Customizing jazz chords ...

• Jan 20, 2010 - 19:58

I am attempting to customize the Jazz chord font in Musescore. Specifically, I would like major chords to be spelled 'maj' instead of 'MA', minor chords to be spelled as 'm' instead of 'MI', and diminished chords to be spelled 'dim' instead of 'dim.' in the JazzChords chord font.

I have discovered that the 'JazzChords' refers to an XML file which is editable.

I created a modified version of this file and commented out the <sym> entries for 'Maj', 'm', and 'dim'. This changes the spelling of the chord to match the name in each individual <chord> entry.

However, the text font which now renders these portions of the chord name does not match the remainder of the chord. It seems that the <sym> entries are referring to a character symbol in a font. But what font? I scanned my hard disk for fonts named 'Mscore1' and 'MuseJazz' but could not find any.

What do the <sym> entries in the XML font files refer to? Is there a way to bend JazzChords.xml to alter the spelling of a chord, but have the altered font match that of the rest of the chord? What to the names 'Mscore1' and 'MuseJazz' refer to?

I would also like to create a 'Real Book' compatible version of this file where minor chords are spelled with a '-' and diminished chords are spelled with a raised 'o'.

Any other clues or tips would be appreciated.


Ken Parrish
aka: EulerOperator


Hi Ken, I am so glad to hear about this. Good luck. I would ask that in addition, you develop a symbol for the "1/2 Diminished" or "m7b5".

In my experience we all use a diminished sign with a slash through it.


In reply to by xavierjazz

Hi Ken and Don;
Also best wishes on this. The one thing that has driven me crazy with MuseScore is the way it handles jazz chords. The other symbol I would LOVE to see is the 'delta' (triangle) symbol for a major chord. Don the diminished sign with a diagonal slash is the one I am familliar with for 1/2 diminished chord.


The file chords.xml defines the list of chords known to MuseScore. Every chord has an id which is referenced in the files stdchords.xml and jazzchords.xml. These files define two alternative ways of rendering the chords. In the file header there is a dense description of some file elements.
The referenced font "MuseJazz" is a build in font. Its a true type font available in the program sources at
The "sym" entries in jazzchords.xml refere to single glyphs in the font. The string "sus" for example is available as a single glyph. The list of symbols are all symbols the font contains. If you use other characters than defined in the font, mscore silently uses glyphs from a default font whats probably not what you want.
All this is somewhat experimental, may contain bugs and is incomplete.
There is also some experimental incomplete code in the latest prereleases for an gui to edit the chord rendering (style->editChordStyle).

In reply to by David Bolton

Werner & David,

Thanks for all the great info. I had previously downloaded the source and will update it to the latest in your repository. I figured MuseJazz was a TT font, but now understand where it is--embedded in the runtime image as a resource.

I'll do some investigating and experimenting with FontForge to see if I can create the various symbols that are wanted by the 'jazz heads' out there--some of these might be able to be culled from other fonts.

minor as 'm'
minor as '-'
major as 'maj'
major as [triangle]
diminished as 'dim'
diminished as [raised circle]
half-diminished as [raised circle with slash]

Of course, jazz notation is holy war territory, everyone will have their own opinion as to the right combination of the above symbols, but once the symbols are available, most people should be able to make their own versions of the .XML files.

Thanks so much for your help.

Stay tuned.


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