Repeat Chord Sign

• May 18, 2018 - 14:15

I have a score with repeated chords in certain bars and the "Repeat measure sign (repeat chord sign)" isn't working. What am I doing wrong? Thanks.


It would not be usual to use the "repeat measure" sign to mean "repeat chord" - the previous chord is always assumed to remain in effect until the next chord appears, so anything you put in there to say "just keep playing the chord exactly as you would have if this symbol weren't there" is redundant and likely confusing to many musicians. But if you have some special reason to want to use that symbol anyhow, just add it from the Symbols palette (press "Z" to display).

In reply to by FloripaGuitar

Which is indeed why no one uses it :-). Or at least, hardly anyone does, certainly no major publishers I am familiar with. So the vast majority of musicians are not accustomed to seeing it, which is why I said it is likely to confuse people. But if you know for certain the people who will be reading your score are accustomed to reading music that uses this unconventional notation, then indeed, it would probably best to continue using it for their sake.

So again, if you want to use that symbol. simply add it from the Symbols palette. Select the note or rest above which you want the symbol to appear, press "Z" to display the palette, search for "repeat", double click the symbol, close the window, now position the symbol however you like. You could also add it as text (eg, staff text, by pressing Ctrl+T) then pressing F2 to display the Special Characters palette.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I've been analyzing various fakebook charts recently, and noticed this use of the repeat symbol for a chord in a few Sher Music Co. charts (for example, their chart of "I've Got the World on a String"). I haven't noticed it in charts by larger publishing houses, or, indeed, in the majority of Sher charts.

As an aside, it's interesting how much variation in style there is in the Sher charts, which at a glance all seem to conform to the same house style. When you start looking closely, you can see there isn't a rigid stylebook for the nitty-gritty details.

In reply to by N_Bardot

Indeed, although of course many details are remarkably consistent. Similar story on the Hal Leonard "Real Book" series. In both cases, there are style guides, but a) sometimes exceptions need to be made, and b) sometimes people make mistakes :-).

With regard to the repeat sign in chord symbols, in my experience it is used primarily not as a substitute for a single chord but to mean the same thing it means for the measure itself - repeat the whole thing. So, I see it not to so much indicate repetition of a single chord from the previous measure, but to indicate that the entire sequence of chords in the previous measure repeats. Typical if the passage contains a series of quick ii-V's, for instance.

Also it is worth nothing the iReal Pro insists on the repeat sign rather than an empty measure, - otherwise you get no playback :-).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

That's an interesting point about repeating the entire measure sequence rather than the last displayed chord. Thanks for sharing that. For my own charts, I'm thinking it's best to avoid the ambiguity. But I'm in learning mode, so maybe someone will convince me the repeat sign is a best practice.

I do like the Sher charts a lot, btw, and didn't mean my previous comment to come across as a criticism of what is currently my favorite source of fakebook charts. It was more to illustrate that once you start making charts yourself, you get an awareness of some of the little challenges one faces when doing even the most simple type of score.

In reply to by N_Bardot

Not to worry, I didn't see it as a criticism at all :-).

Moderately interesting story here:

I was a student at UC Berkeley when Chuck (who taught private lessons there) was working on the first volume of the "New Real Book" series. The charts were being copied by hand by a fellow student and friend, Ann Krinitsky, although . I got to proof a few of the charts, and recall catching a typo, I think it was "My Attorney Bernie". So I did have some small insight into their processes.

Then years later, when the first volume of the Hal Leonard "Real Book Sixth Edition" came out, I posted the first in-depth review of it, and literally the next day they called me up out of the blue and hired me as a transcriber and proofreader/editor for that series. So I got very familiar with their processes :-)

Then, years later again, one of the first things I did for MuseScore was work on the MuseJazz font, which is based on the style used in the New Real Book. Most of the work was already done before I came on board, but I did create a few of the glyphs. So I kind of came full circle, leveraging some of Ann's work again.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I was just looking at the first (I think) Sher book, 'The World's Greatest Fakebook' from 1983, and instantly recognized the calligraphy for the chord symbols as the source of the MuseJazz font. Then I remembered this post. That one gives Michael Smolens the credit for the calligraphy, and then the 1988 New Real Book 1 gives Smolens and Krinitsky joint credit, and Ann thanks Michael for training her. So do we have Michael Smolens to thank for the MuseJazz font? That 1983 fakebook looks to be completely hand-drafted, for the notes and chord symbols. Each of those pages must have taken an amazing amount of labor to get into final form, just in terms of the inking of the page.

