LilyPond — Notation Reference

This manual provides a reference for all notation that can be produced with LilyPond version 2.19.5. It assumes that the reader is familiar with the material in the Learning Manual.

For more information about how this manual fits with the other documentation, or to read this manual in other formats, see Manuals.

If you are missing any manuals, the complete documentation can be found at http://www.lilypond.org/.


1. Musical notation

This chapter explains how to create musical notation.


1.1 Pitches

[image of music]

This section discusses how to specify the pitch of notes. There are three steps to this process: input, modification, and output.


1.1.1 Writing pitches

This section discusses how to input pitches. There are two different ways to place notes in octaves: absolute and relative mode. In most cases, relative mode will be more convenient.


Absolute octave entry

A pitch name is specified using lowercase letters a through g. The note names c to b are engraved in the octave below middle C.

{
  \clef bass
  c4 d e f
  g4 a b c
  d4 e f g
}

[image of music]

Other octaves may be specified with a single quote (') or comma (,) character. Each ' raises the pitch by one octave; each , lowers the pitch by an octave.

{
  \clef treble
  c'4 c'' e' g
  d''4 d' d c
  \clef bass
  c,4 c,, e, g
  d,,4 d, d c
}

[image of music]

Music can be marked explicitly as being in absolute octave notation by preceding it with \absolute:

\absolute musicexpr

will be interpreted in absolute octave entry mode regardless of the context it appears in.

See also

Music Glossary: Pitch names.

Snippets: Pitches.


Relative octave entry

Absolute octave entry requires specifying the octave for every single note. Relative octave entry, in contrast, specifies each octave in relation to the last note: changing one note’s octave will affect all of the following notes.

Relative note mode has to be entered explicitly using the \relative command:

\relative startpitch musicexpr

In relative mode, each note is assumed to be as close to the previous note as possible. This means that the octave of each pitch inside musicexpr is calculated as follows:

Here is the relative mode shown in action:

\relative c {
  \clef bass
  c d e f
  g a b c
  d e f g
}

[image of music]

Octave changing marks are used for intervals greater than a fourth:

\relative c'' {
  c g c f,
  c' a, e'' c
}

[image of music]

A note sequence without a single octave mark can nevertheless span large intervals:

\relative c {
  c f b e
  a d g c
}

[image of music]

When \relative blocks are nested, the innermost \relative block applies.

\relative c' {
  c d e f
  \relative c'' {
    c d e f
  }
}

[image of music]

\relative has no effect on \chordmode blocks.

\new Staff {
  \relative c''' {
    \chordmode { c1 }
  }
  \chordmode { c1 }
}

[image of music]

\relative is not allowed inside of \chordmode blocks.

Music inside a \transpose block is absolute unless a \relative is included.

\relative c' {
  d e
  \transpose f g {
    d e
    \relative c' {
      d e
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

If the preceding item is a chord, the first note of the chord is used as the reference point for the octave placement of a following note or chord. Inside chords, the next note is always relative to the preceding one. Examine the next example carefully, paying attention to the c notes.

\relative c' {
  c
  <c e g>
  <c' e g'>
  <c, e, g''>
}

[image of music]

As explained above, the octave of pitches is calculated only with the note names, regardless of any alterations. Therefore, an E-double-sharp following a B will be placed higher, while an F-double-flat will be placed lower. In other words, a double-augmented fourth is considered a smaller interval than a double-diminished fifth, regardless of the number of semitones that each interval contains.

\relative c'' {
  c2 fis
  c2 ges
  b2 eisis
  b2 feses
}

[image of music]

One consequence of these rules is that the first note inside \relative f music is interpreted just the same as if it was written in absolute pitch mode.

See also

Music Glossary: fifth, interval, Pitch names.

Notation Reference: Octave checks.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: RelativeOctaveMusic.


Accidentals

Note: New users are sometimes confused about accidentals and key signatures. In LilyPond, note names are the raw input; key signatures and clefs determine how this raw input is displayed. An unaltered note like c means ‘C natural’, regardless of the key signature or clef. For more information, see Accidentals and key signatures.

A sharp pitch is made by adding is to the note name, and a flat pitch by adding es. As you might expect, a double sharp or double flat is made by adding isis or eses. This syntax is derived from Dutch note naming conventions. To use other names for accidentals, see Note names in other languages.

ais1 aes aisis aeses

[image of music]

A natural will cancel the effect of an accidental or key signature. However, naturals are not encoded into the note name syntax with a suffix; a natural pitch is shown as a simple note name:

a4 aes a2

[image of music]

Quarter tones may be added; the following is a series of Cs with increasing pitches:

ceseh1 ces ceh c cih cis cisih

[image of music]

Normally accidentals are printed automatically, but you may also print them manually. A reminder accidental can be forced by adding an exclamation mark ! after the pitch. A cautionary accidental (i.e., an accidental within parentheses) can be obtained by adding the question mark ? after the pitch. These extra accidentals can also be used to produce natural signs.

cis cis cis! cis? c c c! c?

[image of music]

Accidentals on tied notes are only printed at the beginning of a new system:

cis1~ 1~
\break
cis

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Hiding accidentals on tied notes at the start of a new system

This shows how to hide accidentals on tied notes at the start of a new system.

\relative c'' {
  \override Accidental.hide-tied-accidental-after-break = ##t
  cis1~ 1~
  \break
  cis
}

[image of music]

Preventing extra naturals from being automatically added

In accordance with traditional typesetting rules, a natural sign is printed before a sharp or flat if a previous double sharp or flat on the same note is canceled. To change this behavior to contemporary practice, set the extraNatural property to f in the Staff context.

\relative c'' {
  aeses4 aes ais a
  \set Staff.extraNatural = ##f
  aeses4 aes ais a
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: sharp, flat, double sharp, double flat, Pitch names, quarter tone.

Learning Manual: Accidentals and key signatures.

Notation Reference: Automatic accidentals, Annotational accidentals (musica ficta), Note names in other languages.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Accidental_engraver, Accidental, AccidentalCautionary, accidental-interface.

Known issues and warnings

There are no generally accepted standards for denoting quarter-tone accidentals, so LilyPond’s symbol does not conform to any standard.


Note names in other languages

There are predefined sets of note and accidental names for various other languages. Selecting the note name language is usually done at the beginning of the file; the following example is written using Italian note names:

\language "italiano"

\relative do' {
  do re mi sib
}

[image of music]

The available languages and the note names they define are:

Language

Note Names

nederlands

c d e f g a bes b

catalan

do re mi fa sol la sib si

deutsch

c d e f g a b h

english

c d e f g a bf b

espanol or español

do re mi fa sol la sib si

italiano or français

do re mi fa sol la sib si

norsk

c d e f g a b h

portugues

do re mi fa sol la sib si

suomi

c d e f g a b h

svenska

c d e f g a b h

vlaams

do re mi fa sol la sib si

In addition to note names, accidental suffixes may also vary depending on the language:

Language

sharp

flat

double sharp

double flat

nederlands

-is

-es

-isis

-eses

catalan

-d/-s

-b

-dd/-ss

-bb

deutsch

-is

-es

-isis

-eses

english

-s/-sharp

-f/-flat

-ss/-x/-sharpsharp

-ff/-flatflat

espanol or español

-s

-b

-ss/-x

-bb

italiano or français

-d

-b

-dd

-bb

norsk

-iss/-is

-ess/-es

-ississ/-isis

-essess/-eses

portugues

-s

-b

-ss

-bb

suomi

-is

-es

-isis

-eses

svenska

-iss

-ess

-ississ

-essess

vlaams

-k

-b

-kk

-bb

In Dutch, aes is contracted to as, but both forms are accepted in LilyPond. Similarly, both es and ees are accepted. This also applies to aeses / ases and eeses / eses. Sometimes only these contracted names are defined in the corresponding language files.

a2 as e es a ases e eses

[image of music]

Some music uses microtones whose alterations are fractions of a ‘normal’ sharp or flat. The following table lists note names for quarter-tone accidentals in various languages; here the prefixes semi- and sesqui- respectively mean ‘half’ and ‘one and a half’. Languages that do not appear in this table do not provide special note names yet.

Language

semi-sharp

semi-flat

sesqui-sharp

sesqui-flat

nederlands

-ih

-eh

-isih

-eseh

deutsch

-ih

-eh

-isih

-eseh

english

-qs

-qf

-tqs

-tqf

espanol or español

-cs

-cb

-tcs

-tcb

italiano or français

-sd

-sb

-dsd

-bsb

portugues

-sqt

-bqt

-stqt

-btqt

Most languages presented here are commonly associated with Western classical music, also referred to as Common Practice Period. However, alternate pitches and tuning systems are also supported: see Common notation for non-Western music.

See also

Music Glossary: Pitch names, Common Practice Period.

Notation Reference: Common notation for non-Western music.

Installed Files: ‘scm/define-note-names.scm’.

Snippets: Pitches.


1.1.2 Changing multiple pitches

This section discusses how to modify pitches.


Octave checks

In relative mode, it is easy to forget an octave changing mark. Octave checks make such errors easier to find by displaying a warning and correcting the octave if a note is found in an unexpected octave.

To check the octave of a note, specify the absolute octave after the = symbol. This example will generate a warning (and change the pitch) because the second note is the absolute octave d'' instead of d' as indicated by the octave correction.

\relative c'' {
  c2 d='4 d
  e2 f
}

[image of music]

The octave of notes may also be checked with the \octaveCheck controlpitch command. controlpitch is specified in absolute mode. This checks that the interval between the previous note and the controlpitch is within a fourth (i.e., the normal calculation of relative mode). If this check fails, a warning is printed, but the previous note is not changed. Future notes are relative to the controlpitch.

\relative c'' {
  c2 d
  \octaveCheck c'
  e2 f
}

[image of music]

Compare the two bars below. The first and third \octaveCheck checks fail, but the second one does not fail.

\relative c'' {
  c4 f g f

  c4
  \octaveCheck c'
  f
  \octaveCheck c'
  g
  \octaveCheck c'
  f
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: RelativeOctaveCheck.


Transpose

A music expression can be transposed with \transpose. The syntax is

\transpose frompitch topitch musicexpr

This means that musicexpr is transposed by the interval between the pitches frompitch and topitch: any note with pitch frompitch is changed to topitch and any other note is transposed by the same interval. Both pitches are entered in absolute mode.

Note: Music inside a \transpose block is absolute unless a \relative is included in the block.

Consider a piece written in the key of D-major. It can be transposed up to E-major; note that the key signature is automatically transposed as well.

\transpose d e {
  \relative c' {
    \key d \major
    d4 fis a d
  }
}

[image of music]

If a part written in C (normal concert pitch) is to be played on the A clarinet (for which an A is notated as a C and thus sounds a minor third lower than notated), the appropriate part will be produced with:

\transpose a c' {
  \relative c' {
    \key c \major
    c4 d e g
  }
}

[image of music]

Note that we specify \key c \major explicitly. If we do not specify a key signature, the notes will be transposed but no key signature will be printed.

\transpose distinguishes between enharmonic pitches: both \transpose c cis or \transpose c des will transpose up a semitone. The first version will print sharps and the notes will remain on the same scale step, the second version will print flats on the scale step above.

music = \relative c' { c d e f }
\new Staff {
  \transpose c cis { \music }
  \transpose c des { \music }
}

[image of music]

\transpose may also be used in a different way, to input written notes for a transposing instrument. The previous examples show how to enter pitches in C (or concert pitch) and typeset them for a transposing instrument, but the opposite is also possible if you for example have a set of instrumental parts and want to print a conductor’s score. For example, when entering music for a B-flat trumpet that begins on a notated E (concert D), one would write:

musicInBflat = { e4 … }
\transpose c bes, \musicInBflat

To print this music in F (e.g., rearranging to a French horn) you could wrap the existing music with another \transpose:

musicInBflat = { e4 … }
\transpose f c' { \transpose c bes, \musicInBflat }

For more information about transposing instruments, see Instrument transpositions.

Selected Snippets

Transposing pitches with minimum accidentals ("Smart" transpose)

This example uses some Scheme code to enforce enharmonic modifications for notes in order to have the minimum number of accidentals. In this case, the following rules apply:

Double accidentals should be removed

B sharp -> C

E sharp -> F

C flat -> B

F flat -> E

In this manner, the most natural enharmonic notes are chosen.

#(define (naturalize-pitch p)
   (let ((o (ly:pitch-octave p))
         (a (* 4 (ly:pitch-alteration p)))
         ;; alteration, a, in quarter tone steps,
         ;; for historical reasons
         (n (ly:pitch-notename p)))
     (cond
      ((and (> a 1) (or (eq? n 6) (eq? n 2)))
       (set! a (- a 2))
       (set! n (+ n 1)))
      ((and (< a -1) (or (eq? n 0) (eq? n 3)))
       (set! a (+ a 2))
       (set! n (- n 1))))
     (cond
      ((> a 2) (set! a (- a 4)) (set! n (+ n 1)))
      ((< a -2) (set! a (+ a 4)) (set! n (- n 1))))
     (if (< n 0) (begin (set! o (- o 1)) (set! n (+ n 7))))
     (if (> n 6) (begin (set! o (+ o 1)) (set! n (- n 7))))
     (ly:make-pitch o n (/ a 4))))

#(define (naturalize music)
   (let ((es (ly:music-property music 'elements))
         (e (ly:music-property music 'element))
         (p (ly:music-property music 'pitch)))
     (if (pair? es)
         (ly:music-set-property!
          music 'elements
          (map (lambda (x) (naturalize x)) es)))
     (if (ly:music? e)
         (ly:music-set-property!
          music 'element
          (naturalize e)))
     (if (ly:pitch? p)
         (begin
           (set! p (naturalize-pitch p))
           (ly:music-set-property! music 'pitch p)))
     music))

naturalizeMusic =
#(define-music-function (parser location m)
   (ly:music?)
   (naturalize m))

music = \relative c' { c4 d e g }

\score {
  \new Staff {
    \transpose c ais { \music }
    \naturalizeMusic \transpose c ais { \music }
    \transpose c deses { \music }
    \naturalizeMusic \transpose c deses { \music }
  }
  \layout { }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Instrument transpositions, Inversion, Modal transformations, Relative octave entry, Retrograde.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: TransposedMusic.

Known issues and warnings

The relative conversion will not affect \transpose, \chordmode or \relative sections in its argument. To use relative mode within transposed music, an additional \relative must be placed inside \transpose.

Triple accidentals will not be printed if using \transpose. An ‘enharmonically equivalent’ pitch will be used instead (e.g. d-flat rather than e-triple-flat).


Inversion

A music expression can be inverted and transposed in a single operation with:

\inversion around-pitch to-pitch musicexpr

The musicexpr is inverted interval-by-interval around around-pitch, and then transposed so that around-pitch is mapped to to-pitch.

music = \relative c' { c d e f }
\new Staff {
  \music
  \inversion d' d' \music
  \inversion d' ees' \music
}

[image of music]

Note: Motifs to be inverted should be expressed in absolute form or be first converted to absolute form by enclosing them in a relative block.

See also

Notation Reference: Modal transformations, Retrograde, Transpose.


Retrograde

A music expression can be reversed to produce its retrograde:

music = \relative c' { c8. ees16( fis8. a16 b8.) gis16 f8. d16 }

\new Staff {
  \music
  \retrograde \music
}

[image of music]

Known issues and warnings

Manual ties inside \retrograde will be broken and generate warnings. Some ties can be generated automatically by enabling Automatic note splitting.

See also

Notation Reference: Inversion, Modal transformations, Transpose.


Modal transformations

In a musical composition that is based on a scale, a motif is frequently transformed in various ways. It may be transposed to start at different places in the scale or it may be inverted around a pivot point in the scale. It may also be reversed to produce its retrograde, see Retrograde.

Note: Any note that does not lie within the given scale will be left untransformed.

Modal transposition

A motif can be transposed within a given scale with:

\modalTranspose from-pitch to-pitch scale motif

The notes of motif are shifted within the scale by the number of scale degrees given by the interval between to-pitch and from-pitch:

diatonicScale = \relative c' { c d e f g a b }
motif = \relative c' { c8 d e f g a b c }

\new Staff {
  \motif
  \modalTranspose c f \diatonicScale \motif
  \modalTranspose c b, \diatonicScale \motif
}

[image of music]

An ascending scale of any length and with any intervals may be specified:

pentatonicScale = \relative c' { ges aes bes des ees }
motif = \relative c' { ees8 des ges,4 <ges' bes,> <ges bes,> }

\new Staff {
  \motif
  \modalTranspose ges ees' \pentatonicScale \motif
}

[image of music]

When used with a chromatic scale \modalTranspose has a similar effect to \transpose, but with the ability to specify the names of the notes to be used:

chromaticScale = \relative c' { c cis d dis e f fis g gis a ais b }
motif = \relative c' { c8 d e f g a b c }

\new Staff {
  \motif
  \transpose c f \motif
  \modalTranspose c f \chromaticScale \motif
}

[image of music]

Modal inversion

A motif can be inverted within a given scale around a given pivot note and transposed in a single operation with:

\modalInversion around-pitch to-pitch scale motif

The notes of motif are placed the same number of scale degrees from the around-pitch note within the scale, but in the opposite direction, and the result is then shifted within the scale by the number of scale degrees given by the interval between to-pitch and around-pitch.

So to simply invert around a note in the scale use the same value for around-pitch and to-pitch:

octatonicScale = \relative c' { ees f fis gis a b c d }
motif = \relative c' { c8. ees16 fis8. a16 b8. gis16 f8. d16 }

\new Staff {
  \motif
  \modalInversion fis' fis' \octatonicScale \motif
}

[image of music]

To invert around a pivot between two notes in the scale, invert around one of the notes and then transpose by one scale degree. The two notes specified can be interpreted as bracketing the pivot point:

scale = \relative c' { c g' }
motive = \relative c' { c c g' c, }

\new Staff {
  \motive
  \modalInversion c' g' \scale \motive
}

[image of music]

The combined operation of inversion and retrograde produce the retrograde-inversion:

octatonicScale = \relative c' { ees f fis gis a b c d }
motif = \relative c' { c8. ees16 fis8. a16 b8. gis16 f8. d16 }

\new Staff {
  \motif
  \retrograde \modalInversion c' c' \octatonicScale \motif
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Inversion, Retrograde, Transpose.


1.1.3 Displaying pitches

This section discusses how to alter the output of pitches.


Clef

The clef may be altered. Middle C is shown in every example. The following clef names can (but do not need to) be enclosed in quotes.

\clef treble
c2 c
\clef alto
c2 c
\clef tenor
c2 c
\clef bass
c2 c

[image of music]

Other clefs include:

\clef french
c2 c
\clef soprano
c2 c
\clef mezzosoprano
c2 c
\clef baritone
c2 c

\break

\clef varbaritone
c2 c
\clef subbass
c2 c
\clef percussion
c2 c

\break

\clef G   % synonym for treble
c2 c
\clef F   % synonym for bass
c2 c
\clef C   % synonym for alto
c2 c

[image of music]

By adding _8 or ^8 to the clef name, the clef is transposed one octave down or up respectively, and _15 and ^15 transpose by two octaves. Other integers can be used if required. Clef names containing non-alphabetic characters must be enclosed in quotes

\clef treble
c2 c
\clef "treble_8"
c2 c
\clef "bass^15"
c2 c
\clef "alto_2"
c2 c
\clef "G_8"
c2 c
\clef "F^5"
c2 c

[image of music]

Optional octavation can be obtained by enclosing the numeric argument in parentheses or brackets:

\clef "treble_(8)"
c2 c
\clef "bass^[15]"
c2 c

[image of music]

The pitches are displayed as if the numeric argument were given without parentheses/brackets.

Some special purpose clefs are described in Mensural clefs, Gregorian clefs, Default tablatures, and Custom tablatures. For mixing different clefs when using cue notes within a score, see the \cueClef and \cueDuringWithClef functions in Formatting cue notes.

Selected Snippets

Tweaking clef properties

The command \clef "treble_8" is equivalent to setting clefGlyph, clefPosition (which controls the vertical position of the clef), middleCPosition and clefTransposition. A clef is printed when any of the properties except middleCPosition are changed.

Note that changing the glyph, the position of the clef, or the octavation does not in itself change the position of subsequent notes on the staff: the position of middle C must also be specified to do this. In order to get key signatures on the correct staff lines, middleCClefPosition must also be set. The positional parameters are relative to the staff center line, positive numbers displacing upwards, counting one for each line and space. The clefTransposition value would normally be set to 7, -7, 15 or -15, but other values are valid.

