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Going with the Flow


The reason I signed up to Scott’s Bass Lessons was continue to develop my bass playing skills but sometimes I come away with other things. Today, the take home lesson was about using OnSong and ChordPro files. OnSong is an application that can display lyrics and chords; I use it extensively at church but I’ve also turned to it for a range of other gigging situations from rock shows to stage shows. ChordPro is a widely used, text-based format for storing that information in a way that is portable between a wide range of programs.

The trick I learned was that ChordPro, certainly in its OnSong implementation, supports flow statements. If I label each section of a song, I can then add a description of how that should be displayed at the top. A section label is a single line, ending with a colon and optionally including a number, such as Verse 1: or Chorus:. Apparently, the system only reads the first letter, so you can’t have a Break and a Bridge but you could have an Instrumental and a Bridge.

Why would I want to do that? It means I don’t have to copy and paste repeated sections. Instead, I can add a line to the top of the file, like {flow:V1 C V2 C V3 C}. It also means I can easily exclude sections – for example, there might be a bridge that I don’t want to use, so I can simply omit it from the flow statement without having to manually delete it from the file or commenting out every line.