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Gizmo For Transposing And Building Chords

Steve Wilson

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Following Maki's F#m? thread I thought I'd share this idea. Might be most useful for english and duet players, not sure about anglo players, you may like to comment.


There's all manner of sites on the internet these days on building chords but this is something I knocked up many years ago to help with chords and transposing. I still use it, it's so simple and I don't have to turn the computer on.


It consists of three cardboard disks of deminishing size. The outer two have the chromatic scale around their edge. The inner one has the ionian scale(doe,ray,me....) in red numbers and also the intervals for a major and a minor chord in green shading. In the middle I've listed the intervals for various chords and sometime later I extended this list and pasted it on the back.


So to determine the notes of a chord one simply rotates the inner disk so that the first or tonic number is adjacent to the tonic note of the chord desired then count up the tones.





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I am guessing that the outer disk is only needed for transposing and not for chord building?


Yep, but you can use it to display the notes of an alternate chord in a different key from the chord you've just built. This is easiest to see if you're just working off the major or minor chord intervals (the green shading, used to be green but it's faded a bit, like me).

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Great minds think alike!


I made myself a chord wheel like that as a guide when cutting felts for my autoharp, which only requires major, minor, dominant seventh and dim7 chords. The addition of the chart with sus, aug, etc. chords is a good idea.

I enhaced my chord wheel to a transposing wheel, and then made a "tonic-solfa-to-absolute-pitch translation disc" to help me decipher my old Scottish Psalm book. Turn "doh" to the given key-note, and read off the note names for re, mi, fa, etc.


My discs are a bit simpler, with only 12 segments (one for each semitone of the scale). The enharmonic segments are labelled as "D#/Eb", "F#/Gb" etc. On the autoharp or Crane duet, each pair refers to just one string or button. I just have to remember that, for a given key, they're expressed either all as sharps or all as flats, not mixed! (On the autoharp, all accidentals are expressed as sharps, anyway!)


Yes, brandon, battery life is infinite - just as with the concertina and autoharp themselves!




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Someone should start making these for sale.

There could be tens of dollars to be made here!


Better yet, someone could start making these to give away!

There could be tens of (thousands) of happy musos out there getting on with spreading the joy.

Sorry for being glib.

I would actually like to buy one ready made commercial or home made.



Edited by maki
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  • 8 months later...

I took my hand drawn chord wheel to the National Folk Festival in Canberra last Easter, handed out a copy at my workshop there. One attendee, a computer wizz, has come up with a computer generated version, an improvement because my hand drawn radials didn't quite line up sometimes. Hope some of you find it useful.


Computer generated Chord Wheel v1.pdf

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  • 2 weeks later...

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