Chord symbols

When you use the Chord tool icon to type chords directly on-screen (or type them in the Chord Definition dialog box), Finale follows some simple conventions to interpret what chord symbol was entered. A chord symbol is made up of one or more of the following parts: root, suffix, and alternate bass. Although you are not required to enter all parts of a chord symbol, Finale interprets the chord symbol’s root, suffix and alternate bass, in that order.

Noteman says: See Adding chord symbols for a step-by-step tutorial on adding chord symbols in Finale.

Finale’s chord symbols are intelligent with respect to key; if you decide to change the key, the chord symbols are automatically transposed. Similarly, if you copy chord symbols to a passage in another key (or instrument transposition), they’ll be transposed when you paste them. Even Finale’s guitar fretboard diagrams, which can be created automatically, transpose according to the key.

If you’re going to add chord symbols to your score, note that you can change chord suffix fonts either globally, by region, or one by one; see the appropriate sub-entries. See also Fonts and Document Options - Fonts for help in choosing fonts to meet your needs.

Tip: Finale offers two systems of chord labeling. The primary method operates according to the standard rules of chord theory and allows Finale to “recognize” almost any kind of chord it encounters—major, minor, augmented, diminished, suspended, sevenths, ninths, elevenths, and so on, even with alternate bass notes.

Occasionally, however, you’ll want to create a chord that Finale doesn’t ordinarily recognize, such as C V/11, or you’ll want Finale to think of a certain chord in a different way. For example, where Finale displays Am7/C, you may prefer C6. For these situations, you can use Finale’s second system of creating chords: you can create a learned chord, a symbol that you’ve defined to represent a particular pattern of notes. Once you’ve defined a learned chord, Finale correctly identifies it in the future, regardless of the voicing or register, and automatically displays the correct symbol. Instructions for creating and editing learned chords appear below.

Note, however, that Finale only recognizes a learned chord if the root of the chord falls on the same scale degree as the one you originally taught it. For example, if you teach Finale to recognize a C6 in the key of C, it won’t recognize F6 or G6 in the key of C. It will, however, recognize an A6 in the key of A, because the A6 is built on the same scale degree in A as the C6 was in C. In other words, it’s sometimes helpful to define the same learned chord for several different scale degrees within a single key—such as C6, F6, and G6 in the key of C.

All three methods of adding chord symbols automatically depend on Finale’s intelligence in recognizing patterns of notes. Occasionally, you may encounter a dialog box telling you that Finale doesn’t recognize the chord you just played (or the chord it just analyzed).

If you click the I’ll Do It button, Finale displays the Chord Definition dialog box; construct the chord as described in To define and enter a chord symbol manually. At that point, you will be building a learned chord; in other words, Finale will recognize the chord the next time. Read the introduction to this entry for details on learned chords.

If you click Let Finale Do It instead, Finale constructs the correct suffix automatically, displaying the chord symbol on the screen and adding its suffix to its current library of chord suffixes. If you don’t care for Finale’s labeling of a chord (for example, if it calls a chord “Gm7” but you prefer “G–7”), you can edit the chord suffix (see To edit a chord suffix).

If, however, you disagree with Finale’s analysis of a chord (for example, if it calls a chord Am7/C but you prefer C6), remove the chord symbol from the score. Then teach Finale how you’d like the chord to be recognized henceforth (as a learned chord), using the procedure described below in To teach Finale learned chords, and reenter the chord.

For information on quickly adding chord symbols by pressing a key on your computer keyboard, see Chord Symbol Metatools.

Entering and deleting chord symbols

Defining and editing chord symbols

Positioning chord symbols

Changing chord symbol fonts

Fixing Jazz font chord suffixes containing flats

Because chord suffixes are made up of a mix between standard alphanumeric characters (e.g., maj7) and music notation (, , etc.), making all the pieces of the suffix display correctly requires a little know-how. In particular, Finale's Jazz font lacks lowercase character mappings, complicating the process for placing flats in chord suffixes (simply put, there is no lowercase "b" in the JazzCord font). The following steps correct any suffixes exhibiting this problem and prevent the issue from reoccurring.

