Problem in chordsymbol input b10 vs #9

How to input a b10 instead of a #9 into th chordsymbol input [shift Q]

I’m fairly new to Dorico, (have worked with Finale though for many year professionally) so maybe I’m overlooking something here, but it seems to me there is no way of getting a b10 into the chordsymbol input [shift Q]. Of course you can type it in but it doesn’t show up in the symbol (it’s just ignored). I find this strange because b9, #9, #11 etc can be inputted correctly. Although b10 is enharmonically equivalent to #9 (as long as you play the piano or another equally tempered instrument) in a theoretical sense there is a difference (in fact in most cases e.g. in an altered chord it would be more correct to call for a b10 instead of a #9). I would like to have the possibility to input b10 into the chord extensions just like you can input b9, #11 or b13. If there isn’t an easy way to do this already can you please make it available in a next maintenance update?


There’s not an easy way, but you can edit each one individually. You can also set it up in Chord Symbols/Project Default Appearances for a global change, but you’ll need to do it for each root.

You’ll probably want to use the Composite glyph comp.csymAccidentalFlat for the flat and set the attachment points to Baseline Right and Baseline Left (not Bottom). I understand your theoretical point, but a b10 sure looks strange to me. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that in anything published before.

Thanks Fred,

I’m glad to hear/see it’s possible at all in Dorico. But it sure sounds like a lot of inconvenience.

I can imagine it (b10) looks kind of strange if you never used but in Europe including in the UK (but also in earlier publications on the North American continent [see Gordon Delamont {=Canada} works published by Kendor]) it wasn’t that uncommon. In fact some of the the composers/arrangers that use(d) b10 almost never use(d) #9.
Exept from a theoretical piont (which I don’t want to go in to the speccifics of at this moment), when digitizing older scores that use b10 and wanting to do it respectfully and true to the original text (so switching to #9 isn’t an option) it sure would be a lot easier when typing b10 would just trigger the right chord symbol. It doesn’t seem that much work for the Dorico team to me (but I maybe wrong) and not having the option to do this the easy way looks like a flaw to me.

So again I would respectfully ask the Dorico team to please implement this option into their (maintenance) update.


Would you always want to use b10 in preference to #9? Or would you use #9 in some chord symbols and b10 in others within the same project?

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for asking.

First of all (as a former Finale user) I would like to say that I love the look and feel of Dorico and I think the program (although quite advance already) has a lot of potential. That’s also why I’m so serious about this.

To answer your question: “It depends”

For a theoretical analysis (or when teaching someone harmonic functionality) I would want the possibility to use either symbol because it all depends on the voice leading and the function of the chord. (See excerpt in jpg).

For my own writing I would probably favour b10 from a functional and voice leading standpoint because that is the way a minor third in a dominant 7 chord is used in the majority of the cases.

To be fair though, for practical reasons I would choose one consistent way of spelling throughout a piece for convenience and readability and I would favour b10 above #9 for the above mentioned reasons.

Of course I know that due to the American educational system the use of #9 is dominant and I have no intention to fight it, I’m not the Don Quichot of chord symbols. And I can see why the they abandoned the b10 to simplify the way you can teach students chord structures, although thereby alas sacrificing to correct describe the functional behaviour of most dominant 7 chords with a minor third added.

On first glance it may seem like a futility, and to those how never seen the use of a b10 (and the theoretical meaning of it) it may look strange, but since Dorico also supports extensive possibilities for microtonal writing and playback (which to me is more of a niche thing then the proper spelling of a Blues chord) I think it wouldn’t be too much to ask for an easy input (via shift Q) of a b10 chord with or without a combination of other extensions.

I see that b9 #11 ect. are one typeface so taking the b13 typeface as a starting point for developing the b10 typeface would look like an easy way to go.

Hope you will consider this possibility and implement the b10 possibility within the overlay input.

Thanks for your feedback, Harald. So what I’m wondering is whether it would be sufficient for us to have an engraving option that would automatically substitute any #9 for b10. It sounds like for your own purposes, this would be acceptable?

Well actually I would prefer it if I could use both and be able to switch between them. Because as I mentioned when writing a theoretical chord analysis one would want to have the freedom off using either symbol depending on the functional behaviour behaviour of the notes in the chord. So both options would be needed.

