Converting PDF files for use with Gig Performer ChordPro

Converting PDF files for use with Gig Performer ChordPro


The ChordPro/Lyric window in Gig Performer does not yet have built-in support for viewing PDF files. However, since it does support images, a workaround is to convert PDF files into image pages that can be used by our viewer. However, it is time consuming to manage manual conversion of a PDF file into image files as well as creating the ChordPro directives needed to make them usable.


There are several free (and indeed open source) command line utilities that can be used to convert PDF files into collections of image files. We decided to create a wrapper around one of these utilities to automate the creation of the required image files and to automatically create the ChordPro directive to insert into your ChordPro viewer. It is called PDFForChordPro.

We do have to note that PDFForChordPro comes with absolutely no warranties. It probably will not delete all your files nor damage anything on your computer but if you manage to mess something up, we cannot provide any support or accept any responsibility. Use it solely at your own risk.

For legal reasons, we cannot redistribute the underlying utilities ourselves so we are including the instructions you should follow to download them yourselves.

Steps – Part 1 – Download and install the underlying utility

  1. Visit the Xpdf command line tools page by clicking here here. You should end up at a page that looks like this

Screenshot 4931


  1. From the second section (Download the Xpdf command line tools), click on the appropriate download link to download the Windows or Mac version depending of course on which platform you are running.
  2. Open your Download folder and look for the download. 

Screenshot 4932

You should see one of the above compressed files depending on whether you downloaded the Mac or the Windows version. The version number here  (4.03) was the latest available at the time of this writing.

  1. Use your zip archiver tool to open the compressed file and uncompress it to a folder. If you don’t have an explicit archiver application, double-clicking on the compressed file will typically decompress it by default.
  2. Open the folder and you’ll see a variety of files in various sub folders.
  3. You are looking for a file called pdftopng (Mac) or pdftopng.exe (Windows)

      Screenshot 4933            Screenshot 4934

  1. Drag the executable file into a local folder on your system. It doesn’t really matter where you put it. This is the program that will actually create image files from your PDF.

Steps – Part 2 – Download and install the PDFForChordPro utilities from the Gig Performer Website

  1. Download PDFForChordPro Mac version or PDFForChordPro Windows as desired.
  2. Open the compressed zip file and put the application anywhere you like. BY convention, Mac user may prefer to put it in their Applications folder while Windows users may prefer to put it in their C:\Program Files.
  3. Double-click (or otherwise open) the application. You should see a window that looks like this: Obviously the titlebar will look slightly different if you are running on Windows.

Screenshot 4946

  1. The first thing you have to do is tell the program the location of the command line program you downloaded earlier. To do this, simply drag that command line program anywhere inside this window. Once you have done this, the application window should look like this (although obviously without the red arrow):

Screenshot 4947

Now you’re ready to start converting your PDF files.

Steps – Part 3 – Creating your image files from your PDF

  1. Optionally: change the width and height settings. If you find that the default (100) causes your images to be too large, try changing the width and height to 75)
  2. Drag a PDF into the application window
  3. Wait a while
  4. Eventually you’ll see the following message
    Screenshot 4948
  5. Now open the Song Lyrics/Chords.. window
    Screenshot 4938
  6. Click on the Edit tab

    Screenshot 4943

  7. Now just paste the contents of the clipboard directly into this window (Cmd-V on Mac, Ctrl-V on Windows). Your Window will look like this (obviously with different file names)

    Screenshot 4949

  8. Click on the View tab to see your sheet music

    Screenshot 4950

Steps – Part 4 – Tweaks

If you look closely at the ChordPro directives that were generated, you’ll notice that before each image directive, there is a songpartname directive, with increasing numbers. The songpartname is new in Gig Performer 4 (another reason to upgrade!) and when you are switching from one song part to another, the lyrics view will scroll automatically so you see the sheet music associated with the particular song part. Unless you want to name your song parts 1,2,3… you will want to change the entries for each songpartname directive in the ChordPro text file to match whatever song part names you have used in your song. 

You can of course add or insert other ChordPro directives as needed.


That’s it. While it’s not a perfect solution,  it’s a useful helper tool that will expedite your creation of ChordPro files if you are starting from PDFs.

As mentioned earlier, this tool is not officially supported but you are welcome to discuss it on the community forums

Scaling curves allow you to control the shape of the output of a widget or convert an incoming note velocity to a new velocity. Various predefined curves are available and they can be tweaked as necessary. You can also just draw your own curve as well to achieve the effect you require.


MIDI File Player Plugin

You can load up to 128 MIDI song files in a single plugin instance. Switch from one song to another, mute tracks and/or change their channel numbers. Tempo can be controlled by individual songs or you can use the global tempo and tap tempo to control the BPM interactively.


Favorites and Presets

Create a sound by placing and interconnecting your desired plugins, such as a synth, some effects and perhaps a mixer. Select them all and then save the selection as a named favorite. The favorite will subsequently show up in all plugin insert menus, making it easy for you to recreate that configuration whenever you need it again. This feature is also very powerful for creating your needed sounds on your studio computer and then transferring them to your touring laptop.


Probabilistic Sound Designer

Parameters you select in an open plugin are captured into the Probabilistic Sound Designer dialog window. When you click Randomize, you're only adjusting those selected parameters. Each entry in the PSD dialog has a curve but unlike widgets where the curve controls scaling, in the PSD the curves are used to define the probability of particular values being selected. Make sure the filter cutoff never gets too slow so as to block all sound. Perhaps adjust the max range of the VCA attack parameter so that the sound doesn't have too much delay. Constrain the octave ranges of the oscillators, perhaps ensuring that 1/3rd of the time we select 8' and 2/3rds of the time we select 4'. The possibilities are endless.