When a clef change takes place at a line break the new clef symbol is printed at both the end of the previous line and the beginning of the new line by default. If the warning clef at the end of the previous line is not required it can be suppressed by setting the Staff property explicitClefVisibility to the value end-of-line-invisible. The default behavior can be recovered with \unset Staff.explicitClefVisibility.

The following examples show the possibilities when setting these properties manually. On the first line, the manual changes preserve the standard relative positioning of clefs and notes, whereas on the second line, they do not.

\layout { ragged-right = ##t }
{
  % The default treble clef
  \key f \major
  c'1
  % The standard bass clef
  \set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.F"
  \set Staff.clefPosition = #2
  \set Staff.middleCPosition = #6
  \set Staff.middleCClefPosition = #6
  \key g \major
  c'1
  % The baritone clef
  \set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.C"
  \set Staff.clefPosition = #4
  \set Staff.middleCPosition = #4
  \set Staff.middleCClefPosition = #4
  \key f \major
  c'1
  % The standard choral tenor clef
  \set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.G"
  \set Staff.clefPosition = #-2
  \set Staff.clefTransposition = #-7
  \set Staff.middleCPosition = #1
  \set Staff.middleCClefPosition = #1
  \key f \major
  c'1
  % A non-standard clef
  \set Staff.clefPosition = #0
  \set Staff.clefTransposition = #0
  \set Staff.middleCPosition = #-4
  \set Staff.middleCClefPosition = #-4
  \key g \major
  c'1 \break

  % The following clef changes do not preserve
  % the normal relationship between notes, key signatures
  % and clefs:

  \set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.F"
  \set Staff.clefPosition = #2
  c'1
  \set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.G"
  c'1
  \set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.C"
  c'1
  \set Staff.clefTransposition = #7
  c'1
  \set Staff.clefTransposition = #0
  \set Staff.clefPosition = #0
  c'1

  % Return to the normal clef:

  \set Staff.middleCPosition = #0
  c'1
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Mensural clefs, Gregorian clefs, Default tablatures, Custom tablatures, Formatting cue notes.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Clef_engraver, Clef, ClefModifier, clef-interface.

Known issues and warnings

Ottavation numbers attached to clefs are treated as separate grobs. So any \override done to the Clef will also need to be applied, as a separate \override, to the ClefModifier grob.

\new Staff \with {
  \override Clef.color = #blue
  \override ClefModifier.color = #red
}

\clef "treble_8" c4

[image of music]


Key signature

Note: New users are sometimes confused about accidentals and key signatures. In LilyPond, note names are the raw input; key signatures and clefs determine how this raw input is displayed. An unaltered note like c means ‘C natural’, regardless of the key signature or clef. For more information, see Accidentals and key signatures.

The key signature indicates the tonality in which a piece is played. It is denoted by a set of alterations (flats or sharps) at the start of the staff. The key signature may be altered:

\key pitch mode

Here, mode should be \major or \minor to get a key signature of pitch-major or pitch-minor, respectively. You may also use the standard mode names, also called church modes: \ionian, \dorian, \phrygian, \lydian, \mixolydian, \aeolian, and \locrian.

\key g \major
fis1
f
fis

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Additional modes can be defined, by listing the alterations for each scale step when the mode starts on C.

freygish = #`((0 . ,NATURAL) (1 . ,FLAT) (2 . ,NATURAL)
    (3 . ,NATURAL) (4 . ,NATURAL) (5 . ,FLAT) (6 . ,FLAT))

\relative c' {
  \key c \freygish c4 des e f
  \bar "||" \key d \freygish d es fis g
}

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Accidentals in the key signature may be printed in octaves other than their traditional positions, or in multiple octaves, by using the flat-positions and sharp-positions properties of KeySignature. Entries in these properties specify the range of staff-positions where accidentals will be printed. If a single position is specified in an entry, the accidentals are placed within the octave ending at that staff position.

\override Staff.KeySignature.flat-positions = #'((-5 . 5))
\override Staff.KeyCancellation.flat-positions = #'((-5 . 5))
\clef bass \key es \major es g bes d
\clef treble \bar "||" \key es \major es g bes d

\override Staff.KeySignature.sharp-positions = #'(2)
\bar "||" \key b \major b fis b2

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Selected Snippets

Preventing natural signs from being printed when the key signature changes

When the key signature changes, natural signs are automatically printed to cancel any accidentals from previous key signatures. This may be prevented by setting to f the printKeyCancellation property in the Staff context.

\relative c' {
  \key d \major
  a4 b cis d
  \key g \minor
  a4 bes c d
  \set Staff.printKeyCancellation = ##f
  \key d \major
  a4 b cis d
  \key g \minor
  a4 bes c d
}

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Non-traditional key signatures

The commonly used \key command sets the keySignature property, in the Staff context.

To create non-standard key signatures, set this property directly. The format of this command is a list:

\set Staff.keySignature = #`(((octave . step) . alter) ((octave . step) . alter) ...) where, for each element in the list, octave specifies the octave (0 being the octave from middle C to the B above), step specifies the note within the octave (0 means C and 6 means B), and alter is ,SHARP ,FLAT ,DOUBLE-SHARP etc. (Note the leading comma.) The accidentals in the key signature will appear in the reverse order to that in which they are specified.

Alternatively, for each item in the list, using the more concise format (step . alter) specifies that the same alteration should hold in all octaves.

For microtonal scales where a “sharp” is not 100 cents, alter refers to the alteration as a proportion of a 200-cent whole tone.

Here is an example of a possible key signature for generating a whole-tone scale:

\relative c' {
  \set Staff.keySignature = #`(((0 . 6) . ,FLAT)
                               ((0 . 5) . ,FLAT)
                               ((0 . 3) . ,SHARP))
  c4 d e fis
  aes4 bes c2
}

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See also

Music Glossary: church mode, scordatura.

Learning Manual: Accidentals and key signatures.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: KeyChangeEvent, Key_engraver, Key_performer, KeyCancellation, KeySignature, key-signature-interface.


Ottava brackets

Ottava brackets introduce an extra transposition of an octave for the staff:

a2 b
\ottava #-2
a2 b
\ottava #-1
a2 b
\ottava #0
a2 b
\ottava #1
a2 b
\ottava #2
a2 b

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Selected Snippets

Ottava text

Internally, \ottava sets the properties ottavation (for example, to 8va or 8vb) and middleCPosition. To override the text of the bracket, set ottavation after invoking \ottava.

{
  \ottava #1
  \set Staff.ottavation = #"8"
  c''1
  \ottava #0
  c'1
  \ottava #1
  \set Staff.ottavation = #"Text"
  c''1
}

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Adding an ottava marking to a single voice

If you have more than one voice on the staff, setting octavation in one voice will transpose the position of notes in all voices for the duration of the ottava bracket. If the ottavation is only intended to apply to one voice, the middleCPosition and ottava bracket may be set explicitly. In this snippet, the bass clef usually has middleCPosition set to 6, six positions above the center line, so in the 8va portion middleCPosition is 7 positions (one octave) higher still.

{
  \clef bass
  << { <g d'>1~ q2 <c' e'> }
  \\
    {
      r2.
      \set Staff.ottavation = #"8vb"
      \once \override Staff.OttavaBracket.direction = #DOWN
      \set Voice.middleCPosition = #(+ 6 7)
      <b,,, b,,>4 ~ |
      q2
      \unset Staff.ottavation
      \unset Voice.middleCPosition
      <c e>2
    }
  >>
}

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See also

Music Glossary: octavation.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Ottava_spanner_engraver, OttavaBracket, ottava-bracket-interface.


Instrument transpositions

When typesetting scores that involve transposing instruments, some parts can be typeset in a different pitch than the concert pitch. In these cases, the key of the transposing instrument should be specified; otherwise the MIDI output and cues in other parts will produce incorrect pitches. For more information about quotations, see Quoting other voices.

\transposition pitch

The pitch to use for \transposition should correspond to the real sound heard when a c' written on the staff is played by the transposing instrument. This pitch is entered in absolute mode, so an instrument that produces a real sound which is one tone higher than the printed music should use \transposition d'. \transposition should only be used if the pitches are not being entered in concert pitch.

Here are a few notes for violin and B-flat clarinet where the parts have been entered using the notes and key as they appear in each part of the conductor’s score. The two instruments are playing in unison.

\new GrandStaff <<
  \new Staff = "violin" {
    \relative c'' {
      \set Staff.instrumentName = #"Vln"
      \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin"
      % not strictly necessary, but a good reminder
      \transposition c'

      \key c \major
      g4( c8) r c r c4
    }
  }
  \new Staff = "clarinet" {
    \relative c'' {
      \set Staff.instrumentName = \markup { Cl (B\flat) }
      \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"clarinet"
      \transposition bes

      \key d \major
      a4( d8) r d r d4
    }
  }
>>

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The \transposition may be changed during a piece. For example, a clarinetist may be required to switch from an A clarinet to a B-flat clarinet.

flute = \relative c'' {
  \key f \major
  \cueDuring #"clarinet" #DOWN {
    R1 _\markup\tiny "clarinet"
    c4 f e d
    R1 _\markup\tiny "clarinet"
  }
}
clarinet = \relative c'' {
  \key aes \major
  \transposition a
  aes4 bes c des
  R1^\markup { muta in B\flat }
  \key g \major
  \transposition bes
  d2 g,
}
\addQuote "clarinet" \clarinet
<<
  \new Staff \with { instrumentName = #"Flute" }
    \flute
  \new Staff \with { instrumentName = #"Cl (A)" }
    \clarinet
>>

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See also

Music Glossary: concert pitch, transposing instrument.

Notation Reference: Quoting other voices, Transpose.

Snippets: Pitches.


Automatic accidentals

There are many different conventions on how to typeset accidentals. LilyPond provides a function to specify which accidental style to use. This function is called as follows:

\new Staff <<
  \accidentalStyle voice
  { … }
>>

The accidental style applies to the current Staff by default (with the exception of the styles piano and piano-cautionary, which are explained below). Optionally, the function can take a second argument that determines in which scope the style should be changed. For example, to use the same style in all staves of the current StaffGroup, use:

\accidentalStyle StaffGroup.voice

The following accidental styles are supported. To demonstrate each style, we use the following example:

musicA = {
  <<
    \relative c' {
      cis'8 fis, bes4 <a cis>8 f bis4 |
      cis2. <c, g'>4 |
    }
    \\
    \relative c' {
      ais'2 cis, |
      fis8 b a4 cis2 |
    }
  >>
}

musicB = {
  \clef bass
  \new Voice {
    \voiceTwo \relative c' {
      <fis, a cis>8[ <fis a cis>
      \change Staff = up
      cis' cis
      \change Staff = down
      <fis, a> <fis a>]
      \showStaffSwitch
      \change Staff = up
      dis'4 |
      \change Staff = down
      <fis, a cis>4 gis <f a d>2 |
    }
  }
}

\new PianoStaff {
  <<
    \context Staff = "up" {
      \accidentalStyle default
      \musicA
    }
    \context Staff = "down" {
      \accidentalStyle default
      \musicB
    }
  >>
}

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Note that the last lines of this example can be replaced by the following, as long as the same accidental style should be used in both staves.

\new PianoStaff {
  <<
    \context Staff = "up" {
      %%% change the next line as desired:
      \accidentalStyle Score.default
      \musicA
    }
    \context Staff = "down" {
      \musicB
    }
  >>
}
default

This is the default typesetting behavior. It corresponds to eighteenth-century common practice: accidentals are remembered to the end of the measure in which they occur and only in their own octave. Thus, in the example below, no natural signs are printed before the b in the second measure or the last c:

[image of music]

voice

The normal behavior is to remember the accidentals at Staff-level. In this style, however, accidentals are typeset individually for each voice. Apart from that, the rule is similar to default.

As a result, accidentals from one voice do not get canceled in other voices, which is often an unwanted result: in the following example, it is hard to determine whether the second a should be played natural or sharp. The voice option should therefore be used only if the voices are to be read solely by individual musicians. If the staff is to be used by one musician (e.g., a conductor or in a piano score) then modern or modern-cautionary should be used instead.

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modern

This rule corresponds to the common practice in the twentieth century. It omits some extra natural signs, which were traditionally prefixed to a sharp following a double sharp, or a flat following a double flat. The modern rule prints the same accidentals as default, with two additions that serve to avoid ambiguity: after temporary accidentals, cancellation marks are printed also in the following measure (for notes in the same octave) and, in the same measure, for notes in other octaves. Hence the naturals before the b and the c in the second measure of the upper staff:

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modern-cautionary

This rule is similar to modern, but the ‘extra’ accidentals (the ones not typeset by default) are typeset as cautionary accidentals. They are by default printed with parentheses, but they can also be printed in reduced size by defining the cautionary-style property of AccidentalSuggestion.

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modern-voice

This rule is used for multivoice accidentals to be read both by musicians playing one voice and musicians playing all voices. Accidentals are typeset for each voice, but they are canceled across voices in the same Staff. Hence, the a in the last measure is canceled because the previous cancellation was in a different voice, and the d in the lower staff is canceled because of the accidental in a different voice in the previous measure:

[image of music]

modern-voice-cautionary

This rule is the same as modern-voice, but with the extra accidentals (the ones not typeset by voice) typeset as cautionaries. Even though all accidentals typeset by default are typeset with this rule, some of them are typeset as cautionaries.

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piano

This rule reflects twentieth-century practice for piano notation. Its behavior is very similar to modern style, but here accidentals also get canceled across the staves in the same GrandStaff or PianoStaff, hence all the cancellations of the final notes.

This accidental style applies to the current GrandStaff or PianoStaff by default.

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piano-cautionary

This is the same as piano but with the extra accidentals typeset as cautionaries.

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neo-modern

This rule reproduces a common practice in contemporary music: accidentals are printed like with modern, but they are printed again if the same note appears later in the same measure – except if the note is immediately repeated.

[image of music]

neo-modern-cautionary

This rule is similar to neo-modern, but the extra accidentals are printed as cautionary accidentals.

[image of music]

neo-modern-voice

This rule is used for multivoice accidentals to be read both by musicians playing one voice and musicians playing all voices. Accidentals are typeset for each voice as with neo-modern, but they are canceled across voices in the same Staff.

[image of music]

neo-modern-voice-cautionary

This rule is similar to neo-modern-voice, but the extra accidentals are printed as cautionary accidentals.

[image of music]

dodecaphonic

This rule reflects a practice introduced by composers at the beginning of the 20th century, in an attempt to abolish the hierarchy between natural and non-natural notes. With this style, every note gets an accidental sign, including natural signs.

[image of music]

dodecaphonic-no-repeat

Like with the dodecaphonic accidental style every note gets an accidental sign by default, but accidentals are suppressed for pitches immediately repeated within one voice.

[image of music]

dodecaphonic-first

Similar to the dodecaphonic accidental style every pitch gets an accidental sign, but only the first time it is encountered in a measure. Accidentals are only remembered for the actual octave but throughout voices.

[image of music]

teaching

This rule is intended for students, and makes it easy to create scale sheets with automatically created cautionary accidentals. Accidentals are printed like with modern, but cautionary accidentals are added for all sharp or flat tones specified by the key signature, except if the note is immediately repeated.

[image of music]

no-reset

This is the same as default but with accidentals lasting ‘forever’ and not only within the same measure:

[image of music]

forget

This is the opposite of no-reset: Accidentals are not remembered at all – and hence all accidentals are typeset relative to the key signature, regardless of what came before in the music.

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Accidental, Accidental_engraver, GrandStaff, PianoStaff, Staff, AccidentalSuggestion, AccidentalPlacement, accidental-suggestion-interface.

Known issues and warnings

Simultaneous notes are not considered in the automatic determination of accidentals; only previous notes and the key signature are considered. Forcing accidentals with ! or ? may be required when the same note name occurs simultaneously with different alterations, as in ‘<f! fis!>’.

Cautionary cancellation of accidentals is done by looking at previous measure. However, in the \alternative block following a \repeat volta N section, one would expect the cancellation being calculated using the previous played measure, not previous printed measure. In the following example, the natural c in the second alternative does not need a natural sign:

[image of music]

The following work-around can be used: define a function that locally changes the accidental style to forget:

forget = #(define-music-function (parser location music) (ly:music?) #{
  \accidentalStyle forget
  #music
  \accidentalStyle modern
#})
{
  \accidentalStyle modern
  \time 2/4
  \repeat volta 2 {
    c'2
  }
  \alternative {
     cis'
     \forget c'
  }
}

[image of music]


Ambitus

The term ambitus (pl. ambitus) denotes a range of pitches for a given voice in a part of music. It may also denote the pitch range that a musical instrument is capable of playing. Ambitus are printed on vocal parts so that performers can easily determine if it matches their capabilities.

Ambitus are denoted at the beginning of a piece near the initial clef. The range is graphically specified by two note heads that represent the lowest and highest pitches. Accidentals are only printed if they are not part of the key signature.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  }
}

\relative c'' {
  aes c e2
  cis,1
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Adding ambitus per voice

Ambitus can be added per voice. In this case, the ambitus must be moved manually to prevent collisions.

\new Staff <<
  \new Voice \with {
    \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  } \relative c'' {
    \override Ambitus.X-offset = #2.0
    \voiceOne
    c4 a d e
    f1
  }
  \new Voice \with {
    \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  } \relative c' {
    \voiceTwo
    es4 f g as
    b1
  }
>>

[image of music]

Ambitus with multiple voices

Adding the Ambitus_engraver to the Staff context creates a single ambitus per staff, even in the case of staves with multiple voices.

\new Staff \with {
  \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  }
<<
  \new Voice \relative c'' {
    \voiceOne
    c4 a d e
    f1
  }
  \new Voice \relative c' {
    \voiceTwo
    es4 f g as
    b1
  }
>>

[image of music]

Changing the ambitus gap

It is possible to change the default gap between the ambitus noteheads and the line joining them.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  }
}

\new Staff {
  \time 2/4
  % Default setting
  c'4 g''
}

\new Staff {
  \time 2/4
  \override AmbitusLine.gap = #0
  c'4 g''
}

\new Staff {
  \time 2/4
  \override AmbitusLine.gap = #1
  c'4 g''
}

\new Staff {
  \time 2/4
  \override AmbitusLine.gap = #1.5
  c'4 g''
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: ambitus.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Ambitus_engraver, Voice, Staff, Ambitus, AmbitusAccidental, AmbitusLine, AmbitusNoteHead, ambitus-interface.

Known issues and warnings

There is no collision handling in the case of multiple per-voice ambitus.


1.1.4 Note heads

This section suggests ways of altering note heads.


Special note heads

The appearance of note heads may be altered:

c4 b
\override NoteHead.style = #'cross
c4 b
\revert NoteHead.style
a b
\override NoteHead.style = #'harmonic
a b
\revert NoteHead.style
c4 d e f

[image of music]

To see all note head styles, see Note head styles.

The cross style is used to represent a variety of musical intentions. The following generic predefined commands modify the note head in both staff and tablature contexts and can be used to represent any musical meaning:

c4 b
\xNotesOn
 a b c4 b
\xNotesOff
c4 d

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The music function form of this predefined command may be used inside and outside chords to generate crossed note heads in both staff and tablature contexts:

c4 b
\xNote { e f }
c b < g \xNote c f > b

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As synonyms for \xNote, \xNotesOn and \xNotesOff, \deadNote, \deadNotesOn and \deadNotesOff can be used. The term dead note is commonly used by guitarists.

There is also a similar shorthand for diamond shapes:

<c f\harmonic>2 <d a'\harmonic>4 <c g'\harmonic> f\harmonic

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\harmonic, \xNotesOn, \xNotesOff, \xNote.

See also

Snippets: Pitches.

Notation Reference: Note head styles, Chorded notes, Indicating harmonics and dampened notes.

Internals Reference: note-event, Note_heads_engraver, Ledger_line_engraver, NoteHead, LedgerLineSpanner, note-head-interface, ledger-line-spanner-interface.


Easy notation note heads

The ‘easy play’ note head includes a note name inside the head. It is used in music for beginners. To make the letters readable, it should be printed in a large font size. To print with a larger font, see Setting the staff size.

#(set-global-staff-size 26)
\relative c' {
  \easyHeadsOn
  c2 e4 f
  g1
  \easyHeadsOff
  c,1
}

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\easyHeadsOn, \easyHeadsOff.

Selected Snippets

Numbers as easy note heads

Easy notation note heads use the note-names property of the NoteHead object to determine what appears inside the note head. By overriding this property, it is possible to print numbers representing the scale-degree.

A simple engraver can be created to do this for every note head object it sees.

