Configuration file contents - Generic


These (optional) settings can be used to add user information.

"user" : {
    "name"     : "john",
	"fullname" : "John Brooke",

ChordPro will try to establish initial values from the environment.

The value of name can be used for directive selection

General settings

These settings control global behaviour of the ChordPro program and can be changed from the command line.

// General settings, to be changed by configs and command line.
"settings" : {
  // Strict behaviour.
  "strict" : true,
  // Add line info for backend diagnostics.
  "lineinfo" : true,
  // Titles flush: default center.
  "titles" : "center",
  // Columns, default one.
  "columns" : 1,
  // Suppress empty chord lines.
  // Overrides the -a (--single-space) command line options.
  "suppress-empty-chords" : true,
  // Suppress blank lyrics lines.
  "suppress-empty-lyrics" : true,
  // Suppress chords.
  // Overrides --lyrics-only command line option.
  "lyrics-only" : false,
  // Memorize chords in sections, to be recalled by [^].
  "memorize" : false,
  // Format to show chord names. May contain markup.
  // "chord-format" : "%{root}%{qual|%{}}%{ext|<sup>%{}</sup>}%{bass|/%{}}",
  "chord-format" : "%{root}%{qual|%{}}%{ext|%{}}%{bass|/%{}}",
  // Chords inline.
  // May be a string containing pretext %s posttext.
  // Defaults to "[%s]" if set to a value that doesn't contain "%s".
  "inline-chords" : false,
  // Same, for annotations. Ignored unless inline-chords is set.
  // Must be a string containing pretext %s posttext.
  // Default is "%s".
  "inline-annotations" : "%s",
  // Chords under the lyrics.
  "chords-under" : false,
  // Transposing.
  "transpose" : 0,
  // Transcoding.
  "transcode" : "",
  // Always decapoize.
  "decapo" : false,
  // Chords parsing strategy.
  // Strict (only known) or relaxed (anything that looks sane).
  "chordnames": "strict",
  // Allow note names in [].
  "notenames" : false,
  // Always replace chords by their canonical form.
  "chords-canonical" : false,
  // If false, chorus labels are used as tags.
  "choruslabels" : true,
  // Substitute Unicode sharp/flats in chord names.
  // Will fallback to ChordProSymbols the font doesn't have the glyphs.
  "truesf" : false,

Note that settings decapo, lyrics-only, strict, transcode and transpose have corresponding command line options. The command line option, if used, overrides the config setting.


columns in settings can also be set to an array with column widths. Column widths can be a number (PDF points), a percentage of the total width, or 0 (or *) to distribute the available width.

These are the same:

"columns": 2
"columns": [ "50%", "50%" ]
"columns": [ 0, 0 ]
"columns": [ "50%", "*" ]

Note that the final columns always uses the remaining width. Its value is therefore bogus unless you have columns with 0 (or *).


The metadata setting contains three items:

  • keys: The list of metadata keys.
    For these keys you can use {meta key} as well as {key}.
  • strict: If false, {meta} will accept any key.
    Otherwise, only the keys named in the keys here are allowed.
    strict is true by default.
  • separator: To concatenate multiple values when metadata are used in title fields.
  • autosplit: If enabled, metadata will be split on the separator to provide multiple values.

Important: the keys title and subtitle must always be in this list.

"metadata" : {
    "keys" : [ "title", "subtitle",
               "artist", "composer", "lyricist", "arranger",
               "album", "copyright", "year",
               "key", "time", "tempo", "capo", "duration" ],
    "strict" : true,
    "separator" : "; ",
    "autosplit" : true,

See also Using metadata in texts.

Dates and Times

Defines the date format used by the metadata value today.

"dates" : {
    "today" : {
        "format" : "%A, %B %e, %Y"

The POSIX library function strftime is used to render the date, so the format string can use anything that strftime understands. See its documentation as specified by The Open Group.

Instrument description

Describes the instrument used. For example:

"instrument" : {
    "type"        : "guitar",
	"description" : "Guitar, 6 strings, standard tuning",

Other properties of an instrument are its tuning and chord definitions. Usually the instrument definition is maintained in a separate configuration file for maximum flexibility.

See Defining an instrument for details.

The value of type can be used for directive selection

Strings and Tuning

Define the instrument tuning as a list of notes in scientific pitch notation.

For example, to specify tuning for a 4-string soprano ukulele:

"tuning" : [ "G4", "C4", "E4", "A4" ],

Setting the tuning to any value except null will discard all built-in chords!

For keyboard, use

"tuning" : [ 0 ],

User defined chords (string instruments)

The configuration file can hold any number of predefined chords.

// "base" defaults to 1.
// Use 0 for an empty string, and -1 for a muted string.
"chords" : [
        "name"  : "Bb(low)",
        "base"  : 1,
        "frets" : [ 1, 1, 3, 3, 3, 1 ],
        "fingers" : [ 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1 ],
        "name"  : "Bb(high)",
        "base"  : 6,
        "baselabelofset"  : 1,
        "frets" : [ 1, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1 ],
        "fingers" : [ 1, 3, 4, 2, 1, 1 ],
        "display" : "%{root}<sup>high</sup>",

base specifies the topmost position of the chord diagram. It must be 1 or higher. If base is greater than 1 its value is printed at the side the diagram, as can be seen in the illustration below. If baselabelofset has been defined and is greater than zero, the base value is printed baselabelofset frets higher.

