Chord Symbols are frustrating for jazz

• Aug 10, 2019 - 16:54

(Musescore is amazing!!)

I'm frustrated with the chord symbol entry. For a lot of jazz the chord progression is fixed and will be the same amount of chords and numbers of measures per tune for as many choruses that are played.

As far as I can figure, musescore doesn't have a way to fix the chords so they are always separate from the notes. For instance, I might want to copy and past notes from a section and copy them into a different section (under a different chord symbol) but not want to modify the chord progression in any way. To do that I need to deselect the chord symbol, which is both cumbersome, confusing and unnecessary. It seems like a common sense feature to be able to enter a chord progression over X number of measures and then fix it in place and make the default setting that it is fixed (and then have the option to modify an individual chord here and there are needed) vs the way it works now where the chords are always a modifiable part of the score.

Unless I'm missing something.

Thanks
Paul


Comments

Additionally the select feature is really confusing as to how to deselect the chord voicing. I'm trying to copy a line of rests and going to select -> more -> select element type "rests" and then replace selection seems like it should select only the rests, but when I return and copy and paste the rests it still takes the chord symbol with it.

In reply to by Shoichi

I have not but the function keys on my laptop are pretty frustrating to use and the point remains...it would be really nice not to have to deselect something I didn't want to select in the first place.

Worst case you should be able to select a measure and then control click on the elements you want to deselect...isn't that normal selecting behavior?

Thanks

To copy chord symbols to the same beats and the same chords,

select a section of music (click the first measure then shift+click the last measure).

Right click a chord symbol and choose Select>all similar items in range selection

press ctrl+c to copy the chords

Select the first beat of the measure where you want to paste the chords and press ctrl+v

The chords will now be on the same beat as they were in the original location. As you enter notes, you will see (for example) that a chord on the third beat of the second measure in the original selection will now be on the third beat of the second measure in the new selection. If you want a visual reference without entering notes you can use the fill with slashes option and it will resemble what a soloist will see in a normal Jazz piece.

To get rid of all this, you can: Just add a separate instrument, and write chords here.
Thus, the melody and chords will be independent of each other.
When you're done, And if you want to: just select the chords and paste them wherever you want.

It's not really clear what you mean about "fixing" the chords. Are you saying you have, say, 32 bars of chords, but only 16 bars of melody, and you want to copy the first 16 bars of melody to the second half of the piece but not overwrite the existing chords there? This is indeed what the Selection Filter solves in just a couple of clicks. note however that what you are describing wouldn't happen if you simply waited until you were done with the note input in a section before entering the chords.

If you mean something else, than please attach your score and describe in more detail what you are trying to do, so we can understand and assist better.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc and everyone

Thanks for the responses.

Marc, by "fixing" the chords I mean fixing them in place. If you take a tune like Autumn Leaves, you have a 32 bar tune, you're probably not going to want to change the chord progression (you might want to add an intro or outro or tag, but generally it's going to be repetitions of the 32 bars. The default currently seems to be that if you copy a bar of music, wanting to copy the notes, you take the chord symbols with you and paste the in the new area.

The chords are just there...they don't move or need to move.

It's better with the selection filter so that was helpful but ultimately an option to "fix" the chords in place so they don't get picked up in the first place would make more sense.

Anyway, thanks

In reply to by sully75

What I'm not understanding is why you wouldn't want to copy the chords with the notes. Are you going out of your way to enter all the chords first, then going back and entering notes, and then trying to use copy & paste? That seems a very inefficient way of doing things. Why not enter those first eight bars with melody and chords together, then copy and paste - so you only have to enter the notes and chords once, and don't need to do anything special to "fix" the chords? That's what I'm having trouble understanding. I can't tell you how many hundreds of jazz charts I've created with MuseScore over the years and the process is incredibly efficient, and I barely ever need to use the filter.

Maybe if you attached a score and explained in more detail what you are trying to do that causes you to think you need to do something special to "fix" the chords, it might help me understand better, and then I could explain better how to do things more efficiently.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc,

This is an example of something I've been doing. Writing exercises on a chord progression.

Things that are pretty awkward with musescore (made better with the selection filter but still sort of awkward).

Copy a sequence of notes and copy them into a different chord progression and then transpose them (the initial chord symbol comes along by default).