#(define Ez_numbers_engraver
   (make-engraver
    (acknowledgers
     ((note-head-interface engraver grob source-engraver)
      (let* ((context (ly:translator-context engraver))
	     (tonic-pitch (ly:context-property context 'tonic))
	     (tonic-name (ly:pitch-notename tonic-pitch))
	     (grob-pitch
	      (ly:event-property (event-cause grob) 'pitch))
	     (grob-name (ly:pitch-notename grob-pitch))
	     (delta (modulo (- grob-name tonic-name) 7))
	     (note-names
	      (make-vector 7 (number->string (1+ delta)))))
	(ly:grob-set-property! grob 'note-names note-names))))))

#(set-global-staff-size 26)

\layout {
  ragged-right = ##t
  \context {
    \Voice
    \consists \Ez_numbers_engraver
  }
}

\relative c' {
  \easyHeadsOn
  c4 d e f
  g4 a b c \break

  \key a \major
  a,4 b cis d
  e4 fis gis a \break

  \key d \dorian
  d,4 e f g
  a4 b c d
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Setting the staff size.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: note-event, Note_heads_engraver, NoteHead, note-head-interface.


Shape note heads

In shape note head notation, the shape of the note head corresponds to the harmonic function of a note in the scale. This notation was popular in nineteenth-century American song books. Shape note heads can be produced in Sacred Harp, Southern Harmony, Funk (Harmonica Sacra), Walker, and Aiken (Christian Harmony) styles:

\aikenHeads
c, d e f g2 a b1 c \break
\sacredHarpHeads
c,4 d e f g2 a b1 c \break
\southernHarmonyHeads
c,4 d e f g2 a b1 c \break
\funkHeads
c,4 d e f g2 a b1 c \break
\walkerHeads
c,4 d e f g2 a b1 c \break

[image of music]

Shapes are typeset according to the step in the scale, where the base of the scale is determined by the \key command. When writing in a minor key, the scale step can be determined from the relative major:

\key a \minor
\aikenHeads
a b c d e2 f g1 a \break
\aikenHeadsMinor
a,4 b c d e2 f g1 a \break
\sacredHarpHeadsMinor
a,2 b c d \break
\southernHarmonyHeadsMinor
a2 b c d \break
\funkHeadsMinor
a2 b c d \break
\walkerHeadsMinor
a2 b c d \break

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\aikenHeads, \aikenHeadsMinor, \funkHeads, \funkHeadsMinor, \sacredHarpHeads, \sacredHarpHeadsMinor, \southernHarmonyHeads, \southernHarmonyHeadsMinor, \walkerHeads, \walkerHeadsMinor.

Selected Snippets

Applying note head styles depending on the step of the scale

The shapeNoteStyles property can be used to define various note head styles for each step of the scale (as set by the key signature or the tonic property). This property requires a set of symbols, which can be purely arbitrary (geometrical expressions such as triangle, cross, and xcircle are allowed) or based on old American engraving tradition (some latin note names are also allowed).

That said, to imitate old American song books, there are several predefined note head styles available through shortcut commands such as \aikenHeads or \sacredHarpHeads.

This example shows different ways to obtain shape note heads, and demonstrates the ability to transpose a melody without losing the correspondence between harmonic functions and note head styles.

fragment = {
  \key c \major
  c2 d
  e2 f
  g2 a
  b2 c
}

\new Staff {
  \transpose c d
  \relative c' {
    \set shapeNoteStyles = ##(do re mi fa
                               #f la ti)
    \fragment
  }

  \break

  \relative c' {
    \set shapeNoteStyles = ##(cross triangle fa #f
                               mensural xcircle diamond)
    \fragment
  }
}

[image of music]

To see all note head styles, see Note head styles.

See also

Snippets: Pitches.

Notation Reference: Note head styles.

Internals Reference: note-event, Note_heads_engraver, NoteHead, note-head-interface.


Improvisation

Improvisation is sometimes denoted with slashed note heads, where the performer may choose any pitch but should play the specified rhythm. Such note heads can be created:

\new Voice \with {
  \consists "Pitch_squash_engraver"
} {
  e8 e g a a16( bes) a8 g
  \improvisationOn
  e8 ~
  2 ~ 8 f4 f8 ~
  2
  \improvisationOff
  a16( bes) a8 g e
}

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\improvisationOn, \improvisationOff.

See also

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Pitch_squash_engraver, Voice, RhythmicStaff.


1.2 Rhythms

[image of music]

This section discusses rhythms, rests, durations, beaming and bars.


1.2.1 Writing rhythms


Durations

Durations are designated by numbers and dots. Durations are entered as their reciprocal values. For example, a quarter note is entered using a 4 (since it is a 1/4 note), and a half note is entered using a 2 (since it is a 1/2 note). For notes longer than a whole you must use the \longa (a double breve) and \breve commands. Durations as short as 128th notes may be specified. Shorter values are possible, but only as beamed notes.

\time 8/1
c\longa c\breve c1 c2
c4 c8 c16 c32 c64 c128 c128

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Here are the same durations with automatic beaming turned off.

\time 8/1
\autoBeamOff
c\longa c\breve c1 c2
c4 c8 c16 c32 c64 c128 c128

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A note with the duration of a quadruple breve may be entered with \maxima, but this is supported only within ancient music notation. For details, see Ancient notation.

If the duration is omitted, it is set to the previously entered duration. The default for the first note is a quarter note.

a a a2 a a4 a a1 a

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Durations occuring on their own within a music sequence will take their pitches from the preceding note or chord.

\time 8/1
c \longa \breve 1 2
4 8 16 32 64 128 128

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To obtain dotted note lengths, place a dot (.) after the duration. Double-dotted notes are specified by appending two dots, and so on.

a4 b c4. b8 a4. b4.. c8.

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Some durations cannot be represented with just binary durations and dots; they can be represented only by tying two or more notes together. For details, see Ties.

For ways of specifying durations for the syllables of lyrics and ways of aligning lyrics to notes, see Vocal music.

Optionally, notes can be spaced strictly proportionately to their duration. For details of this and other settings which control proportional notation, see Proportional notation.

Dots are normally moved up to avoid staff lines, except in polyphonic situations. Dots may be manually placed above or below the staff; see Direction and placement.

Predefined commands

\autoBeamOn, \autoBeamOff, \dotsUp, \dotsDown, \dotsNeutral.

Selected Snippets

Alternative breve notes

Breve notes are also available with two vertical lines on each side of the notehead instead of one line and in baroque style.

\relative c'' {
  \time 4/2
  c\breve |
  \override Staff.NoteHead.style = #'altdefault
  b\breve
  \override Staff.NoteHead.style = #'baroque
  b\breve
  \revert Staff.NoteHead.style
  a\breve
}

[image of music]

Changing the number of augmentation dots per note

The number of augmentation dots on a single note can be changed indepently of the dots placed after the note.

\relative c' {
  c4.. a16 r2 |
  \override Dots.dot-count = #4
  c4.. a16 r2 |
  \override Dots.dot-count = #0
  c4.. a16 r2 |
  \revert Dots.dot-count
  c4.. a16 r2 |
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: breve, longa, maxima, note value, Duration names notes and rests.

Notation Reference: Automatic beams, Ties, Stems, Writing rhythms, Writing rests, Vocal music, Ancient notation, Proportional notation.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: Dots, DotColumn.

Known issues and warnings

There is no fundamental limit to rest durations (both in terms of longest and shortest), but the number of glyphs is limited: rests from 128th to maxima (8 x whole) may be printed.


Tuplets

Tuplets are made from a music expression with the \tuplet command, multiplying the speed of the music expression by a fraction:

\tuplet fraction { music }

The fraction’s numerator will be printed over or under the notes, optionally with a bracket. The most common tuplets are triplets: 3 notes sound within the duration normally allowed for 2:

a2 \tuplet 3/2 { b4 4 4 }
c4 c \tuplet 3/2 { b4 a g }

[image of music]

When entering long passages of tuplets, having to write a separate \tuplet command for each group is inconvenient. It is possible to specify the duration of one tuplet group directly before the music in order to have the tuplets grouped automatically:

g2 r8 \tuplet 3/2 8 { cis16 d e e f g g f e }

[image of music]

Tuplet brackets may be manually placed above or below the staff; see Direction and placement.

Tuplets may be nested:

\autoBeamOff
c4 \tuplet 5/4 { f8 e f \tuplet 3/2 { e[ f g] } } f4

[image of music]

Modifying nested tuplets which begin at the same musical moment must be done with \tweak.

To modify the duration of notes without printing a tuplet bracket, see Scaling durations.

Predefined commands

\tupletUp, \tupletDown, \tupletNeutral.

Selected Snippets

Entering several tuplets using only one \tuplet command

The property tupletSpannerDuration sets how long each of the tuplets contained within the brackets after \tuplet should last. Many consecutive tuplets can then be placed within a single \tuplet expression, thus saving typing.

There are several ways to set tupletSpannerDuration. The command \tupletSpan sets it to a given duration, and clears it when instead of a duration \default is specified. Another way is to use an optional argument with \tuplet.

\relative c' {
  \time 2/4
  \tupletSpan 4
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8^"\\tupletSpan 4" c c c c c }
  \tupletSpan \default
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8^"\\tupletSpan \\default" c c c c c }
  \tuplet 3/2 4 { c8^"\\tuplet 3/2 4 {...}" c c c c c }
}

[image of music]

Changing the tuplet number

By default, only the numerator of the tuplet number is printed over the tuplet bracket. Alternatively, num:den of the tuplet number may be printed, or the tuplet number may be suppressed altogether.

\relative c'' {
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8 c c }
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8 c c }
  \override TupletNumber.text = #tuplet-number::calc-fraction-text
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8 c c }
  \omit TupletNumber
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8 c c }
}

[image of music]

Non-default tuplet numbers

LilyPond also provides formatting functions to print tuplet numbers different than the actual fraction, as well as to append a note value to the tuplet number or tuplet fraction.

\relative c'' {
  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::non-default-tuplet-denominator-text 7)
  \tuplet 3/2  { c4. c4. c4. c4. }
  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::non-default-tuplet-fraction-text 12 7)
  \tuplet 3/2  { c4. c4. c4. c4. }
  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::append-note-wrapper
      (tuplet-number::non-default-tuplet-fraction-text 12 7) "8")
  \tuplet 3/2  { c4. c4. c4. c4. }

  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::append-note-wrapper
      tuplet-number::calc-denominator-text "4")
  \tuplet 3/2  { c8 c8 c8 c8 c8 c8 }
  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::append-note-wrapper
      tuplet-number::calc-fraction-text "4")
  \tuplet 3/2  { c8 c8 c8 c8 c8 c8 }

  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::fraction-with-notes "4." "8")
  \tuplet 3/2  { c4. c4. c4. c4. }
  \once \override TupletNumber.text =
    #(tuplet-number::non-default-fraction-with-notes 12 "8" 4 "4")
  \tuplet 3/2  { c4. c4. c4. c4. }
}

[image of music]

Controlling tuplet bracket visibility

The default behavior of tuplet-bracket visibility is to print a bracket unless there is a beam of the same length as the tuplet. To control the visibility of tuplet brackets, set the property 'bracket-visibility to either #t (always print a bracket), #f (never print a bracket) or #'if-no-beam (only print a bracket if there is no beam).

music = \relative c'' {
  \tuplet 3/2 { c16[ d e } f8]
  \tuplet 3/2 { c8 d e }
  \tuplet 3/2 { c4 d e }
}

\new Voice {
  \relative c' {
    << \music s4^"default" >>
    \override TupletBracket.bracket-visibility = #'if-no-beam
    << \music s4^"'if-no-beam" >>
    \override TupletBracket.bracket-visibility = ##t
    << \music s4^"#t" >>
    \override TupletBracket.bracket-visibility = ##f
    << \music s4^"#f" >>
  }
}

[image of music]

Permitting line breaks within beamed tuplets

This artificial example shows how both manual and automatic line breaks may be permitted to within a beamed tuplet. Note that such off-beat tuplets have to be beamed manually.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    % Permit line breaks within tuplets
    \remove "Forbid_line_break_engraver"
    % Allow beams to be broken at line breaks
    \override Beam.breakable = ##t
  }
}
\relative c'' {
  a8
  \repeat unfold 5 { \tuplet 3/2 { c[ b a] } }
  % Insert a manual line break within a tuplet
  \tuplet 3/2 { c[ b \bar "" \break a] }
  \repeat unfold 5 { \tuplet 3/2 { c[ b a] } }
  c8
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: triplet, tuplet, polymetric.

Learning Manual: Tweaking methods.

Notation Reference: Time administration, Scaling durations, The \tweak command, Polymetric notation.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: TupletBracket, TupletNumber, TimeScaledMusic.

Known issues and warnings

Grace notes may be placed within tuplet brackets, except when a staff begins with a grace note followed by a tuplet. In this particular case, the grace note must be placed before the \tuplet command to avoid errors.

When using a tuplet at the beginning of a piece with a \tempo mark, the music must be explicitly entered in a \new Voice block, as discussed in Voices contain music.


Scaling durations

The duration of single notes, rests or chords may be multiplied by a fraction N/M by appending *N/M (or *N if M is 1) to the duration. This will not affect the appearance of the notes or rests produced, but the altered duration will be used in calculating the position within the measure and setting the duration in the MIDI output. Multiplying factors may be combined like *L*M/N. Factors are part of the duration: if a duration is not specified for subsequent notes, the default duration taken from the preceding note will include any scaling factor.

In the following example, the first three notes take up exactly two beats, but no triplet bracket is printed.

\time 2/4
% Alter durations to triplets
a4*2/3 gis a
% Normal durations
a4 a
% Double the duration of chord
<a d>4*2
% Duration of quarter, appears like sixteenth
b16*4 c4

[image of music]

The duration of spacer rests may also be modified by a multiplier. This is useful for skipping many measures, e.g., s1*23.

Longer stretches of music may be compressed by a fraction in the same way, as if every note, chord or rest had the fraction as a multiplier. This leaves the appearance of the music unchanged but the internal duration of the notes will be multiplied by the fraction num/den. Here is an example showing how music can be compressed and expanded:

\time 2/4
% Normal durations
<c a>4 c8 a
% Scale music by *2/3
\scaleDurations 2/3 {
  <c a f>4. c8 a f
}
% Scale music by *2
\scaleDurations 2/1 {
  <c' a>4 c8 b
}

[image of music]

One application of this command is in polymetric notation, see Polymetric notation.

See also

Notation Reference: Tuplets, Invisible rests, Polymetric notation.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Known issues and warnings

The calculation of the position within a measure must take into account all the scaling factors applied to the notes within that measure and any fractional carry-out from earlier measures. This calculation is carried out using rational numbers. If an intermediate numerator or denominator in that calculation exceeds 2^30 the execution and typesetting will stop at that point without indicating an error.


Ties

A tie connects two adjacent note heads of the same pitch. The tie in effect extends the duration of a note.

Note: Ties should not be confused with slurs, which indicate articulation, or phrasing slurs, which indicate musical phrasing. A tie is just a way of extending a note duration, similar to the augmentation dot.

A tie is entered by appending a tilde symbol (~) to the first of each pair of notes being tied. This indicates that the note should be tied to the following note, which must be at the same pitch.

a2~ 4~ 16 r r8

[image of music]

Ties can make use of the ‘last explicit pitch’ interpretation of isolated durations:

a2~ 4~ 16 r r8

[image of music]

Ties are used either when the note crosses a bar line, or when dots cannot be used to denote the rhythm. Ties should also be used when note values cross larger subdivisions of the measure:

\relative c' {
  r8 c~ 2 r4 |
  r8^"not" c2~ 8 r4
}

[image of music]

If you need to tie many notes across bar lines, it may be easier to use automatic note splitting, see Automatic note splitting. This mechanism automatically splits long notes, and ties them across bar lines.

When a tie is applied to a chord, all note heads whose pitches match are connected. When no note heads match, no ties will be created. Chords may be partially tied by placing the ties inside the chord.

<c e g>2 ~ 2
<c e g>4~ <c e g c>
<c~ e g~ b> <c e g b>

[image of music]

When a second alternative of a repeat starts with a tied note, you have to specify the repeated tie as follows:

\repeat volta 2 { c g <c e>2~ }
\alternative {
  % First alternative: following note is tied normally
  { <c e>2. r4 }
  % Second alternative: following note has a repeated tie
  { <c e>2\repeatTie d4 c } }

[image of music]

L.v. ties (laissez vibrer) indicate that notes must not be damped at the end. It is used in notation for piano, harp and other string and percussion instruments. They can be entered as follows:

<c f g>1\laissezVibrer

[image of music]

Ties may be made to curve up or down manually; see Direction and placement.

Ties may be made dashed, dotted, or a combination of solid and dashed.

\tieDotted
c2~ 2
\tieDashed
c2~ 2
\tieHalfDashed
c2~ 2
\tieHalfSolid
c2~ 2
\tieSolid
c2~ 2

[image of music]

Custom dash patterns can be specified:

\tieDashPattern #0.3 #0.75
c2~ 2
\tieDashPattern #0.7 #1.5
c2~ 2
\tieSolid
c2~ 2

[image of music]

Dash pattern definitions for ties have the same structure as dash pattern definitions for slurs. For more information about complex dash patterns, see Slurs.

Override whiteout and layer layout properties for ties that collide with other objects in a staff.

\override Tie.layer = #-2
\override Staff.TimeSignature.layer = #-1
\override Staff.KeySignature.layer = #-1
\override Staff.TimeSignature.whiteout = ##t
\override Staff.KeySignature.whiteout = ##t
b2 b~
\time 3/4
\key a \major
b r4

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\tieUp, \tieDown, \tieNeutral, \tieDotted, \tieDashed, \tieDashPattern, \tieHalfDashed, \tieHalfSolid, \tieSolid.

Selected Snippets

Using ties with arpeggios

Ties are sometimes used to write out arpeggios. In this case, two tied notes need not be consecutive. This can be achieved by setting the tieWaitForNote property to #t. The same feature is also useful, for example, to tie a tremolo to a chord, but in principle, it can also be used for ordinary consecutive notes.

\relative c' {
  \set tieWaitForNote = ##t
  \grace { c16[ ~ e ~ g] ~ } <c, e g>2
  \repeat tremolo 8 { c32 ~ c' ~ } <c c,>1
  e8 ~ c ~ a ~ f ~ <e' c a f>2
  \tieUp
  c8 ~ a
  \tieDown
  \tieDotted
  g8 ~ c g2
}

[image of music]

Engraving ties manually

Ties may be engraved manually by changing the tie-configuration property of the TieColumn object. The first number indicates the distance from the center of the staff in half staff-spaces, and the second number indicates the direction (1 = up, -1 = down).

\relative c' {
  <c e g>2~ <c e g>
  \override TieColumn.tie-configuration =
    #'((0.0 . 1) (-2.0 . 1) (-4.0 . 1))
  <c e g>2~ <c e g>
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: tie, laissez vibrer.

Notation Reference: Slurs, Automatic note splitting.

Snippets: Expressive marks, Rhythms.

Internals Reference: LaissezVibrerTie, LaissezVibrerTieColumn, TieColumn, Tie.

Known issues and warnings

Switching staves when a tie is active will not produce a slanted tie.

Changing clefs or ottavations during a tie is not really well-defined. In these cases, a slur may be preferable.


1.2.2 Writing rests

Rests are entered as part of the music in music expressions.


Rests

Rests are entered like notes with the note name r. Durations longer than a whole rest use the following predefined commands:

\new Staff {
  % These two lines are just to prettify this example
  \time 16/1
  \omit Staff.TimeSignature
  % Print a maxima rest, equal to four breves
  r\maxima
  % Print a longa rest, equal to two breves
  r\longa
  % Print a breve rest
  r\breve
  r1 r2 r4 r8 r16 r32 r64 r128
}

[image of music]

Whole measure rests, centered in the middle of the measure, must be entered as multi-measure rests. They can be used for a single measure as well as many measures and are discussed in Full measure rests.

To explicitly specify a rest’s vertical position, write a note followed by \rest. A rest of the duration of the note will be placed at the staff position where the note would appear. This allows for precise manual formatting of polyphonic music, since the automatic rest collision formatter will not move these rests.

a4\rest d4\rest

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Rest styles

Rests may be used in various styles.

