Chord Symbol details to apply to every chord

Hi folks, I’m trying to set up Chord Symbols, and come to terms with Dorico v4 on my new Win11 system. I’m familiar with Project Default Appearance to customize specifics of a particular chord for a project, but I’m wondering if in v4 (or v5, maybe?) there is yet a way to set these things up once and have them apply to ANY chord.

Screenshot 2023-09-13 210427|435x157

  1. I’d like to change the size of the “maj” in Amaj7 and have it apply to ANY maj7 chord automatically, Bmaj7, Cmaj7, etc.
  2. I’d like to “squash” the separator position in the E/G# chord so the separator is closer to E, and G# is closer to the separator. So that the chord takes up less space. And I want to do this just once, so that it applies to EVERY chord with an altered bass, A/C#, D/E, etc.
  3. I’d like to change the 7 in both Amaj7 and F#m7, so that it is larger, and maybe positioned further to the right so it is distinct from maj and m. And I’d like to do this setting once and have it apply to ANY chord that uses the 7, Bm7, Dmaj7, etc.

Are any of those things possible?
I’ve been on a search through Engraving Options>Chord Symbols again, to see if anything was added in v4, but I haven’t found those things, unless I’ve missed something.

Thanks for any tips.

Check this out:

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Unfortunately there aren’t really settings to control much of this, although this comes up a lot. I made a doricolib file that adds the missing Font Style for the slash so you can have a bit more control over it. I posted a walkthrough in this thread.

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Thank you @FredGUnn, that’s fascinating. It’s a bit time-consuming for me at the moment, so I’ll investigate later. But, from reading that thread, it doesn’t seem like it will fully do what I want, which is to bring the separator close to both chord symbols on either side. Changing the separator font would probably partially achieve that, but I want to bring them all together quite radically, so, for example, I can have 4 such chords in a single bar without it taking up much space. And have all altered-bass chords elsewhere in the score look the same.
Thanks again!

Thanks @DanielMuzMurray, I was aware of that page, but I’ve investigated it more fully, and found that it does a more than I thought it did. Much more, actually, but it’s not 100% yet…

  • I can change “maj” and the “7” in Amaj7, such that all other maj7 chords have the same size, and all other 7 chords also have the same size. And I can change the size of “m” for minor chords, and have it adopted universally for the score. Even though I knew about the Project Default Chord Symbol Appearance page and the Edit Chord Symbol Component before, I wasn’t using it to it’s full extent.

I put this down to a lack of association between the description in the manual and the actual page shown within Dorico. That is, there’s not enough diagrams in the Help.

But when it comes to F#m7b5 further down my score, things aren’t as helpful. Trying to change the size of the “5”, I see that the “b5” are joined together. I can increase the size, but then the flat sign is unnaturally large for the context. AND, these changes aren’t reflected when I enter another 7b5 chord - I have to do it again.

And, as I said in the previous post, there’s no way to automatically “tighten up” the appearance of chords with altered bass notes, so that they don’t sprawl over the page quite so much.

At least this is the situation in Dorico v4, it seems. Is it different in v5?

Thanks again.

Not really. I found this to be super painful when I did a project with a bunch of complicated chords in D4.

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A few things to keep in mind when editing chord symbols as some of this is documented and some not …

  1. Any edit made in the Project Default Chord Symbol Appearances window is specific to that root and suffix only. Obviously you want to avoid working in this window as much as possible as it means you have a ton more work to do.

  2. When in that window, if you select a chord element and it appears highlighted in blue in the row under the chord, then that element is eligible to have a global change made to it.

In the above image, the “maj” and any of the other alternative suffix components in that row can be globally edited once you click the Edit Component pencil.

  1. After clicking that Edit Component pencil, you are taken to the Edit Chord Symbol Component editing window where you can make global edits to that suffix.

  2. There are lots of pitfalls with this editor though. First of all, it is not entirely WYSIWYG. If you make an edit and it looks different between this window and the previous Project Default Chord Symbol Appearances window, then the Project Default Chord Symbol Appearances window is what will appear in the score. This sometimes means some trial and error with positioning. If it were truly WYSIWYG then the Attachment point shouldn’t matter, but it does. Clicking the Attachments tab and trying different attachment points often helps.

  3. You would logically think that Dorico would present you with the tools you would most likely use when editing chords, but this is just a generic editing window, so it does not. Do not use any of the accidentals that appear to the right! Those are the “standard accidentals” SMuFL range and are not used in chord symbols. The accidentals to use for suffixes are under the composites tab and have names like comp.csymAccidentalSharp.

  1. You’ll notice there is a comp.csymAccidentalSharp glyph and a comp.csymAccidentalSharpSmall glyph. Dorico uses the larger glyph for scale factor percentages of 76 and up and the smaller glyph for percentages 75 and lower based on your settings in Engraving Options / Chord Symbols / Design. If you select the wrong accidental glyph here it won’t match the rest of the chord symbols in your project.

  2. Likewise, don’t just go to the Text tab in the Edit Chord Symbol Component editing window and type in text to add. Dorico defaults to the “Bar Repeat Count” Font Style, which is dumb because 99.99% of the time the user is going to want to use the “Chord Symbols Font” Font Style. Make sure you change the font to the correct one, or you’ll be using the wrong style which won’t match your other suffixes.

  3. Unfortunately, there are some suffixes that are not eligible for a global edit. If you click a suffix and it does not appear highlighted in blue in the row under the suffix, then you’re out of luck and you’ll need to make any edits for all possible roots. This of course is a PITA.

  4. Any chord symbol that has an override tied to a specific root, is also no longer able to use the parentheses feature, so it is desirable to avoid as many of these type of overrides as you can.

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Wow, what a comprehensive list of issues, thanks so much @FredGUnn.

I was aware of 1, 2, and 3. The procedure is not properly set out in the Help, which is why it took me so long to discover some of the things you noted. I’ve also become aware that often you don’t get what you think you will. It’s clearly time for a major overhaul of this part of Dorico.

Another issue is that hitting Apply in the Project Default Chord Symbol Appearance window does not change the appearance in the score, unlike other Options windows. You have to Close the window first. This often means constant mouse-clicking, going back and forth opening and closing the window multiple times.

There’s also an issue when I “tighten up” altered bass notes that sees the whole chord symbol disappear from the score!

Anyway, thanks again, much respect, I’ll persevere with what I have for the moment.

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