Lyrics and Chords

A request: Can a standard Lyric / Chord layout (very basic example below) be included as part of the ongoing development of chord notation within Dorico?

This layout obviously differs from a standard lead sheet in that there are no bars, no staves, no melody etc. Essentially it’s a standard text layout with chords superimposed above. It occurs to me that while it looks almost childishly simple, in programming terms it may be difficult to achieve.

If it is possible, could there be 1) a view option to see a song presented this way, 2) editing functions to format the display (e.g. assigning verses, spaces, line breaks etc.) and 3) the ability to export it as a jpeg (a text file?) and/or print it out.

I may well be wrong about this, but I’m not aware of this function existing in other notation software. Yet, the layout itself is ubiquitous - the internet is crawling with examples. Maybe it’s not viewed as notation. Personally, I find it a really good way to study/review lyrics and harmonic development without getting completely sidetracked by melody and rhythm. It also places the emphasis on the words - something notation rarely, if ever, does.

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You’re right that I don’t think this exists in other scoring software. I believe Newzik on iOS either already supports or will soon support this format, with some degree of automatic formatting.

Dorico doesn’t really handle this kind of thing at the present, and I think unfortunately it’s outside the scope of the current work we’re doing on chord symbols, as it’s more to do with how the music is represented than how the chord symbols themselves are shown. But I would certainly not rule out providing support for this kind of chart in the future.


I’ve had to deal with this sort of notation occasionally. What David says is true: it is ubiquitous in many areas of music-making. Were Dorico to facilitate import/export in this form (or some close variant) it might open up a considerable new market and make integrating different kinds of musicians easier.

My first choice would be to do this in a DTP package, like InDesign. It’s entirely possible to anchor the chord text to particular points in the lyric text flow.

Sure, and so far I’m doing exactly that, although not with InDesign - but why have two programs, why enter data twice? An ideal solution would be to notate it properly and then use a subset of the available data (in this case lyrics, chords and the precise relationship between the two) to assemble it.

Thanks Daniel. I appreciate this area is somewhat tangential to notation and would be well down the pecking order but, in it’s own way, it is valid - and I’m sure Dorico could do a far more professional job than the appalling example I uploaded. The point I’ve just made to benwiggy holds true - why enter data twice?

If it’s not there by 2020 I may come and bug you again on this… :wink:

Do you envision this type of Layout showing fretboards or only letter-based chord symbols with the lyrics?

Finale has a Template for this, but it appear to be a stand-alone which does not hook up with the rest of an arrangement the way I think you mean Dorico to do.

Hi Derrek,

Personally, I would use it for letter-based chord symbols and I think that would be the easier of the two options. Because of their width fretboard symbols have an ongoing impact on text spacing whereas for the most part letter-based chord symbols can be accommodated without making changes to regular text spacing. There is a hybrid of the two in common use where fretboard symbols are shown and named upfront rather than during the song (which continues to use letter-based chords).

Thanks for the file but unfortunately I couldn’t open it - it came out garbled for me. But I do have a copy of Finale 2012 (which I haven’t used for ages) so I’ll take a look at that.

ETA: I’m attaching a rough mock-up of how this could be presented in a better way - the idea being to put the emphasis on the words. Looking at it, a really neat function would be the ability to transpose the chords automatically into a different key depending on who’s singing it.

I’ll leave it there… :smiley:

Hi David,
I think that is what you are looking for:

  • chordastic (windows)
  • chordpro Buddy (Mac)


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Hi Daniel,
Would it be possible to allow Dorico to hide a staff entirely to do this?
So if you had a lead sheet with melody/lyrics/chords and hid the staff part to leave just the lyrics and chords?
The layout would be ugly, but you could manually do the layout to make it proper lines of lyric.
Then you could either do chord symbols or chord charts, which would nice.

This is something we would like to support natively in Dorico without need for workarounds like hiding the staff, but we’ve not yet implemented it. Hopefully in the future…


I’d also be quite interested in this.

There might be some design challenges with the way Dorico ties everything to the rhythmic grid. If you’re just trying to line up chords to syllables for a basic chord chart, lining all the syllables up to the grid might be more work than is necessary.

It might be interesting to have a sort of self-isolated feature that can take ChordPro-formatted text and output it in Dorico’s beautifully formatted way.

If you then wanted to line that up to the grid to add melody however, that might be another implementation challenge.