\layout {
  indent = 0
  \context {
    \Staff
    \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
  }
}

\new Staff \relative c {
  \cadenzaOn
  \override Staff.Rest.style = #'mensural
  r\maxima^\markup \typewriter { mensural }
  r\longa r\breve r1 r2 r4 r8 r16 s32 s64 s128 s128
  \bar ""

  \override Staff.Rest.style = #'neomensural
  r\maxima^\markup \typewriter { neomensural }
  r\longa r\breve r1 r2 r4 r8 r16 s32 s64 s128 s128
  \bar ""

  \override Staff.Rest.style = #'classical
  r\maxima^\markup \typewriter { classical }
  r\longa r\breve r1 r2 r4 r8 r16 r32 r64 r128 s128
  \bar ""

  \override Staff.Rest.style = #'default
  r\maxima^\markup \typewriter { default }
  r\longa r\breve r1 r2 r4 r8 r16 r32 r64 r128 s128
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: breve, longa, maxima.

Notation Reference: Full measure rests.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: Rest.

Known issues and warnings

There is no fundamental limit to rest durations (both in terms of longest and shortest), but the number of glyphs is limited: there are rests from 128th to maxima (8 x whole).


Invisible rests

An invisible rest (also called a ‘spacer rest’) can be entered like a note with the note name s:

c4 c s c
s2 c

[image of music]

Spacer rests are available only in note mode and chord mode. In other situations, for example, when entering lyrics, the command \skip is used to skip a musical moment. \skip requires an explicit duration, but this is ignored if the lyrics derive their durations from the notes in an associated melody through \addlyrics or \lyricsto.

<<
  {
    a2 \skip2 a2 a2
  }
  \new Lyrics {
    \lyricmode {
      foo2 \skip 1 bla2
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

Because \skip is a command, it does not affect the default durations of following notes, unlike s.

<<
  {
    \repeat unfold 8 { a4 }
  }
  {
    a4 \skip 2 a |
    s2 a
  }
>>

[image of music]

A spacer rest implicitly causes Staff and Voice contexts to be created if none exist, just like notes and rests do:

s1 s s

[image of music]

\skip simply skips musical time; it creates no output of any kind.

% This is valid input, but does nothing
\skip 1 \skip1 \skip 1

[image of music]

See also

Learning Manual: Visibility and color of objects.

Notation Reference: Hidden notes, Visibility of objects.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: SkipMusic.


Full measure rests

Rests for one or more full measures are entered like notes with the note name uppercase R:

% Rest measures contracted to single measure
\compressFullBarRests
R1*4
R1*24
R1*4
b2^"Tutti" b4 a4

[image of music]

The duration of full-measure rests is identical to the duration notation used for notes. The duration in a multi-measure rest must always be an integral number of measure-lengths, so augmentation dots or fractions must often be used:

\compressFullBarRests
\time 2/4
R1 | R2 |
\time 3/4
R2. | R2.*2 |
\time 13/8
R1*13/8 | R1*13/8*12 |
\time 10/8
R4*5*4 |

[image of music]

A full-measure rest is printed as either a whole or breve rest, centered in the measure, depending on the time signature.

\time 4/4
R1 |
\time 6/4
R1*3/2 |
\time 8/4
R1*2 |

[image of music]

By default a multi-measure rest is expanded in the printed score to show all the rest measures explicitly. Alternatively, a multi-measure rest can be shown as a single measure containing a multi-measure rest symbol, with the number of measures of rest printed above the measure:

% Default behavior
\time 3/4 r2. | R2.*2 |
\time 2/4 R2 |
\time 4/4
% Rest measures contracted to single measure
\compressFullBarRests
r1 | R1*17 | R1*4 |
% Rest measures expanded
\expandFullBarRests
\time 3/4
R2.*2 |

[image of music]

Markups can be added to multi-measure rests. The predefined command \fermataMarkup is provided for adding fermatas.

\compressFullBarRests
\time 3/4
R2.*10^\markup { \italic "ad lib." }
R2.^\fermataMarkup

[image of music]

Note: Markups attached to a multi-measure rest are objects of type MultiMeasureRestText, not TextScript. Overrides must be directed to the correct object, or they will be ignored. See the following example:

% This fails, as the wrong object name is specified
\override TextScript.padding = #5
R1^"wrong"
% This is the correct object name to be specified
\override MultiMeasureRestText.padding = #5
R1^"right"

[image of music]

When a multi-measure rest immediately follows a \partial setting, resulting bar-check warnings may not be displayed.

Predefined commands

\textLengthOn, \textLengthOff, \fermataMarkup, \compressFullBarRests, \expandFullBarRests.

Selected Snippets

Changing form of multi-measure rests

If there are ten or fewer measures of rests, a series of longa and breve rests (called in German “Kirchenpausen” - church rests) is printed within the staff; otherwise a simple line is shown. This default number of ten may be changed by overriding the expand-limit property.

\relative c'' {
  \compressFullBarRests
  R1*2 | R1*5 | R1*9
  \override MultiMeasureRest.expand-limit = #3
  R1*2 | R1*5 | R1*9
}

[image of music]

Positioning multi-measure rests

Unlike ordinary rests, there is no predefined command to change the staff position of a multi-measure rest symbol of either form by attaching it to a note. However, in polyphonic music multi-measure rests in odd-numbered and even-numbered voices are vertically separated. The positioning of multi-measure rests can be controlled as follows:

\relative c'' {
  % Multi-measure rests by default are set under the fourth line
  R1
  % They can be moved using an override
  \override MultiMeasureRest.staff-position = #-2
  R1
  \override MultiMeasureRest.staff-position = #0
  R1
  \override MultiMeasureRest.staff-position = #2
  R1
  \override MultiMeasureRest.staff-position = #3
  R1
  \override MultiMeasureRest.staff-position = #6
  R1
  \revert MultiMeasureRest.staff-position
  \break

  % In two Voices, odd-numbered voices are under the top line
  << { R1 } \\ { a1 } >>
  % Even-numbered voices are under the bottom line
  << { a1 } \\ { R1 } >>
  % Multi-measure rests in both voices remain separate
  << { R1 } \\ { R1 } >>

  % Separating multi-measure rests in more than two voices
  % requires an override
  << { R1 } \\ { R1 } \\
     \once \override MultiMeasureRest.staff-position = #0
     { R1 }
  >>

  % Using compressed bars in multiple voices requires another override
  % in all voices to avoid multiple instances being printed
  \compressFullBarRests
  <<
   \revert MultiMeasureRest.direction
    { R1*3 }
    \\
   \revert MultiMeasureRest.direction
    { R1*3 }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Multi-measure rest markup

Markups attached to a multi-measure rest will be centered above or below it. Long markups attached to multi-measure rests do not cause the measure to expand. To expand a multi-measure rest to fit the markup, use an empty chord with an attached markup before the multi-measure rest.

Text attached to a spacer rest in this way is left-aligned to the position where the note would be placed in the measure, but if the measure length is determined by the length of the text, the text will appear to be centered.

\relative c' {
  \compressFullBarRests
  \textLengthOn
  <>^\markup { [MAJOR GENERAL] }
  R1*19
  <>_\markup { \italic { Cue: ... it is yours } }
  <>^\markup { A }
  R1*30^\markup { [MABEL] }
  \textLengthOff
  c4^\markup { CHORUS } d f c
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: multi-measure rest.

Notation Reference: Durations, Text, Formatting text, Text scripts.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: MultiMeasureRest, MultiMeasureRestNumber, MultiMeasureRestText.

Known issues and warnings

Fingerings over multi-measure rests (e.g. R1*10-4) may result in the fingering numeral colliding with the bar counter numeral.

There is no way to automatically condense multiple ordinary rests into a single multi-measure rest.

Multi-measure rests do not take part in rest collisions.


1.2.3 Displaying rhythms


Time signature

The time signature is set as follows:

\time 2/4 c2
\time 3/4 c2.

[image of music]

Time signatures are printed at the beginning of a piece and whenever the time signature changes. If a change takes place at the end of a line a warning time signature sign is printed there. This default behavior may be changed, see Visibility of objects.

\time 2/4
c2 c
\break
c c
\break
\time 4/4
c c c c

[image of music]

The time signature symbol that is used in 2/2 and 4/4 time can be changed to a numeric style:

% Default style
\time 4/4 c1
\time 2/2 c1
% Change to numeric style
\numericTimeSignature
\time 4/4 c1
\time 2/2 c1
% Revert to default style
\defaultTimeSignature
\time 4/4 c1
\time 2/2 c1

[image of music]

Mensural time signatures are covered in Mensural time signatures.

In addition to setting the printed time signature, the \time command also sets the values of the time-signature-based properties baseMoment, beatStructure, and beamExceptions. The predefined default values for these properties can be found in ‘scm/time-signature-settings.scm’.

The default value of beatStructure can be overridden in the \time command itself by supplying it as the optional first argument:

\score {
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' {
      \time #'(2 2 3) 7/8
      \repeat unfold 7 { c8 } |
      \time #'(3 2 2) 7/8
      \repeat unfold 7 { c8 } |
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Alternatively, the default values of all these time-signature-based variables, including baseMoment and beamExceptions, can be set together. The values can be set independently for several different time signatures. The new values take effect when a subsequent \time command with the same value of the time signature is executed:

\score {
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' {
      \overrideTimeSignatureSettings
        4/4        % timeSignatureFraction
        1/4        % baseMomentFraction
        #'(3 1)    % beatStructure
        #'()       % beamExceptions
      \time 4/4
      \repeat unfold 8 { c8 } |
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

\overrideTimeSignatureSettings takes four arguments:

  1. timeSignatureFraction, a fraction describing the time signature to which these values apply.
  2. baseMomentFraction, a fraction containing the numerator and denominator of the basic timing unit for the time signature.
  3. beatStructure, a Scheme list indicating the structure of the beats in the measure, in units of the base moment.
  4. beamExceptions, an alist containing any beaming rules for the time signature that go beyond ending at every beat, as described in Setting automatic beam behavior.

Changed values of default time signature properties can be restored to the original values:

\score{
  \relative c' {
    \repeat unfold 8 { c8 } |
    \overrideTimeSignatureSettings
      4/4        % timeSignatureFraction
      1/4        % baseMomentFraction
      #'(3 1)    % beatStructure
      #'()       % beamExceptions
    \time 4/4
    \repeat unfold 8 { c8 } |
    \revertTimeSignatureSettings 4/4
    \time 4/4
    \repeat unfold 8 { c8 } |
  }
}

[image of music]

Different values of default time signature properties can be established for different staves by moving the Timing_translator and the Default_bar_line_engraver from the Score context to the Staff context.

\score {
  \new StaffGroup <<
     \new Staff {
        \overrideTimeSignatureSettings
          4/4        % timeSignatureFraction
          1/4        % baseMomentFraction
          #'(3 1)    % beatStructure
          #'()       % beamExceptions
        \time 4/4
        \repeat unfold 8 {c''8}
     }
     \new Staff {
        \overrideTimeSignatureSettings
          4/4        % timeSignatureFraction
          1/4        % baseMomentFraction
          #'(1 3)    % beatStructure
          #'()       % beamExceptions
        \time 4/4
        \repeat unfold 8 {c''8}
     }
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Score
      \remove "Timing_translator"
      \remove "Default_bar_line_engraver"
    }
    \context {
      \Staff
      \consists "Timing_translator"
      \consists "Default_bar_line_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

A further method of changing these time-signature-related variables, which avoids reprinting the time signature at the time of the change, is shown in Setting automatic beam behavior.

Predefined commands

\numericTimeSignature, \defaultTimeSignature.

Selected Snippets

Time signature printing only the numerator as a number (instead of the fraction)

Sometimes, a time signature should not print the whole fraction (e.g. 7/4), but only the numerator (7 in this case). This can be easily done by using \override Staff.TimeSignature.style = #'single-digit to change the style permanently. By using \revert Staff.TimeSignature.style, this setting can be reversed. To apply the single-digit style to only one time signature, use the \override command and prefix it with a \once.

\relative c'' {
  \time 3/4
  c4 c c
  % Change the style permanently
  \override Staff.TimeSignature.style = #'single-digit
  \time 2/4
  c4 c
  \time 3/4
  c4 c c
  % Revert to default style:
  \revert Staff.TimeSignature.style
  \time 2/4
  c4 c
  % single-digit style only for the next time signature
  \once \override Staff.TimeSignature.style = #'single-digit
  \time 5/4
  c4 c c c c
  \time 2/4
  c4 c
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: time signature

Notation Reference: Mensural time signatures, Setting automatic beam behavior, Time administration.

Installed Files: ‘scm/time-signature-settings.scm’.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: TimeSignature, Timing_translator.


Metronome marks

A basic metronome mark is simple to write:

\tempo 4 = 120
c2 d
e4. d8 c2

[image of music]

Metronome marks may also be printed as a range of two numbers:

\tempo 4 = 40 - 46
c4. e8 a4 g
b,2 d4 r

[image of music]

Tempo indications with text can be used instead:

\tempo "Allegretto"
c4 e d c
b4. a16 b c4 r4

[image of music]

Combining a metronome mark and text will automatically place the metronome mark within parentheses:

\tempo "Allegro" 4 = 160
g4 c d e
d4 b g2

[image of music]

In general, the text can be any markup object:

\tempo \markup { \italic Faster } 4 = 132
a8-. r8 b-. r gis-. r a-. r

[image of music]

A parenthesized metronome mark with no textual indication may be written by including an empty string in the input:

\tempo "" 8 = 96
d4 g e c

[image of music]

In a part for an instrument with long periods of rests, tempo indications sometimes follow each other closely. The command \markLengthOn provides extra horizontal space to prevent tempo indications from overlapping, and \markLengthOff restores the default behavior of ignoring tempo marks for horizontal spacing.

\compressFullBarRests
\markLengthOn
\tempo "Molto vivace"
R1*12
\tempo "Meno mosso"
R1*16
\markLengthOff
\tempo "Tranquillo"
R1*20

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Printing metronome and rehearsal marks below the staff

By default, metronome and rehearsal marks are printed above the staff. To place them below the staff simply set the direction property of MetronomeMark or RehearsalMark appropriately.

\layout { ragged-right = ##f }

{
  % Metronome marks below the staff
  \override Score.MetronomeMark.direction = #DOWN
  \tempo 8. = 120
  c''1

  % Rehearsal marks below the staff
  \override Score.RehearsalMark.direction = #DOWN
  \mark \default
  c''1
}

[image of music]

Changing the tempo without a metronome mark

To change the tempo in MIDI output without printing anything, make the metronome mark invisible.

\score {
  \new Staff \relative c' {
    \tempo 4 = 160
    c4 e g b
    c4 b d c
    \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t
    \tempo 4 = 96
    d,4 fis a cis
    d4 cis e d
  }
  \layout { }
  \midi { }
}

[image of music]

Creating metronome marks in markup mode

New metronome marks can be created in markup mode, but they will not change the tempo in MIDI output.

\relative c' {
  \tempo \markup {
    \concat {
      (
      \smaller \general-align #Y #DOWN \note #"16." #1
      " = "
      \smaller \general-align #Y #DOWN \note #"8" #1
      )
    }
  }
  c1
  c4 c' c,2
}

[image of music]

For more details, see Formatting text.

See also

Music Glossary: metronome, metronomic indication, tempo indication, metronome mark.

Notation Reference: Formatting text, MIDI output.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: MetronomeMark.


Upbeats

Partial or pick-up measures, such as an anacrusis or an upbeat, are entered using the \partial command,

\partial duration

where duration is the remaining length of the partial measure before the start of the next full measure.

\time 3/4
\partial 8
e8 | a4 c8 b c4 |

[image of music]

The duration can be any value less than a full measure:

\time 3/4
\partial 4.
r4 e8 | a4 c8 b c4 |

[image of music]

\partial duration can also be written as:

\set Timing.measurePosition -duration

So the first example above could be written:

\time 3/4
\set Timing.measurePosition = #(ly:make-moment -1/8)
e8 | a4 c8 b c4 |

[image of music]

The property measurePosition contains a rational number, which is usually positive and indicates how much of the measure has passed at this point. \partial duration is defined such that no numbered bar gets created: when used at the beginning of a score, measurePosition is set to a negative number, implying that the current bar will be preceded by additional material. When used elsewhere, it moves the requested distance before the end of the bar.

\set Score.barNumberVisibility = #all-bar-numbers-visible
\override Score.BarNumber.break-visibility =
          #end-of-line-invisible
\time 6/8
\partial 8
e8 | a4 c8 b[ c b] |
\partial 4
r8 e,8 | a4 \bar "||"
\partial 4
r8 e8 | a4
c8 b[ c b] |

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: anacrusis.

Notation Reference: Grace notes.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internal Reference: Timing_translator.


Unmetered music

In metered music bar lines are inserted and bar numbers are calculated automatically. In unmetered music (i.e. cadenzas), this is not desirable and can be ‘switched off’ using the command \cadenzaOn, then ‘switched back on’ at the appropriate place using \cadenzaOff.

c4 d e d
\cadenzaOn
c4 c d8[ d d] f4 g4.
\cadenzaOff
\bar "|"
d4 e d c

[image of music]

Bar numbering is resumed at the end of the cadenza.

% Show all bar numbers
\override Score.BarNumber.break-visibility = #all-visible
c4 d e d
\cadenzaOn
c4 c d8[ d d] f4 g4.
\cadenzaOff
\bar "|"
d4 e d c

[image of music]

Inserting a \bar command within a cadenza does not start a new measure, even if a bar line is printed. So any accidentals – which are usually assumed to remain in force until the end of the measure – will still be valid after the bar line printed by \bar. If subsequent accidentals should be printed, forced accidentals or reminder accidentals need to be inserted manually, see Accidentals.

c4 d e d
\cadenzaOn
cis4 d cis d
\bar "|"
% First cis is printed without alteration even if it's after a \bar
cis4 d cis! d
\cadenzaOff
\bar "|"

[image of music]

Automatic beaming is disabled by \cadenzaOn. Therefore, all beaming in cadenzas must be entered manually. See Manual beams.

\repeat unfold 8 { c8 }
\cadenzaOn
cis8 c c c c
\bar"|"
c8 c c
\cadenzaOff
\repeat unfold 8 { c8 }

[image of music]

These predefined commands affect all staves in the score, even when placed in just one Voice context. To change this, move the Timing_translator from the Score context to the Staff context. See Polymetric notation.

Predefined commands

\cadenzaOn, \cadenzaOff.

See also

Music Glossary: cadenza.

Notation Reference: Visibility of objects, Polymetric notation, Manual beams, Accidentals.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Known issues and warnings

Automatic line and page breaks are inserted only at bar lines, so ‘invisible’ bar lines will need to be inserted manually in long stretches of unmetered music to permit breaking:

\bar ""

Polymetric notation

Polymetric notation is supported explicitly or by manually modifying the visible time signature symbol and/or scaling note durations.

Different time signatures with equal-length measures

Set a common time signature for each staff, and set the timeSignatureFraction to the desired fraction. Then use the \scaleDurations function to scale the durations of the notes in each staff to the common time signature.

In the following example, music with the time signatures of 3/4, 9/8 and 10/8 are used in parallel. In the second staff, shown durations are multiplied by 2/3 (because 2/3 * 9/8 = 3/4) and in the third staff, the shown durations are multiplied by 3/5 (because 3/5 * 10/8 = 3/4). It may be necessary to insert beams manually, as the duration scaling will affect the autobeaming rules.

\relative c' <<
  \new Staff {
    \time 3/4
    c4 c c |
    c4 c c |
  }
  \new Staff {
    \time 3/4
    \set Staff.timeSignatureFraction = 9/8
    \scaleDurations 2/3
      \repeat unfold 6 { c8[ c c] }
  }
  \new Staff {
    \time 3/4
    \set Staff.timeSignatureFraction = 10/8
    \scaleDurations 3/5 {
      \repeat unfold 2 { c8[ c c] }
      \repeat unfold 2 { c8[ c] } |
      c4. c \tuplet 3/2 { c8[ c c] } c4
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

Different time signatures with unequal-length measures

Each staff can be given its own independent time signature by moving the Timing_translator and the Default_bar_line_engraver to the Staff context.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Score
    \remove "Timing_translator"
    \remove "Default_bar_line_engraver"
  }
  \context {
    \Staff
    \consists "Timing_translator"
    \consists "Default_bar_line_engraver"
  }
}

% Now each staff has its own time signature.

\relative c' <<
  \new Staff {
    \time 3/4
    c4 c c |
    c4 c c |
  }
  \new Staff {
    \time 2/4
    c4 c |
    c4 c |
    c4 c |
  }
  \new Staff {
    \time 3/8
    c4. |
    c8 c c |
    c4. |
    c8 c c |
  }
>>

[image of music]

Compound time signatures

These are created using the \compoundMeter function. The syntax for this is:

\compoundMeter #'(list of lists)

The simplest construction is a single list, where the last number indicates the bottom number of the time signature and those that come before it, the top numbers.

