chordname naughtyness

• Nov 12, 2011 - 18:29

Using MuseScore 1.1 and the jazzleadsheet template under WinXP/SP3, I've written a leadsheet with melody and chords. The global preferences under Style-->Edit Text Styles-->Chordname are set to MuseJazz @ 15 pt. Regardless of that setting, when first entering chords the font defaults to MuseJazz @ 17.06 pt.

As I need room above the systems for chordnames and extra text above that (alternate chords at a smaller point value, entered by selecting a note or beat and pressing CTRL+SHIFT+T), I've manually adjusted the font size of each primary chord symbol to 15 pt.

This works pretty well, but dominant 7th chords always display at 17.06 pt. These chords are rendered in a special way, as the "7" becomes a semi-superscript at a slightly smaller point size. I can force these chords to display at 15 pt. with no special rendering for the purposes of the current MuseScore session, but after saving and reopening the file (as .mscz or .mscx) the dominant 7ths will display and print at 17.06 pt with superscript.

How can I exert more control over chordnames? It seems that the chordname preferences I've defined aren't being applied, and even after manually resetting font sizes some chordnames ignore my instructions, instead adhering to a hidden, non-adjustable definition.

Has anyone else encountered this? Is there a fix?


Font sizes of text elements are always scaled according to the space setting in Layout->Page settings. The nominal default value is, I believe, 1.746mm, and that's about right for classical music, but most jazz publishers use a rather larger space setting. I went with 2.00mm in the Jazz Lead Sheet template, which means that the sizes of all text elements - including chord symbols - will be scaled upwards accordingly. That's why the value of 15pt in the text style ends up turning into 17.06.

I don't know what you mean when you say you've manually adjusted the size of each chord to 15, as most ways doing what I think you might be saying don't actually work. That is what you are seeing with the dominant seventh chords. The way to change the chord symbol size would be to update the text style then save and reload the score. A value of 13pt in the text style will result in a scaled size of just under 15pt, if that's what you would like. You can also change the Y value, which controls the default height of the chords. Again, these changes will be applied on reload.

As for what you are describing with dominant sevenths being rendered "specially", you should be seeing that with *all* chords if you are doing it correctly. Only chords that are unrecognized would be left as is. So if you are seeing any chords *not* being processed in this way, it means MuseScore doesn't recognize them, and therefore won't be able to do things like convert "b" to the flat sign, or transpose the chords, or export them to MusicXML. You don't want that - you want to enter chords MuseScore recognizes. I'm guessing maybe you are using "Real Book" style abbreviations for major and minor, or other abbreviations, rather than the Brandt-Roemer standard "New Real Book" style abbreviations ("ma" and "mi") MuseScoire expects by default. If you check out the section on chord entry in the Handbook, you'll see there is a setting you can make to switch to Real Book style chords, and a couple of other options as well.

I think you'll find there is no way to get alternate chords to be smaller than the default - at least, not if you want the chords to actually be recognized as chords. If anyone knows of a way to get recognized chords to display at different font sizes within one score, I'd be interested to hear.

As for system text (Ctrl-Shift-T), yeah, it's a drag that the default Y position settings collide with chord symbols by default in the Jazz Lead Sheet template. But the alternative was to make the defaults for one or the other unreasonably high in the cases where you don't have collisions, which I judged to be worse. So if you wish to use system text in conjunction with a chord symbol, you'll have to drag one or the other or both, unless you wish to adjust the default Y value in the text style.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply and the tips on how to (properly) nudge chordname font size.

You're right, I'm up to something non-standard here. The chart in question, attached as a pdf, is for human interpreters. This is a study of chord substitutions with variable levels of complexity in the harmony and passing tones. To do that I needed two lines of chords over every system: the top line (small font in Red) is close to the minimum harmony required to support the melody while the lower line (large font in Black) is more complex. Many chords and extensions (flat fives, etc.) are shown in parentheses. This indicates their optional status. In the case of chord extensions, sequential sets of parentheses are presented in order of their importance to the melody.

My mission was to present the musician with options that can be applied at will, rather than stating a strict interpretation.

So XML et. al. didn't enter into my planning or needs. Instead I needed space to present extra info above the standard chordnames so I dinked around with the font sizes. For those few chords that were parsed by the chordname function, I ended up having to do the following to get them to display at the point size I desired (you'll laugh, or cry):

double click chordname text and press CTRL+A
change font to anything other than MuseJazz and then back again
click out of chord text area to deselect
REM: after deselection, the chord returns to its predefined font size
left click chord text to select (CTRL-click for multiple instances)
right-click selected text and choose "Text Properties" from sub-menu
set desired font size in Text Properties window and click OK
save file as .pdf

As you said, this doesn't actually work. Upon saving and reopening the .msc? file, the chordnames just tweaked will be back to their original sizes, hence the .pdf.

In this case I'm using your beautiful program as a word processor and not as a musical interpreter. Since midi playback isn't important, it looks like I should've used CTRL+SHIFT+T and CTRL+M for my two lines of chords.

This is some seriously nice code. I'll kick down some dosh when my checkbook fattens up. You rock!!!

Best regards,

Attachment Size
Manhã de Carnaval.pdf 37.57 KB

In reply to by zzwerzy

What you're wanting to do makes perfect sense; it's just that MuseScore doesn't really support all of it right now. Still, it's possible to improve on the results you are seeing.

First, I'd still suggest you are much better off getting the main chords to be recognized as such. otherwise, you are stuck with uglinesses such as the pound sign instead of a sharp sign, and a small "b" instead of a flat sign. In pretty mich all cases, the formatting applied upon recognition results in the chord symbol taking up less space as well, thus allowing you to create denser harmonizations with fewer collisions. And of course, you never really know if for some reason you might want to transpose any of your examples for any reason.

Since it seems like you will need a large repertoire of regular sized chord symbols and a smaller repertoire of smaller sized chords. If this is something you see yourslf doing a lot, I would consider creating a customized chord description file (cchords_muse.xml, etc). If you check put the headers toward the top, you'll see instruction for customizing to get the specific symbols you want. Looks like you use parens for alterations, the classical circle-with-slash for half-diminished, trianlge for major, "m" for minor, etc - all of these effects can be pbtained with just a couple of tweaks to that file. Then use could use ordinary staff text for the small chord symbols, or define new chord id's for just he few generic chord types you want, complete with instructions on how to parse them (like maybe C7s to create a small C7). Could be a big time win in the long run, but not worth it for a one-off.

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