How to write chord B7/9?

I know that normally B9 includes the 7 while Badd9 is B with only the 9 added but without the 7.
I’m engraving a piece for a jazz composer who writes the chords that include both 7 as well as 9 as B7/9.
Is there any workaround I can use to engrave it like he wrote it?


I think the closest without editing individual chord appearances is to show B7add9 as “B7(9)”, by setting this:


This one is a bit of a pain because you can’t make a global override. If you globally change the 9 suffix, it will also change other suffixes where the 9 is used like this:

(Unless he wants that, in which case great!)

So you’re stuck doing this in Engrave mode. In Engrave …

  1. Double-click a B9 to bring up the Edit Chord Symbol Appearance editor.

  2. Click the 9 so it’s highlighted in blue below, then click Edit Component.

  3. You now are in the Edit Chord Symbol Component editor where you’ll rebuild the suffix. Click the 9 and delete it with the trash can.

  4. We want to add all the elements separately so we can control them. If we add them at once they will be a single uneditable item. Click the Text tab, switch the font style to Chord Symbols Font and add a 7.

  5. Switch the font style to Chord Symbols Font again and add a /. (I think Dorico might actually use a different glyph for this but I gotta leave and don’t have time to look it up.)

  6. Switch the font style to Chord Symbols Font again and add a 9.

  7. Edit the X and Y (if needed) values of the components so they look correct and hit OK.

  8. B7/9

You can now alt-click it around as needed. For other roots you can select your edited 7/9 in the editor. Every time you do so Dorico makes another copy of that suffix, but that doesn’t really matter.


Thanks for this very detailed explanation!
I will take a first step and ask him if he really insists on engraving it the way he wrote it. If so, I’ll happily come back here and do as you said.
(It’s a jazzy opera, so there are many instances of this… I really want to avoid it if possible.)

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Most jazz musicians would interpret B9 as including the 7th anyway.


I guess you have to give the customer what he wants, but this is nuts. I have never, ever seen anybody explicitly spell out the 7 in a “9 chord”. It is assumed 100% of the time, in my experience.

I don’t even think it is an archaic convention from early jazz. I have never seen that in ANY context.


Not too common now, but there was/is a house style where you state the “basic” chord first followed by a slash and then any alterations and/or extensions.

I picked up a bunch of LPs last weekend and finally got around to listening to this Attila Zoller trio recording (with Ron Carter and Joe Chambers) today, and here’s that slash style on the back!

He writes Ab7/+5, Bmaj7/-5, etc.


Actually, the handwriting seems to use a vertical pipe character rather than a slash; but be that as it may, if one is transcribing it for current players, is there any value to reproducing an idiosyncratic, out of style notation? You would be experienced enough to know. And is enabling another (idiosyncratic) chord house style worth the time of the Dorico team?

As you certainly know, even before examining the variety of Chord Symbol options in Engrave Mode, Chord Symbol notation has not been standardized (which is too bad).

But then, perhaps you were just showing this as an interesting curiosity. :man_shrugging:

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Yeah, it was just a coincidence that I put this LP on today and noticed it on the back. Whether it’s a pipe or slash though, it’s just a style of nomenclature that separates extensions and alterations from the “base” chord symbol. It’s not very common, but I have seen it before. Perhaps it’s just so the Bass player can simply look at the initial chord and not be bogged down with the extensions that they are going to ignore anyway, but that’s just a guess.

I don’t think it’s common enough, certainly not any more, to be very high on my own personal Dorico chord wishlist, but obviously those who need this type of notation will disagree.



7/9 is sometimes used in sheet music for (jazz) guitar

Leavitt points it out in Volume 3 of his “A Modern Method for Guitar.” I have only encountered this way of notating in his book.

This notation is quite unusual, as guitarists are often forced to omit notes due to the instrument’s limitations, which leads to its own kind of logic.



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If I came across this notation it would make me think for a second and certainly interrupt my reading of the chart. Personally, I think this should not be supported as an official chord symbol in Dorico because of the potential for confusion it would cause.

I am like Fred, where I’d never have any use for this. I don’t ever engrave anything historically. This is analogous to figured bass, I’d think. If a person needs to engrave for past conventions, these things will be important to them.

Perhaps this suggests a need for more capability in the “user defined chords/symbols” area. Dorico is already quite robust, but there have been various aspects of the current implementation that still seem more tedious than they could be.

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Most definitely! It really shouldn’t be that hard for a user to create anything they want.

I just had a bit of a flashback and finally remembered where I had seen this style before. Charles Tolliver used to use it in a lot of his older hand-copied parts. (The copyist for all of his later stuff used Sib and didn’t use this style.) IIRC, in the clip of Rejoicin’ below the second chord of the melody was written A7/9 and the fourth chord F7/9.

I think all of his charts written back in the “Strata-East” era used that type of notation.

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The problem with that is they want everything to be semantic. If I want to invent a G♭17 chord, there’s nowhere to tell Dorico what that’s intended to mean.

(P.S. I also called it a “7/9” chord growing up in the 1970s, while a “9” chord did not include a 7th. Modern nomenclature is more efficient and unambiguous.)

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If this was standard notation, even just for a time, then it seems like Dorico should have an option to support it. I know of several composers who use “invented” non-standard chord nomenclature. One such particularly brilliant composer, who now uses Dorico, basically gave up on the chord tool and just types them in with MusGlyphs. (She obviously doesn’t care about nor want chord playback.)

Now that I know the era, I’ll see if I can find some other examples of this.

I’m just curious. I’m not much of a piano player, but it seems to me the pianists I know, while comping, don’t necessarily play all the interior notes, and don’t play them the same way each time. Most of the time, they aren’t hammering block chords anyway. I don’t really expect the pianist to play the 7ths all the time, if there are higher color tones in the chord. If I feel that a particular note is really needed, I guess I’ll write the notes out explicitly, but even then, my guess is the pianist will more-or-less flow with the music rather than playing the chart literally.

Do others have a different experience? It is similar to drumset parts. If there is a particular section that really needs to be played with exact strokes on exact drums, I’ll add “Play as written” or something. Otherwise, it is more of a suggestion.

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That may of course be true - but as a first step you have to know which notes should be in your chord before you can start leaving some out :wink:

Jazz chord symbols basically indicate what notes are intended to fit at a given moment, whether they’re all played that particular time or not. Of course (as with Baroque figured bass) the root and the 3rd are most important, orienting the harmony.

I rarely play in situations without a bass player. In that case, the piano comping centers around the guide tones (3rd and 7th). But the old pros tend to work their own melodic lines into the comping and aren’t so much about specific block chords. They want to know what the framework is, but they often drift in and out of that framework. It is magic when done well.

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Yes and no I suppose. If you transcribe the left hand of any pianist comping for themselves, they almost always are playing shapes that include the 7th and 3rd, and then one or two other colors. Here’s the beginning of Chick’s Windows solo off Now He Sings, Now He Sobs that I transcribed a couple of years ago. Almost every LH voicing in the whole solo has a 3rd and 7th.

With really advanced rhythm sections, the chords are assumed and then they can go in any direction at any time. There’s the whole “butter notes” passage in Herbie’s book:

Definitely the best modern modern players do this all the time. Two of my favorite compers to play with are Orrin Evans and Benito Gonzalez and they certainly can go in any direction so you have to keep your ears open! I just did a quartet hit with Benito a week ago and I mean, here’s what he hears when he sees a Cm7 chord, LOL!

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