Ability to have natural sign in Chord names.

• Jan 29, 2017 - 19:10
Reported version
S5 - Suggestion


An interesting observation made in that thread - the natural sign, being unnecessary, would be lost on transposition. So it's hard to see exactly how this might work. Yet somehow it *does* seem worth supporting somehow. We might have to extend the definition of the chord symbol internally - and the way it is written to and read from the file - to include a flag specifying that natural signs should be used if needed.

Whether to display a natural sign could possibly be made a property of the staff, or even the instrument (defined in instruments.xml). The harp, for example, sometimes makes use of chord symbols, and @DanielR alerted me to the following passage in Gould's Behind Bars (p.355):

> "Each pitch is spelled with an accidental, even when this requires writing seven natural signs. (Harpists tune strings in their ♭ position and therefore, for instance, an F string does not equal F♮.)"

This seems to indicate that natural signs should always be displayed for the harp, and possibly never for most other instruments.

Right. Gould is talking specifically about harp pedal diagrams, not chord symbols or notes or anything else. Oly the pedal diagrams commonly include the naturals.

Gould is indeed talking about pedal diagrams, but sometimes pedal diagrams are displayed as a chord symbol rather than as an actual diagram of pedal positions. See "Individual pedal changes" on p.356 of Behind Bars, and for an actual example see Venus from Holst's "The Planets" (both the full score and the separate harp part use chord symbols).

Now you could ask the question whether ordinary chord symbols should be used for harp individual pedal changes, or whether MuseScore should have a separate symbol specifically for that purpose... but for the time being anyway, chord symbols appear to be the appropriate way to notate them.

What makes you call these chord symbols? They don't seem to be that at all to me; they seem to be perfectly ordinary pedal indications that would properly be entered as plain text I mean, yes, one could make the questionable choice to use chord symbols to create these, but I can't imagine any good reason to do so (if you're thinking it will make transposition "just work", I am pretty sure it actually won't, because it won't handle the half steps between E-F and B-C as you'd need it to). And I can think of a lot of good reasons not to misuse the chord symbol facility in this way:

  • no naturals
  • no ability to have multiple string changes in the same symbol (the formatting won't be correct)
  • inappropriate default placement
  • incorrect MusicXML export


In reply to by shoogle

If your talking about the Db or A natural on page 3 for example, that is directing a note change and is a courtesy compsers/editors include so the harpist knows in advance a pedal will need to be adjusted. You will notice the notes on the clefs show this. Page 43 will also help clarify this by indicating 4 pedals that need to be changed.

I know what the pedal markings are. I was indeed hoping that using chord symbols would give transposition "for free", but if that's not the case then I guess chord symbols are not appropriate after all.

Anyway, this doesn't affect my suggestion for an implementation that makes "Display naturals? Yes/No" a property of the staff / score / instrument rather than something that is set for each chord symbol individually.

In reply to by shoogle

I understand what you goal is now. The problem I see with automatic transposition of Harp pedal marks is the enharmonic nature of them. The Holst example does not well display potential problemd. I have seen several instances where, for example, there are Bb and A# pedal selections at the same time or other mixtures of flats, naturals and sharps that are necessary for certain lines of music to be played on the harp. Automatically transposing these would lead to a nightmare when they are mixed. Human intervention is required. If I were a harpist I would rather have no pedal marks than to have the computer tell me to use the A# and the Ab pedals or two Bb pedals.

Well, I was thinking aloud there about transposition, I don't have a specific case in mind where I know it wouldn't do the right thing, I just have my doubts. Maybe it will. But the other things I mentioned are still problems. The biggest is simply that it won't work from a rendering perspective - any pedal changes after the first will be rendered incorrectly ("b" not turning to flat sign, etc). You'd be reduced to entering each individually and manually adjusting their position. Of course, you'd need to do that anyhow for transposition to have any hope of working, and maybe that was you had in mind?

Anyhow, I just can't really imagine recommend misusing the chord symbol facility this way. better to invent a new facility actually designed for the purpose then to worry about how to fix that one small reason among many why chord symbols just aren't the right tool to begin with.

On the other hand, if someone wants to design and implement something, it's fine with me. Just seems effort better spent elsewhere.

Ok, so it seems there is a consensus that chord symbols are not the way to go for notating harp pedal changes.

However, the original feature request had nothing to do with the harp; it was simply to have a way to enter a natural sign in a chord symbol - no matter what instrument the chord symbol is applied to (somebody in one of the linked threads wanted to have natural signs in their lead sheets, for example). As it happens, this is already possible by entering the literal string "natural" (e.g. "Anatural" becomes "A♮"); the issue is that the natural doesn't behave properly on transposition.

If you transpose down a minor second it becomes "G♯♮". Obviously we need to get rid of the natural, but the problem then is what would happen when you transpose back up again. If you transpose "G♯" up a minor second you will be left with "A"; MuseScore wouldn't know that the chord symbol originally contained a natural sign.

My idea was to make "Display naturals in chord symbols? Yes/No" a property of the score (maybe as a style option) or a property of the staff or instrument. It could even be a property of chord symbol itself (i.e. an option in the Inspector) but it would be a pain to set each one individually, so I think a global score/staff/instrument option is better.

This is entirely separate to the harp. I just used the harp as an example, which turned out to be false, but there are other examples in the other threads of situations where people wanted natural signs in chord symbols. Assuming these other use cases are "legitimate", there needs to be a way to preserve natural signs on transposition to a non-natural key signature and back again.