Chord Symbols: Staff-Independent Positioning Available?


I’m working on a jazz chart that features a harmonic/bass line ostinato. It’s creating a tricky problem for chord symbols. Is it possible to position chord symbols differently on separate staves aside from doing it manually in engraving mode? This pattern occurs many times across my chart, and I’d hate to start moving them all before knowing if there’s a more elegant solution.

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The details:

  1. The guitar and piano are in rhythmic unison on the four-chord pattern
  2. The guitar chooses a voicing, but the piano plays the written ones
  3. The bass plays the written line, which lands on the downbeat every other measure, where seeing the chord symbol would be clearer
  4. I want to include chord symbols in parentheses, as I like to show harmonic players what’s happening
  5. The soloist really just needs to see the symbols on Beats 1 and 3

You basically have 2 options. You can move them manually in Engrave of course. I’ll do that sometimes, but I’m not a huge fan of this method because the positioning may not be correctly lined up if the layout changes, notes are added, etc. You can also create chords in the correct position, and then hide the unnecessary chords. This is a bit more of a pain, but assures everything will remain positioned correctly.

If I start with this …

… I can add chords at every required position …

… and after hiding the unnecessary chords, end up with this. (Signposts turned on so you can see where they are hidden.)

Although it’s more work, I usually use this latter method rather than moving around in Engrave.

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Very creative solution. Thanks!

It’s a shame positioning isn’t (yet) more flexible in Dorico, but perhaps that’s coming down the pike….

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As an addition to the very excellent elaboration above, it might be possible to use Local Chord Symbols in the appropriate places in order to not having to hide the ones not needed?

Edit: I just tried this, create the CS in a place that you know will need rhythmical adjustment as a local CS, and copy-click it to other places!

Another, even better way would be to (and this just turned into a feature request!!) devise a command to turn any CS into a local one and at the same time auto-hide the original in that player.
Or, even cleaner, turn all CS in that position in all players into Local CS…

Anyway, food for thought…


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I think there used to be an issue that once you created a local chord on a staff, then further chords created on that staff were automatically also local, but that was fixed a while ago. I seem to recall that was why I originally didn’t use the local workflow until the end of a project, but that’s definitely not the case now, and your solution works great!