[Request] Centre-Align Chords: 1) Without AP, 2) Like Lyrics

• Feb 9, 2019 - 19:32


I'm making a feature request / opening a discussion regarding chord-symbol centre alignment. I think there's 2 issues at hand, as follows, which I've outlined below.
- Auto-placement with centre-aligned chords
- Left-aligned chords don't act like lyrics do

I've had a look around the forums and these are the closest related topics I could find:
https://musescore.org/en/node/10355 (left-aligned chords by default)
https://musescore.org/en/node/17190 (first lyric of melisma left-aligned)
https://musescore.org/en/node/19586 (left-aligned chords by default)

Auto-Placement Issue

Personally, I prefer the centred look for chord symbols. But since MuseScore 3, auto-placement forces a space between the initial barline and the first note (presumably so that the chord doesn't extend into the bar before / after it). And I feel this rules out the centred option for me, as I try to squeeze as much in to my lead sheets as I can, and this adds a sizeable gap for each chord beginning a bar. I note this wasn't an issue in MuseScore 2. Naturally, the workaround is to disable auto-placement (which would function like MS2); however, I prefer it enabled: it means the chord symbol doesn't overlap with any other elements. Could I request an option that auto-placement not force chords to stay within their own bar?
I have attached 3 relevant images:
1) left-aligned Fma7sus2 chord (in red) leaving a negligible gap (green) in MuseScore 3
2) centre-aligned Fma7sus2 chord (in red) leaving a sizeable gap (green) in MuseScore 3
3) centre-aligned Fma7sus2 chord (in red) leaving a negligible gap (green) in MuseScore 2

Left-Aligned Chords Issue

With lyrics, syllables nicely centre align, even when alignment is set to 'left'; and they dynamically change to left-align when it begins a melisma. However, with left-aligned chords, they are (more predictably) always left-aligned. This causes a visual disjuncture between lyrics and chords when they are both technically set to left-align, but the lyrics will display as centre-aligned without a melisma. I note this feature was not present in MuseScore 2. Could I request an option that chords follow the alignment of the lyrics below them, so that when a lyric is left-aligned (eg beginning a melisma), it follows suit, and when a lyric is centre-aligned (even when the Text Style says it's left-aligned), the chord also conforms?
I have attached 3 relevant images (NB the lyrics in the 2 images are set to 'left-align' in Text Style settings, but appear as centre-aligned, as explained above):
1) left-aligned Dmi7 chord (in red) mis-aligned with centre-aligned lyrics (green)
2) centre-aligned Dmi7 chord (in red) correctly aligned with centre-aligned lyrics (green)

Thus, pairing the 2 issues:
I can choose to left-align the chords -- but this isn't my preferred appearance for the chord symbols and there's the mis-alignment with the lyrics below.
Or I can choose to centre-align -- but this creates a sizeable gap between after the barline due to auto-placement, currently requiring a non-ideal, manual workaround.

Hope this makes sense. Sorry if I've failed to spot features / discussions that already exist.

Kind regards,

Attachment Size
left F MS3.jpg 88.01 KB
centre F MS3.jpg 91.33 KB
centre F MS2.jpg 126.14 KB
left D.jpg 75.21 KB
centre D.jpg 83.38 KB


An implementation issue with having centered chords overlap the bar would be possible collisions with content in the previous measure, but I agree it would be nice to eventually sort that out.

Regarding the second request, can you point to any published music or engraving guidelines that use this convention. I can't say I've ever seen such a thing. Meanwhile, you can get that effect by manually changing the alignment, which seems to me to be sufficient for something that isn't an established convention.

In reply to by Graham Dickins

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If others are going to read your music, it is worthwhile to just stick with the conventions that everyone is accustomed to, in order to avoid confusion. So, I would leave chords at the default left-aligned (unless you have fret-diagrams, in which case they should indeed be centered), and not play games with changing alignment according to lyrics. Inconsistent alignment is just going to cause confusion.

The main reason chord symbols should normally be left-aligned, btw, is to make it clear to which note they apply in cases where chord symbol is longer than just character or two and the spacing is tight. Like a string of eighth notes and on the third one the chord changes to Cmaj7#11. You don't want the left edge of the chord symbol to overlap the previous note. That's why music is normally published that way. Again, unless fret diagrams are present, as these can be centered more reliably and provide the "anchor" to clarify the position of the chord symbol.

If your music is always widely spaced and you never use complex chords, then centering won't present a problem, but still, I'd recommend keeping it consistent, otherwise it becomes confusing.

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