bit of extra code would make it display chords as well. Hence I now have just a laptop on my music stand, with the service schedule all cued up and a footswitch that turns the pages for me, meaning I don’t have to let go of my guitar to do so. It’s also got rid of hasty book-changing on the music stand and having to read chords on one page and words on another.
I showed this to friends of mine who were also leading worship and they said “can I have a copy?” and so I release EP into the wild. They came back with suggestions, which I implemented and away it went. I’m now letting you know about it. If you’d like a copy, go to http://www.ganney.net/EP/EasyProjector.zip, download it, save it, open the Word document and follow the instructions.
EP has many modes, but the most useful seem to be these three:
One screen per song, with just a few notes, split into four areas on the screen. I tend to set this up as song title/FX settings (+capo)/Structure/Notes. This also tells you which song is coming next (title and FX), so you can get ready for it.
Many screens per song, just words. This also has an arrow on the screen, letting you know if there’s any more screens to come (in either direction).
Many screens per song, words and chords. This also tells you how many screens there are in total and what number screen you’re currently on.
EP is written in VC++ 6, so it runs happily on Windows 95 upwards. There’s other features than those I’ve mentioned above, and no doubt others to come. There are a lot of screen shots in the Word file, to help explain how it all works. Give it a try – if you like it, great. If you don’t, it’s not cost you anything.
Thanks so much to Paul for his generosity. Do let us know what you think.