The frets positions are the positions in the chord diagram as shown. The following two definitions are the same chord, shown in two different positions:

{ "name" : "F#", "base" : 1, "frets" : [ 2, 4, 4, 3, 2, 2 ] },
{ "name" : "F#", "base" : 2, "frets" : [ 1, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1 ] },

The "fingers" part is optional. You can use digits 0 .. 9 and letters A .. Z for finger symbols. A negative value denotes a string without finger information.

The display part specifies the way the chord must be shown. Note the use of %{root} to show the root name.
See file brandtroemer.json in the config directory for an example of using display to get customized chord names.

It is possible to define a new chord based upon an existing definition, e.g.

{ "name" : "Bmin"      , "copy" : "Bm" },
{ "name" : "F#"        , "copy" : "F", "base" : 2 },

User defined chords (keyboard instruments)

For keyboard instruments only the keys (notes) that form the chord are necessary.

"chords" : [
        "name"  : "Eb(low)",
        "keys" : [ 0, 4, 7 ],
        "name"     : "Eb(inv)",
        "display"  : "E♭¹",
        "keys"     : [ 4, 7, 12 ],

Chord keys only depend on the chord type (quality + extension). So all major chords have [0, 4, 7], etc. For most common chords no defintions are necessary, ChordPro can derive the notes from the chord type.

Printing chord diagrams

By default, ChordPro will include diagrams for all known chords that have been used in a song.

// "show": prints the chords used in the song.
//         "all": all chords used.
//         "user": only prints user defined chords.
//         "none": no song chords will ne printed.
// "sorted": order the chords by key.
// "suppress": a series of chord (names) thet will not generate
//         diagrams, e.g. if they are considered trivial.
// Note: The type of diagram (string or keyboard) is determined
// by the value of "instrument.type".
"diagrams" : {
    "show"     :  "all",
    "sorted"   :  false,
    "suppress" :  [],

The suppress list can be used to filter chords from showing diagrams, for example for chords that you consider trivial.

Table of Contents

Multiple tables of contents can be produced, controlled by settings in the config file.

  // Table of contents.
  "contents" : [
      { "fields"   : [ "songindex" ],
        "label"    : "Table of Contents",
        "line"     : "%{title}",
        "pageno"   : "%{page},
        "omit"     : false,
        "template" : "stdtoc",
      { "fields"   : [ "sorttitle", "artist" ],
        "label"    : "Contents by Title",
        "line"     : "%{title}%{artist| - %{}}",
        "pageno"   : "%{page},
        "omit"     : false,
        "template" : "stdtoc",
      { "fields"   : [ "artist", "sorttitle" ],
        "label"    : "Contents by Artist",
        "line"     : "%{artist|%{} - }%{title}",
        "pageno"   : "%{page},
        "omit"     : true,
        "template" : "stdtoc",

The default configuration generates two tables, one labelled Table of Contents and one labelled Contents by Title. The table with title Contents by Artist will be omitted (see omit) below.

Each table is ordered according to the meta data specified in "fields". The format of the content lines is specified in "line".

  • fields
    The ordering of the table.
    Prefix the sort key with + to force numeric sorting. Likewise, a - prefix reverses sort order.
    When you specify a metadata item that has multiple values they are split out in the table.
    songindex is a built-in meta data item that yields the sequence number of the song in the songbook. Sorting on songindex will produce the songs in songbook order.
  • label
    The label (title) for this table.
  • line
    The format of the table lines.
    You can use all song metadata, see here.
  • pageno
    The format for the page number.
    You can use all song metadata, see here.
  • omit
    If true, this table is omitted.
  • template
    The template for this table.

Customizing the table of contents

It is possible to customize the tables of content by providing a template. The template is processed as a song before the table and can be used to set title, subtitle, columns, maybe even an introduction text. Since the template iself a song, it can be associated with its own config file for unlimited customization.

A template can be specified with a name, e.g. "stdtoc" or with a file name, e.g. "mytoc.cho". Default is "stdtoc".

Named templates are lookedp up with extension .cho in the template directories of the ChordPro library. Template files are looked up relative to the first song of the songbook.

Note that the first table in the default configuration is equivalent to the legacy table of contents.

Table of Contents (legacy)

The legacy config settings will be ignored if a new style specification (see above) is present

// Table of contents.
"toc" : {
    // Title for ToC.
    "title" : "Table of Contents",
    // ToC lines.
    "line" : "%{title}",
    // Sorting order.
    // Currently only sorting by page number and alpha is implemented.
    "order" : "page",
  • title
    Defines the title text for the table of contents. By default this is the string "Table of Contents".

  • line
    Defines the content of the table of contents lines.
    You can use all song metadata, see here.

  • order
    The entries in the table of contents are in the same order as in the document. By setting order to "alpha", the entries are sorted alphabetically by title.


A config file can specify a list of other config files that are to be processed before the contents of the current file. This makes it straightforward to create config files that extend existing config files.

For example:

{ "include" : [ "modern1" ],
  "settings" : {
      "colums" : 2

This config file would first load the preset config modern1, and then set the number of output columns to 2.

include takes a list of preset configs like modern1, or file names. If a file name is not absolute, it is taken relative to the location of the including config file.

Diagnostic message format

When ChordPro detects errors while analyzing a song, it will use this format to show diagnostic messages.

In the format, %f will be replaced by the song file name, %n by the line number in the file where the error was detected, %m by the diagnostig message, and %l will be replaced by the original content of the line.

"diagnostics" : {
    "format" : "\"%f\", line %n, %m\n\t%l",

Note you cannot use song metadata here.