In this example, copy a series of triplet rests so I don't have to continually enter the triplets (the chord symbols come and overwrite the existing chords).

There's literally no reason in doing these examples that I want the chord symbols to change in the chart. I just want them to stay there. I could write 100 pages here and not want to change the chord symbols. But by default any time I select something it pulls the chord symbol. Doesn't make sense to me.

Same with writing out solos. I might want to take a piece from one part and move and/or transpose it to a different progression. I definitely don't want to move the chord symbols. I'd like the option to modify the chord symbols but definitely want the structure to remain there.

I don't see any advantage to the way it is now, as long as we're talking about regular chord progressions.

but yes with the selection filter it is doable. But by default, I screwed around for quite a while trying to figure out how to deselect the chord symbols and it was pretty frustrating.

Generally, the program is amazing and thanks for your work.

Thanks
Paul

In reply to by sully75

OK, so you're specifically talking about a quite unusual case - not jazz charts in general, but writing a series of exercises over a given chord progression. In that case, I'd still say, why bother writing in the chord progression in the destination first, why not just let the chords copy with the notes. So I'm still confused. You attached a backup file rather than the actual score (actual score doesn't start with period or end with comma), so I can't see exactly what you are. But what I see right now seems to be a bunch of work you didn't need to do. Had you just started with the original 32 bars, then entered the notes for the exercise, then copied an pasted both together, again, you'd be happy the chords came along. So as far as I can, it was the fact that for some reaosn you started out with multiple copies of the chord progression that is your problem, so just don't do that and your problem is solved. Maybe I'm still missing something, and the actual score would make it clearer, but it still seems to me you're taking the "scenic route" to something that should be dead simple. Again, deselecting chord symbols with the selection filter is possible and takes only a few clicks, but really, in the hundreds of charts I have produced - included many educational exercises - involving probably thousands of copy/paste operations - I've probably found the need to use the filter for this maybe half a dozen times. So I'm still just not getting why you are entering the chords into the destination first - it seems to be a completely unnecessary step for the case at hand.

In reply to by sully75

Hmmm...Seems pretty intuitive to me that having the chords above the measure you're on while you're writing notes is a helpful recall for figuring out where you are. I mean otherwise you're just writing into measures and having to keep track in your head where you are?

I mean if I was writing on a piece of paper a solo or an exercise I'd just write the chords down first? It's not like I'm composing a new progression, the chords are going to be there. Makes total sense to me to have the chord symbols in place to reference the form of the song.

Here's the score:

In reply to by sully75

I think you are misunderstanding me. Sure, put the first chorus of chords in - the ones you intend to actual entering your melody into. But then stop - don't keep entering chords onto the second chorus. That's just a waste of time, because the chords are going to come along for free when you copy the notes.

So in your case, first enter the chords for 1-8, then copy them to 9-16, then enter the chords for 17-32, then stop. Now go back and enter the notes for 1-32. Then copy and paste 1-32 to 33-64 - which at this point are still completely empty.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

No I get that. The chord entry feature is efficient enough. That's not my issue.

I might want to copy the notes from measure one and then paste them into measure two. But if I do it takes the chord symbol from measure one and copies it into measure two. I.e. if I did that repeatedly the whole piece would be Bb-7.

I just don't see any reason that the chords need to be attached to the notes. For this kind of a chart, the chords are an immovable 32 bar block. There's not going to be a reason where I want to move them around, or paste chords from one place into another (once I've entered them). I want the option to edit them, certainly, but after their entered, it's unlikely that I'm going to want to edit them.

Anyway, the selection filter works decently, but I don't see why the default behavior is that if you select notes the chords come with the notes. For me it's been continually annoying and doesn't really make sense, at least in a jazz standard progression.

In reply to by sully75

Because people copy entire eight bar or 32 bar passages with notes and chords together a hundred of times a week, and they copy a single measure written over one chord to a completely different chord within the same tune six times in their lives? :-)

Seriously, I'm still having trouble understanding what your actual use case is here that has you entering a melody into bar 1 and then reusing the same melody over the different chord in bar 2. But indeed, whatever that use case is, the selection filter will be the way to go. And if this is something you do often, just leave it set up that way - the setting sticks for the session. So it's simple enough even for that highly unusual scenario.