Also as mentioned in an earlier post, when digitizing work of other arrangers/composers I have no control over what they have written in the past. So I would just copy their handwritten text. If that says #9 then it’s #9 but if it says b10 the it would be b10.

Just when I write my own works I would opt for/favour b10 but on rare occasions there might be a case were #9 would be the best option. So flexibility would be appreciated.

I hope this doesn’t sound to demanding but since you have the option to, via shift Q, input #11 and b5 into the same chord symbol, I think one should have the freedom to choose between b10 and #9 within the same work without having to do several workarounds.



#5 and b13 are also possible within the same chord symbol via overlay input.
So why not the choice between b10 and #9? Not within the same chord symbol but within the same work/flow?

I’ll talk to the developer responsible for this aspect of our chord symbols feature and see what he thinks about it. I can’t make any promises about when this might be done, though.

Thanks Daniel for seriously considering my request.

I understand that you cannot make any promises. Still I hope that you (the Dorico team) can make it possible in the near future.

All the best wishes to you and your team and stay save.


C7(#9) is from a theoretical point of view correct. But sometimes it just refers to a simple C7 with a “blues-third” on top. Chord symbols are used in so many different ways, and here C7(b10) looks right - for some.
30 years ago I made a paper about chord-symbols and counted 20 different ways of notating a Cmaj7. (Strangest example Cmajor7th large (major referring to major not minor )).
In older music Dm6 in most cases means Dm/B or Bm7b5.

Hi Dich,

As said in an earlier post I really don’t want to go into the what’s right or what’s wrong.

I agreed that there are all sorts of ways used in the past, present and probably also in the future to notate chord symbols (some more disputable than others) , and some sort of standardisation wouldn’t be a bad thing persé. But I don’t think it’s up to music notation software to enforce this by limiting the possibilities.

Maybe limiting isn’t the right word (because it is possible as Fred showed), but making one more difficult to achieve than the other can be also seen as kind of a restriction in my opinion.

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Hi Dich,

Just a question to be sure I understand.

Which of the written (notes) spellings would you prefer? Be it as a keyboard/piano player or as 5 individual voices (e.g. for Brass [2 trpts, 3 Bones] or a sax section)

Example 1 ?
Slice 1

or Example 2?
Slice 2

Examples are in concert pitch.

May I just point out that in common practice chord symbol terminology is unconcerned with enharmonics. Chord symbols are to help working musicians get the right notes quickly, only without specifying voicing as notation does. What the notes are called or how you write them on the staff is immaterial to ear-musicians; they don’t care how it is written down, they care how it is played. In that world D♯ is the same as E♭ (just as “u” is as good as “you” in the world of text messaging).

Quibbling about enharmonics in chord symbols is like fussing over the precise description of the contents of the trash bin. By all means, continue with the discussion (and indeed I am following it closely because notation and enharmonics do matter to me) but know that most musicians who read chord symbols are never going to care.

♯9 is a convenient and compact way of saying that a chord has both 3rds in it at the same time, because it doesn’t mention or contradict the 3rd. In figured bass language you would have to specify both ♭ and ♮ (which harmony of course doesn’t exist in that tradition). I’ve copied music for people who insist that it’s never ♯11, it’s always ♭5, because only 5ths and 9ths can have those particular alterations. “Whatever, man.”


Just out of curiosity, who have you copied for that has used a b10? I’m all for more flexibility with Dorico’s chord symbols so I would welcome more chord symbol options, I just don’t think I’ve seen it in use. I’ve worked as a copyist for Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, John Lewis, Toshiko Akiyoski, Don Sebesky, David Berger, and many, many others, and I don’t recall any of them ever using a b10. The Clinton Roemer and Ken Williams books are probably the best from the hand copying era and neither of them lists a b10 as an option. I’m not bothering with a comprehensive search but doing a quick flip through the original “Real Book” and the Chuck Sher versions, I’m not seeing it either. The Chuck Sher book doesn’t list it in the chord symbol index on page iv.

Anyway, all of that is irrelevant if you need to use b10, but I am curious what “work of other arrangers/composers” has used this, as I don’t think I’ve seen it in use before.

(You can also use MusGlyphs to enter it as Text or Lyrics too, and if I needed to use b10 for analysis, I’d probably do it that way.)

