Chord lead sheet

Use the chord leadsheet editor to:

  • Add chord symbols, eg Cm6, Ab7, F#9M#11, NC (no chord), ...

  • Add sections, eg A, B, verse, chorus, ...

  • Move and edit chords to adjust rhythm accents, interpretation or harmony

  • Add bar annotations (for lyrics etc.)

Selecting and moving chord symbols

Click on a bar or a chord symbol to select it. Use ctrl-click to select multiple bars or chord symbols.

Use shift-click to extend the current selection.

Drag a chord symbol with the mouse to move it to a new location.

By default chord symbols position are quantized to a sixteenth note (4 positions per beat). This can be adjusted via the right-click menu Quantization.

Chord symbols input

Select a bar or a chord symbol, then type the first letter of the chord symbol (for ex. 'C'), the Bar edit dialog will appear automatically :

When a bar is selected, the Bar edit dialog can also be showned by pressing ENTER, double-clicking a bar, or using the right-click menu Edit.

To copy a chord symbol just drag it while pressing the control key.

In order to input a lead sheet from scratch, the easiest way is to select the first bar then directly type in the chord symbols (bar edit dialog automatically appears when first letter is typed), press ENTER when done (it automatically selects the next bar), type in the chord symbols for the second bar, etc.

JJazzLab can recognize different forms of a given chord symbol. For example C-7, Cm7, Cmi7, Cmin7 are all equivalent. You can add your own chord aliases in the Chord Symbols tab of the Options/Preferences, as shown below:

Changing the size of the leadsheet

Select a bar then select Set end bar in the right-click menu (see below).

Use the popup menu (right-click on windows/Linux, ctrl-click on Mac) to see commands available for the current selection: bars, chord symbols or sections.


Select a chord symbol, edit it (double-click, press enter, or right-click menu), and select the Interpretation tab.

The Interpretation tab lets you decide how this chord symbol should be played:

  • Normal

  • Accent: add a rhythmic accent and randomly a crash cymbal. You can make the accent stronger, or make sure a crash cymbal is played or not played.

  • Hold: add a rhythmic accent and hold notes until next chord symbol. If extended more instruments are hold.

  • Shot: add a rhythmic accent with chord notes played briefly. If extended more instruments are shot.

  • Pedal bass: bass line will only play the bass note (for ex. F for Fm7 or C for Fm7/C). This setting is on by default when you enter a slash chord.

Each rhythm generation engine may render these Interpretation parameters differently.

The shape of the marker below the chord symbol depends on the interpretation mode:

For example, in order to render:

you could use the following interpretation parameters:

See below the keyboard shortcuts to change the interpretation of selected chords.


Select a chord symbol, edit it and select the Harmony tab.

The Harmony tab lets you select the scale to be used when rendering the music for this chord symbol.

Example Suppose that the reference bass line for Eb7M contains a Ab (4th degree of the Eb major scale). If you select the Lydian mode (which has a sharp 11th degree) then the reference bass note Ab will be rendered as A for this chord symbol.

By default no scale is selected: each rhythm generation engine will decide the "best" scale to use.

Substitute chord symbol

Select a chord symbol, edit it and select the substitute chord symbol tab.

This tab lets you define a substitute chord symbol which will be used when some conditions are met.

Substitute chord symbols are useful when you need to introduce a slight variation in a part of a song.

The substitute chord symbol can be any chord symbol, with any interpretation or harmony, or no chord symbol at all (void chord). Chord symbols which have an substitute chord symbol defined are displayed with a different color (see image below).


In the Carlos Santana's "Europa" song, the 1st ending of the theme is a Cm7, but the 2nd one is a C major. To implement this in JJazzLab, one solution could be to duplicate section A1 to create section A2 with the different ending, then update the song structure accordingly. This is perfectly fine, but when changes are minor the substitute chord symbol can provide a simpler solution.

You can see below (and in the dialog snapshot above) that a C7M substitute chord has been created for Cm7. C7M will be used for all song parts (see the song structure editor) where the marker is set to Theme2. On the image below it means the C7M will be used only for the 2nd song part.

There is another substitute chord symbol example in the 3rd bar: A7. If you listen to the original song you'll notice that they play a A7 on the last beat of the 3rd bar only during solos. So the A7 chord symbol defines its substitute chord symbol as the "void chord symbol" (same as no chord symbol) when marker is not "Solo".

Sections input

Typical sections are 'intro', 'verse', 'chorus', etc.

A Song section is the basic unit used by JJazzLab to define the song structure. There is always a section defined on the first bar.

To add a section select a bar which is not after the end then:

  • press ENTER, or

  • double-click, or

  • right-click menu, Insert Section... or Edit...

The new section name must be different than the existing one.

Force a section at new line

You can force a section which is not on the first bar of a row to start on the next line. This can be useful when some sections have an odd number of bars.

Select a bar with a section defined or select the section itself, right-click menu "Force Section at New Line".

This will result in the display below.

Bar annotations / lyrics

You can add annotations to any bar.

When annotations are hidden, bar with annotations are marked with a post-it (tooltip shows the annotation text).

Special # syntax for Easy Reader

Suppose the same bar is used in different song parts. The lyrics for this bar might change depending on the song part. You can prepend # to annotation lines so that the Easy Reader displays only the relevant line.

Example: for the annotation above, Easy Reader will show "with... you" the first time, "" the second time, and "" whenever the current song part name is "chorus".

Mouse shortcuts




bar, chord symbol, section



chord symbol

double click

edit using chord symbol editor

bar, section

double click

edit using bar editor

bar, chord symbol, section


popup menu

chord symbol




ctrl mouse-wheel

change X zoom factor

Keyboard shortcuts

Many actions are also available via the context menu (right-click on Windows/Linux, ctrl-click on Mac), and when available the associated keyboard is displayed.




chord Symbol


edit with chord symbol editor

bar, section


edit with bar editor dialog



set end bar



insert bars



clear bar contents

chord symbol, section



chord symbol, section


move item one bar left/right




chord symbol



chord symbol


change interpretation

chord symbol


stronger accent

chord symbol


crash cymbal/no crash

chord symbol


hold/shot more instruments

chord symbol, section


select all in section, then in lead sheet

bar, chord symbol, section


copy/cut/paste items






Show/hide bar annotations



close song

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