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Getting started

Welcome to ChordMark 5 minutes tutorial, where you will learn the basics of the format and its possibilities! To practice what you learn, head over to Chord Chart Studio.

Sample song​

Let's have a look at a sample song, Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen. You can switch between the source file, written in ChordMark, and the rendered version using the tabs.


Breaking it down​

Let's detail the chord chart above line by line.

First verse​


This is a section label that defines the start of a section: intro, verse, chorus... The # is the section symbol; and v the shorthand notation for the label Verse.

ChordMark will automatically number the sections using the same label.loading...

The first line contains two chords symbols followed by 2 dots each. This means that each chord should be played for 2 beats. Since the default time signature is 4/4, this line will be rendered as a single bar with 2 chords. The bar separators | are added automatically.

The second line contains the lyrics sung along with the chords above. The position marker symbol _ is used to specify exactly where each chord should be played.


The symbol % instructs ChordMark to repeat the last defined chord line, eg line 2.

Although the chords are not defined explicitly but repeated, ChordMark still expects that two chords should be present in the lyric line.


The first line declares 2 bars with 2 chords each. Since the first bar has chords with uneven durations (3 beats for F, 1 beat for G), the beat count indicator . is explicitly rendered. It is omitted when each chord in a bar should be played for the same duration.

The second line contains only 3 chords position markers for 4 chords, since the last chord change happens after the lyrics end. In that case, the position marker is optional and ChordMark simply appends the extra chord(s) at the end of the line.


When no duration is specified for a chord, like for the Am in the second bar here, then ChordMark understand that it should last the whole bar, e.g. 4 beats in that case.

First chorus​


#c declares a new section using the shorthand label c for chorus.

Second verse​


Now this is interesting: by using the #v section label a second time, we instruct ChordMark to automatically repeat the chords that have been defined for the first verse, and to apply them to the current section. Which means that only the chords position markers are needed this time, and not the chord symbol themselves. This is a huge time saver when writing a chord chart!

Note that ChordMark automatically numbers the second verse.

Second chorus​


Since the second chorus is identical to the first one, we can just declare the label and leave the content of the section empty: ChordMark will understand that it should automatically repeat the whole section.

Displaying a chord grid​

Now let's say you are a bass player in a band and that only the chord grid matters to you. Easy peasy! ChordMark can automatically render a nicely formatted chord grid from the exact same source file:


Going further​

That's it! I hope you enjoyed this taster of ChordMark possibilities. There is much more to discover, though. As the next steps, we encourage you to start experimenting by yourself using the Chord Chart Studio editor. You can also dive into the reference documentation to learn all about ChordMark.