Chord symbols in Dorico 1.1

I’m hoping to be able to make the leap to Dorico with the release of version 1.1.

  1. Will it be possible to have more than one line of chord symbols?

  2. Will it be possible to put a chord symbol or a sequence of chord symbols in parentheses?

For example

 (Bm7   E7       Bbm7   Ebma7  )
 Bbma7           Ebma7           Am7(b5)
¦               ¦               ¦
  1. Yes, though because chord symbols are system-attached objects, each chord symbol will have to be at a slightly different rhythmic position (e.g. one on the beat, and the one that’s supposed to go above it on the next 16th note) and then positioned manually in Engrave mode.

  2. Chord symbols themselves cannot (yet) be parenthesised directly, but it’s easy enough to add opening and closing parentheses as needed using Shift+X text.

Thanks very much for your reply.

I have to say I’m a little disappointed: having kept an eye on developments I’ve come to expect elegant and thoroughgoing solutions. I do hope chord symbols have been fully thought through (it was a nuisance when parentheses disappeared in Sibelius 7).

Unfortunately total perfection has not been possible to achieve just yet. But I would suggest that you don’t write off Dorico’s chord symbol support before you’ve even seen it.

What has been implemented is significantly more sophisticated than what is possible in other scoring applications, although we have not been able to cover every possible requirement: other notable omissions are a means to display different, possibly simplified, chord symbols on another staff automatically – though this is possible using a similar approach to that I described to you for showing two rows of chord symbols – support for capo chords, and support for guitar chord diagrams in general.

But the good news is that Dorico 1.1 is not going to be the last ever version of Dorico we release, and although I cannot promise that we will continue to devote the majority of our development time to chord symbols in the update immediately following the release of Dorico 1.1, you can be sure that we will continue to work on the feature until we eventually have every reasonable requirement covered.

Apologies if I sounded dismissive. As someone who has worked with notation software since 1992 (typically for twenty hours plus each week in recent years), I’m very excited about Dorico and an admirer of the work and the planning that’s been done so far.

Not being able to put chord symbols in parentheses (something that often needs to be done in jazz) is a bit annoying because (1) I don’t believe it would have been that difficult a thing to implement (though primarily a classical musician, I did a lot of programming in the 90s), and (2) as I mentioned, it’s the second time it’s been neglected.

The workaround for adding a second line of chords (changing the data in order to alter the formatting) is the kind of thing I would always try to avoid.

Anyway, thanks for your help. I’m very much looking forward to 1.1 and putting Dorico through its paces.

Parenthesising an individual chord symbol would indeed not be the hardest thing to implement, but of course that’s not really what you want: what you want is to be able to identify a range of chord symbols that should be parenthesised, and show an opening parenthesis before the first one, and a closing parenthesis following the last one. This is significantly more complex to achieve, though of course given sufficient time and priority it can (and no doubt eventually will) be done. As a programmer with lots of experience, you will no doubt have encountered many situations in your career when you had to make difficult trade-offs about what to work on in order to achieve a set of overall objectives for a given release.

I’m really happy with this option!
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For many years I had to figure out a solution in Sibelius (which is using Legacy Chord Symbols, writing bass notes as enlarged subscript text and capturing them as ideas). So, thank you very much!

I’m glad you’re happy, Miguel. We have really tried to leave no stone unturned when it comes to the display and layout of chord symbols, and I think you will find them very flexible.

I’m not asking for Dorico to do all the work for me; I just want to be able to open or close a parenthesis as I please. Using Legacy Chord Symbols in Sibelius I can simply press [ and ]. It’s not really any more difficult to parse [Bm7 or Bm7] than Bm7. Legacy Chord Symbols allow me to enter rubbish like [Am[(7)[][[ but I’m quite happy to take responsibility for the integrity of the data I enter.

I note Bob Zawalich’s comments on a Sibelius site:

It would also be great to be able to put parentheses around chord symbol objects without having them be no longer recognized as chord symbols.

I wrote the Bracket Chord Symbol plugin to work around it, but it needs to turn the Chord Symbol objects into legacy chords.

Sometimes you want to parenthesize things without having to stnad [sic] on your head…

It’s admirable that you’re considering a comprehensive solution but I’m not sure that this must preclude allowing the user to enter brackets at will. I’ll have a think about it.

Eagerly awaiting the release of 1.1…

I could really use this feature right about now. When is version 1.2 due?

We have not committed to delivering this possible feature in a specific version of Dorico, I’m afraid, though it is on our backlog for the future. For the time being you should be able to create the parentheses you need using Shift+X text. I am well aware this is not as satisfactory a solution as something built-in and purpose-built.