Multi-bar rests with chord symbols in the first bar

Would it be possible to support multi-bar rests with chord symbols in their first bar?

Currently, if the first bar contains a chord symbol and no other music, the first bar will contain a single-bar rest, followed by a multi-bar rest for the subsequent bars. For example, if chords change every four bars in a section of a piece, each change will be expressed by a single-bar rest with the chord symbol, followed by a multi-bar rest with a 3 bar duration.

If someone is supposed to play a chord then there should not be any rest at all, that’s what slash regions are for.

A reasonable situation I could imagine is when you would want to indicate the chord change to a player only as a cue to follow along until his entry. In that case I would enter the chord symbol as system or staff text that does not break the multibar rest.

Perhaps the motivation for this question is if somebody wants to write very simplified (and clean) lead sheets where the multi-measure “rests” are actually showing song form rather than literally indicating rests. This is quite common in drum set parts, where a person might want to do a multi-measure symbol over 16 bars with the text “Play swing”.

I could easily see the same type of charting wanted for rhythm section instruments. Maybe there is a need for a new kind of region that displays a multi-measure bar with optional text, and allows things like chords to appear.

Here is a use case, to provide some context.

Consider parts for horn sections in popular music (brass, saxophones etc.), when there is only limited time for rehearsals (if at all). Parts should provide an overview for the general structure of the song, in addition to the actual music performed by each player. This enables players to communicate about (and further arrange) the song during rehearsal, or even to quickly adapt during the actual show. For example, the bridge may originally have no horns, but in the rehearsal the the horn section decides to play long notes in harmony, following the changes.

There is also the question of correctness.

Is it the correct behaviour to display a single bar rest followed by a multi-bar rest if the first bar has a chord symbol? I would argue no, the entire section consists of rests with a single chord. There is another case, where the chord changes within a stretch of rests. In that case, the most logical behaviour IMHO would be to split the multirest at the chord change.

Cjolowicz, your use case (horn sections) seems to me to be better suited to fully expanded rests (four whole bars of rests, not a single multi bar rest), or else there isn’t going to be room to hastily scribble in the music. Or am I missing something?

Thanks for everybody’s feedback!

The question remains, why should the multi-bar rest be split after the first bar? The musical information in the first bar applies to the entire silent passage. The current behaviour results in a confusing visual impression, forcing one to avoid multi-bar rests when using chord symbols over silent passages.

It seems to me that chord symbols in multi-bar rests should be handled in the same way as, for example, text or dynamics, already are. Text objects and dynamics only split a multi-bar rest at the beginning of the bar at which they occur, not after that bar. In particular, they don’t split a multi-bar rest at all if they occur in its first bar.

Pianoleo, in some situations what you describe is a great approach. You can then also hide the single-bar rests, to make it even easier to annotate the score. That said, I hardly use this approach anymore. For me it’s more important to keep the scores short and page turns to a minimum. At the same time, I prefer to have chords for the entire song, not just individual passages. Also, there is never time for clean annotations (especially when you’re on an iPad or tablet). When there is time, I’d rather go back to Dorico and update the score.

I’m in agreement with cjolowicz here. Often I’ll add chord symbols in case I decide I want a soloist to fill in there later, or to cover a missing player, or even just as a cue. Slashes take up much more horizontal space, and some players will automatically start soloing as soon as they see slashes regardless of any text instructing them to tacet. I’ve had to do something like the following example a zillion times in Finale and it would be great if Dorico could support this type of notation too.

Thanks for the feedback. We’ll see about changing this when we can.

That would be great!

Thanks for being so responsive on these forums. You and your team have my full admiration for creating such an amazing and visionary notation software!