\relative c' {
  \compoundMeter #'((2 2 2 8))
  \repeat unfold 6 c8 \repeat unfold 12 c16
}

[image of music]

More complex meters can be constructed using additional lists. Also, automatic beaming settings will be adjusted depending on the values.

\relative c' {
  \compoundMeter #'((1 4) (3 8))
  \repeat unfold 5 c8 \repeat unfold 10 c16
}

\relative c' {
  \compoundMeter #'((1 2 3 8) (3 4))
  \repeat unfold 12 c8
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: polymetric, polymetric time signature, meter.

Notation Reference: Automatic beams, Manual beams, Time signature, Scaling durations.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: TimeSignature, Timing_translator, Default_bar_line_engraver, Staff.

Known issues and warnings

When using different time signatures in parallel, notes at the same moment will be placed at the same horizontal location. However, the bar lines in the different staves will cause the note spacing to be less regular in each of the individual staves than would be normal without the different time signatures.


Automatic note splitting

Long notes which overrun bar lines can be converted automatically to tied notes. This is done by replacing the Note_heads_engraver with the Completion_heads_engraver. Similarly, long rests which overrun bar lines are split automatically by replacing the Rest_engraver with the Completion_rest_engraver. In the following example, notes and rests crossing the bar lines are split, notes are also tied.

\new Voice \with {
  \remove "Note_heads_engraver"
  \consists "Completion_heads_engraver"
  \remove "Rest_engraver"
  \consists "Completion_rest_engraver"
}

{ c2. c8 d4 e f g a b c8 c2 b4 a g16 f4 e d c8. c2 r1*2 }

[image of music]

These engravers split all running notes and rests at the bar line, and inserts ties for notes. One of its uses is to debug complex scores: if the measures are not entirely filled, then the ties show exactly how much each measure is off.

The property completionUnit sets a preferred duration for the split notes.

\new Voice \with {
  \remove "Note_heads_engraver"
  \consists "Completion_heads_engraver"
} {
  \time 9/8 g\breve. d4. \bar "||"
  \set completionUnit = #(ly:make-moment 3 8)
  g\breve. d4.
}

[image of music]

These engravers split notes with scaled duration, such as those in tuplets, into notes with the same scale-factor as in the input note.

\new Voice \with {
  \remove "Note_heads_engraver"
  \consists "Completion_heads_engraver"
} {
  \time 2/4 r4
  \tuplet 3/2 {g4 a b}
  \scaleDurations 2/3 {g a b}
  g4*2/3 a b
  \tuplet 3/2 {g4 a b}
  r4
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: tie

Learning Manual: Engravers explained, Adding and removing engravers.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: Note_heads_engraver, Completion_heads_engraver, Rest_engraver, Completion_rest_engraver, Forbid_line_break_engraver.

Known issues and warnings

For consistency with previous behavior, notes and rests with duration longer than a measure, such as c1*2, are split into notes without any scale factor, { c1 c1 }. The property completionFactor controls this behavior, and setting it to #f cause split notes and rest to have the scale factor of the input durations.


Showing melody rhythms

Sometimes you might want to show only the rhythm of a melody. This can be done with the rhythmic staff. All pitches of notes on such a staff are squashed, and the staff itself has a single line

<<
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    \new Voice = "myRhythm" {
      \time 4/4
      c4 e8 f g2
      r4 g g f
      g1
    }
  }
  \new Lyrics {
    \lyricsto "myRhythm" {
      This is my song
      I like to sing
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

Guitar chord charts often show the strumming rhythms. This can be done with the Pitch_squash_engraver and \improvisationOn.

<<
  \new ChordNames {
    \chordmode {
      c1 f g c
    }
  }
  \new Voice \with {
    \consists "Pitch_squash_engraver"
  } \relative c'' {
    \improvisationOn
    c4 c8 c c4 c8 c
    f4 f8 f f4 f8 f
    g4 g8 g g4 g8 g
    c4 c8 c c4 c8 c
  }
>>

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\improvisationOn, \improvisationOff.

Selected Snippets

Guitar strum rhythms

For guitar music, it is possible to show strum rhythms, along with melody notes, chord names and fret diagrams.

\include "predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly"
<<
  \new ChordNames {
    \chordmode {
      c1 | f | g | c
    }
  }
  \new FretBoards {
    \chordmode {
      c1 | f | g | c
    }
  }
  \new Voice \with {
    \consists "Pitch_squash_engraver"
  } {
    \relative c'' {
      \improvisationOn
      c4 c8 c c4 c8 c
      f4 f8 f f4 f8 f
      g4 g8 g g4 g8 g
      c4 c8 c c4 c8 c
    }
  }
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    \relative c'' {
      c2 e4 e4
      f2. r4
      g2. a4
      e4 c2.
    }
  }
  \new Lyrics {
    \lyricsto "melody" {
      This is my song.
      I like to sing.
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: RhythmicStaff, Pitch_squash_engraver.


1.2.4 Beams


Automatic beams

By default, beams are inserted automatically:

\time 2/4 c8 c c c
\time 6/8 c8 c c c8. c16 c8

[image of music]

If these automatic decisions are not satisfactory, beaming can be entered explicitly; see Manual beams. Beams must be entered manually if beams are to be extended over rests.

If automatic beaming is not required, it may be turned off with \autoBeamOff and on with \autoBeamOn:

c4 c8 c8. c16 c8. c16 c8
\autoBeamOff
c4 c8 c8. c16 c8.
\autoBeamOn
c16 c8

[image of music]

Note: If beams are used to indicate melismata in songs, then automatic beaming should be switched off with \autoBeamOff and the beams indicated manually. Using \partcombine with \autoBeamOff can produce unintended results. See the snippets for more information.

Beaming patterns that differ from the automatic defaults can be created; see Setting automatic beam behavior.

Predefined commands

\autoBeamOff, \autoBeamOn.

Selected Snippets

Beams across line breaks

Line breaks are normally forbidden when beams cross bar lines. This behavior can be changed as shown:

\relative c'' {
  \override Beam.breakable = ##t
  c8 c[ c] c[ c] c[ c] c[ \break
  c8] c[ c] c[ c] c[ c] c
}

[image of music]

Changing beam knee gap

Kneed beams are inserted automatically when a large gap is detected between the note heads. This behavior can be tuned through the auto-knee-gap property. A kneed beam is drawn if the gap is larger than the value of auto-knee-gap plus the width of the beam object (which depends on the duration of the notes and the slope of the beam). By default auto-knee-gap is set to 5.5 staff spaces.

{
  f8 f''8 f8 f''8
  \override Beam.auto-knee-gap = #6
  f8 f''8 f8 f''8
}

[image of music]

Partcombine and autoBeamOff

The function of \autoBeamOff when used with \partcombine can be difficult to understand.

It may be preferable to use

\set Staff.autoBeaming = ##f

instead, to ensure that autobeaming will be turned off for the entire staff.

\partcombine apparently works with 3 voices – stem up single, stem down single, stem up combined.

An \autoBeamOff call in the first argument to partcombine will apply to the voice that is active at the time the call is processed, either stem up single or stem up combined. An \autoBeamOff call in the second argument will apply to the voice that is stem down single.

In order to use \autoBeamOff to stop all autobeaming when used with \partcombine, it will be necessary to use three calls to \autoBeamOff.

{
  %\set Staff.autoBeaming = ##f % turns off all autobeaming
  \partcombine
  {
    \autoBeamOff % applies to split up stems
    \repeat unfold 4 a'16
    %\autoBeamOff % applies to combined up stems
    \repeat unfold 4 a'8
    \repeat unfold 4 a'16
  }
  {
    \autoBeamOff % applies to down stems
    \repeat unfold 4 f'8
    \repeat unfold 8 f'16 |
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Manual beams, Setting automatic beam behavior.

Installed Files: ‘scm/auto-beam.scm’.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: Auto_beam_engraver, Beam_engraver, Beam, BeamEvent, BeamForbidEvent, beam-interface, unbreakable-spanner-interface.

Known issues and warnings

The properties of a beam are determined at the start of its construction and any additional beam-property changes that occur before the beam has been completed will not take effect until the next, new beam starts.


Setting automatic beam behavior

When automatic beaming is enabled, the placement of automatic beams is determined by three context properties: baseMoment, beatStructure, and beamExceptions. The default values of these variables may be overridden as described below, or alternatively the default values themselves may be changed as explained in Time signature.

If a beamExceptions rule is defined for the time signature in force, that rule alone is used to determine the beam placement; the values of baseMoment and beatStructure are ignored.

If no beamExceptions rule is defined for the time signature in force, the beam placement is determined by the values of baseMoment and beatStructure.

Beaming based on baseMoment and beatStructure

By default, beamExceptions rules are defined for most common time signatures, so the beamExceptions rules must be disabled if automatic beaming is to be based on baseMoment and beatStructure. The beamExceptions rules are disabled by

\set Timing.beamExceptions = #'()

When beamExceptions is set to #'(), either due to an explicit setting or because no beamExceptions rules are defined internally for the time signature in force, the ending points for beams are on beats as specified by the context properties baseMoment and beatStructure. beatStructure is a scheme list that defines the length of each beat in the measure in units of baseMoment. By default, baseMoment is one over the denominator of the time signature. By default, each unit of length baseMoment is a single beat.

\time 5/16
c16^"default" c c c c |
% beamExceptions are unlikely to be defined for 5/16 time,
% but let's disable them anyway to be sure
\set Timing.beamExceptions = #'()
\set Timing.beatStructure = #'(2 3)
c16^"(2+3)" c c c c |
\set Timing.beatStructure = #'(3 2)
c16^"(3+2)" c c c c |

[image of music]

\time 4/4
a8^"default" a a a a a a a
% Disable beamExceptions because they are definitely
% defined for 4/4 time
\set Timing.beamExceptions = #'()
\set Timing.baseMoment = #(ly:make-moment 1/4)
\set Timing.beatStructure = #'(1 1 1 1)
a8^"changed" a a a a a a a

[image of music]

Beam setting changes can be limited to specific contexts. If no setting is included in a lower-level context, the setting of the enclosing context will apply.

\new Staff {
  \time 7/8
  % No need to disable beamExceptions
  % as they are not defined for 7/8 time
  \set Staff.beatStructure = #'(2 3 2)
  <<
    \new Voice = one {
      \relative c'' {
        a8 a a a a a a
      }
    }
    \new Voice = two {
      \relative c' {
        \voiceTwo
        \set Voice.beatStructure = #'(1 3 3)
        f8 f f f f f f
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

When multiple voices are used the Staff context must be specified if the beaming is to be applied to all voices in the staff:

\time 7/8
% rhythm 3-1-1-2
% Change applied to Voice by default --  does not work correctly
% Because of autogenerated voices, all beating will
% be at baseMoment (1 . 8)
\set beatStructure = #'(3 1 1 2)
<< {a8 a a a16 a a a a8 a} \\ {f4. f8 f f f} >>

% Works correctly with context Staff specified
\set Staff.beatStructure = #'(3 1 1 2)
<< {a8 a a a16 a a a a8 a} \\ {f4. f8 f f f} >>

[image of music]

The value of baseMoment can be adjusted to change the beaming behavior, if desired. When this is done, the value of beatStructure must be set to be compatible with the new value of baseMoment.

\time 5/8
% No need to disable beamExceptions
% as they are not defined for 5/8 time
\set Timing.baseMoment = #(ly:make-moment 1/16)
\set Timing.beatStructure = #'(7 3)
\repeat unfold 10 { a16 }

[image of music]

baseMoment is a moment; a unit of musical duration. A quantity of type moment is created by the scheme function ly:make-moment. For more information about this function, see Time administration.

By default baseMoment is set to one over the denominator of the time signature. Any exceptions to this default can be found in ‘scm/time-signature-settings.scm’.

Beaming based on beamExceptions

Special autobeaming rules (other than ending a beam on a beat) are defined in the beamExceptions property.

The value for beamExceptions, a somewhat complex Scheme data structure, is easiest generated with the \beamExceptions function. This function is given one or more manually beamed measure-length rhythmic patterns (measures have to be separated by a bar check | since the function has no other way to discern the measure length). Here is a simple example:

\time 3/16
\set Timing.beatStructure = #'(2 1)
\set Timing.beamExceptions =
  \beamExceptions { 32[ 32] 32[ 32] 32[ 32] }
c16 c c |
\repeat unfold 6 { c32 } |

[image of music]

Note: A beamExceptions value must be complete exceptions list. That is, every exception that should be applied must be included in the setting. It is not possible to add, remove, or change only one of the exceptions. While this may seem cumbersome, it means that the current beaming settings need not be known in order to specify a new beaming pattern.

When the time signature is changed, default values of Timing.baseMoment, Timing.beatStructure, and Timing.beamExceptions are set. Setting the time signature will reset the automatic beaming settings for the Timing context to the default behavior.

\time 6/8
\repeat unfold 6 { a8 }
% group (4 + 2)
\set Timing.beatStructure = #'(4 2)
\repeat unfold 6 { a8 }
% go back to default behavior
\time 6/8
\repeat unfold 6 { a8 }

[image of music]

The default automatic beaming settings for a time signature are determined in ‘scm/time-signature-settings.scm’. Changing the default automatic beaming settings for a time signature is described in Time signature.

Many automatic beaming settings for a time signature contain an entry for beamExceptions. For example, 4/4 time tries to beam the measure in two if there are only eighth notes. The beamExceptions rule can override the beatStructure setting if beamExceptions is not reset.

\time 4/4
\set Timing.baseMoment = #(ly:make-moment 1/8)
\set Timing.beatStructure = #'(3 3 2)
% This won't beam (3 3 2) because of beamExceptions
\repeat unfold 8 {c8} |
% This will beam (3 3 2) because we clear beamExceptions
\set Timing.beamExceptions = #'()
\repeat unfold 8 {c8}

[image of music]

In a similar fashion, eighth notes in 3/4 time are beamed as a full measure by default. To beam eighth notes in 3/4 time on the beat, reset beamExceptions.

\time 3/4
% by default we beam in (6) due to beamExceptions
\repeat unfold 6 {a8} |
% This will beam (1 1 1) due to default baseMoment and beatStructure
\set Timing.beamExceptions = #'()
\repeat unfold 6 {a8}

[image of music]

In engraving from the Romantic and Classical periods, beams often begin midway through the measure in 3/4 time, but modern practice is to avoid the false impression of 6/8 time (see Gould, p. 153). Similar situations arise in 3/8 time. This behavior is controlled by the context property beamHalfMeasure, which has effect only in time signatures with 3 in the numerator:

\time 3/4
r4. a8 a a |
\set Timing.beamHalfMeasure = ##f
r4. a8 a a |

[image of music]

How automatic beaming works

When automatic beaming is enabled, the placement of automatic beams is determined by the context properties baseMoment, beatStructure, and beamExceptions.

The following rules, in order of priority, apply when determining the appearance of beams:

In the rules above, the beam-type is the duration of the shortest note in the beamed group.

The default beaming rules can be found in ‘scm/time-signature-settings.scm’.

Selected Snippets

Subdividing beams

The beams of consecutive 16th (or shorter) notes are, by default, not subdivided. That is, the three (or more) beams stretch unbroken over entire groups of notes. This behavior can be modified to subdivide the beams into sub-groups by setting the property subdivideBeams. When set, multiple beams will be subdivided at intervals defined by the current value of baseMoment by reducing the multiple beams to just one beam between the sub-groups. Note that baseMoment defaults to one over the denominator of the current time signature if not set explicitly. It must be set to a fraction giving the duration of the beam sub-group using the ly:make-moment function, as shown in this snippet. Also, when baseMoment is changed, beatStructure should also be changed to match the new baseMoment:

\relative c'' {
  c32[ c c c c c c c]
  \set subdivideBeams = ##t
  c32[ c c c c c c c]

  % Set beam sub-group length to an eighth note
  \set baseMoment = #(ly:make-moment 1/8)
  \set beatStructure = #'(2 2 2 2)
  c32[ c c c c c c c]

  % Set beam sub-group length to a sixteenth note
  \set baseMoment = #(ly:make-moment 1/16)
  \set beatStructure = #'(4 4 4 4)
  c32[ c c c c c c c]
}

[image of music]

Strict beat beaming

Beamlets can be set to point in the direction of the beat to which they belong. The first beam avoids sticking out flags (the default); the second beam strictly follows the beat.

\relative c'' {
  \time 6/8
  a8. a16 a a
  \set strictBeatBeaming = ##t
  a8. a16 a a
}

[image of music]

Conducting signs measure grouping signs

Beat grouping within a measure is controlled by the context property beatStructure. Values of beatStructure are established for many time signatures in ‘scm/time-signature-settings.scm’. Values of beatStructure can be changed or set with \set. Alternatively, \time can be used to both set the time signature and establish the beat structure. For this, you specify the internal grouping of beats in a measure as a list of numbers (in Scheme syntax) before the time signature.

\time applies to the Timing context, so it will not reset values of beatStructure or baseMoment that are set in other lower-level contexts, such as Voice.

If the Measure_grouping_engraver is included in one of the display contexts, measure grouping signs will be created. Such signs ease reading rhythmically complex modern music. In the example, the 9/8 measure is grouped in two different patterns using the two different methods, while the 5/8 measure is grouped according to the default setting in ‘scm/time-signature-settings.scm’:

\score {
  \new Voice \relative c'' {
    \time 9/8
    g8 g d d g g a( bes g) |
    \set Timing.beatStructure = #'(2 2 2 3)
    g8 g d d g g a( bes g) |
    \time #'(4 5) 9/8
    g8 g d d g g a( bes g) |
    \time 5/8
    a4. g4 |
  }
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Staff
      \consists "Measure_grouping_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Beam endings in Score context

Beam-ending rules specified in the Score context apply to all staves, but can be modified at both Staff and Voice levels:

\relative c'' {
  \time 5/4
  % Set default beaming for all staves
  \set Score.baseMoment = #(ly:make-moment 1/8)
  \set Score.beatStructure = #'(3 4 3)
  <<
    \new Staff {
      c8 c c c c c c c c c
    }
    \new Staff {
      % Modify beaming for just this staff
      \set Staff.beatStructure = #'(6 4)
      c8 c c c c c c c c c
    }
    \new Staff {
      % Inherit beaming from Score context
      <<
        {
          \voiceOne
          c8 c c c c c c c c c
        }
        % Modify beaming for this voice only
        \new Voice {
          \voiceTwo
          \set Voice.beatStructure = #'(6 4)
          a8 a a a a a a a a a
        }
      >>
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Time signature.

Installed Files: ‘scm/time-signature-settings.scm’.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: Auto_beam_engraver, Beam, BeamForbidEvent, beam-interface.

Known issues and warnings

If a score ends while an automatic beam has not been ended and is still accepting notes, this last beam will not be typeset at all. The same holds for polyphonic voices, entered with << … \\ … >>. If a polyphonic voice ends while an automatic beam is still accepting notes, it is not typeset. The workaround for these problems is to manually beam the last beam in the voice or score.

By default, the Timing translator is aliased to the Score context. This means that setting the time signature in one staff will affect the beaming of the other staves as well. Thus, a time signature setting in a later staff will reset custom beaming that was set in an earlier staff. One way to avoid this problem is to set the time signature in only one staff.

<<
  \new Staff {
    \time 3/4
    \set Timing.baseMoment = #(ly:make-moment 1/8)
    \set Timing.beatStructure = #'(1 5)
    \repeat unfold 6 { a8 }
  }
  \new Staff {
    \repeat unfold 6 { a8 }
  }
>>

[image of music]

The default beam settings for the time signature can also be changed, so that the desired beaming will always be used. Changes in automatic beaming settings for a time signature are described in Time signature.