More Widgets

Numerous new widgets are included in Gig Performer - a new sustain pedal, plastic knobs, drum pads and more colored sliders. Shapes can be colored with different borders and fill colors and morphed from rectangular to circular. Your creativity is now the limit to creating fabulous front panels in Gig Performer.


MIDI Message Helper

Select MIDI devices by name. Choose the MIDI message type and adjust the appropriate parameters for the specific type



Layout management

Gig Performer supports arbitrary resizing. Layout your widgets the way you want - resize the main window and the widgets will grow or shrink as necessary to maintain the same interrelationships. No matter what size screen you have, your front panels will still be neat and usable.


Undo Support

If you move your widgets around and/or resize them, or even delete them by mistake, the Undo facility will correct your mistake. Minor moves to a widget by mistake will no longer spoil your design


Plugin Channel Count

Some plugins support a large number of outputs and they depend on the traditional channel strip to control how many ports should be available.   When you only need a stereo pair, it is convenient not to have a large horizontal block. In Gig Performer, the number of available ports  is controlled by the channel count override, which can be applied to individual plugins and will be remembered when the gigfile is reloaded or if the plugin is saved as a favorite.


Input muting and output fading

Rather than a single audio length tail, Gig Performer 4 gives you the ability to control input muting and output fading separately. Input muting controls how much time it takes for audio input to be silenced when you leave the rackspace. Output fading controls how much time will be taken for audio to fade out when you leave the rackspace.


Faster Plugin Finder

Instead of searching through menus of perhaps hundreds of plugins (you know who you are!), the Quick Plugin Finder makes it easy to find the plugin you need by simply typing partial strings. For example, as shown here, to find the Modartt Pianoteq 7 plugins, it's enough to type pia mod 7 (in any order, by the way)  to restrict the list of available plugins to those matching your query. The Quick Plugin Finder also knows about manufacturers, presets and favorites.



Touch Friendly Input

Any entry field can be changed by either dragging your mouse (or finger) up or down, or by using the large popup touchpad where you can just tap on the squares to enter a value. The large popup keypad also does validation so you can't enter an invalid value. You can also just tap the BPM field to pop up a larger view where you can quickly change tempo, tranpose, trigger Tap Tempo and enable Ableton Link, the last allowing you to synchronize Gig Performer with any other application that also supports Ableton Link.


New Tuner Display

The tuner view makes it easy for guitarists to quickly check and adjust their tuning. You can toggle into the tuner view from any other view and toggle right back as soon as you're done. All output will be silenced automatically while you're in tuning mode. You can adjust the concert reference pitch from its default of 440 Hz to suit your own needs. The tuner view fills the entire screen so you can easily see it from a distance.


GP Script Enhancements

GP Script adds new language improvements such as multiple initialization sections, initialization with declarations and enhanced callbacks. The WidgetValueChanged callback now supports multiple widgets. Sysex messages are now built-in with numerous supporting functions. String array handling is much faster. Integer bit manipulation is now built-in. A new global GigScript allows incoming MIDI messages to be modified and redirected on the fly. It also allows you to define keyboard macros for your computer keyboard to control Gig Performer itself. For complete information, please review the GP Script Language Manual available through the Help menu.



Scriptlets make creating custom MIDI processors easy. You don't have to be a programmer to use them - you can just download scriptlets from our ever-growing collection on our website and drop them right into your rackspaces to use them. Use scriptlets for simple operations such as turning your single notes into chords, modifying, duplicating or converting one kind of message into another, automatic chord latching (AutoSustain), threshold detection, sysex manipulation... imagination is the limit.


Other Improvements

  • System Actions plugin
  • MIDI Out to OSC converter
  • Comment plugin
  • New GUI dialog to define MIDI events to send on song part change
  • MIDI Out blocks can automatically send multiple MIDI events
  • Open/close a plugin editor from a widget
  • Choose default startup view
  • Quick find for plugin parameters
  • Large collection of startup hints
  • OSC Patchbay mode
  • Plugins now default to stereo I/O
  • Dragging presets into the wiring view will automatically create the required plugin
  • Numerous other minor (but nice) usability and workflow enhancements

Numerous other enhancements and optimizations serve to make Gig Performer 4 a superb platform for performing artists.


Songs and Setlists

You can organize your rackspaces into songs and your songs into setlists and then just select the setlist you need for a show. Then simply cycle down through the parts, or use your control surface or a MIDI Guitar pedal controller to select individual parts directly.


Predictive Loading

Predictive Loading™ is an advanced feature that reduces your RAM and CPU resources by only loading rackspaces (or songs) as needed.



The Global Rackspace

The Global Rackspace can receive audio from whatever rackspace is currently active. Instead of inserting effects in every rackspace, simply insert them once in the Global Rackspace and all your local rackspaces will have access to them. The Global Rackspace can also send audio to the currently active rackspace. So you can insert a looper that receives audio directly from your guitar (say) and then send the looped audio to different effects in different rackspaces. If a particular instrument such as a piano or organ is needed everywhere (or almost everywhere), put it in the Global Rackspace.



Zoomable Wiring View

Gig Performer 4 provides a virtual view allowing you to spread out your blocks and connections to make them easier to see and manage, even if you have a very small screen. You can zoom in or out and you can use the Auto-Fit option to position your blocks to fit in the available space.