Stacked chords vs slash chords and why both are important

• May 3, 2019 - 22:42

It might be good to implement stacked chords in addition to slash chords. Stacked chords are not cosmetic. Stacked chords are a different way of expressing complex chords. For example, Bb13b9#11 can be written in stacked fashion like this:


Same exact notes. Here's a grounding theory on why this might be preferable. Basically it's called "chunking". In the first example you have a chord (Bb13b9#11) with 7 distinct notes. In the second example you have the the same notes, but they are referenced as two "chunks" played together. The idea is the brain can more easily handle 2 chunks of something better than 7 individual units. Hope that makes sense.

See the new 2016 "Real Book - Enhanced Chords Edition" by pianist David Hazeltine. He gives a short explaination of his use slash chords in the forward.


This is actually pretty easy to do - just enter the bottom cord first, then enter the top - automatic placement will put it directly above Then set the top to underline using the Inspector.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

You are correct. I type them into the same chord. I do not understand what you mean by "enter them as two separate chords." I click on the note above which I want the stacked chord. I click "Command K" (I am using a MAC). A box appears above the note. I type a capital "D." The "D" appears in the box. I next type a capital "C" which appears next to the "D." I then type escape and the chord I am left with is DC rather than a D with a C directly above it. So, when you say "two separate chords" what exactly to you mean? If I type a "D" then hit the space bar, it takes me to the next note and a different or separate chord.

I may have spoken too soon. It almost works. The underline attribute (using the inspector) is uneven under each of the three characters, especially the superscripted 7 as shown. I'm using MS 3.1.0 beta.

compound chord problem.jpg

In reply to by DrumDog79

Good point, the positioning in the Jazz style defeats this. You could switch to Standard style (and still use MuseJazz for the font).

So, another idea, use three chord symbols, the second is just "____". Here, the problem is the underlines don't fully connect. So, instead, create it as staff text, turn off autoplace, and then move it into position. Not as convenient, but works for now. In 3.1, disable autloplace for a symbol is as easy as pressing "=", so that followed by up arrow a few clicks should do it.

I wholeheartedly second that this notation is plenty standard/common/published/performed enough to warrant a self-contained feature. Workarounds per se are bound not to survive future updates. I can personally vouch for the Sisyphean quality of that exercise re: "stacked chords."

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