<<
  \new Staff {
    \overrideTimeSignatureSettings
      3/4               % timeSignatureFraction
      1/8               % baseMomentFraction
      #'(1 5)           % beatStructure
      #'()		% beamExceptions
    \time 3/4
    \repeat unfold 6 { a8 }
  }
  \new Staff {
    \time 3/4
    \repeat unfold 6 { a8 }
  }
>>

[image of music]


Manual beams

In some cases it may be necessary to override the automatic beaming algorithm. For example, the autobeamer will not put beams over rests or bar lines, and in choral scores the beaming is often set to follow the meter of the lyrics rather than the notes. Such beams can be specified manually by marking the begin and end point with [ and ].

r4 r8[ g' a r] r g[ | a] r

[image of music]

Beaming direction can be set manually using direction indicators:

c8^[ d e] c,_[ d e f g]

[image of music]

Individual notes may be marked with \noBeam to prevent them from being beamed:

\time 2/4
c8 c\noBeam c c

[image of music]

Grace note beams and normal note beams can occur simultaneously. Unbeamed grace notes are not put into normal note beams.

c4 d8[
\grace { e32 d c d }
e8] e[ e
\grace { f16 }
e8 e]

[image of music]

Even more strict manual control with the beams can be achieved by setting the properties stemLeftBeamCount and stemRightBeamCount. They specify the number of beams to draw on the left and right side, respectively, of the next note. If either property is set, its value will be used only once, and then it is erased. In this example, the last f is printed with only one beam on the left side, i.e., the eighth-note beam of the group as a whole.

a8[ r16 f g a]
a8[ r16
\set stemLeftBeamCount = #2
\set stemRightBeamCount = #1
f16
\set stemLeftBeamCount = #1
g16 a]

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\noBeam.

Selected Snippets

Flat flags and beam nibs

Flat flags on lone notes and beam nibs at the ends of beamed figures are both possible with a combination of stemLeftBeamCount, stemRightBeamCount and paired [] beam indicators.

For right-pointing flat flags on lone notes, use paired [] beam indicators and set stemLeftBeamCount to zero (see Example 1).

For left-pointing flat flags, set stemRightBeamCount instead (Example 2).

For right-pointing nibs at the end of a run of beamed notes, set stemRightBeamCount to a positive value. And for left-pointing nibs at the start of a run of beamed notes, set stemLeftBeamCount instead (Example 3).

Sometimes it may make sense for a lone note surrounded by rests to carry both a left- and right-pointing flat flag. Do this with paired [] beam indicators alone (Example 4).

(Note that \set stemLeftBeamCount is always equivalent to \once \set. In other words, the beam count settings are not “sticky”, so the pair of flat flags attached to the lone 16[] in the last example have nothing to do with the \set two notes prior.)

\score {
  <<
    % Example 1
    \new RhythmicStaff {
      \set stemLeftBeamCount = #0
      c16[]
      r8.
    }
    % Example 2
    \new RhythmicStaff {
      r8.
      \set stemRightBeamCount = #0
      16[]
    }
    % Example 3
    \new RhythmicStaff {
      16 16
      \set stemRightBeamCount = #2
      16 r r
      \set stemLeftBeamCount = #2
      16 16 16
    }
    % Example 4
    \new RhythmicStaff {
      16 16
      \set stemRightBeamCount = #2
      16 r16
      16[]
      r16
      \set stemLeftBeamCount = #2
      16 16
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Direction and placement, Grace notes.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: Beam, BeamEvent, Beam_engraver, beam-interface, Stem_engraver.


Feathered beams

Feathered beams are used to indicate that a small group of notes should be played at an increasing (or decreasing) tempo, without changing the overall tempo of the piece. The extent of the feathered beam must be indicated manually using [ and ], and the beam feathering is turned on by specifying a direction to the Beam property grow-direction.

If the placement of the notes and the sound in the MIDI output is to reflect the ritardando or accelerando indicated by the feathered beam the notes must be grouped as a music expression delimited by braces and preceded by a featherDurations command which specifies the ratio between the durations of the first and last notes in the group.

The square brackets show the extent of the beam and the braces show which notes are to have their durations modified. Normally these would delimit the same group of notes, but this is not required: the two commands are independent.

In the following example the eight 16th notes occupy exactly the same time as a half note, but the first note is one half as long as the last one, with the intermediate notes gradually lengthening. The first four 32nd notes gradually speed up, while the last four 32nd notes are at a constant tempo.

\override Beam.grow-direction = #LEFT
\featherDurations #(ly:make-moment 2/1)
{ c16[ c c c c c c c] }
\override Beam.grow-direction = #RIGHT
\featherDurations #(ly:make-moment 2/3)
{ c32[ d e f] }
% revert to non-feathered beams
\override Beam.grow-direction = #'()
{ g32[ a b c] }

[image of music]

The spacing in the printed output represents the note durations only approximately, but the MIDI output is exact.

Predefined commands

\featherDurations.

See also

Snippets: Rhythms.

Known issues and warnings

The \featherDurations command only works with very short music snippets, and when numbers in the fraction are small.


1.2.5 Bars


Bar lines

Bar lines delimit measures, and are also used to indicate repeats. Normally, simple bar lines are automatically inserted into the printed output at places based on the current time signature.

The simple bar lines inserted automatically can be changed to other types with the \bar command. For example, a closing double bar line is usually placed at the end of a piece:

e4 d c2 \bar "|."

[image of music]

It is not invalid if the final note in a measure does not end on the automatically entered bar line: the note is assumed to carry over into the next measure. But if a long sequence of such carry-over measures appears the music can appear compressed or even flowing off the page. This is because automatic line breaks happen only at the end of complete measures, i.e., where all notes end before the end of a measure.

Note: An incorrect duration can cause line breaks to be inhibited, leading to a line of highly compressed music or music which flows off the page.

Line breaks are also permitted at manually inserted bar lines even within incomplete measures. To allow a line break without printing a bar line, use the following:

\bar ""

This will insert an invisible bar line and allow (but not force) a line break to occur at this point. The bar number counter is not increased. To force a line break see Line breaking.

This and other special bar lines may be inserted manually at any point. When they coincide with the end of a measure they replace the simple bar line which would have been inserted there automatically. When they do not coincide with the end of a measure the specified bar line is inserted at that point in the printed output.

Note that manual bar lines are purely visual. They do not affect any of the properties that a normal bar line would affect, such as measure numbers, accidentals, line breaks, etc. They do not affect the calculation and placement of subsequent automatic bar lines. When a manual bar line is placed where a normal bar line already exists, the effects of the original bar line are not altered.

Two types of simple bar lines and five types of double bar lines are available for manual insertion:

f1 \bar "|"
f1 \bar "."
g1 \bar "||"
a1 \bar ".|"
b1 \bar ".."
c1 \bar "|.|"
d1 \bar "|."
e1

[image of music]

together with dotted and dashed bar lines:

f1 \bar ";"
g1 \bar "!"
a1

[image of music]

and nine types of repeat bar lines:

f1 \bar ".|:"
g1 \bar ":..:"
a1 \bar ":|.|:"
b1 \bar ":|.:"
c1 \bar ":.|.:"
d1 \bar "[|:"
e1 \bar ":|][|:"
f1 \bar ":|]"
g1 \bar ":|."
a1

[image of music]

Additionally, a bar line can be printed as a simple tick:

f1 \bar "'" g1

[image of music]

However, as such ticks are typically used in Gregorian chant, it is preferable to use \divisioMinima there instead, described in the section Divisiones in Gregorian chant.

Lilypond supports kievan notation and provides a special kievan bar line:

f1 \bar "k"

[image of music]

Further details of this notation are explained in Typesetting Kievan square notation.

For in-line segno signs, there are three types of bar lines which differ in their behavior at line breaks:

c4 c c c
\bar "S"
c4 c c c \break
\bar "S"
c4 c c c
\bar "S-|"
c4 c c c \break
\bar "S-|"
c4 c c c
\bar "S-S"
c4 c c c \break
\bar "S-S"
c1

[image of music]

Although the bar line types signifying repeats may be inserted manually they do not in themselves cause LilyPond to recognize a repeated section. Such repeated sections are better entered using the various repeat commands (see Repeats), which automatically print the appropriate bar lines.

In addition, you can specify ".|:-||", which is equivalent to ".|:" except at line breaks, where it gives a double bar line at the end of the line and a start repeat at the beginning of the next line.

c4 c c c
\bar ".|:-||"
c4 c c c \break
\bar ".|:-||"
c4 c c c

[image of music]

For combinations of repeats with the segno sign, there are six different variations:

c4 c c c
\bar ":|.S"
c4 c c c \break
\bar ":|.S"
c4 c c c
\bar ":|.S-S"
c4 c c c \break
\bar ":|.S-S"
c4 c c c
\bar "S.|:-S"
c4 c c c \break
\bar "S.|:-S"
c4 c c c
\bar "S.|:"
c4 c c c \break
\bar "S.|:"
c4 c c c
\bar ":|.S.|:"
c4 c c c \break
\bar ":|.S.|:"
c4 c c c
\bar ":|.S.|:-S"
c4 c c c \break
\bar ":|.S.|:-S"
c1

[image of music]

Additionally there is an \inStaffSegno command which creates a segno bar line in conjunction with an appropriate repeat bar line when used with a \repeat volta command, see Normal repeats.

New bar line types can be defined with \defineBarLine:

\defineBarLine bartype #'(end begin span)

The \defineBarline variables can include the ‘empty’ string "", which is equivalent to an invisible bar line being printed. Or they can be set to #f which prints no bar line at all.

After the definiton, the new bar line can be used by \bar bartype.

There are currently ten bar line elements available:

\defineBarLine ":" #'("" ":" "")
\defineBarLine "=" #'("=" "" "")
\defineBarLine "[" #'("" "[" "")
\defineBarLine "]" #'("]" "" "")

\new Staff {
  s1 \bar "|"
  s1 \bar "."
  s1 \bar "!"
  s1 \bar ";"
  s1 \bar ":"
  s1 \bar "k"
  s1 \bar "S"
  s1 \bar "="
  s1 \bar "["
  s1 \bar "]"
  s1 \bar ""
}

[image of music]

The "=" bar line provides the double span bar line, used in combination with the segno sign. Do not use it as a standalone double thin bar line; here, \bar "||" is preferred.

The "-" sign starts annotations to bar lines which are useful to distinguish those with identical appearance but different behavior at line breaks and/or different span bars. The part following the "-" sign is not used for building up the bar line.

\defineBarLine "||-dashedSpan" #'("||" "" "!!")

\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff {
    c1 \bar "||"
    c1 \bar "||-dashedSpan"
    c1
  }
  \new Staff {
    c1
    c1
    c1
  }
>>

[image of music]

Furthermore, the space character " " serves as a placeholder for defining span bars correctly aligned to the main bar lines:

\defineBarLine ":|.-wrong" #'(":|." "" "|.")
\defineBarLine ":|.-right" #'(":|." "" " |.")

\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff {
    c1 \bar ":|.-wrong"
    c1 \bar ":|.-right"
    c1
  }
  \new Staff {
    c1
    c1
    c1
  }
>>

[image of music]

If additional elements are needed, LilyPond provides a simple way to define them. For more informations on modifying or adding bar lines, see file ‘scm/bar-line.scm’.

In scores with many staves, a \bar command in one staff is automatically applied to all staves. The resulting bar lines are connected between different staves of a StaffGroup, PianoStaff, or GrandStaff.

<<
  \new StaffGroup <<
    \new Staff {
      e4 d
      \bar "||"
      f4 e
    }
    \new Staff { \clef bass c4 g e g }
  >>
  \new Staff { \clef bass c2 c2 }
>>

[image of music]

The command ‘\bar bartype’ is a shortcut for ‘\set Timing.whichBar = bartype’. A bar line is created whenever the whichBar property is set.

The default bar type used for automatically inserted bar lines is "|". This may be changed at any time with ‘\set Timing.defaultBarType = bartype’.

See also

Notation Reference: Line breaking, Repeats, Grouping staves.

Installed Files: ‘scm/bar-line.scm’.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: BarLine (created at Staff level), SpanBar (across staves), Timing_translator (for Timing properties).


Bar numbers

Bar numbers are typeset by default at the start of every line except the first line. The number itself is stored in the currentBarNumber property, which is normally updated automatically for every measure. It may also be set manually:

c1 c c c
\break
\set Score.currentBarNumber = #50
c1 c c c

[image of music]

Bar numbers can be typeset at regular intervals instead of just at the beginning of every line. To do this the default behavior must be overridden to permit bar numbers to be printed at places other than the start of a line. This is controlled by the break-visibility property of BarNumber. This takes three values which may be set to #t or #f to specify whether the corresponding bar number is visible or not. The order of the three values is end of line visible, middle of line visible, beginning of line visible. In the following example bar numbers are printed at all possible places:

\override Score.BarNumber.break-visibility = ##(#t #t #t)
\set Score.currentBarNumber = #11
% Permit first bar number to be printed
\bar ""
c1 | c | c | c
\break
c1 | c | c | c

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Printing the bar number for the first measure

By default, the first bar number in a score is suppressed if it is less than or equal to ‘1’. By setting barNumberVisibility to all-bar-numbers-visible, any bar number can be printed for the first measure and all subsequent measures. Note that an empty bar line must be inserted before the first note for this to work.

\relative c' {
  \set Score.barNumberVisibility = #all-bar-numbers-visible
  \bar ""
  c1 | d | e | f \break
  g1 | e | d | c
}

[image of music]

Printing bar numbers at regular intervals

Bar numbers can be printed at regular intervals by setting the property barNumberVisibility. Here the bar numbers are printed every two measures except at the end of the line.

\relative c' {
  \override Score.BarNumber.break-visibility = #end-of-line-invisible
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #11
  % Permit first bar number to be printed
  \bar ""
  % Print a bar number every second measure
  \set Score.barNumberVisibility = #(every-nth-bar-number-visible 2)
  c1 | c | c | c | c
  \break
  c1 | c | c | c | c
}

[image of music]

Printing bar numbers inside boxes or circles

Bar numbers can also be printed inside boxes or circles.

\relative c' {
  % Prevent bar numbers at the end of a line and permit them elsewhere
  \override Score.BarNumber.break-visibility = #end-of-line-invisible
  \set Score.barNumberVisibility = #(every-nth-bar-number-visible 4)

  % Increase the size of the bar number by 2
  \override Score.BarNumber.font-size = #2

  % Draw a box round the following bar number(s)
  \override Score.BarNumber.stencil
    = #(make-stencil-boxer 0.1 0.25 ly:text-interface::print)
  \repeat unfold 5 { c1 }

  % Draw a circle round the following bar number(s)
  \override Score.BarNumber.stencil
    = #(make-stencil-circler 0.1 0.25 ly:text-interface::print)
  \repeat unfold 4 { c1 } \bar "|."
}

[image of music]

Alternative bar numbering

Two alternative methods for bar numbering can be set, especially for when using repeated music.

\relative c'{
  \set Score.alternativeNumberingStyle = #'numbers
  \repeat volta 3 { c4 d e f | }
    \alternative {
      { c4 d e f | c2 d \break }
      { f4 g a b | f4 g a b | f2 a | \break }
      { c4 d e f | c2 d }
    }
  c1 \break
  \set Score.alternativeNumberingStyle = #'numbers-with-letters
  \repeat volta 3 { c,4 d e f | }
    \alternative {
      { c4 d e f | c2 d \break }
      { f4 g a b | f4 g a b | f2 a | \break }
      { c4 d e f | c2 d }
    }
  c1
}

[image of music]

Aligning bar numbers

Bar numbers by default are right-aligned to their parent object. This is usually the left edge of a line or, if numbers are printed within a line, the left hand side of a bar line. The numbers may also be positioned directly over the bar line or left-aligned to the bar line.

\relative c' {
  \set Score.currentBarNumber = #111
  \override Score.BarNumber.break-visibility = #all-visible
  % Increase the size of the bar number by 2
  \override Score.BarNumber.font-size = #2
  % Print a bar number every second measure
  \set Score.barNumberVisibility = #(every-nth-bar-number-visible 2)
  c1 | c1
  % Center-align bar numbers
  \override Score.BarNumber.self-alignment-X = #CENTER
  c1 | c1
  % Left-align bar numbers
  \override Score.BarNumber.self-alignment-X = #LEFT
  c1 | c1
}

[image of music]

Removing bar numbers from a score

Bar numbers can be removed entirely by removing the Bar_number_engraver from the Score context.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Score
    \remove "Bar_number_engraver"
  }
}

\relative c'' {
  c4 c c c \break
  c4 c c c
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: BarNumber, Bar_number_engraver.

Known issues and warnings

Bar numbers may collide with the top of the StaffGroup bracket, if there is one. To solve this, the padding property of BarNumber can be used to position the number correctly. See StaffGroup and BarNumber for more.


Bar and bar number checks

Bar checks help detect errors in the entered durations. A bar check may be entered using the bar symbol, |, at any place where a bar line is expected to fall. If bar check lines are encountered at other places, a list of warnings is printed in the log file, showing the line numbers and lines in which the bar checks failed. In the next example, the second bar check will signal an error.

\time 3/4 c2 e4 | g2 |

Bar checks can also be used in lyrics:

\lyricmode {
  \time 2/4
  Twin -- kle | Twin -- kle |
}

An incorrect duration can result in a completely garbled score, especially if the score is polyphonic, so a good place to start correcting input is by scanning for failed bar checks and incorrect durations.

If successive bar checks are off by the same musical interval, only the first warning message is displayed. This allows the warning to focus on the source of the timing error.

It is also possible to redefine the action taken when a bar check or pipe symbol, |, is encountered in the input, so that it does something other than a bar check. This is done by assigning a music expression to "|". In the following example | is set to insert a double bar line wherever it appears in the input, rather than checking for end of bar.

"|" = \bar "||"
{
  c'2 c' |
  c'2 c'
  c'2 | c'
  c'2 c'
}

[image of music]

When copying large pieces of music, it can be helpful to check that the LilyPond bar number corresponds to the original that you are entering from. This can be checked with \barNumberCheck, for example,

\barNumberCheck #123

will print a warning if the currentBarNumber is not 123 when it is processed.

See also

Snippets: Rhythms.


Rehearsal marks

To print a rehearsal mark, use the \mark command.

c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark \default

[image of music]

The mark is incremented automatically if you use \mark \default, but you can also use an integer argument to set the mark manually. The value to use is stored in the property rehearsalMark.

c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark #8
c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark \default

[image of music]

The letter ‘I’ is skipped in accordance with engraving traditions. If you wish to include the letter ‘I’, then use one of the following commands, depending on which style of rehearsal mark you want (letters only, letters in a hollow box, or letters in a hollow circle).

\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-alphabet
\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-box-alphabet
\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-circle-alphabet
\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-box-alphabet
c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark #8
c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark \default

[image of music]

The style is defined by the property markFormatter. It is a function taking the current mark (an integer) and the current context as argument. It should return a markup object. In the following example, markFormatter is set to a pre-defined procedure. After a few measures, it is set to a procedure that produces a boxed number.

\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-numbers
c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark \default
\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-box-numbers
c1 \mark \default
\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-circle-numbers
c1 \mark \default
\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-circle-letters
c1

[image of music]

The file ‘scm/translation-functions.scm’ contains the definitions of format-mark-numbers (the default format), format-mark-box-numbers, format-mark-letters and format-mark-box-letters. These can be used as inspiration for other formatting functions.

You may use format-mark-barnumbers, format-mark-box-barnumbers, and format-mark-circle-barnumbers to get bar numbers instead of incremented numbers or letters.

Other styles of rehearsal mark can be specified manually:

\mark "A1"

Note that Score.markFormatter does not affect marks specified in this manner. However, it is possible to apply a \markup to the string.

\mark \markup{ \box A1 }

Music glyphs (such as the segno sign) may be printed inside a \mark

c1 \mark \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts.segno" }
c1 \mark \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts.coda" }
c1 \mark \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts.ufermata" }
c1

[image of music]

See The Feta font, for a list of symbols which may be printed with \musicglyph.

For common tweaks to the positioning of rehearsal marks, see Formatting text. For more precise control, see break-alignable-interface in Aligning objects.

The file ‘scm/translation-functions.scm’ contains the definitions of format-mark-numbers and format-mark-letters. They can be used as inspiration for other formatting functions.

See also

Notation Reference: The Feta font, Formatting text, Aligning objects.

Installed Files: ‘scm/translation-functions.scm’.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: MarkEvent, Mark_engraver, RehearsalMark.


1.2.6 Special rhythmic concerns


Grace notes

Grace notes are musical ornaments, printed in a smaller font, that take up no additional logical time in a measure.

c4 \grace b16 a4(
\grace { b16 c16 } a2)

[image of music]

There are three other types of grace notes possible; the acciaccatura – an unmeasured grace note indicated by a slurred note with a slashed stem – and the appoggiatura, which takes a fixed fraction of the main note it is attached to and prints without the slash. It is also possible to write a grace note with a slashed stem, like the acciaccatura but without the slur, so as to place it between notes that are slurred themselves, using the \slashedGrace function.

