Chord Description (XML) file: what is this?

• Jan 19, 2012 - 21:01

In the 1.1 new features list we can read:
"New chord description (XML) files to switch between popular styles of chord symbols"?
What does this mean?
Does it mean that it is possible to set a chord map to use Italian chord names?
LA instead of A
SI instead of B
DO instead of C
RE instead of D
MI instead of E
FA instead of F
SOL instead of G
This would be very helpful as many Italian "musicians" have difficulties reading English Chord names.


You might want to read the Handbook entry on Chordnames:

As the examples are designed to show, the main purpose of these files is to control aspects of the font and positioning of the various symbols, and also the abbreviations used for major versus minor versus diminished, etc.

As far as I know, there is not currently any direct support for Italian chord names. See this thread for a discussion of possible workarounds:

Question: when Italians write chords in this manner, do they use "fixed do" or "movable do"? That is, do you always write "Do" for "C", or do you write "Do" for tonic chord in the current key (Eb for Eb major, G for G major, etc)? If it's the latter, then you could really just enter the chords as ordinary text, as you wouldn't need them to transpose. but if you use Do for C regardless of key, then you'd expect the chord names to transpose, and they won't.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you Marc.
The thread you suggested was launched by me, actually! I wished to have some good news in the 1.1 version.

DO is not used for the tonic chord but it is the Italian name of used instead of "C", regardless of key.
If I use ordinary text,
(1) it will not transpose;
(2) changes to chord text style format will apply to chord names typed in after the format change but it will not apply to chord names already written because they are not recornised as chords (this is very annoying because I often need to adjust vertical position of chords after the score has been completed, and this works only if chords are in english);
(3) # and b do not look fine (they are not converted automatically, and with F2 they have very little dimensions);
(4) If I write C/G it is rapresented with G slightly below the position of C, while if I write Do/Sol this does not happen.

In my opinion the possibility to have a file and map names should be easier then the efforts required to manage Jazz formatting and I regard it more important then translating the user interface: it concern the interface to musicians reading the output of Musescore!
I will post this in the new features requests.

In reply to by pbalducci

Sure enough, that was you! I saw your reply earlier, but a hiccup in the system just emailed it to me again, and it suddenly occurred to me you *might* be able to use an XML file for this. You would still have to type the letters A-G in order for MuseScore to recognize the chord. But within the XML file, you could simply redefine the letters to refer to something else - see the various "sym" declarations. You'd just need a font that provided those as single glyphs, as I don't know of a way to use the "sym" declaration to indicate a multiple-letter sequence. And I don't think you could make Eb render as "Me" - it would render as "Mi b". Not sure if that makes it not worth the effort.

I don't know if you'd normally be using the MuseJazz font, but since we'll be submitting a new version of that for 1.2 - specifically to add accented characters for European language - I could look at adding glyphs for the syllables you want.

In reply to by pbalducci

BTW, I have done a quick test to verify that a sym declaration overriding the letter "C" really does work, but I haven't really tried putting a chart together, so it's possible that there are unforeseen issues. But simply adding the characters to the font is straightforward enough, and it seems this would come in handy if at some point this really could be made to work. So it's worth adding to the font in any case.

In your previous thread, you spelled the syllables as Do, Re, Mi, ... but in this one, it's DO, RE, MI. I have a sense the former is probably more what most would prefer. Yes?

You list the syllable for B as "Si". I take it that is more common than "Ti" in Italy? I'd probably add both just in case. Same for "So" versus "Sol".

Is this style of notation really universal in Italy, or is it more a case of some people using letter names, others using solfege syllables?

As I said, I can only really add these to MuseJazz, so this would only work with the chord name styles that use that font. I'm still struggling the issue of whether we need to provide Italian-specific variants on each of the chord name styles, or whether letting giving users the instructions on how to modify their preferred style to use the Italian names would be sufficient. I could see adding the necessary declarations to the various "cchords_" styles but commented out, so all you'd have to is remove the comment lines. And then you could share your customized file with others with who you wish to share MSCZ files.

Long term, I could also see this process being automated during installation - Italian users would have the customized versions installed by default - but ultimately, I think MuseScore should allow Italian chord symbols more directly, via an option in the Chordnames style dialog - like the one to use German names. Also an option to use Roman numerals, or Arabic numerals (as in "Nashville" notation). That way you could actually type it the way you want it displayed. And if I ever do design the chord name parser I keep dreaming about, I'll make that happen. So I'm reluctant to do too much now that will end up being thrown away later. Meaning I'm unlikely to try anything as fancy as making the installation process automatically install Italian-customized chord style files.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Do, Re, Mi,... are preferred instead of DO, RE, MI.
B in Italian is "Si", and G is "Sol": I am not aware of variations.
Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si is a universal style for Italy; musicians learn letters in order to read english scores with chord names.

I am not expert with MuseJazz, so I cannot comment your proposal quickly.
The option in the Chordnames style would be perfect, but...

To help you giving priorities, I would say that a simpler but big improvement would consist in solving the issues we have when we freely type Italian Chord Names (without asking MuseScore to interprete them):
1) "Modify Text Style": if I change "Chord Name" settings, changes do not apply to the already existing chords: they apply only to the chord I will type after the settings modification (used to set the vertical position and the font type/dimension).
2) # and b are not converted to the correct symbol, and if I use F2 the character is very very small (not the same as the chord name text): when I use F2 I expected to insert a symbol with the same character size as the text which is before it.

If we had these two points solved, finding a good solution for the Chord Names style would be less "urgent", and you could involve more Italian people gathering more inputs on this matter, even because we have also some other differences (for example the minor chord is written fifty fifty "La m" or "La-"; Sol Maj7 is written Sol7+,... ).
We would have only the issue with authomatic transpose... for it is acceptable.

PS. I am using 1.0

In reply to by pbalducci

Thanks for your responses. Right now, MuseScore can only do "smart" things with a chord - like covert b and # to flat and sharp, or transpose the chord - if it recognizes the chord. And getting it to recognize Italian note names would require change to the chord parsing algorithm within MuseScore. There's a lot of things I'd like to change about that some day, but I can't see it happening any time soon. So the best we can do for 1.2 - and probably for 2.0 - will be to allow you type type letter names but have them displayed as you want.

I really don't recommend trying to type a chord symbol as ordinary text (that is, not recognized as a chird symbol), since it won't transpose, won't export to MusicXML, etc. But if you really don't mind chord symbols apthat are really just plain text and won't tranpose or export, you *can* get the flat and sharp sign to appear larger. Just select it after entering it, then increase the font size.

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