When will Chords be available?

Personally, I almost never want parentheses in chord symbols. Also, it would be nice to have a triangle shape as an option for maj.

I imagine the geniuses at Steinberg are way ahead of us on this, and have come up with some sort of brilliant formula editor or WYSIWYG LaTeX-style system that will allow any and all chord symbols you could imagine—just not in time for v1.0. (Even so, it would be awesome to get clarification on this from the aforementioned geniuses :wink: )

It’s the very first version of a brand new piece of software. I’m willing to bet when you’re looking back in 5-10 years—at which point Finale and Sibelius have likely gone the way of the dodo, and stalled in development—that you’ll have different thoughts. Daniel and their team have made it very clear that they don’t expect people to 100% jump ship at this point and abandon their favorite product. I don’t think they’re neglecting any particular faction of the music world. It seems to me at this point, they’re currently focused on developing the part of music that every piece of Western notated music will have in common: page, staves, notes, dynamics, etc.

I have colleagues who will also be holding off, because playback is just as important (perhaps more?) than chord symbols are to you. Finale or Sibelius will work just fine until Dorico is at a point such that it will support the requirements of every composer, arranger, engraver, publisher, college professor, music teacher, etc.

I would hope that the track record, transparency, and general forthright approach thus far from the team would be enough to reassure people that it will be a world-class program on all fronts with time.

Have you watched the YouTube video of Daniel’s MOLA presentation? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jswPADssvhc There are features in there that already blow away the competition as a “composition and arranging tool”. OK, maybe in version 1.0 you will need to export your Dorico arrangement to another program to trade off poor quality engraving against chord symbols, but you might still be winning overall.

Remember the quote attributed to Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse’.” It seems pretty clear to me that Dorico is a lot more than just “a faster horse”.

May I interject another crazy idea about chords: Why not borrow the very effective and surprisingly smart and good sounding chord logic from Cubase? The voice leading is really pretty, and more than adequate for quick playback? Would maybe speed up implementation…
I’m not a “real” composer (sometimes I am though…), but 95% of the time I’m writing lead sheets for bands and trying out melodies with chords… An intelligent playback engine would really help!

Thanks for considering,


Found this article interesting, as it differentiates between systems used on the two coasts of the U.S.

The special thing about the standard that’s used at Berklee and in the Real Book is that it is a result of many professionals (the teachers at Berklee) discussing what the best way to notate various chord would be. A lot of focus was given to what the simplest, less confusing, and least space consuming solution would be.

And based on these discussions, there are very few solutions which stick out as good. But in general…

Gm7 or G-7 is better than G min 7 or G Mi 7
F/G is better than F/G bass
Bb maj7 is better than Bb M 7 or Bb Ma7

…and so on.

But for an app as advanced as Dorico, I would be surprised if there wouldn’t be a choice to choose between multiple standards + design your own. As long as it’s possible to get good results without needing a lot more horizontal space than what’s common in eg the Real Book, I 'm happy.

Actually having a single standard preferred by Dorico might be an advantage insofar as sometimes a popular notation program can help standardize practice. I’d be grateful for a unified standard that I could use and know that it would save rehearsal time wherever the music is played. That seems more important than any standard I might have preferred in the past.

IMO: Only if that standard is generally seen, by most users, as better than the others. Plus, if people have gotten used to writing Gm7 for a decade (for G minor 7), it would be strange to eg have to see GM7 whenever there’s a Gmaj7 in the score… right?

Right. GM7? No! Please put me to sleep now! :laughing:

In my opinion, a notation program should definitely not be in the business of promoting a certain way of displaying chords or notation. Rather, it should be part of the evolution, and be aware of various methods, starting with those most commonly in use.

FredGUnn’s post about the Jazz at Lincoln Center house style lays it out well, and that house style is easy to read, with little to no chance of confusing one symbol for another.

The examples in the article Derrek linked to appear odd, since the minus and plus signs for minor and augmented chords are aligned with the extension numbers, which makes no sense to me- I immediately wondered whether they referred to the triad or the extension, then of course understood, but in in a sight-reading situation it’s a train crash waiting to happen. (It looks (to me) like a font limitation the author couldn’t get around.)

easy now…
As long as there will be chord customization along the lines of Cubase (!) or Sib, then all is well. No reason to believe Daniel’s team would try to (foolishly…) impose a certain “standard” upon Dorico users. Especially after they went to great lengths in order to accommodate a bunch of esoteric (if I may say so…) modern notation forms that will see the light of day only in the most rarified of circumstances… :wink:
The various Jazz Chord shorthands are really only an expression of an alive and kicking music scene and the need to convey musical information as concisely as possible, and as elaborately as needed. Just along the lines of funny note heads, weird graphical symbols and supremely convoluted tuplet matrices… :sunglasses:
And I’m sure in those circles there is as much passionate discussion and well-founded opinion going on as around here…

Whatever works, I say.
And the real cats will read anything anyway…


I for one am not suggesting anything to the dev team, just expressing my opinion in this relatively off-topic thread! Yeah, whatever works, as long at it works!


There are a couple of problems with that example: it ignores the chord-scale “phenomenon”, and uses “+5” for a note that’s a b13 (in the second chord). The Real Book and Berklee educational material doesn’t do that, based on some simple principles that should be easy to take into consideration when implementing a chord function.

Since so many uses # and b instead of what this examples uses (+ and -), it would certainly be frustrating if one would have to stick to that standard.

It makes sense in that the symbol for a diminished triad is always superscripted.

While I think Fred’s system is very clear, there are instances where this way of writing chord symbols would take up too much space. For this reason I prefer systems which use mathematical symbols rather than letters and reduces the space as much as possible (e.g. — for minor triad, + for augmented triad, o for diminished triad, ∆ for major seventh, ø for m7b5 etc.), and I’m hoping Dorico will accommodate this, as well as more frequently used systems.

For this reason I prefer systems which use mathematical symbols rather than letters and reduces the space as much as possible (e.g. — for minor triad, + for augmented triad, o for diminished triad, ∆ for major seventh, ø for m7b5 etc.)


I really depends on the client. With Finale, this area has been a total mess forever. You can cobble together solutions but it is extremely tedious.

I would hope that Dorico would separate the underlying chords (tonality) from the expression. There are several popular ways to express Fmaj7, but the underlying chord is the same either way. I ought to be able to enter chords in a natural, intuitive way (comparable to what Band-in-a-box allows, e.g.) but later choose which system of expression, and be able change the system of expression to suit my clients.

And while we’re at it, I would hope that there would be an option for chord playback that is smart enough to do inversions the way a musician would naturally do them.

Cubase’s chord track does voice leading admirably well already! Just implement that and we’re done… :sunglasses:
I would actually love to take it one step further and optionally tie chord playback to a dedicated (maybe invisible if needed) rhythm stave, for kicks and accents!


Looking at the implementations of all the core features in this release, one can reasonably guess that this is a direction favoured by the team - which also goes a long way in explaining why it isn’t implemented yet.

It would be great if the much-anticipated chords feature could handle rootless voicings for chords, common in jazz. Not sure if there’s a clever way this could be done, but at the very least, providing a way to say “It’s a F” and it’ll then spell the chord as a rootless F7b9-5 or whatever (without an F note in it). Or perhaps a command to respell chords which can (optionally) include rootless chords as possible re-spellings.