But again, think about common cases like creating an actual lead sheet, 32-bar AABA tune. You enter the first eight bars, melody & chords together (I generally do melody then chords, but the other way around works too). Now that you have eighth bars with melody and chords, and 24 empty bars, you can copy those eight bars to the next 8, then again to the last eight. This is what I mean about doing this a hundred times a week - it happens several times in almost every chart I ever do, and I do lots of charts. It's only a handful in a lead sheet, but make it a big band arrangement, now maybe I'm doing this same operation a hundred times just in that one chart (copying, say, the piano part with notes and chords from letter A to letter B, letter D, E, F, H, etc, then the same for the guitar and bass parts, any solo parts, etc).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Well I've had this issue about 800 times over the last 6 months and it's been continually annoying. I'm not belittling anyone else's use of the program. It seems clunky to me and not only in this scenario. I might want to copy a section of melody from one place to another and not superimpose the chords that come with the melody. That seems like not a hugely weird idea.

It would be easy enough if you could control click elements of your selection to deselect them, but that doesn't seem to work.

For instance: a 12 bar blues. You write out the chord progression, you have a four bar melody you want to copy and paste into the second four bars. You copy the melody and it superimposes the chords on top of the second four bars.

This continues to make zero sense to me but regardless I guess this isn't getting anywhere. Thanks for your work.

All the best
Paul

In reply to by sully75

If copying chord symbols is the exception for you then open the selection filter (F6) and uncheck chord symbols. You can then check chord symbols only when you actually want to copy them. I don't think the filter selection options are persistent between sessions, so you may need to do this every time you open MuseScore, but this is a minor inconvenience compared to the chord symbols copying when you don't want them.

In reply to by sully75

I tried to explain the very common situation where it makes sense: you enter eight bars of melody & chords for the first A section of an AABA tune, then you want to copy both to the second and last A. Did I somehow not make that clear? It seems pretty obvious to me this is something most people who create jazz charts would do often.

No doubt there are special cases where you don't want to copy the chords, and that's why the filter exists, so everyone is happy.

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

Zia I'm studying a bit with a student of Charlie Banacos and writing out exercises.

I made a video here demonstrating another scenario where this is very annoying. Transcribing multiple choruses of a tune with a set chord progression. I want to copy a sequence from one chord to another and then transpose it. Without going into the selection menu and deselecting everything, I can't copy these notes without taking the chord symbol. I can't control click the chord symbol to deselect it (which would be pretty standard editing behavior on pretty much any sort of AV program I can think of). So I'm forced to copy the sequence with the chord symbol BUT when I transpose the sequence the chord symbol does not transpose with the sequence.

Continues to make no sense to me at all. Does not seem consistent with normal editing methods, particularly since I can't at least control click the symbol to deselect it.

Anyway this seems to have gotten kind of heated and personal so I let it be for a while and don't really feel like it's worth hashing out any more, but it still remains pretty weird to me that you can't just fix your chords in place and remove them from the selection process if you wanted to. And/or why control click doesn't work to deselect elements you don't want to copy.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Q5VIuGqNXASr83MOxrmXZrJMYT30YgB0/view?…

In reply to by sully75

The video helps clarify a few things, but I'm still confused by some of what you're doing. I can hopefully still help.

For one thing, a range selection does by default include chord symbols, but if you want to exclude them, that is what the Select Filter is for.

Also, the Up/Down keys are not "transposing" per se, they are simply changing pitch of the notes themsevles. To fully transpose, use Notes / Transpose. Then chord symbols come along too.

What still not clear is exactly why you are trying to copy notes that already have chords on them, then transpose the notes and chords. I'm struggling to think of the real world use case for this. But to be clear: if you want the chords transposed, use the transpose command if you don't want the chord copied, use the selection filter. But again, if the goal is multiple choruses of a solo, then you shouldn't normally want either of those things. You normally do want the chords copied (since they are the same) and don't want them copied if you use the change pitch commands on the notes. So I'm still at a loss to see how you are actually using this in a way that causes you to commonly need to do the things I am explaining how to do.