\acciaccatura d8 c4
\appoggiatura e8 d4
\acciaccatura { g16 f } e2
\slashedGrace a,8 g4
\slashedGrace b16 a4(
\slashedGrace b8 a2)

[image of music]

The placement of grace notes is synchronized between different staves. In the following example, there are two sixteenth grace notes for every eighth grace note

<<
  \new Staff { e2 \grace { c16 d e f } e2 }
  \new Staff { c2 \grace { g8 b } c2 }
>>

[image of music]

If you want to end a note with a grace, use the \afterGrace command. It takes two arguments: the main note, and the grace notes following the main note.

c1 \afterGrace d1 { c16[ d] } c1

[image of music]

This will put the grace notes after a space lasting 3/4 of the length of the main note. The default fraction 3/4 can be changed by setting afterGraceFraction. The following example shows the results from setting the space at the default, at 15/16, and finally at 1/2 of the main note.

<<
  \new Staff {
    c1 \afterGrace d1 { c16[ d] } c1
  }
  \new Staff {
    #(define afterGraceFraction (cons 15 16))
    c1 \afterGrace d1 { c16[ d] } c1
  }
  \new Staff {
    #(define afterGraceFraction (cons 1 2))
    c1 \afterGrace d1 { c16[ d] } c1
  }
>>

[image of music]

The space between the main note and the grace note may also be specified using spacers. The following example places the grace note after a space lasting 7/8 of the main note.

\new Voice {
  <<
    { d1^\trill_( }
    { s2 s4. \grace { c16 d } }
  >>
  c1)
}

[image of music]

A \grace music expression will introduce special typesetting settings, for example, to produce smaller type, and set directions. Hence, when introducing layout tweaks to override the special settings, they should be placed inside the grace expression. The overrides should also be reverted inside the grace expression. Here, the grace note’s default stem direction is overridden and then reverted.

\new Voice {
  \acciaccatura {
    \stemDown
    f16->
    \stemNeutral
  }
  g4 e c2
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Using grace note slashes with normal heads

The slash through the stem found in acciaccaturas can be applied in other situations.

\relative c'' {
  \override Flag.stroke-style = #"grace"
  c8( d2) e8( f4)
}

[image of music]

Tweaking grace layout within music

The layout of grace expressions can be changed throughout the music using the functions add-grace-property and remove-grace-property. The following example undefines the Stem direction for this grace, so that stems do not always point up, and changes the default note heads to crosses.

\relative c'' {
  \new Staff {
    $(remove-grace-property 'Voice 'Stem 'direction)
    $(add-grace-property 'Voice 'NoteHead 'style 'cross)
    \new Voice {
       \acciaccatura { f16 } g4
       \grace { d16 e } f4
       \appoggiatura { f,32 g a } e2
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Redefining grace note global defaults

The global defaults for grace notes are stored in the identifiers startGraceMusic, stopGraceMusic, startAcciaccaturaMusic, stopAcciaccaturaMusic, startAppoggiaturaMusic and stopAppoggiaturaMusic, which are defined in the file ly/grace-init.ly. By redefining them other effects may be obtained.

startAcciaccaturaMusic = {
  <>(
  \override Flag.stroke-style = #"grace"
  \slurDashed
}

stopAcciaccaturaMusic = {
  \revert Flag.stroke-style
  \slurSolid
  <>)
}

\relative c'' {
  \acciaccatura d8 c1
}

[image of music]

Positioning grace notes with floating space

Setting the property 'strict-grace-spacing makes the musical columns for grace notes ’floating’, i.e., decoupled from the non-grace notes: first the normal notes are spaced, then the (musical columns of the) graces are put left of the musical columns for the main notes.

\relative c'' {
  <<
    \override Score.SpacingSpanner.strict-grace-spacing = ##t
    \new Staff \new Voice {
      \afterGrace c4 { c16[ c8 c16] }
      c8[ \grace { b16 d } c8]
      c4 r
    }
    \new Staff {
      c16 c c c c c c c c4 r
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: grace notes, acciaccatura, appoggiatura.

Notation Reference: Scaling durations, Manual beams.

Installed Files: ‘ly/grace-init.ly’.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: GraceMusic, Grace_beam_engraver, Grace_auto_beam_engraver, Grace_engraver, Grace_spacing_engraver.

Known issues and warnings

A multi-note beamed acciaccatura is printed without a slash, and looks exactly the same as a multi-note beamed appoggiatura.

Grace note synchronization can also lead to surprises. Staff notation, such as key signatures, bar lines, etc., are also synchronized. Take care when you mix staves with grace notes and staves without, for example,

<<
  \new Staff { e4 \bar ".|:" \grace c16 d2. }
  \new Staff { c4 \bar ".|:" d2. }
>>

[image of music]

This can be remedied by inserting grace skips of the corresponding durations in the other staves. For the above example

<<
  \new Staff { e4 \bar ".|:" \grace c16 d2. }
  \new Staff { c4 \bar ".|:" \grace s16 d2. }
>>

[image of music]

The use of grace notes within voice contexts confuses the way the voice is typeset. This can be overcome by inserting a rest or note between the voice command and the grace note.

accMusic = {
  \acciaccatura { f8 } e8 r8 \acciaccatura { f8 } e8 r4
}

\new Staff {
  <<
    \new Voice {
      \relative c'' {
        r8 r8 \voiceOne \accMusic \oneVoice r8 |
        r8 \voiceOne r8 \accMusic \oneVoice r8 |
      }
    }
    \new Voice {
      \relative c' {
        s8 s8 \voiceTwo \accMusic \oneVoice s8 |
        s8 \voiceTwo r8 \accMusic \oneVoice s8 |
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Grace sections should only be used within sequential music expressions. Nesting or juxtaposing grace sections is not supported, and might produce crashes or other errors.

Each grace note in MIDI output has a length of 1/4 of its actual duration. If the combined length of the grace notes is greater than the length of the preceding note a “Going back in MIDI time” error will be generated. Either make the grace notes shorter in duration, for example:

c'8 \acciaccatura { c'8[ d' e' f' g'] }

becomes:

c'8 \acciaccatura { c'16[ d' e' f' g'] }

Or explicitly change the musical duration:

c'8 \acciaccatura { \scaleDurations 1/2 { c'8[ d' e' f' g'] } }

See Scaling durations.


Aligning to cadenzas

In an orchestral context, cadenzas present a special problem: when constructing a score that includes a measured cadenza or other solo passage, all other instruments should skip just as many notes as the length of the cadenza, otherwise they will start too soon or too late.

One solution to this problem is to use the functions mmrest-of-length and skip-of-length. These Scheme functions take a defined piece of music as an argument and generate a multi-measure rest or \skip exactly as long as the piece.

MyCadenza = \relative c' {
  c4 d8 e f g g4
  f2 g4 g
}

\new GrandStaff <<
  \new Staff {
    \MyCadenza c'1
    \MyCadenza c'1
  }
  \new Staff {
    #(mmrest-of-length MyCadenza)
    c'1
    #(skip-of-length MyCadenza)
    c'1
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: cadenza.

Snippets: Rhythms.


Time administration

Time is administered by the Timing_translator, which by default is to be found in the Score context. An alias, Timing, is added to the context in which the Timing_translator is placed. To ensure that the Timing alias is available, you may need to explicitly instantiate the containing context (such as Voice or Staff).

The following properties of Timing are used to keep track of timing within the score.

currentBarNumber

The current measure number. For an example showing the use of this property see Bar numbers.

measureLength

The length of the measures in the current time signature. For a 4/4 time this is 1, and for 6/8 it is 3/4. Its value determines when bar lines are inserted and how automatic beams should be generated.

measurePosition

The point within the measure where we currently are. This quantity is reset by subtracting measureLength whenever measureLength is reached or exceeded. When that happens, currentBarNumber is incremented.

timing

If set to true, the above variables are updated for every time step. When set to false, the engraver stays in the current measure indefinitely.

Timing can be changed by setting any of these variables explicitly. In the next example, the default 4/4 time signature is printed, but measureLength is set to 5/4. At 4/8 through the third measure, the measurePosition is advanced by 1/8 to 5/8, shortening that bar by 1/8. The next bar line then falls at 9/8 rather than 5/4.

\new Voice \relative c' {
  \set Timing.measureLength = #(ly:make-moment 5/4)
  c1 c4 |
  c1 c4 |
  c4 c
  \set Timing.measurePosition = #(ly:make-moment 5/8)
  b4 b b8 |
  c4 c1 |
}

[image of music]

As the example illustrates, ly:make-moment n m constructs a duration of n/m of a whole note. For example, ly:make-moment 1 8 is an eighth note duration and ly:make-moment 7 16 is the duration of seven sixteenths notes.

See also

Notation Reference: Bar numbers, Unmetered music.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: Timing_translator, Score.


1.3 Expressive marks

[image of music]

This section lists various expressive marks that can be created in a score.


1.3.1 Expressive marks attached to notes

This section explains how to create expressive marks that are attached to notes: articulations, ornamentations, and dynamics. Methods to create new dynamic markings are also discussed.


Articulations and ornamentations

A variety of symbols that denote articulations, ornamentations, and other performance indications can be attached to a note using this syntax:

note\name

The possible values for name are listed in List of articulations. For example:

c4\staccato c\mordent b2\turn
c1\fermata

[image of music]

Some of these articulations have shorthands for easier entry. Shorthands are appended to the note name, and their syntax consists of a dash - followed by a symbol signifying the articulation. Predefined shorthands exist for marcato, stopped, tenuto, staccatissimo, accent, staccato, and portato. Their corresponding output appears as follows:

c4-^ c-+ c-- c-!
c4-> c-. c2-_

[image of music]

The rules for the default placement of articulations are defined in ‘scm/script.scm’. Articulations and ornamentations may be manually placed above or below the staff; see Direction and placement.

Articulations are Script objects. Their properties are described more fully in Script.

Articulations can be attached to rests as well as notes but they cannot be attached to multi-measure rests. A special predefined command, \fermataMarkup, is available for attaching a fermata to a multi-measure rest (and only a multi-measure rest). This creates a MultiMeasureRestText object.

\override Script.color = #red
\override MultiMeasureRestText.color = #blue
a2\fermata r\fermata
R1\fermataMarkup

[image of music]

In addition to articulations, text and markups can be attached to notes. See Text scripts.

For more information about the ordering of Scripts and TextScripts that are attached to the notes, see Placement of objects.

Selected Snippets

Modifying default values for articulation shorthand notation

The shorthands are defined in ‘ly/script-init.ly’, where the variables dashHat, dashPlus, dashDash, dashBang, dashLarger, dashDot, and dashUnderscore are assigned default values. The default values for the shorthands can be modified. For example, to make the -+ (dashPlus) shorthand create a trill instead of the default + (stopped), assign the value of trill to the variable dashPlus:

\relative c'' { c1-+ }

dashPlus = \trill

\relative c'' { c1-+ }

[image of music]

Controlling the vertical ordering of scripts

The vertical ordering of scripts is controlled with the 'script-priority property. The lower this number, the closer it will be put to the note. In this example, the TextScript (the sharp symbol) first has the lowest priority, so it is put lowest in the first example. In the second, the prall trill (the Script) has the lowest, so it is on the inside. When two objects have the same priority, the order in which they are entered determines which one comes first.

\relative c''' {
  \once \override TextScript.script-priority = #-100
  a2^\prall^\markup { \sharp }

  \once \override Script.script-priority = #-100
  a2^\prall^\markup { \sharp }
}

[image of music]

Creating a delayed turn

Creating a delayed turn, where the lower note of the turn uses the accidental, requires several overrides. The outside-staff-priority property must be set to #f, as otherwise this would take precedence over the avoid-slur property. Changing the fractions 2/3 and 1/3 adjusts the horizontal position.

\relative c'' {
  c2*2/3 ( s2*1/3\turn d4) r
  <<
    { c4.( d8) }
    { s4 s\turn }
  >>
  \transpose c d \relative c'' <<
    { c4.( d8) }
    {
      s4
      \once \set suggestAccidentals = ##t
      \once \override AccidentalSuggestion #'outside-staff-priority = ##f
      \once \override AccidentalSuggestion #'avoid-slur = #'inside
      \once \override AccidentalSuggestion #'font-size = #-3
      \once \override AccidentalSuggestion #'script-priority = #-1
      \single \hideNotes
      b8-\turn \noBeam
      s8
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: tenuto, accent, staccato, portato.

Learning Manual: Placement of objects.

Notation Reference: Text scripts, Direction and placement, List of articulations, Trills.

Installed Files: ‘scm/script.scm’.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: Script, TextScript.


Dynamics

Absolute dynamic marks are specified using a command after a note, such as c4\ff. The available dynamic marks are \ppppp, \pppp, \ppp, \pp, \p, \mp, \mf, \f, \ff, \fff, \ffff, \fffff, \fp, \sf, \sff, \sp, \spp, \sfz, and \rfz. Dynamic marks may be manually placed above or below the staff; see Direction and placement.

c2\ppp c\mp
c2\rfz c^\mf
c2_\spp c^\ff

[image of music]

A crescendo mark is started with \< and terminated with \!, an absolute dynamic, or an additional crescendo or decrescendo mark. A decrescendo mark is started with \> and is also terminated with \!, an absolute dynamic, or another crescendo or decrescendo mark. \cr and \decr may be used instead of \< and \>. Hairpins are engraved by default using this notation.

c2\< c\!
d2\< d\f
e2\< e\>
f2\> f\!
e2\> e\mp
d2\> d\>
c1\!

[image of music]

A hairpin that is terminated with \! will end at the right edge of the note that has the \! assigned to it. In the case where it is terminated with the start of another crescendo or decrescendo mark, it will end at the centre of the note that has the next \< or \> assigned to it. The next hairpin will then start at the right edge of the same note instead of the usual left edge had it been terminated with \! before.

c1\< | c4 a c\< a | c4 a c\! a\< | c4 a c a\!

[image of music]

Hairpins that are terminated with absolute dynamic marks instead of \! will also be engraved in a similar way. However, the length of the absolute dynamic itself can alter where the preceding hairpin ends.

c1\< | c4 a c\mf a | c1\< | c4 a c\ffff a

[image of music]

Spacer rests are needed to engrave multiple marks on one note. This is particularly useful when adding a crescendo and decrescendo to the same note:

c4\< c\! d\> e\!
<< f1 { s4 s4\< s4\> s4\! } >>

[image of music]

The \espressivo command can be used to indicate a crescendo and decrescendo on the same note. However, be warned that this is implemented as an articulation, not a dynamic.

c2 b4 a
g1\espressivo

[image of music]

Textual crescendo marks begin with \cresc. Textual decrescendos begin with \decresc or \dim. Extender lines are engraved as required.

g8\cresc a b c b c d e\mf |
f8\decresc e d c e\> d c b |
a1\dim ~ |
a2. r4\! |

[image of music]

Textual marks for dynamic changes can also replace hairpins:

\crescTextCresc
c4\< d e f\! |
\dimTextDecresc
g4\> e d c\! |
\dimTextDecr
e4\> d c b\! |
\dimTextDim
d4\> c b a\! |
\crescHairpin
\dimHairpin
c4\< d\! e\> d\! |

[image of music]

To create new absolute dynamic marks or text that should be aligned with dynamics, see New dynamic marks.

Vertical positioning of dynamics is handled by DynamicLineSpanner.

A Dynamics context is available to engrave dynamics on their own horizontal line. Use spacer rests to indicate timing. (Notes in a Dynamics context will also take up musical time, but will not be engraved.) The Dynamics context can usefully contain some other items such as text scripts, text spanners, and piano pedal marks.

<<
  \new Staff \relative c' {
    c2 d4 e |
    c4 e e,2 |
    g'4 a g a |
    c1 |
  }
  \new Dynamics {
    s1\< |
    s1\f |
    s2\dim s2-"rit." |
    s1\p |
  }
>>

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\dynamicUp, \dynamicDown, \dynamicNeutral, \crescTextCresc, \dimTextDim, \dimTextDecr, \dimTextDecresc, \crescHairpin, \dimHairpin.

Selected Snippets

Setting hairpin behavior at bar lines

If the note which ends a hairpin falls on a downbeat, the hairpin stops at the bar line immediately preceding. This behavior can be controlled by overriding the 'to-barline property.

\relative c'' {
  e4\< e2.
  e1\!
  \override Hairpin.to-barline = ##f
  e4\< e2.
  e1\!
}

[image of music]

Setting the minimum length of hairpins

If hairpins are too short, they can be lengthened by modifying the minimum-length property of the Hairpin object.

\relative c'' {
  c4\< c\! d\> e\!
  \override Hairpin.minimum-length = #5
  << f1 { s4 s\< s\> s\! } >>
}

[image of music]

Printing hairpins using al niente notation

Hairpin dynamics may be printed with a circled tip (“al niente” notation) by setting the circled-tip property of the Hairpin object to #t.

\relative c'' {
  \override Hairpin.circled-tip = ##t
  c2\< c\!
  c4\> c\< c2\!
}

[image of music]

Printing hairpins in various styles

Hairpin dynamics may be created in a variety of styles

\relative c'' {
  \override Hairpin.stencil = #flared-hairpin
  a4\< a a a\f
  a4\p\< a a a\ff
  a4\sfz\< a a a\!
  \override Hairpin.stencil = #constante-hairpin
  a4\< a a a\f
  a4\p\< a a a\ff
  a4\sfz\< a a a\!
  \override Hairpin.stencil = #flared-hairpin
  a4\> a a a\f
  a4\p\> a a a\ff
  a4\sfz\> a a a\!
  \override Hairpin.stencil = #constante-hairpin
  a4\> a a a\f
  a4\p\> a a a\ff
  a4\sfz\> a a a\!
}

[image of music]

Vertically aligned dynamics and textscripts

All DynamicLineSpanner objects (hairpins and dynamic texts) are placed with their reference line at least 'staff-padding from the staff, unless other notation forces them to be farther. Setting 'staff-padding to a sufficiently large value aligns the dynamics.

The same idea, together with \textLengthOn, is used to align the text scripts along their baseline.

\markup \vspace #1 %avoid LSR-bug

music = \relative c' {
  a'2\p b\f
  e4\p f\f\> g, b\p
  c2^\markup { \huge gorgeous } c^\markup { \huge fantastic }
}

{
  \music
  \break
  \override DynamicLineSpanner.staff-padding = #3
  \textLengthOn
  \override TextScript.staff-padding = #1
  \music
}

[image of music]

Hiding the extender line for text dynamics

Text style dynamic changes (such as cresc. and dim.) are printed with a dashed line showing their extent. This line can be suppressed in the following way:

\relative c'' {
  \override DynamicTextSpanner.style = #'none
  \crescTextCresc
  c1\< | d | b | c\!
}

[image of music]

Changing text and spanner styles for text dynamics

The text used for crescendos and decrescendos can be changed by modifying the context properties crescendoText and decrescendoText.

The style of the spanner line can be changed by modifying the 'style property of DynamicTextSpanner. The default value is 'dashed-line, and other possible values include 'line, 'dotted-line and 'none.

\relative c'' {
  \set crescendoText = \markup { \italic { cresc. poco } }
  \set crescendoSpanner = #'text
  \override DynamicTextSpanner.style = #'dotted-line
  a2\< a
  a2 a
  a2 a
  a2 a\mf
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: al niente, crescendo, decrescendo, hairpin.

Learning Manual: Articulation and dynamics.

Notation Reference: Direction and placement, New dynamic marks, What goes into the MIDI output?, Controlling MIDI dynamics.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: DynamicText, Hairpin, DynamicLineSpanner, Dynamics.


