Font and instructions for improved New Real Book style chord names

• 6 years ago

I have struggled for a few days trying to get chord names the way I wanted it, and I learned quite a few things in the process. This could be useful to others, so if you like the attached chord chart reply to this message and I will post the needed files & instructions.
Basically I started from the very nice font developed by Jochen Pietsch ( and increased the size of the superscripts (which I found hard to read) as well as added a couple symbols (esp. dim & half-diminished).

Attachment Size
chart.pdf 229.75 KB


Here we are:
- unzip the attached archive
- double-click the .ttf font file and choose "Install" (I assume it works the same on XP, I use Win7)
- copy chords.xml and realbookchords.xml to the "styles" folder in your Muse install
- restart Muse, and in your template or in your score:
- Choose Style -> Edit General Style... -> Chordnames -> realbookchords.xml
- Choose Style -> Edit Text Style... -> Chordname -> Font = "New Real Book Chords", size = 12, uncheck Bold

If you already had chords you will need to double-click them & revalidate to see the changes.
The only change to chords.xml is that I added a chord for maj7#11 at the end, if you don't need it you can keep the original chords.xml (you may need to remove the render instruction for chord id 208 from realbookchords.xml).

A few hints on tweaking things further:

- what you type as you enter the chord is matched against the "name" elements in chords.xml to find the chord ID
- The rendering instructions are then looked up by chord ID in realbookchords.xml
- Check out the DOCTYPE section at the top of realbookchords.xml, it defines internal entities (aliases), and I have included commented out versions of some popular choices for common chords (maj7, 1/2 dim, ...).
- Install a font viewer that displays the index for each character (eg and to get character at decimal index xxx to display insert &#xxx; in realbookchords.xml
- chord ID 32 is half-diminished, I left the alternate m7b5 rendering as a comment in realbookchords.xml
- chord ID 33 is diminished, use _ to have it displayed as a superscript "dim." glyph
- last but not least, check that the half-diminished symbol renders/prints correctly for you, there are apparently pretty complex rules for creating ttf glyphs and I just savagely added the diagonal stroke on top of an existing glyph, which seems to work for me...

If someone has Jochen Pietsch's email thank him on my behalf for his font :)

[EDIT: Added updated attachment with XML entities to make maintenance easier and sample uses of vertically stacked tensions].

Attachment Size 33.49 KB

In reply to by franck102

I use Windows Vista, and the procedure to install ttf fonts is a bit different, as follows:
Click on the Start button in the lower left corner, then choose Settings (sorry, my Windows speaks German to me, and there it is 'Systemsteuerung'
From there you choose 'Schriftarten' (don't know the exact English word, but I think it would be 'fonts')
The system fonts folder will open. Drop the Files menu and select 'New font' (Neue Schriftart). This opens a file selector. Navigate to the unzipped archive file and double click on the .ttf file. This is where you will answer 'Install'.
That's how I did it. Will now open MuseScore and see what I have got.


In reply to by David Bolton

Not quite. When I double click on a .ttf file in Vista I just open it with the font viewer. There is no install button on this mask. Besides, the chord names look rather exactly like the jazzbook.ttf font version.
In Vista I do have to go thru the Settings menu.


Last version, getting pretty close to the Brandt & Roemer standard, with XML entities in realchords.xml for easy (well, easier :) ) customization.
See attached chart.pdf for a preview.

Attachment Size 34.15 KB
chart.pdf 40.85 KB

In reply to by franck102

These look really nice - thanks for doing that! I guess the main other thing that would still need to be done is to make a customized chords.xml so the chords would parse the way they are spelled. That is, so you can type Cmi7 to get Cmi7.

As for the chord themselves, I personally like to use parens around the ma7 in Cmima7 and similar chords so they come out Cmi(ma7), and I do prefer mi7b5 over the half-dim symbol (thanks for anticipating that option), but aside from that, it looks ready to go for me!

In reply to by franck102

Your chords.xml, which turns out to be a chords_2.xml (all for the better, so I can have both in my Styles folder), has a totally different structure than the realbookchords.xml, but it does tell you how to enter every single chord - it even gives a sample voicing when used in C. While I got the desired results when using realbookchords.xml, it is more a matter of feeling, especially when you have more than one tension.
May I assume that the entry format is the same in both cases, so I can use the info in chords_2.xml anyway?


In reply to by Dralex

Unless I messed up somewhere, that chords.xml is in fact very similar to the original one (which also has voicings). I have simply introduced alias definitions at the top of the file (maj7...

have become


In other terms the file should be strictly equivalent to the original one (until you enter different key sequences for some of the entities).


In reply to by franck102

Perhaps my question should have been: how do I input chords when using realbookchords.xml? This one does not seem to have such guide. Or what is the info between the and the tags?
I would like to use realbookchords.xml because it seem that the output it delivers is nicer than that of chords.xml.


In reply to by Dralex

Muse uses two files in conjunction: chords.xml and realchords.xml (or, if you use the original settings, chords.xml and stdchords.xml).
No matter which fonts or rendering you want to use chords.xml is always the file Muse uses to decide which chords are defined, and what keyboard input is used to enter them.
realchords.xml only defines how chords are rendered. The connection between the two lists is through chord IDs.

So to answer your question, look into chords.xml for how to input chords when you use realchords.xml.
Hope this helps - Franck

In reply to by franck102

Busy transcribing Mas Que Nada... ;-) But I wanted to give feedback, since your post and the thread was very helpful. btw Muse guys, can't you choose something more creative looking the boring old Times New Roman?