In reply to by FloripaGuitar

I totally agree too. I'm so surprised so many people are having a hard time even understanding your question. We are looking for a "Repeat Chord Sign" which looks exactly like "repeat measure sign" (which btw we already know what it is) but used in the place where you write chords, not replacing the whole bar. Well for some people who are mad about wanting that sign and has to pull up their musical background to support their theory of "No one uses it" just ... c'mon. We all live in different communities. In my community, musicians will request if the chord space is empty above a note-filled bar. They would tell me to please put that "REPEAT CHORD SIGN" in the chart.

I get that there is no such function in musescore yet, but what's the use of condescending people who use it??

In reply to by Bella Junghwee Ryoo

No one is mad about anything or criticizing anyone here. We have simply been trying to help people by informing them about how music is normally published, and also about how to achieve the desired results in case you wish to deviate from the published norms.

To be perfectly clear: as I have explained a couple of times above, you can add that symbol to your chart if you want, just as you would add any other symbol, by using the symbols palette, or ordinary staff text and the Special Characters palette (press F2 to display it).

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Correct. This isn't a true chord symbol - won't need to transpose, export to MusicXML, etc, but merely an indication you can add to your score, so best to add it like other indications. We could in the future certainly considering special case more non-chord symbols (current we have some allowance for "N.C."), but meanwhile, it's easy enough to add this symbol as any other.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

It should potentially have different position, in the few published scores I see that use this symbol, it is positioned differently. But you are welcome to assign it the Chord Symbol style. And you can add it to a custom palette that way, or with other custom formatting.

Meanwhile, indeed, for playback purposes, it would help if there were native support for this, so I do like the idea of special-casing it, and perhaps using "%" as the shorthand to enter it.

In reply to by xavierjazz

xavierjazz, you are too agreeable or you didn't understand the way I did. The last one you agreed with says the % in the chord means to repeat all of the chords in the last measure while you previously said it means to repeat only the last chord. I do realize there are different ideas about the same symbol, MuseScore needs to make a decision if the symbol is going to be included in the chord symbols and how they affect playback.

I don't usually use chord symbols and would never use % in a chord symbol because it isn't universally agreed what it means. Programmers need to make one decision if it's going to be included in chord symbols, so the user can know what to expect for playback and make a decision on what to do with the symbol based upon what MuseScore does.

In reply to by mike320

I see regularly % used after chord in the same measure: | Am % Dm % | E % Am % |
Or when there is one chord by measure:
| Am | % | G | F | G | % | Am | % |
But in measure following a measure with several chords as here discussed, I agree there is ambiguity.
Not clear for me if
| D A | % | means | D A | A A | or | D A | D A |
I would have to look at the melody to decide...

In reply to by frfancha

This is a measure repeat symbol.
It therefore requires the exact repetition of the chords of the previous measure.

When writing a chordsheet for the guitar: Use the "/" icon to repeat the previous chord (stroke display).
| Am / Dm / | E / Am / |
| Am / Dm / | / / Am / |
| Am / Dm / | / / / Am |

In reply to by mike320

I never specifically said that only the previous chord should be selected. My experience is that when that sign is used to refer to chords, it is used only to repeat the previous full bar.

As a matter of fact, I have seen it used, whether in or on the bar, to signify that the previous bar be repeated.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Well, I learn something new on this forum all the time. In over 50 years of playing guitar in all kinds of groups, many kinds of music, I have never seen a %. I wouldn't have had the slightest idea what it meant. Personally, I don't see the need for it, but that's just me. If there must be something over a measure, why not just write the chord symbol again? That way anyone who ever reads the music will have no doubt as to what to play.
Anyway, thanks. If I see one now I'll know what it means.

Long conversation trying to justify the use of the ٪ symbol...
Anyway, when I need the ٪ sign, I simply copy it from Word and paste it where needed. It would be nice to get this exact same symbol (٪) in an easy way though.
I know that it's available in Musescore, but I always struggle to remember where... so this easy copy/paste from Word method does the trick ;-)

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