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Discover New Music

  • An Evening with George Shearing & Mel Torm�

    • 10 out of 10
    • Mel Torm� & George Shearing
    • Of the three men who taught me how to sing, the last was Mel Torme. Apparently, Mel Torme is a joke to anyone more than a decade older than me, a living parody of a Vegas crooner. But I stumbled on th
  • Trouble

    • 8 out of 10
    • Ray LaMontagne
    • At first, Ray LaMontagne might strike you as just another breathy-voiced knockoff of folk/rock guitarists like John Mayer and Jack Johnson. But he's actually got a better voice than either, he tell

  • The Stooges

    • 8 out of 10
    • The Stooges
    • Another pillar of my musical foundations, The Stooges' first album is one those records whose influence far outweighed its popularity. Like The Velvet Underground & Nico, hordes of people wh

  • Haunted

    • 10 out of 10
    • Poe
    • Dropping like a bomb on some of the blah musical offerings of her contemporaries, Haunted was one of the best albums of 2000, obliterating the competition.

      Ostensibly a tie-in to her brot

  • Life's Rich Pageant

    • 8 out of 10
    • R.E.M.
    • In the long series of R.E.M.'s evolution, this album (finally?) showcases their ability to capture on tape what had been happening in the live for years: heartfelt, sweat-filled performances that just

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In-Depth Review

Chords for iTunes (beta)

If you’ve read much of what I've written both here and elsewhere, you’re probably aware that I love music. I love listening to it and, while I’m not particularly talented, I love playing it. Which is why I find iPlayMusic's Chords for iTunes -- a unique new service that synchronizes chords and lyrics with songs in your iTunes library and displays them so you can play along in real time.

It's easy to get started. Start by downloading the iPlayMusic application for Mac here. Install and launch it, and then click the Chords for iTunes Beta icon.

Chords for iTunes download store badge

Now just find some songs you like and add them to your cart. When you're ready to checkout, you'll be asked to create an account. Once you've done that, click the Download button(s) for the songs you selected. If they're already in your iTunes library, you're done; if you don't already own them you will be prompted to purchase them at the iTunes store. 

The best part is that Chords for iTunes is in beta until September so until then all of the songs are free! Of course you do have to have a copy of the original song in your iTunes library, so it could actually cost as much as $1.29 a song. On the other hand, it's still quite a bargain at that price.

Once you've downloaded a song, simply select it in the Downloads list and click the Play button. The song plays and the chords appear on-screen like this: 

Chords for iTunes Software 

You can even choose to play along at a somewhat reduced tempo (vs. the original). It sounds a little funky but it's great for learning more demanding passages.

Or, you can click the Export button and have both the song and the chords exported to GarageBand as synchronized tracks. Create a new Real Instrument track, plug in a guitar, and start playing along. 

Here's what that looks like: 

Chords for iTunes in GarageBand

Now if a picture is worth a thousand words, then the little video demo of me using Chords for iTunes to actually play along with Refugee by Tom Petty and the Hearbreakers has to be worth at least a quarter million. You can check it out here.

There are currently 26 songs available by artists that include Green Day, James Taylor, Jimmy Buffet, Matchbox 20, and White Stripes. I've gotten pretty good at playing Proud Mary (by Creedence Clearwater Revival), Go Your Own Way (by Fleetwood Mac), Mr. Jones (by Counting Crows) and several others. 

I'm not sure what the cost of the individual songs will be once the beta period is over, but unless it's exorbitant (which, given the pricing of other iPlayMusic products, is unlikely) I plan to keep downloading and learning Chords for iTunes songs for a good, long time. 

The Bottom Line

Chords for iTunes makes brilliant use of Macintosh technology. It's like Guitar Hero for grown-ups but even more fun. If you’ve ever wanted to learn to play guitar, or if you already play and would like to learn some new songs, you'd have to be an idiot not to take advantage of Chords for iTunes while it's in beta and still free.

Just The Facts

Chords for iTunes from iPlayMusic

MSRP Beta: Free until September


Fast, easy way to learn to play along with top artists and songs, great integration with iTunes, beta songs free until September.


Currently just 26 songs available, post-beta pricing unknown. 

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