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A Karaoke and Performance Song Database

A Karaoke and Performance Song Database

Even if you're not a professional vocalist or musician, your palmtop can make singing or performing easier and more enjoyable.

by Conrad Cox

I am not a professional musician, but I love to sing and play the guitar with others. I don't do either often enough.

When I do get the chance, I don't want to waste time thinking about what Beatles songs I can play, or whether a particular song has to be sung at the extreme ends of my vocal range.

 The SONGS database that I created helps me keep track of the songs I can sing and play. I also enter into the database songs that I think I might want to learn in the future.

Why a database?

 The idea for the database started during last summer's vacation. The bar in the hotel where we stayed had Karaoke. I had been spending too much time looking through loose-leaf binders of song titles trying to find songs I thought I could sing.

Why wait, I thought, until I'm in the bar to choose songs? With a database I could view a list of songs I knew, and see if the Karaoke operator had one of them.

 I carry an HP 200LX everywhere, so having a database of songs in my pocket made sense. Now when I go to a Karaoke bar or someone's house for a sing-along, I open the database. In just a moment I can start things off without thinking too much about what songs I can sing or play.

 The database fields

 People have asked me how I select songs to sing or play. As I hear a song that interests me, I just enter its name on the spot. This works well, except when I am driving. To cover those times when I'm in the car, I've started carrying a small voice recorder. Almost no idea falls through the cracks, be it a song or a business-related thought!

 Screen 1 shows a typical database record. All data appear on a single screen. Most fields are self explanatory. The TITLE, ARTIST and ALBUM fields define the song and its style. (Bonnie Raitt's version of "Runaway" is quite different than Del Shannon's version.)

 Screen 1. This database helps the author keep track of the songs he sings and plays.

 Since the 200LX database allows only one CATEGORY field, I chose it to describe the type of music: classic rock, ballad, country, classical, and so on. The key and guitar tuning completes the song information.

 The middle of the screen contains the heart of the database's information. On the left are option buttons indicating whether I can sing or am learning to sing the song. I also rate how difficult the song is for me to sing.

 On the right side of the screen I enter status on learning to play the song on my guitar. I've included a field for the key and tuning (which could be different from the original) and any capo position I might use.

 I recently added a check box and a text field to indicate if the song requires or has opportunities to harmonize or add other instruments.

 The NOTE field acts as a catch-all for comments, notes and lyrics. I find it helpful to include lyrics for songs I sing and perform.

Putting it to use

 I rely heavily on the use of Subsets to extract information. Screen 2 shows just some of the subsets I created. Whatever the situation, I can pull up a subset to extract and view just the records I need at the moment.

 Screen 2. The author's many subsets allow him to view just the records he needs at the moment.

 I measure the success of the database in time savings. When I know I will be going to Karaoke, I check the database. It reminds me what I can do, and it helps me to plan my practice sessions. I don't waste fifteen minutes trying to think of two songs I can sing.

In my mind, the SONGS database puts just that much more information - and power - in my pocket.

What is Karaoke?

iPhone Life magazine

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