Defining the instrument

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

The value of type can be used for directive selection

Defining chords

ChordPro deals with chords. To do so, it needs to know how chords are named, how they are ordered, and how they are played.

How are chords named

The usual convention for chord names consists of three parts: the root, the quality, and the extension.

For example, in the chord Dm7, the root is D, the quality is m (minor), and the extension is 7. A chord always has a root, the quality and/or the extension may be omitted if it is not needed. C names a C major chord, D7 a D dominant 7 chord, and Em a E minor chord.

Root

The most widely spread convention for root names is the use of Dutch or common note names: the letters C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. To raise a note by a semitone, it is postfixed with the musical sharp symbol . To lower a note by a semitone, it is postfixed with the musical flat symbol . For convenience the symbols # and b are often used instead.

Likewise, to raise a note it can be postfixed with is, e.g. Cis, or with es, e.g. Des. In the latter case, Ees and Aes are usually shortened to respectively Es and As.

Root notes are defined in the configuration files:

"notes" : {

  "system" : "common",

  "sharp" : [ "C", [ "C#", "Cis", "C♯" ],
              "D", [ "D#", "Dis", "D♯" ],
              "E",
              "F", [ "F#", "Fis", "F♯" ],
              "G", [ "G#", "Gis", "G♯" ],
              "A", [ "A#", "Ais", "A♯" ],
              "B",
  ],

  "flat" :  [                               "C",
              [ "Db", "Des",        "D♭" ], "D",
              [ "Eb", "Es",  "Ees", "E♭" ], "E",
                                            "F",
              [ "Gb", "Ges",        "G♭" ], "G",
              [ "Ab", "As",  "Aes", "A♭" ], "A",
              [ "Bb", "Bes",        "B♭" ], "B",
    ],
}

"system" sets the name of the system used.

"sharp" and "flat" are two lists of note names, the first list has diatonic notes and raised notes, the second has diatonic notes and lowered notes. Where there are multiple alternative forms for a note they are in a sublist. Note that the first of a sublist of alternatives is the preferred way to show a note in diagrams and other places. The choice for the non-unicode variant is deliberate since many fonts do not yet have the appropriate symbols to show and .

By default ChordPro uses the Common (a.k.a. Dutch) note naming system according to the definition shown above. Some other note naming systems are provided:

  • German
    This is a variant of Dutch where H is used instead of B, and B is used instead of B♭. Flats and sharps are denoted by is and es suffixes, not symbols.
    This definition is contained in the preset configuration notes_german.

  • Scandinavian
    This is a variant of German where H means B, and B♭ means B flat. Flats and sharps are denoted by the appropriate symbols.
    This definition is contained in the preset configuration notes_scandinavian.

  • Latin
    This system consists of the diatonic note names Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, and Si. Flats and sharps are denoted by the appropriate symbols. It is often used in Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries.
    This definition is contained in the preset configuration notes_latin.

For more information, see Key signature names and translations on Wikipedia.

How are the chords ordered

To transpose chords, it must know the order of the chords, in particular the chord roots. This order is defined by the order the definitions appear in the "flat" and "sharp" lists above.
ChordPro uses the convention that when transposing up it chooses the note names from the "sharp" list. Notes from the "flat" list are used when transposing down.

How are chords played (string instruments)

To produce chord diagrams, ChordPro must know the number of strings of the instrument, how they are tuned, and where the fingers must be placed when playing the chord. This can all be defined in the configuration files.

"instrument" : {
    "type" : "guitar",
    "description" : "Guitar, 6-strings, EADGBE tuning",
},

// Strings and tuning.
"tuning" : [ "E2", "A2", "D3", "G3", "B3", "E4" ],

// Chords.
"chords" : [
    {
      "name"  : "Bb",
      "display" : "B♭",
      "base"  : 1,
      "frets" : [ 1, 1, 3, 3, 3, 1 ],
      "fingers" : [ 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1 ],
    },
],

"instrument" is a descriptive name of the instrument defined.

"tuning" defines the tuning of the instrument as a list of note names, optionally followed by the octave number (Scientific pitch notation).

"chords" is a list of chords to be defined for this tuning. For each chord, "base" specifies the topmost position of the chord diagram. It must be 1 or higher. The "frets" positions are the positions in the chord diagram. "fingers" is optional and denotes which fingers are used for the chord. "display" is optional and defines the way the chord name must be shown, if different from "name".

For convenience, "instrument.type", "instrument.description" and "tuning" can be used as substitution variables in texts, see Using metadata in texts.

ChordPro comes with a couple of predefined instrument configs:

  • guitar-br
    Guitar with common chords (see guitar-ly) using Brandt-Roemer chord notation.
  • guitar
    Guitar with lots of chords.
  • guitar-legacy
    Guitar with the chords originaly included in Chordii.
  • guitar-ly
    Guitar with common chords derived from Lilypond data.
  • mandolin-ly
    Mandolin with common chords derived from Lilypond data.
  • ukulele
    Ukulele with lots of chords.
  • ukulele-ly
    Ukulele with common chords derived from Lilypond data.

How are chords played (keyboard instruments)

To produce chord diagrams, ChordPro must know the notes that make the chord. This can be defined in the configuration files.

"instrument" : {
    "type" : "keyboard",
    "description" : "Guitar, 6-strings, EADGBE tuning",
},

// Tuning is not relevant. By setting the tuning to [ 0 ] all
// existing definitions are flushed.
"tuning" : [ 0 ],

// Chords.
"chords" : [
    {
      "name"  : "Bb",
      "keys" : [ 0, 4, 7 ],
    },
],

"instrument" is a descriptive name of the instrument defined.

"chords" is a list of chords to be defined for this tuning. For each chord, "keys" specifies notes of the chord, relative to the root note.

As opposed to string instruments, the notes of a chord are only dependent on the quality and extension of the chord. For example, all major chords have keys [ 0, 4, 7 ]. A minor7 chord will have [ 0, 3, 7, 10 ]. This implies that for most (common) chords no definitions are necessary.

ChordPro comes with a single predefined keyboard instrument config, keyboard.

Special: Nashville Number System

The Nashville Number System is a method of transcribing music by denoting the scale degree on which a chord is built. Instead of absolute note names like C, D, E it uses numbers 1, 2, 3 and so on.

No configuration settings are needed. When a song has its chords in Nashville Number System this is automatically detected, and transposition and the printing of chord diagrams is disabled.

For more information, see Nashville number system on Wikipedia.

Special: Roman Numeral Analysis

This is like the Nashville Number System but uses roman numbers I, II, III and so on. Minor chords are written using lowercase letters.

No configuration settings are needed. When a song has its chords in Roman Number System this is automatically detected, and transposition and the printing of chord diagrams is disabled.

For more information, see Roman Numeral Analysis on Wikipedia.