Chord with suspended minor second

How can I write a chord with a suspended minor second and a suspended fourth?
In Finale I write it like this: C (sus b2)(sus 4)
I do not want to write it as b9 sus4 as I do not want to implicite the b7 in the chord.
But It seems as if Dorico does not consider a suspended minor second and ignores any input with b2.
I have seen this written also as (sus 4)(sus b9)
But Dorico does not accept sus b9 and the only way I found in Dorico is to write: sus4(add b9)
And as this chord is really a suspended chord where in the next chord the b2 falls to the root and the 4th falls to the major third I would like to keep the “sus” term.

Is it possible to save a custom Chord Symbol preset under a specific name in order to have several custom presets?

I will ask Michael, the developer who did most of the work on Dorico’s model of how it thinks about chord symbols, what he thinks about what it would take to allow a sus b2. For the time being, you could give in and let Dorico show e.g. sus4(add b9) and then double-click it in Engrave mode and change it to look as you wish – you’ll need to create a new “sus” component in place of the “add” to do this.

“I do not want to write it as b9 sus4 as I do not want to implicite the b7 in the chord.”

Since “sus” usually means that the third is replaced by something else (usually the fourth) - and if the chords consists of C, Bb, F and G, why not just use “sus4(add b9)”? the use of the word add before 9 suggests that there’s no b7 in that chord anyway. Sus 2 chords and sus 4 chords make sense because sometimes the third is replaced by either the second or the fourth, but usually not by the Db.

I’ve seen that chord written as Csus4 (b9). But but since a 9 usually implies a b7, maybe Csus4(b2) could be a way to write it as well, if you don’t want to use the available solution or b9?

C7 with a b9 is usually written C7(b9), (unlike a C9, which implies a Bb as well). So maybe Csus4 (b9) wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Btw: According to (a site which I know nothing about), the correct way to write a similar chord with a b7 in would actually be C7sus(b9). So that would be another reason why Csus4(b9) isn’t such a bad idea.

But C sus4(add b9) removes any confusion about the b7.

@ Daniel
Thanks for your suggestions.
I tried to create a new “sus” component in place of “add” and I was able to do it.
I also set it as default, but it seems the default setting works only for the root note I choosed to edit the chord appearance.
For example I created the new chord appearance using the root note C
If I write then Csus4(add b9) it becomes automatically Csus4 (sus b2)
But if I write Dsus4(add b9) it stays Dsus4(add b9)
Is there a way to make a new created appearance of a chord valid for all notes?

  1. Could you please answer my second question wether it is possible to save several custom Chord Symbol presets?

Thanks for your suggestions.
Yes indeed (add b9) does not implicite the use of b7
I guess for now I will possibly write it this way.

But as I previously mention I would like to use the term sus because the context is definitely a case of supended notes.
Play C-E-G-Db-F followed by C-E-G-C-E
As you can hear this is a rather common suspended harmonic progression with a kind of spanish/oriental flavour.
And yes you are right usually a sus 2 is about a major second.
But for me in the above harmonic progression the used minor second is a supended minor second falling back to the root.

BTW this particular harmony used with the b7 is also known as “the Sus b9 mode” and it is also a chord based on phrygian mode.
But I do not intend to initiate any debate on the way one “should” name a chord.
As a composer I simply prefer to be able to name a chord as I want even if my naming is not common or mainstream.

You will need to create the same preset for each root note, I’m afraid: you can’t make it a global preset, and you can only save a single default appearance for each specific combination of quality, interval, altered bass note, etc.

OK, thanks again for your answer.
I hope then that you can find a way to officially offer the term “sus b2”.

As I understand the chord symbol presets like “Boston”, “Brandt-Roemer” and so on offfer a specific combination of the different official appearances provided by Dorico.
The Custom preset allows the user to choose a combination of any of the provided options.

But what is with the following situation:

  • In project 1 I choose the Boston Root appearance combined with the Brandt-Roemer superscript vertical position of accidental for root note
  • In project 2 I choose the Nashville root appearance combined with the Boston baseline Vertical position of accidental for root note.