Hi Mark,

Sorry to annoy you.

But just for giggles let’s take one more look into the trash bin :wink:

Your description of chord symbols and it’s use to “help working musician get the right notes quickly” resembles more that of tablature which indeed just specifies which notes to grab. But that isn’t what chord symbols do. It’s funny you mention figured bass because that comparison is much more accurate. Both (figured bass and chord symbols) give the player some freedom of interpretation and that’s why I think it is important as a composer/arranger to inform the player as much as possible, not only on the vertical structure but also (especially in dense “jazz” chords) about the functions of the individual voices and their voice leading, which just is an inevitable part of performing chord symbols. Of course this isn’t as necessary for easy/simple/”commercial” pieces as it is for advance contemporary Jazz works for larger ensembles.

But chord symbols are not only used when performing music but also when teaching. So don’t overlook that please.

I agree with you completely on the “whatever” part though. That just my point. Ever composer/arranger should be able to write the music (s)he wants and present it to musicians as (s)he thinks is most beneficial to his/her goals. That’s why I asked to make the input of b10 just as easy as the input of #9. Hope they can make that possible.

Trash bin closed :wink:


Hi Fred,

Here in the Netherland there is a real persistent tradition of favouring b10 above #9 for the reason that from a traditional and functional point of view that its origin within a functional harmonic setting (other than within the Blues) is as kind of a suspensions for the b 9 in a basic (ii-)V-I progression.

It (b10) was propagated by a guy name Frans Elsen, who is kind of the godfather of Jazz education in the Netherlands. Many of his students who have written for the Dutch Radio Orchestra’s (e.g. the Metropole Orchestra) used b10 instead of #9.

Most of them aren’t that well known worldwide but if you want some names here are some guys: Jerry van Rooyen, Rob Pronk, Kenny Napper and almost all of their students (including me).

As with most emancipation of dissonants throughout music history the b10 of course doesn’t have to resolve any more (not via a b9 nor other ways) but knowing its origin (as also mentioned in the Gordon Delamont example) can be beneficial in my opinion.

With my Jazz Composition/Arranging teachers (Jan Faas, Kenny Napper and Jurre Haanstra) and Jazz Theory teachers in het Netherlands we only would talk of #9 when it resolves upward otherwise it was a b10.

As mentioned I know #9 dominates in use (due to the American Jazz educational system and methods) and every reasonably educated Jazz player in the Netherlands is happy to use and play either nowadays. That’s why I asked.

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I didn’t mean to convey annoyance; I’m just trying to speak practically. And of course I’m not arguing that Dorico users should be prevented from writing ♭10. And on the other hand, most people will continue to write ♯9. And about the trash bin metaphor, there are indeed professionals whose concern is exactly that.

Where we disagree is: In my opinion chord symbols are a deficient tool for music analysis. Believe me, I tried it when I was younger. The analogy with figured bass is tempting, but the systems are nowhere near equivalent. To really study voice leading (on paper), full notation is necessary. And of course working musicians learn by listening and playing.

If we want to get picky, in your post #5 above, the +9 moving upward to the major 7th I regard as not a resolution at all; it is chromatic voice leading without a recognizable tonal function (the sort Wagner’s music is full of). The effect on the ear is that you easily follow the voice movement, but the harmony is puzzling (which is of course a very useful effect). This is a case where the enharmonic spelling doesn’t have such a clear rule as, say, the case of an augmented 6th resolving to an octave.

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Cool, I’ve watched some of those “Barry Harris in the Hague” videos linked to on that site before! I only attended Barry’s NYC class a couple of times, but he was a a master educator and pianist.

The university where I teach actually has an exchange program with Conservatorium van Amsterdam. The program is not active right now with COVID, but I’ve taught a few students from there before. b10 vs #9 never came up in my Improv class with them either, but I’ll reach out to one of them as I’m curious what they would think about it. If b10 is an established style in certain markets, it seems like Dorico should support it. It certainly would be odd to see in the US though.


No Doubt. I will use your example no. 1.
No.2 is confusing to read. One thing is a theoretical “correct” Chord-Symbol. But the notes to be played must be easy to read. Flats are showing downward melodies, Sharps upwards. Or use your logic. Another winkle: In ex. 1 you can see on the notes that the melody is going downwards.