Request – Custom modal chord symbols

It would be of great help if there were some way to make custom modal chord symbols.

“Lyd.”, “Aeol.” and such are great! But sometimes I’d prefer those in spanish (“jón” for “ion”, or “fri” for “phry”, you get me).

Besides, sometimes I need to indicate some mode that’s not currently available in the Chords popover (today I faced “lydian augmented” by doing it manually in several transposing instruments).

Lastly, by the way, is there a way to make some custom chords shortcuts? I.E., something like “wt” for “wholetone” or “dimhw” for “diminishedhalfwhole”).

All this look a bit simple but I’m sure it isn’t at all as programmers. I can be patient :slight_smile:

I’d love to know what some of these chords/scales look like. For example…

  • lydian augmented
  • dimhw

The first is lydian augmented, second diminished half-whole. Because the diminished is symmetrical, the spelling isn’t so important, so others may spell the enharmonics differently. I think of the lydian augmented as lydian #5, but some people tend to think of lydian augmented as ascending melodic minor starting on the 3rd, others think of it as E/C. Some more dissonant variants can include E Pentatonic over C like Kenny Garrett’s “Tacit Dance”

Ah, that second one is also called “octatonic.” Results in some pretty groovy harmonies, that one.

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I usually think of diminished scales as whole-half and then they function the same as a “leading tone” diminished. In other words for a C7(b9) chord use the whole-half diminished that functions the same as the leading tone diminished to where it would resolve, so E diminished in this case. You are right that it creates some great harmonic relationships!

Getting a bit OT, but I just thought of another beautiful tune that uses a Cmaj7(#5), the second chord of Mulgrew Miller’s “For Those Who Do.”

If you have Nicholas Slonimsky’s “Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns,” it contains 23 pages of different patterns over what he calls a “Sesquitone Progression” or equal division of one octave into four parts!

Fred, et alia:
Thank you.

You can customise the look of modal chord symbols in the same way as any other chord symbols, either using the individual editor by double-clicking in Engrave mode, or using the Edit Project Default Chord Symbols dialog accessed from the bottom of the Chord Symbols page of Engraving Options.

Once again, thank you a lot! I missed that!

@FredGUnn: very nice examples! Miller’s bit is a transcription of yours, or where did you find it?

How about other modes, as the ones in the list? I’m trying to write a chord symbol Charm.maj/Ab, but to my frustration Dorico keeps insisting that I mean harmonic minor, instead of the harmonic major I’ve typed. The modal chord symbols feature is great, but please make it more flexible:)


Vilkka Wahl

Sorry, this is months late, but I just saw this. I’ve transcribed a lot of Mulgrew Miller’s stuff, and learned just about every tune off several of his albums, including Hand in Hand, which has that tune I quoted.

While Dorico does a good job with more basic chord symbols, it can’t possibly have the ability to natively notate all possible modes, or have the foresight to anticipate modes a composer might create. It can reasonably handle modes derived from the major scale, but in addition to your harmonic major example, it currently can’t really do any of the modes derived from the ascending melodic minor scale, and many of these are frequently encountered in jazz. It would be really great for Dorico to have a feature to allow the user to create custom modes and/or chord symbols, even if these are visual only without playback capabilities. (Although that would eventually be nice as well.)

Another possible workaround could be creating a Paragraph Style that mimics the chord symbols style, but as you can’t use text tokens for sharps and flats in Shift-X text, that’s not currently very helpful either. The only real workaround I can think of right now is take a chord symbol that you aren’t using in the project, and edit it so it states “harm. maj.” instead of whatever it was. You would lose that symbol as an option, but you’d gain “harm. maj.”

Just a plug for including harmonic major and/or being able to freely create your own symbols rather than just replace existing ones:

Harmonic major really isn’t that marginal a scale. There are only 4 half/whole patterns that have genuine 7-note modes, and the harmonic major scale is 25% of them. Relatively popular chords like Maj7#5#9, 7b9 (not octatonic—natural 11 and no #9), and minMaj7#11 all come from it. It seems like it could/should be included.

And regardless of harmonic major being a default option, and regardless of all the modes of melodic and harmonic minor not necessarily having standardized names for Dorico to include, I can’t imagine why (assuming I’m not missing something and this feature already exists) a user shouldn’t be able to create their own chord symbols without replacing something pre-existing (and so losing access to it).

P.S. The hexatonic scale (alternating augmented and minor seconds) is the one other scale that seems to bear mention here—aside from the four modal scales, and the whole tone and octatonic scales (which Dorico includes, minus harmonic major), it’s the only other single-octave scale with no half-step clusters, and with no intervals larger than a major second that could be filled in without creating a half-step cluster.


Ack—I wanted to edit that post but you can’t after a bit, and had decided that this wasn’t worth adding, but it’s been nagging at me:

And of course Maj7b13 is another lovely sound, and is the first mode of harmonic major. That’s fully four of its seven modes that yield fairly common chords. I still have to police myself not to overuse harmonic major modes, so I’m always really confounded when I find it being treated as a second-class (or nth-class) scale, or being overlooked altogether.

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