Nashville Numbering System

• May 2, 2016 - 22:02

I would like to request that the Nashville Numbering System be added to the characters that are available when generating chords (Cntrl-K). I believe that this would only consist of certain characters (7,-,o,+, etc.) being able to display and print as superscripts. Or possibly just be able to specify superscript when entering a specific character.


In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I should have made this a little clearer. A typical chord in the Nashville Numbering System (NNS) might look like "57" or "5-7". However the NNS should have the "7" and the "-7" (and certain other characters) displayed as superscripts instead of simply following the size of the selected font. I am asking for the option of being able to specify specific characters within the chord symbol as superscripts while leaving the remaining characters in their standard size. I have produced scores displaying a simple "57" and the musicians getting confused by not having the superscripts and asking, what is a 57 ?

As currently implemented Musecore does not allow superscripts within the chord symbol.

In reply to by Jack Cannon

I understand, and it's a a valid request. But my point is, probably there exists a font out there that already has superscripted versions of the 7 etc. If not, one could presumably be created. Then you wouldn't need MsueScore to do the superscripting for you.

Anyhow, MuseScore *can* do the superscripting for you, if you create a customize chord description file modeled after chords_jazz.xml that is provided with the distribution. I'm not familiar enough with Nashville numbering conventions to do a good job of this myself, but if you or someone else wants to udnertake it, I'm happy to give advice on how to do the customization to achieve what you want.

One complication is that currently MuseScore expects a chord symbol to start with A-G; probably you'd need to still type the chord as "A5-7" or some such to get around that, and then have the XML file suppress actually rendering the "A". Once we have a better understanding of the requirements, we can probably tweak how chord symbols work to behave better when used for Nashville numbering.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you very much, Marc.

Let me mention that the "complication" is a mute point. I have already created several scores using the NNS. Every chord that I created started with a numeric character. So there is no need to type an A-G before the chord description. Everything appears to work fine in this area except that I cannot follow the basic chord symbol with a superscript character.

I am not familiar with chords_jazz.xml. So I am a bit loss here. It would seem to me that the easiest approach to this problem would be to have some form of a superscript button which if active would create superscripts for whatever key is depressed until the superscript button is deactivated. This would be consistent with the way that Microsoft Word works and well as other word processors.

In reply to by Jack Cannon

Yes, chord symbols will allow you to type Nashville numbers, but they won't be fully recognized as chord symbols, so the XML customization technique I mentioned might not work. Not sure, since I don't know Nashville notation well enough to try it. But that's the complication. You can type anything you want into a chord symbol, but if it isn't rdcognized as valid, most of the automatic formatting won't work.

Chord symbols are designed to not require the complication of constantly needing to manually superscript things. When you use the "Jazz" chord symbol style in Style / Chord Symbols, superscripting is *automatically* applied as necessary. So you can type C7(b9), for instace, and have the parentheses and the b9 automatically superscripted, no need to fiddle with awkward controls. chords_jazz.xml is the file that controls how this automatic formatting is done. So in principle, we just need a simialr file to handle autoamtic formatting of Nashville style.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks Again, Marc.

I took a look at chords_jazz.xml. It is a format which I am completely unfamiliar with.

You mentioned that the NNS symbols won't be fully recognized as chord symbols. Other than automatic formatting, are there other functions that will not work?

I used standard chord symbols on some of my scores and noticed that the chords are not played during playback. If automatic formatting is the only function that will not work, I cannot help but wonder if automatic formatting is worth the effort of creating an XML file when it would seem much easier and more versatile to just have a means of superscripting individual chord segments.

I am not trying to be critical of how chords are being handled, I am just trying to understand.

It would appear to me that in order to accomplish this by using an XML file, it would be necessary to find a volunteer with the following skills: 1. An understanding of XML files; 2. An understanding of how to utilize an XML file to be compliant with the requirements associated with MuseScore chords; and 3. An understanding of the Nashville Numbering System. I only have an understanding of the Nashville Numbering System. I wonder if it is realistic to expect to find such an individual that possesses these skills (or is willing to learn them).

In any event, where do we go from here?

In reply to by Jack Cannon

As I said, I could help you with the format of the file if you can provide information about Nashville numbering. Or maybe someone else familiar with both could offer to help?

