Occasionally, I like to sit down in front of my Mac and play guitar along with music playing through iTunes. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to play every song that iTunes’ shuffle decides to pick and I need to find a guitar tab to help me learn. After a couple of hours of failed online searching, I customized my own…
iTunes Guitar Tab Search AppleScript
In looking for a simple AppleScript that would search the web for a guitar tab for whatever song I was currently listening to in iTunes, I first found the OLGA Tabulature Search over at dougscripts.com. Unfortunately, that script hasn’t been updated since 2003 and the On-Line Guitar Archive (OLGA) has been offline for quite some time due to numerous legal issues.
So I decided to revise this script and turn it into:
DOWNLOAD: Guitar Tab Search & Guitar Tab Search Next (ZIP file of two AppleScripts)
“Guitar Tab Search” will take whatever song you’re currently listening to in iTunes (or whatever song is highlighted if no song is playing) and search ultimate-guitar.com for it. It uses that site’s advanced search to limit the results to guitar tabs and chord files only. It also includes both the artist name and song title in the search to eliminate other versions of the song from showing up.
“Guitar Tab Search Next” extends the functionality of “Guitar Tab Search” one step further, automatically telling iTunes to skip to the next song before pulling up the new tab. This script allows you to quickly activate it when you grow tired of playing a song or want to skip one that iTunes selects and just move on to the next one easily.
Making It Even Easier
I quickly realized that I didn’t want to mess around with clicking between iTunes and a web browser just to play a new song and pull up a new tab using the above scripts. To make the whole process even easier, I installed the “lite” (free) version of FastScripts. This menubar extra allows you to assign keyboard shortcuts to scripts, letting you launch them from within any program.
And here’s how I set it up:
Now, when I’m sitting in Safari reading a tab and decide that I’m ready for the next song to play, I just hit control-option-command-right arrow to launch “Guitar Tab Search Next”, which tells iTunes to skip to the next track and pulls up the online tab listing for that song. It’s a very simple and quick way to play along with a lot of songs with very little effort. You can customize that keyboard shortcut to anything you want. For one-handed use, I recommend option-command-z or option-command-/
The Fine Print
Since this solution utilizes AppleScript, you must be on a Mac to use it. Sorry Windows users.
This particular script set also is specific to using Safari to pull up the tabs. I would have used Firefox, but its AppleScript support is poor and it would open a new window every time the script ran rather than just opening it in the existing window/tab like Safari does. If anyone knows a workaround to this, let me know and I’ll release a Firefox version of the script as well.
Finally, ultimate-guitar.com features quite a few Flash advertisements on every page, so loading times can be a little slow. Fortunately, there is a way around that (though I don’t encourage using it regularly as blocking ads removes many sites’ only revenue source, including this blog).
Guitarists out there: Let me know if you find this script useful by posting in the comments.Tweet