Enhancing Alternate Chord Functionality

• Nov 4, 2021 - 01:25

I'd like to ask for some improvements in the options and handling for alternate chords (generally in lead sheets). I am sure that each of these idea can be improved, but this is how I see them. I am sure that some of this can be done and would love to know that.

  • Entry option. Instead of entering the chords separately, I'd like to be able to simply type the two chords in one string, for instance Cmd+K followed by D, a space, then Bm -- the space indicating that what follows is an alternate chord.

  • Relative position and appearance option. The genres I work in always place the alternate chord in parentheses following a space following the primary chord, as in: "D (Bm)" so I would like an option in Style > Chords to "place alternate chords [ above | to left of ] primary chord".

  • I'd also like the option to have alternate chords shown in parentheses or not (or, I suppose, using some other separator character). Choices could be ( ), [ ], { }, or nothing.

  • I would like a choice as to whether spaces are placed between the chord name and the surrounding symbol. Right now, spaces are always added.

  • Play options. I'd like the play panel to have the option "Substitute secondary chords when present."

  • I'd also like the Inspector to allow me to specify that the alternate for a specific chord should be used regardless of the play panel setting.

Thanks for considering these!


Can you show some examples in published music displaying things the way you want, so we can understand better?

Regarding entry of the alternate chords, what I've proposed is that when in "alternate style mode", hitting space would simply take you to the next beat as usual but keep you in alternate style mode rather than switching back to the default. This makes more sense for the usual case where the alternates are above, not next to, the original. And really, even in that unusual case, I think it's probably more efficient, unless literally every single chord has an alternate and every alternate has a standard chord. Otherwise you'd be constantly flipping back and forth between standard and alternate even though most of the time you aren't using them both. The change I'm suggesting is trivial - a line or two of code - and I am pretty sure it results in way fewer keystrokes. What do you think? Again, seeing an actually published example would be useful, then we could walk through the exact series of keystrokes that might theoretically be used to enter it would be useful.

As it is, my current method is, enter the alternate chords first but using the standard style, then select them all and change to alternate. Then enter the standard chords normally. It's actually only about two clicks more than the optimal solution I mentioned above, but it does require you have that presence of mind to enter alternatres first. So I often use tricks like adding another staff for the alternate chords, then changing them to alternate, then copying them back. Not great, but still a lot more efficient in many cases than just trying to enter everything directly.

Parentheses can already be typed directly, BTW. But the amount of space should indeed by a style setting.

For playback, current workaround would be right-click a chord you don't want played, Select / More / Same subtype, and then toggle the play setting. But yeah, I can see the desire for a more direct method.

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