chord symbols using "Jazz" font set

• Jan 31, 2011 - 07:12

Of the various handwritten music fonts that I've tried, my favorite is still the "Jazz" font that has shipped with Finale for a long time. The font itself is proprietary and there is probably next to zero chance of it getting bundled with MuseScore. But for those who already have and like this font set - and in particular for chords - I am posting a set of customized XML files that are tweaked work with the JazzCord font.

I use a modified version of the Brandt & Roemer system, with "ma" / "mi" / "o" for major / minor / diminished, and no parentheses on extensions or alterations. But I've tried to make it easy for one to customize things further by taking a cue from franck102's clever system in this thread:

By editing the entries at the top of the two XML files, you can get it to recognize and produce any other system you prefer. I didn't do as thorough job of setting this up, but with a little poking around you should be able to do what you want. Note that chords.xml controls how MuseScore recognizes chords that you type; jazzchords.xml controls how MuseScore displays the chords it recognizes.

To use the XML files, install them in your MuseScore/styles folder (replacing the existing chords.xml), then set your Text Style / Chordname / Font to JazzCord (I use 12 point) and your General Style / Chordnames / Chord description file to jazzchords_jazz.xml. Then type in your chords. The results aren't perfect, but I do like this font better than the other options I've tried. I like how horizontally compact chord symbols end up being for a given vertical height, and I like the relative sizes of the various elements. I've also attached a sample tune using these chords.

Attachment Size
rising.pdf 24.7 KB
jazzchords_jazz.xml 15.42 KB
chords.xml 30.22 KB


Is there any way to get these to apply to the chords already typed into a tune? I Made the changes you listed above (thanks for taking the time to do this!), but the chords in the tune don't update with the new display unless I edit them.


When I follow the instructions above, when I type in "Gmi7" for a chord, I get it displayed as "Gmajor/triad7" I've included a picture as an attachment. Any idea what would cause this?

Using the MuseScore-1.0-pre2 on the Mac.


- Mike

Attachment Size
Gmi7.png 4.58 KB

In reply to by carneyweb

Did you customize anything, or just install everything the way it was? If you tried customizing something, I'd guess you messed up somehow. But if that's with the files unmodified, I'd say you probably just need to restart MuseScore in order for it to recognize the new chords.xml file. Otherwise it will still be expecting you to type "Gm7" to get a minor seventh chord (or "GMaj" for major seventh), but it should still display as "Gmi" and "Gma7".

If you have restarted and the problem persists, then I'm a bit perplexed. Is that the only chord that doesn't look right? Try, for instance, Gma7, G7#5, Gma7#11, Go7, and G7b9#9.

As for how to get an existing piece to use these settings, it should work to double click the first chord, then just hold the space bar down while it goes from chord to chord and re-processes them. I don't know of another way.

BTW, the files I uploaded produce results that are *too* compact horizontally. I have since tweaked jazzchords_jazz.xml to add just a little more horizontal space between some of the elements. I'll upload that after we make sure there isn't some other pblem here I need to fix.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I haven't customized anything. I just included the files you attached and made the Style changes you said. I've include a screenshot with the above chords typed in so you can see what I get, along with the first one "Gmi7" ... very strange.

The chords I typed in were: gm7, gmi7 gma7, g7#5, gma7#11, go7, g7b9#9.

Attachment Size
chords.png 13.38 KB

In reply to by carneyweb

Very strange.

You still haven't said whether you restarted Musescore after installing the modified chords.xml. Can you please confirm that?

I wonder then if MuseScore is installed somewhere else on your machine, so you need to find the right location to install to?

I suppose it's also possible you have a different version of JazzCord than I do. Maybe for some reason they are different on Mac and Windows. If you have a program that can examine fonts, can you find the character numbered 0xd6 and 0xe6, and tell me if they "ma" and "mi"?

