Fingering diagram builder, version 0.2

February 5, 2011

Two months ago I introduced the Fingering diagram builder, something that I hoped people would find useful for quickly and easily creating fingering diagrams for woodwind instruments. Since then, something over 1,000 fingering diagrams have been downloaded, which I think is a nice start.

Many of those have been saxophone fingerings, and I attribute this to some kind mentions among the saxophone-blogger community (thanks Doron, Eric, David, Neal, Alistair, and Anton!).

Now I’m pleased to announce the new-and-of-course-improved version 0.2. Go take it for a spin, or read on about the new goodies:

  • New instruments!
    • Contrabassoon (choose the bassoon fingering diagram, then open the Keywork menu and click “Keys,”, then select the contrabassoon preset)
    • Akai EWI wind controller
    • Yamaha WX5 wind controller
    • Simple endblown woodwinds. Presets include pennywhistle, quena, shakuhachi, Native American flute (5-hole; 6-holed flute diagrams can be made with the pennywhistle preset), duduk, 6- and 8-hole xiao, and (why not?) valved brass instruments.
    • Simple transverse woodwinds. Presets include “simple flute” (which works well for “Irish” flutes, dizi, and many others) and bansuri.
  • You can choose your own filenames now. Or just let the FDB continue to automatically give each one a unique number (the numbers are UNIX timestamps, if you care).
  • I’m really excited about this one: Dropbox integration. If you’re not already using this amazing and free service to keep your important stuff synchronized between your computer(s) and handheld device(s), then you are seriously missing out. I personally use it approximately one million times per day. And now you can choose to save your fingering diagrams to your own Dropbox instead of downloading them—just log in using the Options menu. This should be an excellent option for iPhone/iPad folks and others who are download-challenged. [Full disclosure: the Dropbox links I've provided are referral links, and if you use them to sign up, we both get some bonus space. You're welcome.]
  • Other general interface improvements for users of at least some mobile and touch devices. I think the best user experience for the FDB is still a large screen and a mouse, but I do what I can for you iPhone/iPad people. Note that I am not cool enough to own those devices (I’ve tested on my iPod Touch, though), so I welcome input and bug reports from people who do use them. I could use input from Android users, too.
  • Lots of small improvements to the way the fingering diagrams look and behave.
  • Lots of small improvements to the way the interface looks and behaves. I also moved around some menu items into places that I think make more sense.
  • Some problem fixes for users of Safari 5. Based on my tests using Safari on Windows, I think everything is okay now, but let me know if you run into continued problems, especially Mac users. Thanks, those of you who reported issues with the previous version.
  • Since it seems many people want to create blank diagrams showing all the keys, I’ve added a “Blank diagram” button, which instantly turns on all the keys for the current diagram and keywork preset. You can click “Restore defaults” to go back to something cleaner. To find the buttons, open the Keywork menu and click “Keys.”

I regret to say that I still can’t support any version of Internet Explorer. Maybe if I were a good enough programmer I could figure out how to make the problem child behave. In the meantime, I urge you to consider one of the other excellent, free web browsers, and you may just find that your web experience improves in lots of ways.

As always, don’t hesitate to speak up if you’ve got ideas for future versions, or if you run into issues of any kind. You can get through to me by email or Twitter, or leave a comment below.

One more note. It has come to my attention that some people are using the FDB to create and sell basic fingering charts online. I’m not sure why anyone would pay for them, since good ones are easily found for free. But if you’re using the FDB for commercial gain, it seems to me like good form to make use of my “Send me reed money” PayPal link at the bottom of the page. Just pay whatever the FDB is worth to you—I’m not planning to get rich. But your appreciation, as expressed in U.S. dollars, goes a long way toward spurring on future enhancements and new features. Thanks!

Comments

  1. Kyle

    This is fabulous! I just used it to create some alternate fingerings, and paste the graphic into a Finale file for my students. This is a wonderful resource.

    Reply

  2. Gertjan

    Just a quick comment (sent from my Android phone): the Android (up to and including Gingerbread) browser does not support SVG. Starting with Honeycomb, the native browser will support SVG. The Firefox beta for Android is reported to have SVG support; don’t know about other browsers such as Dolphin or Opera.

    Reply

  3. Tyson

    Great improvements! I am a middle school band director (and saxophone player). I made new (improved) fingering charts for my sixth graders the first day I found your site!

    Thanks too for the transverse option – now my trumpets/baritones/tubas can have better fingering charts too!

    How about a trombone option? :-)

    Reply

  4. Andy H

    Would it be possible to add an option to show the diagrams from the other side of the instrument? – I.e. the way the player sees them (assuming a transparent instrument)?

    Being a bear of very little brain, I prefer diagrams that show keys on the side I see them from while playing, e.g. the table keys on a sax are on the left, from the player’s point of view, so that’s where I’d want them on the diagram.

    When I look at a diagram like the ones this builder makes, I find myself mentally straining my left wrist to reach round to the keys, as though I’m trying to play a sax that’s stood on a stand in front of me, facing the wrong way.

    I have seen a couple of sax fingering charts done that way (reversed, mirrored, or shown “the right way round”, depending on your point of view), but never any other sort. I’d like to make some for a student oboe, in particular.

    Reply

  5. Bill Folz

    Is there any way to save an image that has multiple fingerings on it? It
    seems kind of useless if you can only do one fingering/page.

    Reply

    • Bret Pimentel (Your host)

      This tool is useful for creating individual diagrams. If you want to create a fingering chart, showing multiple diagrams, you will need to download the diagrams and assemble them using a tool of your choice (a word processor, a graphics editing program, an HTML editor). How many per page is up to you.

      Reply

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