BTW, the reason Ctrl+click doesn't deselect things is that this is a "range" selection, which is by definition all elements in the range. Try range-selecting a paragraph in your favorite text editor then Ctrl+clicking a single word to deselect it and it's pretty much the same.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Mark,

I've found this issue for several years using musescore to transcribe and while I 100% understand what you are suggesting, I am just pointing out that for my purposes this editing behavior is really clunky.

Mostly I'm working on transcriptions or composing of fairly intricate melodic stuff on a strictly static chord progression. If I'm transcribing a guitar solo and the guitar player uses the same voicing or a sequence going down in half steps or whole steps, it's a lot faster to copy the sequence (and possibly modify it) for the next chord than it is to manually enter it (obviously).

But zero percent of the time do I want to move the chord progression. Essentially the chord progression is fixed entirely. (For the record, I am not suggesting that the chords should be transposed, just that it's annoying if they are locked in the selection that they are not transposed. I don't want them to be transposed as much as it's just really annoying that they are selected)

Again, I get how I can deselect what's selected with the selection menu. It's pretty clunky to have to do that though when I never wanted to select the chords in the first place. And I think control-click to deselect things seems to make perfect sense.

I think a better example might be photoshop or something similar and while it's been a long time since I've used it I think control click does work to deselect what's selected. And I guess I understand you're saying that's not how the selection process in musescore works, I'm just pointing out that for me, at least, it's pretty clunky and fairly non-sensical. I don't think my purposes are that unusual.

I think you are still missing something here though: I have made the chord progression and copied it to multiple choruses of the tune prior to putting down any notes. It's written. I don't need to copy it because it's already there. I don't want to copy it, select it, move it, modify it. All I want to do is have a free space to edit notes. The chords are my reference to what I'm putting in each measure.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I guess it's probably not worth hashing out at this point but I wanted to document the issue. After having this happen about 1000 times, it is pretty annoying.

Best
Paul

In reply to by sully75

Here's another example of where this is annoying. While transcribing if I haven't gotten the rhythm perfect while getting the notes down, cutting and copying the notes and moving them forward or back takes the chord symbol with it. (I was trying to figure out why I had two Eb chord symbols in that measure but then realized that I had inadvertently copied the first Eb when I copied the chord from beat one).

Again, I 100% get that there is a selection menu. It's just that out of the box this seems pretty clunky. Perhaps I'm the only user in the world that this is annoying to but it's somewhat maddening and I don't really get why it's not possible to at very least deselect the chord with a control click or just modify the behavior of the chord symbols so that they are fixed unless you specifically go to edit one of them.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hqd7hkNOZBmCQ-xHM1WrgHdtySCvYO-X/view?…

In reply to by sully75

I'm still having trouble understanding because your methods are so vastly different from mine, but I think maybe I'm starting to catch on.

It seems maybe you aren't talking about copying and pasting from one chorus of a solo to another (in which case you absolutely do want the chords copied), but simply, copying individual licks within the solo, because maybe the soloist played a sequence?

If so, then the solution is extraordinarily simple, As I said, uncheck chord symbols from the selection filter, and leave the unchecked. Once you have set up your chord progression, you are completely done ever copying chords as part of a range selection for that score, so just leave chord symbols unselected. Now you can copy licks and sequence them all you want. So, you don't do it 1000 times, you do it once.

Having to Ctrl+click the chord symbol each and every time you want to copy notes without chords - now that would be clunky. The selection filter far more efficient, because again, it's once and done.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Mark,

Yes that's what I've been saying this whole time. And also, yes I get that the selection filter is there, as I've said repeatedly. I'm also saying that it is pretty clunky to have to use it to do what seems like pretty basic behavior. And also it seems to reset itself every time I start the program and It just seems like it would be better to have the selection be generally exclusive vs inclusive. It just takes everything and you have to modify the filter to deselect things you didn't want to select in the first place. It prioritizes bulk work over fine work.

Control click to add or subtract from the selection seems like a great way to work and works great in other applications. I'm just trying to point out that the selection process, particularly with chord symbols, is really clunky, mostly because it's totally inclusive and you need to go to a separate menu to exclude things.

To me, at least, the clear solution would be to make it easy to select whatever the individual thing you want to copy is, and add to that selection.