In reply to by carneyweb

Aha indeed! Looks like your JazzCord font differs from mine. Hopefully it's still the same actual glyphs, just rearranged a bit. If you look at the jazzchords_jazz.xml file, about two screenfuls down you'll see a table where the character codes for each glyph are set. A whole series of lines of the following form:

sym code="0xe6" name="mi"

It should be reasonably apparent from the "name" fields what the various glyphs are *supposed* to be. Just go through that table and fix the numeric codes. There are sometimes more than one choice for some of the symbols, so that also gives you the opportunity to decide if you want "mi" at all or would rather have "-" or "min". It would be easiest to leave the *names* of the glyphs alone; just change the codes. Note there is a space for a "b" (flat) and "sb" - the former is used for accidentals on roots, the latter is used in extensions and alterations. Same for sharps. It seems the idea was to use a small superscript flat sign for the sb, but for one thing, my version of JazzCord doesn't have these as separate elements (they are built in to the altered extensions themselves), and for another, I prefer the larger signs even for extensions.

Of course, you could have done this yourself in the first place, so it might seem my file isn't helping :-). But I also did a fair amount of customization of the relative positions of the glyphs within a chord, adding "m:x:y" elements to nudge them up or down, left or right, as appropriate. You'll see some of that work at the very top of the file, and some below the sym code table in the renderRoot and renderBase elements, if you should feel like fiddling with it further. I have gone ahead and attached an updated version of the file to this message, the only differences being that I added a bit more space between some of the glyphs by tweaking those m:x:y elements.

Attachment Size
jazzchords_jazz.xml 15.44 KB

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks for working with me on this. I've been playing around a bit with the file but haven't been able to get it to look right to my satisfaction. But that's no concern of yours :-)

I'd suggest renaming the file something like "jazzchords_jazz_win.xml" and I'll see if I can get a mac version up to snuff and upload it here too.

BTW... thanks for all the work you put in on this. I agree... the jazz chord representation in that font is the best I've come across too.

- Mike.

In reply to by carneyweb

Do we know for sure the difference is PC versus Mac, as opposed to different versions? I'm not really clear on how fonts work, but in TrueType, I gather each glyph has both a number and a name. So if an application always references glyphs by name rather than index, a font designer could rearrange them however he liked, thus allowing him to add new characters in their logical place rather than having to always append the to the end. I could easily believe that's what happened here.

My version of JazzCord reports a copyright date of 1995, with a last modified date of 9/15/1999.

BTW, while I really do like JazzCord, I have to say that the MuseJazz font - limited in scope though it may be - is actually not bad either. Not as compact, and the line widths are a little thin for my taste, but still perfectly usable. I know there was talk about trying to incorporate the "New Real Book" font from Jochen Pietsch, and that's fairly similar looking but presumably more complete. I'm not convinced it's any better, though.

What I really want to see happen is a fully parameterized version of jazzchords.xml, where each chord would be rendered something like the following:

root adj_alt alteration adj_qual quality [ opt_paren1 adj_extalt alteration adj_ext extension opt_paren2 ]* adj_slash / adj_bass bass adj_bassalt alteration

where the various "adj" and opt_paren parameters could be set globally at the top of the file. Then the chord editor that already exists (in the nightly build versions) could be extended to allow one to position these elements visually. Some day, I may try to tackle this as my own contribution to the MuseScore project.

In reply to by francoismaland…

Much has happened in the last 5 years, the specifics of the formats have changed enough that I would be very surprised if the same file that worked for an unsupported third party font like the Finale "Jazz" font in MuseScore 1 also worked in MuseScore 2. As mentioned, MuseScore now supports its own jazz font right out of the box, so it is much easier to simply use one of the Jazz templates, or change to the jazz style in Style / General / Chord Symbols, than to mess with any of this. But if for some reason you are really attached to that particular font, you'll probably have to edit the XML file yourself after figuring out the code point assignments for the glyphs used in that font and comparing to what you see in the XML files provided by MuseScore. It's bound to be a fair amount of work.

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