Could you make possible to create two (or more) presets: “Project 1 preset” and “Project 2 preset” in order to be later able in other projects to choose from these differents custom presets?

Not sure what the team has ended up with in this regard, but barring any technical limitations, I think Dorico should allow any theoretical symbol, however unusual. susb2 and sus#4 are the only ones I can think of that Dorico is unable to accomodate.

I guess there is an argument for the software to be able to accommodate anything. But as a musician I have never seen “sus b2” or even “b2” – never in many thousands of charts. That is always indicated as a flat 9th. If you really expect the Db to be played down next to the root, then I’d suggest

 Db(omit 5)/C

I would stick with nomenclature that musicians are likely to make sense of. Fewer than 1% will read your susb2 business correctly the first time. Most competent musicians will read the b9 or the Db/C correctly.


Maria Schneider often uses both of those. After I hipped her to MusGlyphs she basically gave up on chord entry and just types them in using it now AFAIK, as Dorico can’t really easily accommodate her nomenclature.

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I suppose she works with rhythm section players who understand her way of doing things, and that’s terrific. I wouldn’t recommend writing those non-standard spellings unless one knows the musicians who will be playing them. To me, rather than it being some kind of C chord, this seems a lot more like an inversion of a DbMaj7 chord (Maj7 on the bottom,) which ought to make sense to just about everybody.

But maybe in some particular context, the flatted second makes musical sense.

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At least for me, one of the defining “Maria-ish” sounds in her writing (from Allegresse onward anyway) is the double perfect fifth voicing, either in the Piano left hand, or voiced out for instruments. If you take from bottom up, Ab-Eb-Bb, there’s not much else to call it but Ab2. She’ll sometimes leave that chord symbol in the Piano even when there’s more dissonant stuff going on above it. Or if the Bb moves down to A, then Ab(b2). That open fifth sound sort of establishes a tonal center and allows her to go wherever she wants above it, even if she sticks with the Ab2 or Ab(b2) nomenclature.

There are lots of times in her composition Bulería, Soleá, y Rumba where she uses a b2 chord as well, but here it’s usually clear she means a triad plus a b2 like C#(b2). In any case there’s often not a 7th, and it’s a lot less to read than a modal name like C# Phrygian Dominant, or C# Freygish or something. I’d like for Dorico to be accomodate anything, no matter how original, creative, or obscure, but a b2 chord isn’t so unusual and there are certainly examples of it in published music.

I agree that open 5ths don’t really fit our nomenclature system, and it is a cool sound that needs representation. However, if I saw Ab2, I think I would play (from bottom up) Ab-Bb-C-Eb. That’s more like The Carpenters, and nothing like that open 5th If I had to fit that into our nomenclature system, I guess I would write Ab9(omit 3, omit7). But that really implies the omitted 7th is flat (Gb) and that’s all wrong. It would be closer to the idea to say AbMaj9 (omit 3, omit 7), which looks silly because the maj7 is omitted.

No good answer, I guess, other than writing out the notes explicitly and hope the piano player can read the dots OK. This discussion makes me want to experiment with more of those stacked 5ths and tritones. It is a very interesting sound, no matter how we try to spell it.

I made a score reduction and analysis of her amazing composition Hang Gliding a couple of years ago. Most of her music isn’t on streaming services or YouTube (she’s testified in front of Congress about piracy before), but there’s a good video of the first half of Hang Gliding from the Vienne festival in 2008. The first 18 bars are all Ab Lydian, but once she breaks that she uses a bunch of those stacked 5ths in the Piano.

Near the end of the piece, she has those stacked 5ths Ab-Eb-Bb and then an A natural in the melody. No idea what to call that one. I guess some sort of Bb Lydian over Ab Lydian.

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I don’t get how Db(omit5)/C could be used in place of a “phrygian tirad” (C, Db, G), which is what I’m talking about.

Anyway, modern nomenclature does indeed distinguish between add2 and add9 to denote the specific voicing. In a modal context, susb2 makes just as much sense as sus#4 (C, F#, G), which I’m guessing you have no issue with.