System and stave chords

• Aug 22, 2013 - 15:37

1. Open attached score (produced in 1.3).

You'll notice that in 'Chords (Original)', the chord is based on the piano (also notice that there's no notes in the vocal aligning to it), but is placed at the top of the system. In MuseScore, the chord is placed above the piano, but I would like something that matches the original without having to move it manually.

(As a policy, I generally don't like workarounds, or having to make manual adjustments - partly because of this and that it could cause problems when utilising features, or in future versions of the software, etc. Exceptions maybe if intervention is required due to ambiguity.)

I don't know what the solution could be, but there's two possible options that I see:

1. Introduce two types of chords: 'Stave Chord' would apply exclusively to the staves and appear next to them (currently in MuseScore 1.3). 'System Chord' would apply to the whole system and appear at the top of the system.

I don't know if 'System Chord' would be perhaps something different from 'System Text', in that the latter does properly apply to the whole system (especially useful if you hide empty staves).

2. Right-click the chord and check a radio button: 'Position: Stave/System' (or something similar).


The other example ('Multiple chords in staves') is in F major overall (the same song from different publishers), but due to tuning of the guitar, there are different chords on each stave, hence why chords are needed at stave level. When comparing them, the F appears at the top 1, whilst in 2, it is at the strings - I'm not sure if the F in 1 would constitute a 'System Chord'.

Is there such a thing in other software, or whatever?


additional "System Chords" sounds like a good idea to me.

In their text properties there is a 'System flag', it doesn't have any effect though and doesn't persists accros a save and reopen

The idea of a "system chord" is not bad, but I'm not sure it's the only or best way to solve this problem. Your example is not really a score you'd be like to want to extract parts from, after all, and even if you did, you might not actually want the chord symbols attached to *all* parts. What you really need, I think, is for the chord symbols to display above the top staff even though they may be more logically attached to other staves.

In the current version of MuseScore, there are a couple of ways to get this without the need for manual positioning. Perhaps the most straightforward is to go ahead and attach the chords to the piano staff but crank up the Y position parameter in the text style. Another way to do it would be to create invisible rests in another voice of the top staff to attach the chord symbols to them.

In 2.0, it will be possible to solve this problem a bit more directly. Attach your chords to the top staff, use Ctrl- to advance the cursor by the specified duration. In current versions, you can only advance beat by beat; the space bar is the equivalent of Ctrl-5 in 4/4 time or Ctrl-4 in 6/8 time, for instance. That plus a small manual adjustment may not be ideal, but I suppose it's also worth considering. Not sure if you were aware of this beat-by-beat possibility or if you were thinking you had to click directly on a note and thus would need a larger manual adjustment.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks Marc.

With regards to extracting parts, I suppose you could choose which of them won't propagate chords (e.g. for drum scores).

I tried the text style option, but it wouldn't be suitable (too rigid) - one reason is when applying hide empty staves.

I don't understand the final paragraph - maybe it's because I'm on Mac?

In reply to by chen lung

True, if you want to use hide empty staves on top of all that, you'd need a different strategy. So I'd go with what I described in the final paragraph. Not sure what part you didn't understand or what being on a Mac has to do with it? There is a typo though - well, not a typo, exactly, but something that doesn't read right in what I wrote. I think I tried typing Ctrl-number with angle brackets around "number", but the HTML parsing ate my angled brackets.

What I was saying is that in 2.0, you can attach chords to any beat position, even fractional beat positions, whether there is a note there or not. That's what Ctrl-number does - advances the cursor by the specified duration. So if you want the chord attached to the "and" of 4, you'd hit Space to get to beat 4, then Ctrl+4 to move half a beat.

So the simplest most straightforward solution is to add the chords to the top staff, exactly as they appear to be. They can be attached to the proper beats with no manual adjustment required.

As I said, scores presented in this fashion virtually never have parts generated. If the score was to have parts generated, it never would have been presented in this fashion in the first place. Chords would be attached to the proper staves in a score that was meant to have parts generated. it is only because parts are *not* going to be generated, so people will play directly from the score, that this otherwise illogical arrangement is used.

