ChordPro Text Format

This page was bundled with the original release of ChordPro, written by Sproaticus

The ChordPro Basics

The essence of a ChordPro file is how it merges chord notation and lyrics in a manner that is easy to read by both humans and computers.

[C]Cecilia, you're [F]breaking my [C]heart, you're [F]shaking my [C]confidence [G7]daily.

The beauty about this method is it makes it easy for software to make it look good.

Cecilia example

The more you play with it, the easier it becomes to use.

[C]Cecilia, you're [F]breaking my [C]heart, 
you're [F]shaking my [C]confidence [G7]daily
Oh, [F]Cecili[C]a, I'm [F]down on my [C]knees; 
I'm [F]begging you [C]please to come [G7]home.

Note that the chords can be placed in the middle of words. This is a good thing, since chord changes rarely happen between words, but rather between syllables within a word.

(sample from Cecilia)

A Little More Complex Now

Everything from here on out is 100% optional.

Chorus Verses Chorus

You can sprinkle little comments into your song, notes that aren't necessarily meant to be sung. Just put it inside the {comment:blah blah blah} form.

{comment:First verse}
{comment:Second verse}
{comment:Snide version}

You can shorten this using {c:blah blah} if you want:

{c:Rotten verse not suitable for children and old fogeys}

This notation assumes that, unless otherwise specified, lyrics are part of a verse instead of a more structured chorus. Also, since choruses tend to repeat word-for-word, you usually need to describe the chorus once, then merely refer to it later in the song. You can define the chorus using {start_of_chorus} and {start_of_chorus} (or, if you like, {soc} and {eoc}.)

A very merry [G]Christmas - And a happy New [A]Year
Let's hope it's a [Em]good one - [G]Without any [D]fear [E]

Doing this will make the chorus stand out a bit.

Later in the song, instead of pounding out the whole chorus again, you can just do this:


To make a special note stand out more, use

{comment_italic:yadda yadda yadda}

or just

{ci:yadda yadda yadda}
{comment_italic:Yoko chimes in here}

(sample from Happy Christmas)

Give A Little Credit, Sheesh

You want to give your song a title. If you didn't write it yourself, you probably want to attribute the author. Here's how you do that.

{title:Let it Be}
{subtitle:John Lennon/Paul McCartney}

If your wrist is absolutely killing you, you can shorten this.

{t:It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)}
{st:by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe}

I Can't Hear You, and That's Probably a Good Thing

No one's chord sheet is perfect. There's this annoying little chord change between the bridge and the solo, and you think you got it right, but you feel you need to make a little note to yourself. But don't let it show up in the pretty-printed copy! Use the # (the little hash-mark fella) before a line to accomplish this.

# Did Beethoven intend this to be a Gmaj7/9 or a Gmaj9/7?  Arg!
# if you can read this, you're not pretty-printing the chord sheet

A Picture is Now Worth About 873 Words

Some times you need to resort to drawing things using letters and symbols. The most popular reason (though not the only one) is to write guitar tableture. Hence the {start_of_tab} and {end_of_tab} terms.

E --5---5---5--3p2--3----3--5--7--5-----5--5--5--3p2--3--3--5--7--5----2--3---
B --3---------------3----3--------3-----3-------------3--3--------3----3--3---
G --2---------------4----4--------2-----2-------------4--4--------2----4--4---
D --0---------------0----0--------0-----0-------------0--0--------0----4--5---
A ---------------------------------------------------------------------2--5---
E ------------------------------------------------------------------------3---

(sample from Maggie May) Short form? {sot} and {eot}.

E -0-
B -1-
G -0-
D -2-
A -3-
E -x-

Stuff We'll Just Avoid Eye Contact With For Now

There are some other directives, notably the {define} brouhaha, that we'll politely ignore until they become relevant.


Here are some other attempts to describe the format. Read what you can, learn what you can, it's pretty loose.

See also

Cookbook /
ChordPro-ChordSheets  ChordPro chord sheet documentation and examples
ChordPro-Format  ChordPro Basics and text format
ChordPro-Markup  ChordPro markup supported by this recipe
ChordPro-Sandbox  Test and try out ChordPro
ChordPro-Talk  Discussion of ChordPro (Stable)
ChordPro-Users  User notes for the Chord Pro recipe.