Some help with chords

Hello all,

normally in my orchestral score I use chords on piano staff that I’ll hide before producing the final printout.

I would like to adopt a different approach but I’m not able to obtain the desired result:

  • I would like a separate staff just over the piano one, so I can enable it only for the flow(s) I’m working on (this is the easy thing).
  • I would like not seeing rests on this staff (in Layout Options I’ve found the “Show bar rest in empty bars” option but this is affecting all staves).
  • I would like the chords inside the staff, big enough to vertically cover the whole staff.

Alternatively a single-line bar, without rests, can be fine.

Any suggestions?

You mean you want to show chord symbols superimposed on a staff directly above the piano staff? I’m afraid this isn’t something that Dorico supports directly.

What about something like this? Is this sort of what you are going for?

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Nice one Fred, I might have to steal that when I want chord symbols on a lead sheet. but not on the actual vocals.

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Yes Fred, this is good for me. How did you obtain this result?

Thank you Daniel, I supposed it.
Anyway the Fred’s solution is a perfect alternative once understood how to do it.

First, you’ll need to add a 1-line staff. I’ve hacked my instruments.xml file to have a non-percussion 1-line staff available (and a 0-line staff) but this will work with a percussion instrument like Claves too. As you pointed out, “show rests in empty bars” is an all or nothing approach so it won’t work here. Remove Rests doesn’t work until you’ve explicitly done something in the first bar, so I just set the first rest position to -1, then set the Color/Alpha Channel to 0, which will hide that first whole rest. After that, you can either copy it or use Remove Rests.

I didn’t do it above, but you could use an invisible clef on the staff if you want. You can also have an independent time signature for that staff that you could then hide.

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Thank you Fred for your answer but… I’ve not understood it completely.

Here the first problems: where is the instruments.xml file? What kind of hack you did (can you please post here the added and/or modified lines)?

What do you mean with “I just set the first rest position to -1”?


Claudio Rosati
via Fratelli Ruffini 10
42122 Reggio Emilia (RE)

If you just want to use a single line staff with a short barline, you can use a percussion instrument like Claves, so there’s no need to mess around with the instruments.xml file. If you want a 0-line staff, or longer barlines, or something else, then you may need to edit the instruments.xml file.

There’s no way to change an instrument definition within Dorico like there is with other notation programs. I assume at some point there will be a full-featured instrument designer but for now you are limited to the instruments already configured in the program. This can be severely limiting if you want to do something custom that the developers haven’t thought of. The workaround is to modify your instruments.xml file. In Windows this resides in Program Files/Steinberg/Dorico3.5. As this is in the Dorico system folder and not the user folder, modification of it is not officially supported. Be sure to make a backup of the original file before making any hacks.

For example, here I’ve made a modification in my instruments.xml file to an instrument I’m not likely to ever use to be a 0-line staff, as there are no instruments already defined in Dorico to be a 0-line staff:

When added to a score, your chord staff could look like this:

To remove the first rest, you need to modify it manually, after that Remove Rests will work, or you can copy the one you modified. I started by setting the rest to -1 in Properties which is a manual edit that will allow Remove Rests to work after that bar:

You can make a lot of items invisible in Dorico by setting the Alpha channel to 0 as shown below. The catch is you have to remember to export PDFs in Color mode, otherwise that channel isn’t active.

Hope that helps!

Thank very much @FredGUnn for your help.

Probably I’ll use a single-line instrument so I can add slash notes when the chords change in strange places.

@dspreadbury I hope in a future version to have a “Chord” instrument as part of the provided ones.

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