I'm not trying to get suggestions on how to work as I get what has been suggested. I'm saying that it seems like a weird prioritization of work styles to me.

Anyway, thanks for your time.

In reply to by sully75

Because additionally, yes, sometimes I might want to copy the chord symbols. So then I have to go to the selection menu to select the chord symbols again. How about I can select the notes and then control click the chord symbols and they are selected? What is the advantage of having a selection filter?

Control click would mean you could work your method, select the melody and then control click one chord symbol and also select the accompanying chord symbols, and I could select the melody and not control the chord symbols and boom, everyone is happy.

In reply to by sully75

Well, your initial posts weren't really clear about what you were copying, and the PDF you posted showed multiple choruses, which is how I got the impression you were talking about copying from one chorus to the same spot in one chorus. Anyhow, I take we are understanding each other better now.

So, I'd still say that in the grand scheme of things, what you are doing isn't that common. The majority of music doesn't have chord symbols at all. When dealing with music that does, many people write in chord symbols after the notes. When copying passages with chords, most copy operations are for purposes other than small sequences within a section - eg, copying a tenor sax part to an alto sax part, or copying the first "A" section of a tune to the second (writing tunes is far more common than transcribing solos). And even within the world of solo transcription, much music is not so sequence-based that this would come up so much.

So, again, things are prioritized to work the way most people would expect most of the time. It's just that you happen to spend a disproportionate amount of time doing something most people essentially never do. But still, it does come up (for some people often, for others, hardly ever), so we provide a tool to solve that exact problem. The default remains the one that makes sense for all those other cases - copying the first "A" of a tune to the second, etc. But, when you know you're about to start work on a transcription instead of writing a tune, you simply spend a few seconds clicking one checkbox in the filter. A specific solution for a specific problem, and everything else just works.

I mentioned before that Ctrl+click doesn't really make a lot of sense for range selections, and I think if if you check out the examlke I gave of deselecting a single word within a paragraph, you'll realize this model is is pretty common. Still, it's not outside the realm of possibilty this feature could be implemented. I recommend submitting an official Suggestion to the "Issue tracker as a first step. but still, as I said, that would require you to have to Ctrl+click every single chord within a selection every single time you wanted to copy something. I can't see how you could possibly see this preferable to one click in the filter once a day.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Nope...pretty simple. Click on the first note/rest of what you want to select, shift click the last note. control click a chord if you want the accompanying chords. It would be pretty darn simple.

Or if you prefer, shift click and make a selection, control click a chord symbol and deselect the chords.

I can control click something in like a milisecond. I was kind of floored when that wasn't available in musescore to be honest. Seems really intuitive.

Consider this....

@sully... You wrote:
In this example, copy a series of triplet rests so I don't have to continually enter the triplets (the chord symbols come and overwrite the existing chords).

Here's your file with triplet rests in measures 19 - 20:
Autumn2.mscz

Open it and follow these instructions:

Select measures 19 - 20 and exclude the chord names using the selection filter
Keep_chords1.png

Copy/paste into measure 21. (Chord names stay 'fixed')
Keep_chords2.png

Now... here's the trick. Press 'R' to successively populate the remaining measures. (Chord names stay 'fixed')

Keep_chords3.png

Of course, I could have copied notes (instead of rests) to be overwritten with the new exercises.

Regards.

@sully75... You also wrote:
I might want to copy the notes from measure one and then paste them into measure two. But if I do it takes the chord symbol from measure one and copies it into measure two. I.e. if I did that repeatedly the whole piece would be Bb-7.

You can copy the notes from measure 1 (without the chord symbol using the selection filter). Paste into measure 2. Then keep pressing 'R'. The whole piece won't be in Bb-7
Same 'trick' as I posted earlier.

Regards.

AS to this: "So I'm forced to copy the sequence with the chord symbol BUT when I transpose the sequence the chord symbol does not transpose with the sequence."

It leads me to believe that when you used the transpose facility, you did not select "Transpose chordnames".

In reply to by xavierjazz

Sorry I should have left this part out. I don't really care about the chord symbol being transposed. I just don't want it selected in the first place, ever. It is kind of irritating though that the chord symbol is dragged along for the ride but is not transposed when the notes are moved.

Regardless, it's not important.

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