Tips for entering chord symbols manually

  • Display and Entry: Finale displays chords in any style you wish, using the Chord Style feature in the Chord menu. For chord entry, though, you need to type your chords using the Standard style convention. For more information on styles, see Chord Style.
  • Fonts: Finale ignores display fonts when you type chords into your score—in fact, all the characters in your chords will appear in a regular text font as you type them. Finale does care about the keystroke, however; for example, even if your chord suffix mixes music characters and regular text characters, Finale examines only the keys you press when looking for matches. So, feel free to mix fonts as much as you wish—it won’t affect Finale’s Type Into Score feature.
  • Alterations: Type a “b” or “#” (SHIFT+3) to tell Finale that the root or alternate bass has a sharp or flat, or that a sharp or flat appears as a character in the suffix. (Just type two or more consecutive characters for other alterations, like double- or triple-sharps.) In rare cases, Finale may not know where an alteration belongs, such as the chords G 9 and G 9. In this case, when you type “Gb9”, Finale normally associates the alteration with the root (and will display G 9). When you want a suffix that begins with an alteration (such as G 9), tell Finale that the alteration isn’t part of the root by typing a comma after the root (in this case, by typing “G,b9”).
  • Suffixes: When typing suffixes (like those provided in the Maestro Font Default file, or those provided in the chord suffix libraries), type them as you’d read them. Finale looks at the characters in the order they’re entered when it tries to find a match for the suffix (all suffixes in your document appear in the Chord Suffix Selection dialog box); what you type must match the order of the suffix characters exactly. If Finale doesn’t find an exact match, it assumes you want to create a new suffix and displays the Chord Suffix Editor dialog box to let you finish defining the suffix.
  • Tip: When you create your own suffixes, add characters to the suffixes in the order you’d say them out loud—it will make typing chords easier in the long run. Whatever you enter (whether it follows convention or not), Finale matches the characters in the order you type them with the order they were created in the Chord Suffix Editor dialog box.

  • Alternate Bass: Type a slash (/), an underscore (SHIFT+hyphen), or a bar symbol (|) to indicate whether an alternate bass note should appear next to, below, or slightly to the lower right of the chord, respectively. Finale knows that what you type after the slash, underscore or bar is the alternate bass note for the chord.
  • Capitalization: Finale displays chords like “F” and “e”, or “IV” and “iii”. When you enter chords, it is case-sensitive. For example, if you type a lowercase “d” in the key of C Major, and Roman is selected as the chord style, Finale displays “ii”, as opposed to “II” if you enter an uppercase “D”. Finale also knows the difference between a lower case “b” chord and the character representing the flat (also a “b”). For example, type a b-flat lowercase chord simply by typing “bb”—Finale knows the first character is the root, but the second is an alteration. Capitalization also matters in suffixes—that’s how Finale distinguishes a “CM7” from “Cm7”.
  • Special Characters: You can type a “b” for flat and “#” (SHIFT+3) for sharp. Finale also makes other common chord characters available at a keystroke, the diminished “” and half-diminished “” symbols. Because their key combinations may be difficult to remember, Finale offers easy to remember substitutes: the “o” (lower-case letter o) and “%” (SHIFT+5) keys add diminished and half-diminished symbols respectively. You can turn off this automatic substitution by deselecting the Substitute Symbols command in the Chord menu. These special characters only work with the Arial, Times or JazzText chord libraries.
  • Shortcuts: In addition to keystroke shortcuts for musical symbols like diminished and sharp, Finale offers a fast entry shortcut for users who know their Finale suffixes well. If you know a particular suffix’s number, enter a chord with a suffix directly by typing the root, a colon (:), and the number, then move to the next note—Finale adds the suffix automatically. If you don’t remember the number, you can type the root, a colon, a zero (such as C:0), then hit SPACEBAR; before leaving the current note, Finale displays the Chord Suffix Selection dialog box, where you can choose the suffix you need. For example, when working with the Maestro Font Default file, you can easily enter a “Cm7(5)” by typing “C:9” instead of all the individual characters, “Cm7(5). Because the “m7(5)” suffix appears in slot number 9 in the Chord Suffix Selection dialog box, Finale knows to enter it automatically. If you take a moment to remember the suffixes you use frequently, this shortcut can save you a lot of typing.

    Use these keys to perform the indicated actions when you type chords into the score:

    KeystrokeAction
    ENTERAccept changes to the selected chord
    ESCDiscard changes to the entered chord
    SPACEBAR, SHIFT+RIGHT ARROWMove to next entry
    SHIFT+SPACEBAR, SHIFT+LEFT ARROWMove to previous entry
    TABMove to next measure
    SHIFT+TABMove to previous measure
    UP ARROWMove to the next chord on the same entry vertically, or get ready to create a new chord
    DOWN ARROWMove to the previous chord on the same entry vertically
    bDisplay flat symbol ()
    # (SHIFT+3)Display sharp symbol ()
    o (lower-case letter o)Display diminished symbol () [Chord > Substitute Symbols must be selected.]
    % (SHIFT+5)Display half-diminished symbol () [Chord > Substitute Symbols must be selected.]
    /Put alternate bass note next to the chord root
    _ (SHIFT+hyphen)Put alternate bass note below the chord root
    | (vertical bar)Put alternate bass note below and to the right of the chord root
    UP ARROWMove to previous character in the chord
    DOWN ARROWMove to next character in the chord
    Letter with and without SHIFT (press SHIFT for uppercase display)Display corresponding pitches for the root (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) and alternate bass notes (a, b, c, d, e, f, g)
    , (comma)Distinguish the chord root from the suffix
    :# (colon number)Display the chord suffix assigned to a specific slot number in the Chord Suffix Selection dialog box
    :0 (colon zero)Display the Chord Suffix Selection dialog box, where you can choose any suffix
    :f#Display the fretboard assigned to a specific slot number in the Fretboard Selection dialog box (must follow the suffix)