In reply to by chen lung

In principle, yes, but you'd need to create the tuplet first then attach the chord, then remove the tuplet. Or copy and paste from another location.

But without the actual triplet indiciation, I have a hard time imagining the point - someone reading the score would not understand the intended placement.

I'm not sure I could see such a suggestion during my search (please correct if wrong), but how about this:

Chords are automatically generated above transposing/detuned instruments (in brackets, distinguishing from their concert pitch/standard tuned counterpart), and none will appear if generating a part featuring only non-pitched content.

Could this idea supersede stave chords?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Whilst I do see band scores with chords within a system (e.g. attached to piano), I (and others on the forum) make the type (see attached excerpts from published score) in which the chord always appears at the top of a system (including when empty staves are hidden).

I understand the barrier of implementing such a feature is how it would affect transposing instruments, so my suggestion is, when I enter a system chord a transposed one would be generated (automatically) next to applicable instruments.

Using the example featured in the first post (same principle, but for a differently tuned instrument): I would click on a tick (i.e. a rest/note in any entry) and enter F as the system chord, and a bracketed G would be generated at the guitar.

In reply to by chen lung

What I don't understand is the "applicable instruments" - how could MuseScore possibly guess which staves of the score, or which parts, you want the chords copied to?

The transposition is only one barrier to implementing a "system chords" feature, and your pictures doens't even show any transposing instruments, so it isn't clear how it applies. But in any event, the real issue is defining which staves parts any such chord would be copied to. What we'd need is a scheme to define which parts get any given system text. Probably best to combine it with a feature to define with staves of the *score* the system text appears on.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Sorry for my late reply (my draft was not ready).

Applicable instruments referred to those that are transposing, or feature non-standard tuning.

And yes, my images don't show transposing instruments (it was just to demonstrate system chords as a whole, which usually denote overall harmony).

See an example of what Marc is probably referring to (chords for each instrument). Incidentally, I now tend to think of my scores as holistic and ‘rasterised’ - characteristics include hidden empty staves, or stating whether an instrument is doubled elsewhere or continues similar. This has enabled much information to be included whilst making the best of available size, so the notion of parts, or alterations to the full thing, would upset what is a carefully-crafted score.

Anyway, there are a few facets in the discussion, but I think the real problem is, it gets so advanced, that you might actually have to create multiple versions (rather than rely on parts, etc). However, I still believe we can reach a solution that would be an improvement on the current state.

I had difficulty understanding your last sentence (can you explain a bit more in detail?), but my current view (room for refinement) is this: ’System Chord’ and ‘Stave Chord’ might be able to co-exist, independently of one another, but with options to control this, such as visibility (in either full or part, and what instruments) or transposition. I did think about the ability to select a source (system or stave) for propagating chords to a part, but I don’t know if this will work (you might just have to enter them manually?).

In reply to by chen lung

At this point, given the passage of time and the number of different tangents this thread has taken, it's probably best to start a new one and ask a more specific question.

But as for my last sentence: there as a typo, "with" should be "which". In other words, currently, system text appears on all parts and only the top staff of the score. That's a reasonable default, but it would be nice to be able to customize this: to control which parts the text appears on (maybe you don't want it on all) and also which staves of the score you want it to appear on (maybe you want it on more than the top).

This is to me is on a very short list of the features I still miss from Finale.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I would need such a feature right now. I'm arranging a piece for SATB-choir and I am writing the chord symbols for rehearsal purposes. When I create parts for each voice, I would like to have the chord symbols in all parts and not just the soprano, which happens to be the top-most voice.
I image that you can add "staff chord symbol" and "system chord symbol" - working similarly like the staff text and system text, except it beautifies the text with appropriate superscripted numbers.

I found the 'System flag' parameter in the Edit Text Styles -> Chord Symbols settings, but could not figure out the effect of it. And of course, there would be a way of copying all symbols (even quite quickly) and making them invisible in the full scores, but this just does not feel right and actually pollutes my full scores while editing.

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