Chord Genome lets you easily find guitar tunes based on the chords they use.
And every time you add a new chord to your search, the number of playable songs grows quickly:
- With just 3 guitar chords, for example, you can play almost 4,000 tunes.
- With 4 chords, you can play more than 12,000 guitar songs.
- With 5 chords, you’ll discover 20,000 playable tunes.
That’s a lot of results – and a lot of scrolling. In fact, you’ll have to click the “next” button hundreds of times to see all the songs.
But Chord Genome lets you filter these results based on genre and decade.
Instead of 20,000 songs, you might see a more compact list of 400 tunes you actually know and love.
But there are limitations to what these filters can do.
What Makes a Genre a Genre?
Let’s use a quick example:
- The Beatles are one of the most famous rock bands ever.
- And Yesterday is one of their most famous songs.
Does this make Yesterday a Rock song?
You could certainly call it that.
But according to Billboard, Yesterday is classified as Baroque Pop (whatever that means).
And what about Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York?
You might call it Cabaret, Lounge, or Broadway.
But it’s technically Traditional Pop.
And this highlights one of the main problems with genres. There will never be universal agreement on how to label songs. Even iTunes and Spotify can’t agree.
So how do we fix this?
Using Genre Tags for Results
Chord Genome’s workaround is to use genre tags pulled from as many different sites as possible, including:
This helps a lot.
Because each song has multiple genre tags, this increases the chances of getting positive hits.
The song Yesterday will come up whether you filter with Pop, Rock, Baroque Pop, Early Rock, Classic Pop, UK Invasion Rock, etc.
But now we run into another hurdle – there are too many genres.
In fact, our database has over 320,000 unique genre tags.
And that’s a huge problem.
So how do we fix this?
Consolidating Genre Tags
Our solution was to organize these genres into umbrella groups.
For example, Heavy Metal, Progressive Punk, and Post Hardcore are all classified as Rock.
It’s a tricky business.
No system will make everyone happy. But there needs to be some type of system.
We drew inspiration from Dan Gravell’s list here. And now Chord Genome uses 16 parent categories – from Blues to New Age to Folk.
But we’re not quite finished.
There’s another hurdle we have to overcome – false positives.
Dealing with False Positives
Chord Genome relies on user-submitted genre tags pulled from sites like Last.fm and MusicBrainz.
These sites let anyone tag songs however they want. And it’s very easy for tunes to get labeled with incorrect genres.
Let’s use Hound Dog by Elvis Presley as an example:
- John tags this song as Rock and Awesome.
- Sarah tags it as Pop and Country.
- Michael tags it with How Rock Killed Jazz.
As a result, Chord Genome might label this song as Rock, Pop, Country, and Jazz.
Hound Dog definitely isn’t a Jazz song. And most wouldn’t consider it Country either. But there’s no way to completely weed out these false positives.
The database is simply too large.
Our workaround is to add decades for as many songs as possible.
This doesn’t fix the problem completely. But it helps to narrow down the results.
So now you can limit your searches by genre and decade. Doing so increases the chances of finding songs you know and like.
It’s not a perfect system. Not by any means:
- There will always be false positives and mislabeled genres. And there will often be disagreement over what constitutes a genre and what doesn’t.
- It’s not always possible to find the earliest release date for every song. A tune like the Beatles’ Yesterday gets reissued every year.
- Some tunes don’t have any genre or decade data at all. The information is out there – we just can’t find it. This problem affects about 30% of our database. And those songs are labeled Misc. (miscellaneous) in the search results.
Despite these hurdles, I hope you find the genre and decade filters useful. You’ll definitely need them as you continue adding more chords.
- With 3 chords, you can play 4,000 tunes.
- With 6 chords, the number jumps to 38,000 results.
- With 12 chords, there are more than 108,000 playable songs.
And don’t forget.
You can also use these genre and decade filters with the Next Best Chord (NBC) feature as well. To learn more, click here.
The “Force Last Chord” Filter
When you check this option, it forces Chord Genome to only show matching results that include the final chord in your list.
Why is this useful?
Imagine you do a search of chords A, B, and C.
If this option is left blank, you’ll see all of the songs below.
If this option is clicked, you’ll only see the bolded songs that include C (because this is the last chord in your search).
- 3-chord songs with A+B+C
- 2-chord songs with A+B
- 2-chord songs with A+C
- 2-chord songs with B+C
- 1-chord songs with A
- 1-chord songs with B
- 1-chord songs with C
This feature is useful whenever you add a new Next Best Chord. You’ll only see songs that use your target chord.
If you haven’t already, create your free Chord Genome Account today.