Other things that don't work if a chord symbol is not recognized include transposition (not an issue for Nashville of course) and MusicXML export (not sure if there exists MusicXML for that). And yes, if chord playback were ever implemented, that would also require the chord to be recognized.

Automatic formatting is very important to most people, so yes, I do think it would be worth the trouble of creating an automatic system for Nashville.

We already *have* a superscripting system for plain text. So if you really would rather work that hard, you are wlecome to enter your Nasdhville chords that way. But it would be confusing to have automatic formatting - vitally important in msot cases - *and* manual formatting applied to the same element.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Perhaps with your help with the formatting of the file, I/we can create it.

It is important to recognize that the NNS is to a small extent a work in progress.
I am definitely familiar with all NNS notation for about 90-99% of all works.
I will have to do some research to complete the remaining small percentage.

Does it make sense to create an XML file that will accommodate almost all works and do an update later after the research is completed? If so, I am ready to start, but need your initial guidance as I am totally unfamiliar with XML files.

For your information, I do have a computer science degree and have substantial background in many languages so I feel that I can accomplish the goal as long as you do not mind baby-sitting me initially and am available to provide occasional guidance later.

In reply to by Jack Cannon


I'd say, let's start by your posting some sort of writeup (or link to a writeup elsewhere) explaining how you think the "most standard" version of Nashville notation should look. I'll do an initial attempt at an XML file to see what's easily doable currently and what might require additional program support. I'll then help you understand what else could be done to tweak the XML file more, and meanwhile investigate the possibility of implementing the necessary program support.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Okay, I will get to work on that write-up and email it to you.
I may not complete it until the end of the week.
If it is okay with you, I am planning on using Microsoft Word so that I can properly describe the superscripts.

Should we go off-line to continue this exchange?
If so, do you have access to my email address?
If you do, send me an email to get started.
If you don't, I will post my email address in this forum.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella


This is just to let you know that I am working on the document you requested. It is taking longer than I had hoped - possibly the rest of the month due to unrelated interferences. Perhaps our schedules are compatible since you mentioned that you will be busy with school for the next month anyhow.

In reply to by Jack Cannon


I haven't heard from you in several weeks.
Is the document what you requested? Any Problems?
Can you bring me up to date as to when we can start the
implementation of the Nashville Numbering System?
I am ready to go whenever your are.


In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks Marc,

It had been my earlier understanding that you wanted me to "create a customize (sic) chord description file modeled after chords_jazz.xml" which you would provide appropriate assistance to get me started on the project once you had a document giving an initial description of the Nashville Numbering System.

Apparently I was confused but that is why I created and posted the document "NNSdescription.pdf".

In any event, I look forward to providing any assistance that you may require to accomplish this objective.

Thanks Again,
Jack Cannon

In reply to by Jack Cannon

It is remotely possible that such a file would work with the current version of MuseScore, but I was really asking for was help in adding true Nashville support to a *future* version of MuseScore. I needed that document to understand what that support would require. But I can see that I did also suggest I would look to see what was already possible in MuseScore 2, so I guess that is what you are waiting on? I will indeed try to look at that when I have time. But please keep in mind I am just a volunteer here. I did also say I hoped others would contribute to the effort. If someone wants to step in and help please feel free. But do be aware, it is quite possible the answer is that there really is nothing that can be done until proper program support is added for a future release.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you for the clarification, Marc.
And yes, that is what I was waiting for.

Again, I am willing to do the bulk of the work to create an XML file
to accommodate the Nashville Numbering System.
I just need someone to explain the basics and help me get started.
If there is anyone available and willing to provide that assistance, please let us know.

It seems reasonable that if chords_jazz.xml is working and does support superscripts,
then creating "chords_NNS.xml" is a feasible objective. Other than superscripting,
the only other problem with the current version is that NNS does require that a flat
symbol (similar to "b") can the designated as the first character of the chord. While
a sharp symbol "#" works okay, a "b" is automatically converted to "B". Currently, I
am getting around this by specifying #A instead of bB. Like the absence of
superscripts, this can be confusing to the user to encounter #A within the key of F.

In reply to by Jack Cannon

The main issue I foresee is as I said before - if MuseScore doesn't recognize a chord as being valid syntax, then it won't be able to do any of the fancy formatting. It has to understand how to parse the chord to be able to do that, and the parser currently only understands standard chord symbols. So it just might not work. Again, more work, more investigation is needed to really understand that.

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