Downloaded this version and used the instructions posted above onto my Ubuntu system (Natty 11.04) and the chord formatting worked perfectly. Just needed to tweak one thing - couldn't understand the curly bracket "{" instead of a good old "m" when I put minor in, so read through the post again, went in and found the relevant part in the xml file and changed the behaviour there (for those that want to do it, the file explains how its just a question of commenting and un-commenting a couple of lines).

I've included the file below, here's the diff.

huang@revo:~/downloads/muse$ diff realbookchords.xml /usr/share/mscore-1.0/styles/realbookchords.xml
< -->
< -->
< -->

Attachment Size
realbookchords.xml 16.01 KB

I am trying to figure out how to edit realbookchords.xml on a windows XP system. I use metapad as my text editor and I remove the ! from the top of the file for half diminished to render as m7b5. When I load an existing score, edit the style sections, and try to re-render the chords get an error message: error reading chord description C;/Program Files/MuseScore/styles/realbookchords.xml at line 8 column 6: letter is expected. As best as I can see there is a letter in column 6 since deleting the ! places E in ENTITY at column 6. Any one that has played with these on a Windows system that can recommend either a different editor or shed some light on what I am doing wrong I wil be eternally grateful!


In reply to by keith.n.mckenna

Did you try putting the exclamation mark back?

The original looks like:

<!-- half-diminished symbol - uncomment one only
			"&#187;"			striked circle
			"}7b5"				superscript  m7b5
    <!ENTITY half_dim "&#187;">
    <!ENTITY half_dim "}7b5">

If you want to uncomment the other one then it would look like:

<!-- half-diminished symbol - uncomment one only
			"&#187;"			striked circle
			"}7b5"				superscript  m7b5
    <!ENTITY half_dim "&#187;">
    <!ENTITY half_dim "}7b5">

Hey Guys

Sry, but I'm a real beginner in writing music on pc and i like your chord names, franck102!
I installed the font like you said and changend chordnames from "jazzchords" to "realbookchords", but it didnt work.
Could you explain the process (step by step) ?!
This would really help!

Thanks a lot and greets!

In reply to by jazzpower

What specifically didn't work? In other words, what did you do, what did you expect to see happen, and what happened instead?

In general, to get customized chord symbols you need to do these things:

1) have a customized XML file to describe how the chords should *look* - in this case, realbookchords.xml
2) have a customized XML file to describe what you need to *type* to get those chords - in this case, chords.xml
3) tell MuseScore to use these files (by setting the appropriate style option to use realbookschords.xml, and by restartng MuseScore after replacing the stock chords.xml with your customized one)
4) have the approriate fonts installed
5) tell MuseScore to *use* those fonts via the text style (this can be done within the XML file; not sure if realbookchords.xml does this or not)
6) enter a chord symbol that MuseScore recognizes according to #2

Depending on what went wrong, I'm guessing you didn't enter a chord symbol MuseScore recognizes according to whatever chords.xml you have installed. it's also possible you needed to set the chordname text style to use the realbook font and you didn't do that.

BTW, if you have trouble getting these XML files working, you can also try this customized XML file I created, which is based on the one here but is designed to be even easier to customize and also to not require any additional fonts:

It turns out that you can include information on how chords should be typed within the same XML file you use to control how they are displayed, so I did that in my version. So you won't have to replace your existing chords.xml and restart MuseScore with my version. But because it doesn't depend on any additional fonts, it doesn't look quite as slick as franck102's in some respects.

In reply to by avremig

The font that is included with MuseScore 1.2 is called MuseJazz, and it is compiled into the program rather than installed as a font in the OS. So it wouldn't be available. However, if you really need it - doesn't Finale already come with a variety of similar fonts? - you could always grab the font from the source code to MuseScore on sourceforge or wherever it actually lives (see the Development link at right of this page).

In reply to by avremig

I've been tinkering with using this beautiful font in Finale, for chord symbols and some English.

Everything looks GREAT, except...

The only problem I've encountered - and this is a significant one - is that the SLASH "/" symbol is not properly aligned in Chords with an alternate bass note (eg. F2 / A).

In my situation, the slash (1) collides with the bass note "A" and (2) is too low (baseline of character). [see attachment]

I have come up with a couple cosmetic workarounds, but these lack the full functionality of the Chord Tool (transposing, for instance).

Anyone else have any experience with this font and Finale?


Attachment Size
font-collision.png.jpeg 2.67 KB

In reply to by rick.hirsch.545

rick.hirsch.545: The font works for me in Finale 2012 (see screenshot attached, plus Finale file zip-compressed).

1. From the menu choose, Document > Document Options > Fonts
2. Set the chord symbol font to MuseJazz
3. Switch from chord symbol to chord alteration, and set the font to MuseJazz,
4. Switch from chord alteration to chord suffix and set the font to MuseJazz
5. Click OK

(MuseJazz font downloaded from the MuseScore code repository:… )

Attachment Size
Capture.PNG 195.33 KB 38.9 KB

In reply to by David Bolton

David - Thank you so much!

I've now downloaded MuseJazz (which I did not already have) and am now using it for the Chord Symbol — and the slashes work poifectly now.

The letters in MuseJazz appear to be identical (or darn close) to those in NewRealBookFont, which I was using. NRBF, however, does have additional useful characters that I'm not seeing in MJ.

But, this'll do.

Thanks again for your time and help,
~ Rick