Automatic chord symbols

I’m considering moving from Sibelius to Dorico. There are a lot of features that make this seem a good choice.

One of the Sibelius functions that I find immensely valuable is the ability to generate chord symbols directly from the score (just select a bunch of notes / staves and run a macro). I can’t find anything similar to this in Dorico. Have I missed something? Is this something that might come soon?

Just so you understand my context, all my composing is done by note entry in the score. I do not have any midi input equipment, so cannot use the midi-input chord entry mode.

Thanks for any advice on this.

Welcome to the forum. There is not currently an auto-chord-symbol feature, and scripting is not yet fully functional.

However, chord symbol entry is quite easy using the chord symbol popover.

Thanks for that Dan. I am really trying to avoid a bar-by-bar or beat-by-beat flog, which is why I find this Sibelius feature so useful. I guess I’m just looking for tools that maximise the joyful part of composing (achieving the desired sound / effect) and minimising the grind (getting it down on paper).

Absolutely, we’re all looking for that. I can’t speak for Sibelius, but coming from Finale, the tedium has been incredibly lessened already for me!

Dorico is still actively being developed (though it already does 99% of what I need). I suggest you download a 30-day trial and watch some tutorial videos. You may find its many strengths outweigh this missing feature for you.

Again, thanks for that Dan. Yes, I’m just over a week into the 30-day free trial and I do like a lot of what I see. At the moment, I think the steep learning curve is slightly outweighing my real familiarity with Sibelius. Before Sibelius I used Finale and I can completely empathise with you finding Dorico a lot easier - that was why I moved to Sibelius.

I do hope this chording thing does eventually appear in Dorico. Chording in a full orchestra situation can be tricky, especially if the composition is wandering through various keys. Understanding the underlying chord structure makes life so much easier.


Has this feature been activated yet in the latest updates?


This is a lot more complicated than it might seem. Even with simple 4-part harmony the AI will have to do some guessing, like if you mean a C6 or a Am7 first inversion for example. When using more advanced upper structures and substitutions it will be very difficult for any AI to get it right.

Virtually every working jazz musician would immediately recognize the first bar here as a Bb13, even though there’s not a single Bb in the bar.

Dorico’s developers seem to have stressed creating high quality professional-level output that adheres to sophisticated engraving rules that most users are probably unaware of. This obviously is in contrast to all the crummy output we’ve all had to read over the years from Finale, Sib, and MuseScore. I guess automatic chord symbols could be useful for some in very simple situations, but I definitely wouldn’t want to read an Abmaj7-5 or whatever the AI would think the above chord is, when it’s obviously a Bb13. No matter how smart the AI is, cluttering up a score with a bunch of incorrect chords is probably not the standard the developers are going for. Perhaps there is already some really intelligent AI they could license or something, but doing this halfway is going lead to a lot more crummy output, which is something they actively seem to be trying to avoid.

You definitely should get a MIDI keyboard. Entering chord symbols is as simple as enable the popup (Shift-C? Still memorizing my shortcuts) and then play in the chord, the dialog figures it out from there. Beautiful feature for folks like me who are good at figured bass but not as good at chord symbols.

There’s a problem for us users of Dorico which is that it’s already so sophisticated, and we all know how much further it will go, that our expectations of what it can or should do are sky high. The poor developers won’t ever be able to retire!

@FredGUnn I work in a broad range of AI in my day work, from DNN’s (mainline technique used today for pattern recognition such as voice and image) to classical AI. My guess would be that music notation, while a nice regularized system, does have so many quirks and exceptions (like you point out above) that any AI technique would be more counterproductive than helpful. However it’s possible that if you fed a DNN with the entire corpus of music it would work well.

If I’m not wrong, Cubase has a chord assistant. Since both are from Steinberg, it may not be so hard to share it to Dorico.

Another thing: Is there a possibility to input chords with midi keyboard (shift+Q) without saving the exact notes I pressed for the playback? (As written in the reference, “if the chord symbol was input using a MIDI keyboard, the chord plays back using the voicing that was used to input the chord symbol”, but I want to deactivate that feature).

Thank you

Unfortunately I don’t think there’s a way to clear the cached voicing for a chord symbol you input via the MIDI keyboard, but I’ll make a note of that as something we should think about adding.