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SmartMusic Finale Garritan MusicXML

Chord Diagrams

Chord diagrams, also known as chord frames, are used to indicate how a chord is played on a fretted instrument such as the guitar. The vertical lines in the chord diagrams represent strings, while the horizontal spaces represent frets. An x above a string indicates that the string is muted, while an o above a string represents an open string.

MusicXML uses the frame element to represent chord diagrams. Let us look at the harmony element for the first G6 chord again.

This time including the frame element for the chord diagram:

      <harmony default-y="100">
        <root>
          <root-step>G</root-step>
        </root>
        <kind halign="center" text="6">major-sixth</kind>
        <bass>
          <bass-step>D</bass-step>
        </bass>
        <frame default-y="83" halign="center"
               relative-x="5" valign="top">
          <frame-strings>6</frame-strings>
          <frame-frets>5</frame-frets>
          <frame-note>
            <string>5</string>
            <fret>5</fret>
          </frame-note>
          <frame-note>
            <string>4</string>
            <fret>5</fret>
          </frame-note>
          <frame-note>
            <string>3</string>
            <fret>4</fret>
          </frame-note>
          <frame-note>
            <string>2</string>
            <fret>3</fret>
          </frame-note>
          <frame-note>
            <string>1</string>
            <fret>0</fret>
          </frame-note>
        </frame>
      </harmony>

clear

The frame element starts with frame-strings and frame-fret elements to indicate the size of the frame. Each string that is played is then represented with a frame-note element. The lowest string, string 6, is muted in this diagram, so it has no corresponding frame-note element. The highest string, string 1, is open, so its fret value is set to 0.

The positioning attributes indicate the vertical position of both the chord symbol text in the harmony element and the chord diagram in the frame element. The valign attribute of the frame element indicates that the default-y position represents the top of the chord diagram. The halign attributes indicate that both the chord symbol text and chord diagram are center-aligned.

In the second chord diagram, the first fret we see in the diagram corresponds to the sixth fret on the guitar. This is represented in MusicXML by the first-fret element. Unlike the other diagrams, this one shows only four frets.

Here is the frame element for the second chord diagram:

        <frame default-y="83" halign="center" valign="top">
          <frame-strings>6</frame-strings>
          <frame-frets>4</frame-frets>
          <first-fret location="right" text="6fr.">6</first-fret>
          <frame-note>
            <string>5</string>
            <fret>7</fret>
          </frame-note>
          <frame-note>
            <string>4</string>
            <fret>7</fret>
          </frame-note>
          <frame-note>
            <string>3</string>
            <fret>6</fret>
          </frame-note>
          <frame-note>
            <string>2</string>
            <fret>5</fret>
          </frame-note>
          <frame-note>
            <string>1</string>
            <fret>5</fret>
          </frame-note>
        </frame>

clear

The text attribute of the first-fret element shows how the text is displayed, and the location attribute indicates where it is displayed: to the right of the chord frame.

The third chord symbol adds fingerings and a barre indication. Here is the MusicXML harmony element for this symbol:

      <harmony default-y="100">
        <root>
          <root-step>A</root-step>
        </root>
        <kind halign="center" text="11">dominant-11th</kind>
        <frame default-y="83" halign="center" valign="top">
          <frame-strings>6</frame-strings>
          <frame-frets>5</frame-frets>
          <frame-note>
            <string>5</string>
            <fret>0</fret>
          </frame-note>
          <frame-note>
            <string>4</string>
            <fret>6</fret>
            <fingering>3</fingering>
          </frame-note>
          <frame-note>
            <string>3</string>
            <fret>4</fret>
            <fingering>2</fingering>
          </frame-note>
          <frame-note>
            <string>2</string>
            <fret>3</fret>
            <fingering>1</fingering>
            <barre type="start"/>
          </frame-note>
          <frame-note>
            <string>1</string>
            <fret>3</fret>
            <fingering>1</fingering>
            <barre type="stop"/>
          </frame-note>
        </frame>
      </harmony>

clear

The fingering element is used to indicate the fingering for each string in the diagram that is neither muted nor open. The barre element is used to indicate where a barre symbol starts and stops within the frame. The type is “start” for the lowest-pitched string and “stop” for the highest-pitched string. This corresponds to the left-to-right order from low to high strings that is used in chord diagrams.


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