Chord input - extensions

• Oct 7, 2020 - 14:17

The new (to 3.5) feature of chord symbol input is very welcome.

It could be extended further though.

  1. Currently it only seems to play piano sounds. There are other instruments besides piano which could use chord symbols - guitars particularly.

  2. The current chord symbol input only seems to work with absolute letter values, such as Cmin, Cdim etc. not Roman numeral notation. Obviously Roman number notation depends on a tonic key, but that could either be made explicit (e.g. C:VI) or determined implicitly by the most recent key signature.

  3. It would also be useful if the chord input mode could also display the chords on a stave.

If these features are already available I apologise in advance for writing this, but I couldn't find them.

As I wrote at the top - it's great that the new feature is now working in 3.5, but it might not take too much more effort to make the changes I'm suggesting to get even more value out of this one.


Inputting chord symbols is not at all new to 3.5 but existed back in MS2 already. Playback for them is new though.

  1. You can change the playback sound to any sound available to you using the mixer. See…

  2. I'm not sure how standard indicating key signature is with RNA. But if a standard for this exists, then this would be a nice feature request indeed. Determining key signature would not suffice as it doesn't determine between the different modes for any given key signature imo.

  3. Tools → Realize Chord Symbols
    It'll give you a written version of the current interpretation for chord symbols

In reply to by jeetee

Re point 1, it seems pointless to put the onus back on the user. If the user writes for a guitar, or a harpsichord, surely it makes sense for the chord sounds to be appropriate. The whole point of tools like musescore is surely to help process - and creativity, not add unnecessary complexity.

Actually it does seem to work more as I expected, but the first beat has a piano sound. It's as though the default "preview" is always going to be piano - but then the desired instrumental sound does emerge.

Re point 2. I don't know exactly what you mean by modes. If simply major or minor, then what's wrong with Cmaj:VI or Cmin:III or similar. Some notations use lower case letters as well.

If you mean something perhaps more unusual, such as Locrian, Dorian etc. then there might have to be some other notation - but I'm sure one could be devised without too much difficulty.

Besides Roman lettering, another option would be to use the figured bass type notation e.g. 5 3 or 6 4 to indicate inversions etc. as well as standard notations like Ic and IVb. I don't see why these would have to be difficult, though care might have to be taken to avoid confusion with other notations. These are fairly simple syntax considerations.

Point 3 - Thank you. It's a start, though if the chord as written is then transposed, the chord symbol does not change so there is no link between the symbol used to generate the chord and a reverse link.

I did wonder if the feature was a toggle - which might have been nice, but it doesn't seem to be. Nor is it a global setting. It is however potentially useful, and I'll most probably use it.

In reply to by dave2020X

When there is both melody and chord symbols on the same staff, it's actually pretty unusual for the same instrument to play both. A lead sheet, for example, might be played by a saxophone, but the chords would be piano. So guitar isn't inherently different here - it's possible, but a bit unusual, for a guitar player to play both melody and chords at once (kind of an advanced skill, really). So if the guitar is playing the melody, it would actually be quite common for the accompaniment to be provided by someone else - and at least as likely a pianist as another guitarist.

That said, it's a common enough request for people to hear two guitars at once rather than a guitar and a piano, that we made this the default for the solo guitar templates in 3.5.2.

RNA is supported already in MuseScore, but not for playback, the key identification problem is real. It's presumably solvable if someone were to spend long enough designing and implementing a system for it. But for now, you can simply add chord symbols and make them invisible if you don't want to see them.

Chord symbol playback can be toggled in the usual ways - either by muting the mixer channel or toggling the "Play" property (for the individual chord, for a group of chords, or made into a style setting via the corresponding button).

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Sure, it happens, although even then generally, the guitar sounds will be different. But the point is, they are not very often played by the same person at the same time, and it is by no means a given that the person playing the chords will also happen to be playing the instrument as the person playing the melody. It's pretty much guaranteed not to be true for almost every other instrument on the planet, since most are physically incapable of it. As is often mentioned, it would make no sense for flute parts to use flute sounds in their chord symbols, etc.

Still, none of that says piano makes more sense than guitar as the accompanying instrument, and that's why we - actually you:-) - changed the solo templates to use guitar for the chord symbols. Realistically, we could consider doing this for instruments.xml as well, so if you are creating a score for an ensemble and you write a rhythm guitar part on a separate staff, it defaults to guitar sound for the chord symbols as well.

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