New dynamic marks

The easiest way to create dynamic indications is to use \markup objects.

moltoF = \markup { molto \dynamic f }

\relative c' {
  <d e>16_\moltoF <d e>
  <d e>2..
}

[image of music]

In markup mode, editorial dynamics (within parentheses or square brackets) can be created. The syntax for markup mode is described in Formatting text.

roundF = \markup {
    \center-align \concat { \bold { \italic ( }
           \dynamic f \bold { \italic ) } } }
boxF = \markup { \bracket { \dynamic f } }
\relative c' {
  c1_\roundF
  c1_\boxF
}

[image of music]

Simple, centered dynamic marks are easily created with the make-dynamic-script function.

sfzp = #(make-dynamic-script "sfzp")
\relative c' {
  c4 c c\sfzp c
}

[image of music]

In general, make-dynamic-script takes any markup object as its argument. The dynamic font only contains the characters f,m,p,r,s and z, so if a dynamic mark that includes plain text or punctuation symbols is desired, markup commands that reverts font family and font encoding to normal text should be used, for example \normal-text. The interest of using make-dynamic-script instead of an ordinary markup is ensuring the vertical alignment of markup objects and hairpins that are attached to the same note head.

roundF = \markup { \center-align \concat {
           \normal-text { \bold { \italic ( } }
           \dynamic f
           \normal-text { \bold { \italic ) } } } }
boxF = \markup { \bracket { \dynamic f } }
mfEspress = \markup { \center-align \line {
              \hspace #3.7 mf \normal-text \italic espress. } }
roundFdynamic = #(make-dynamic-script roundF)
boxFdynamic = #(make-dynamic-script boxF)
mfEspressDynamic = #(make-dynamic-script mfEspress)
\relative c' {
  c4_\roundFdynamic\< d e f
  g,1~_\boxFdynamic\>
  g1
  g'1~\mfEspressDynamic
  g1
}

[image of music]

The Scheme form of markup mode may be used instead. Its syntax is explained in Markup construction in Scheme.

moltoF = #(make-dynamic-script
            (markup #:normal-text "molto"
                    #:dynamic "f"))
\relative c' {
  <d e>16 <d e>
  <d e>2..\moltoF
}

[image of music]

To left-align the dynamic text rather than centering it on a note use a \tweak:

moltoF = \tweak DynamicText.self-alignment-X #LEFT
         #(make-dynamic-script
            (markup #:normal-text "molto"
                    #:dynamic "f"))
\relative c' {
  <d e>16 <d e>
  <d e>2..\moltoF <d e>1
}

[image of music]

Font settings in markup mode are described in Selecting font and font size.

See also

Notation Reference: Formatting text, Selecting font and font size, What goes into the MIDI output?, Controlling MIDI dynamics.

Extending LilyPond: Markup construction in Scheme.

Snippets: Expressive marks.


1.3.2 Expressive marks as curves

This section explains how to create various expressive marks that are curved: normal slurs, phrasing slurs, breath marks, falls, and doits.


Slurs

Slurs are entered using parentheses:

Note: In polyphonic music, a slur must be terminated in the same voice it began.

f4( g a) a8 b(
a4 g2 f4)
<c e>2( <b d>2)

[image of music]

Slurs may be manually placed above or below the staff; see Direction and placement.

Simultaneous or overlapping slurs are not permitted, but a phrasing slur can overlap a slur. This permits two slurs to be printed at once. For details, see Phrasing slurs.

Slurs can be solid, dotted, or dashed. Solid is the default slur style:

c4( e g2)
\slurDashed
g4( e c2)
\slurDotted
c4( e g2)
\slurSolid
g4( e c2)

[image of music]

Slurs can also be made half-dashed (the first half dashed, the second half solid) or half-solid (the first half solid, the second half dashed):

c4( e g2)
\slurHalfDashed
g4( e c2)
\slurHalfSolid
c4( e g2)
\slurSolid
g4( e c2)

[image of music]

Custom dash patterns for slurs can be defined:

c4( e g2)
\slurDashPattern #0.7 #0.75
g4( e c2)
\slurDashPattern #0.5 #2.0
c4( e g2)
\slurSolid
g4( e c2)

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\slurUp, \slurDown, \slurNeutral, \slurDashed, \slurDotted, \slurHalfDashed, \slurHalfSolid, \slurDashPattern, \slurSolid.

Selected Snippets

Using double slurs for legato chords

Some composers write two slurs when they want legato chords. This can be achieved by setting doubleSlurs.

\relative c' {
  \set doubleSlurs = ##t
  <c e>4( <d f> <c e> <d f>)
}

[image of music]

Positioning text markups inside slurs

Text markups need to have the outside-staff-priority property set to false in order to be printed inside slurs.

\relative c'' {
  \override TextScript.avoid-slur = #'inside
  \override TextScript.outside-staff-priority = ##f
  c2(^\markup { \halign #-10 \natural } d4.) c8
}

[image of music]

Making slurs with complex dash structure

Slurs can be made with complex dash patterns by defining the dash-definition property. dash-definition is a list of dash-elements. A dash-element is a list of parameters defining the dash behavior for a segment of the slur.

The slur is defined in terms of the bezier parameter t which ranges from 0 at the left end of the slur to 1 at the right end of the slur. dash-element is a list (start-t stop-t dash-fraction dash-period). The region of the slur from start-t to stop-t will have a fraction dash-fraction of each dash-period black. dash-period is defined in terms of staff spaces. dash-fraction is set to 1 for a solid slur.

\relative c' {
  \once \override
    Slur.dash-definition = #'((0 0.3 0.1 0.75)
                                (0.3 0.6 1 1)
                                (0.65 1.0 0.4 0.75))
  c4( d e f)
  \once \override
    Slur.dash-definition = #'((0 0.25 1 1)
                                (0.3 0.7 0.4 0.75)
                                (0.75 1.0 1 1))
  c4( d e f)
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: slur.

Learning Manual: On the un-nestedness of brackets and ties.

Notation Reference: Direction and placement, Phrasing slurs.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: Slur.


Phrasing slurs

Phrasing slurs (or phrasing marks) that indicate a musical sentence are written using the commands \( and \) respectively:

c4\( d( e) f(
e2) d\)

[image of music]

Typographically, a phrasing slur behaves almost exactly like a normal slur. However, they are treated as different objects; a \slurUp will have no effect on a phrasing slur. Phrasing may be manually placed above or below the staff; see Direction and placement.

Simultaneous or overlapping phrasing slurs are not permitted.

Phrasing slurs can be solid, dotted, or dashed. Solid is the default style for phrasing slurs:

c4\( e g2\)
\phrasingSlurDashed
g4\( e c2\)
\phrasingSlurDotted
c4\( e g2\)
\phrasingSlurSolid
g4\( e c2\)

[image of music]

Phrasing slurs can also be made half-dashed (the first half dashed, the second half solid) or half-solid (the first half solid, the second half dashed):

c4\( e g2\)
\phrasingSlurHalfDashed
g4\( e c2\)
\phrasingSlurHalfSolid
c4\( e g2\)
\phrasingSlurSolid
g4\( e c2\)

[image of music]

Custom dash patterns for phrasing slurs can be defined:

c4\( e g2\)
\phrasingSlurDashPattern #0.7 #0.75
g4\( e c2\)
\phrasingSlurDashPattern #0.5 #2.0
c4\( e g2\)
\phrasingSlurSolid
g4\( e c2\)

[image of music]

Dash pattern definitions for phrasing slurs have the same structure as dash pattern definitions for slurs. For more information about complex dash patterns, see the snippets under Slurs.

Predefined commands

\phrasingSlurUp, \phrasingSlurDown, \phrasingSlurNeutral, \phrasingSlurDashed, \phrasingSlurDotted, \phrasingSlurHalfDashed, \phrasingSlurHalfSolid, \phrasingSlurDashPattern, \phrasingSlurSolid.

See also

Learning Manual: On the un-nestedness of brackets and ties.

Notation Reference: Direction and placement, Slurs.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: PhrasingSlur.


Breath marks

Breath marks are entered using \breathe:

c2. \breathe d4

[image of music]

Unlike other expressive marks, a breath mark is not associated with the preceding note but is a separate music event. So all the expressive marks which are attached to the preceding note, any square brackets indicating manual beams, and any brackets indicating slurs and phrasing slurs must be placed before \breathe.

A breath mark will end an automatic beam; to override this behavior, see Manual beams.

c8 \breathe d e f g2

[image of music]

Musical indicators for breath marks in ancient notation, divisiones, are supported. For details, see Divisiones.

Selected Snippets

Changing the breath mark symbol

The glyph of the breath mark can be tuned by overriding the text property of the BreathingSign layout object with any markup text.

\relative c'' {
  c2
  \override BreathingSign.text =
    \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts.rvarcomma" }
  \breathe
  d2
}

[image of music]

Using a tick as the breath mark symbol

Vocal and wind music frequently uses a tick mark as a breathing sign. This indicates a breath that subtracts a little time from the previous note rather than causing a short pause, which is indicated by the comma breath mark. The mark can be moved up a little to take it away from the stave.

\relative c'' {
  c2
  \breathe
  d2
  \override BreathingSign.Y-offset = #2.6
  \override BreathingSign.text =
    \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts.tickmark" }
  c2
  \breathe
  d2
}

[image of music]

Inserting a caesura

Caesura marks can be created by overriding the 'text property of the BreathingSign object. A curved caesura mark is also available.

\relative c'' {
  \override BreathingSign.text = \markup {
    \musicglyph #"scripts.caesura.straight"
  }
  c8 e4. \breathe g8. e16 c4

  \override BreathingSign.text = \markup {
    \musicglyph #"scripts.caesura.curved"
  }
  g8 e'4. \breathe g8. e16 c4
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: caesura.

Notation Reference: Divisiones.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: BreathingEvent, BreathingSign, Breathing_sign_engraver.


Falls and doits

Falls and doits can be added to notes using the \bendAfter command. The direction of the fall or doit is indicated with a plus or minus (up or down). The number indicates the pitch interval that the fall or doit will extend beyond the main note.

c2\bendAfter #+4
c2\bendAfter #-4
c2\bendAfter #+6.5
c2\bendAfter #-6.5
c2\bendAfter #+8
c2\bendAfter #-8

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Adjusting the shape of falls and doits

The shortest-duration-space property may be tweaked to adjust the shape of falls and doits.

\relative c'' {
  \override Score.SpacingSpanner.shortest-duration-space = #4.0
  c2-\bendAfter #5
  c2-\bendAfter #-4.75
  c2-\bendAfter #8.5
  c2-\bendAfter #-6
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: fall, doit.

Snippets: Expressive marks.


1.3.3 Expressive marks as lines

This section explains how to create various expressive marks that follow a linear path: glissandos, arpeggios, and trills.


Glissando

A glissando is created by appending \glissando to a note:

g2\glissando g'
c2\glissando c,
\afterGrace f,1\glissando f'16

[image of music]

A glissando can connect notes across staves:

\new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff = "right" {
    e'''2\glissando
    \change Staff = "left"
    a,,4\glissando
    \change Staff = "right"
    b''8 r |
  }
  \new Staff = "left" {
    \clef bass
    s1
  }
>>

[image of music]

A glissando can connect notes in chords. If anything other than a direct one-to-one pairing of the notes in the two chords is required the connections between the notes are defined by setting \glissandoMap, where the notes of a chord are assumed to be numbered from zero in the order in which they appear in the input ‘.ly’ file.

<c, e>1\glissando g' |
<c, e>1\glissando |
<g' b> |
\break
\set glissandoMap = #'((0 . 1) (1 . 0))
<c, g'>1\glissando |
<d a'> |
\set glissandoMap = #'((0 . 0) (0 . 1) (0 . 2))
c1\glissando |
<d f a> |
\set glissandoMap = #'((2 . 0) (1 . 0) (0 . 1))
<f d a'>1\glissando |
<c c'> |

[image of music]

Different styles of glissandi can be created. For details, see Line styles.

Selected Snippets

Contemporary glissando

A contemporary glissando without a final note can be typeset using a hidden note and cadenza timing.

\relative c'' {
  \time 3/4
  \override Glissando.style = #'zigzag
  c4 c
  \cadenzaOn
  c4\glissando
  \hideNotes
  c,,4
  \unHideNotes
  \cadenzaOff
  \bar "|"
}

[image of music]

Adding timing marks to long glissandi

Skipped beats in very long glissandi are sometimes indicated by timing marks, often consisting of stems without noteheads. Such stems can also be used to carry intermediate expression markings.

If the stems do not align well with the glissando, they may need to be repositioned slightly.

glissandoSkipOn = {
  \override NoteColumn.glissando-skip = ##t
  \hide NoteHead
  \override NoteHead.no-ledgers = ##t
}

glissandoSkipOff = {
  \revert NoteColumn.glissando-skip
  \undo \hide NoteHead
  \revert NoteHead.no-ledgers
}

\relative c'' {
  r8 f8\glissando
  \glissandoSkipOn
  f4 g a a8\noBeam
  \glissandoSkipOff
  a8

  r8 f8\glissando
  \glissandoSkipOn
  g4 a8
  \glissandoSkipOff
  a8 |

  r4 f\glissando \<
  \glissandoSkipOn
  a4\f \>
  \glissandoSkipOff
  b8\! r |
}

[image of music]

Making glissandi breakable

Setting the breakable property to #t in combination with after-line-breaking allows a glissando to break if it occurs at a line break:

glissandoSkipOn = {
  \override NoteColumn.glissando-skip = ##t
  \hide NoteHead
  \override NoteHead.no-ledgers = ##t
}

\relative c'' {
  \override Glissando.breakable = ##t
  \override Glissando.after-line-breaking = ##t
  f1\glissando |
  \break
  a4 r2. |
  f1\glissando
  \once \glissandoSkipOn
  \break
  a2 a4 r4 |
}

[image of music]

Extending glissandi across repeats

A glissando which extends into several \alternative blocks can be simulated by adding a hidden grace note with a glissando at the start of each \alternative block. The grace note should be at the same pitch as the note which starts the initial glissando. This is implemented here with a music function which takes the pitch of the grace note as its argument.

Note that in polyphonic music the grace note must be matched with corresponding grace notes in all other voices.

repeatGliss = #(define-music-function (parser location grace)
  (ly:pitch?)
  #{
    % the next two lines ensure the glissando is long enough
    % to be visible
    \once \override Glissando.springs-and-rods
      = #ly:spanner::set-spacing-rods
    \once \override Glissando.minimum-length = #3.5
    \once \hideNotes
    \grace $grace \glissando
  #})

\score {
  \relative c'' {
    \repeat volta 3 { c4 d e f\glissando }
    \alternative {
      { g2 d }
      { \repeatGliss f g2 e }
      { \repeatGliss f e2 d }
    }
  }
}

music =  \relative c' {
  \voiceOne
  \repeat volta 2 {
    g a b c\glissando
  }
  \alternative {
    { d1 }
    { \repeatGliss c e1 }
  }
}

\score {
  \new StaffGroup <<
    \new Staff <<
      \context Voice { \clef "G_8" \music }
    >>
    \new TabStaff  <<
      \context TabVoice { \clef "moderntab" \music }
    >>
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: glissando.

Notation Reference: Line styles.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: Glissando.

Known issues and warnings

Printing text over the line (such as gliss.) is not supported.


Arpeggio

An arpeggio on a chord (also known as a broken chord) is denoted by appending \arpeggio to the chord construct:

<c e g c>1\arpeggio

[image of music]

Different types of arpeggios may be written. \arpeggioNormal reverts to a normal arpeggio:

<c e g c>2\arpeggio

\arpeggioArrowUp
<c e g c>2\arpeggio

\arpeggioArrowDown
<c e g c>2\arpeggio

\arpeggioNormal
<c e g c>2\arpeggio

[image of music]

Special bracketed arpeggio symbols can be created:

<c e g c>2

\arpeggioBracket
<c e g c>2\arpeggio

\arpeggioParenthesis
<c e g c>2\arpeggio

\arpeggioParenthesisDashed
<c e g c>2\arpeggio

\arpeggioNormal
<c e g c>2\arpeggio

[image of music]

The dash properties of the parenthesis arpeggio are controlled with the 'dash-details property, which is described at Slurs.

Arpeggios can be explicitly written out with ties. For more information, see Ties.

Predefined commands

\arpeggio, \arpeggioArrowUp, \arpeggioArrowDown, \arpeggioNormal, \arpeggioBracket, \arpeggioParenthesis \arpeggioParenthesisDashed.

Selected Snippets

Creating cross-staff arpeggios in a piano staff

In a PianoStaff, it is possible to let an arpeggio cross between the staves by setting the property PianoStaff.connectArpeggios.

\new PianoStaff \relative c'' <<
  \set PianoStaff.connectArpeggios = ##t
  \new Staff {
    <c e g c>4\arpeggio
    <g c e g>4\arpeggio
    <e g c e>4\arpeggio
    <c e g c>4\arpeggio
  }
  \new Staff {
    \clef bass
    \repeat unfold 4 {
      <c,, e g c>4\arpeggio
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

Creating cross-staff arpeggios in other contexts

Cross-staff arpeggios can be created in contexts other than GrandStaff, PianoStaff and StaffGroup if the Span_arpeggio_engraver is included in the Score context.

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff {
    \set Score.connectArpeggios = ##t
    <<
      \new Voice \relative c' {
        <c e>2\arpeggio
        <d f>2\arpeggio
        <c e>1\arpeggio
      }
      \new Voice \relative c {
        \clef bass
        <c g'>2\arpeggio
        <b g'>2\arpeggio
        <c g'>1\arpeggio
      }
    >>
  }
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Score
      \consists "Span_arpeggio_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Creating arpeggios across notes in different voices

An arpeggio can be drawn across notes in different voices on the same staff if the Span_arpeggio_engraver is added to the Staff context:

\new Staff \with {
  \consists "Span_arpeggio_engraver"
}
\relative c' {
  \set Staff.connectArpeggios = ##t
  <<
    { <e' g>4\arpeggio <d f> <d f>2 }
    \\
    { <d, f>2\arpeggio <g b>2 }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: arpeggio.

Notation Reference: Slurs, Ties.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: Arpeggio, Slur, PianoStaff.

Known issues and warnings

It is not possible to mix connected arpeggios and unconnected arpeggios in one PianoStaff at the same point in time.

The simple way of setting parenthesis-style arpeggio brackets does not work for cross-staff arpeggios; see Cross-staff stems.


Trills

Short trills without an extender line are printed with \trill; see Articulations and ornamentations.

Longer trills with an extender line are made with \startTrillSpan and \stopTrillSpan:

d1\startTrillSpan
d1
c2\stopTrillSpan
r2

[image of music]

A trill spanner crossing a line break will restart exactly above the first note on the new line.

d1\startTrillSpan
\break
d1
c2\stopTrillSpan
r2

[image of music]

Consecutive trill spans will work without explicit \stopTrillSpan commands, since successive trill spanners will automatically become the right bound of the previous trill.

d1\startTrillSpan
d1
b1\startTrillSpan
d2\stopTrillSpan
r2

[image of music]

Trills can also be combined with grace notes. The syntax of this construct and the method to precisely position the grace notes are described in Grace notes.

d1~\afterGrace
d1\startTrillSpan { c32[ d]\stopTrillSpan }
c2 r2

[image of music]

Trills that require an auxiliary note with an explicit pitch can be typeset with the \pitchedTrill command. The first argument is the main note, and the second is the trilled note, printed as a stemless note head in parentheses.

\pitchedTrill
d2\startTrillSpan fis
d2
c2\stopTrillSpan
r2

[image of music]

Subsequent accidentals of the same note in the same measure will need to be added manually. Only the accidental of the first pitched trill in a measure is printed.

\pitchedTrill
eis4\startTrillSpan fis
eis4\stopTrillSpan
\pitchedTrill
eis4\startTrillSpan cis
eis4\stopTrillSpan
\pitchedTrill
eis4\startTrillSpan fis
eis4\stopTrillSpan
\pitchedTrill
eis4\startTrillSpan fis!
eis4\stopTrillSpan

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\startTrillSpan, \stopTrillSpan.

See also

Music Glossary: trill.

Notation Reference: Articulations and ornamentations, Grace notes.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: TrillSpanner.


1.4 Repeats

[image of music]

Repetition is a central concept in music, and multiple notations exist for repetitions. LilyPond supports the following kinds of repeats:

volta

The repeated music is not written out but enclosed between repeat bar lines. If the repeat is at the beginning of a piece, a repeat bar line is only printed at the end of the repeat. Alternative endings (volte) are printed left to right with brackets. This is the standard notation for repeats with alternatives.

unfold

The repeated music is fully written out, as many times as specified by repeatcount. This is useful when entering repetitious music.

percent

These are beat or measure repeats. They look like single slashes or percent signs.

tremolo

This is used to write tremolo beams.


1.4.1 Long repeats

This section discusses how to input long (usually multi-measure) repeats. The repeats can take two forms: repeats enclosed between repeat signs; or written-out repeats, used to input repetitious music. Repeat signs can also be controlled manually.


Normal repeats

The syntax for a normal repeat is

\repeat volta repeatcount musicexpr

where musicexpr is a music expression.

A single repeat without an alternate ending:

\repeat volta 2 { c4 d e f }
c2 d
\repeat volta 2 { d4 e f g }

[image of music]

An ‘opening’ repeat mark is not, by default, printed in the first full measure. However it is possible to add one by using \bar ".|:" before the first note.

\repeat volta 2 { \bar ".|:" c4 d e f }
c2 d
\repeat volta 2 { d4 e f g }

[image of music]

Alternative endings can be produced using \alternative. Each group of alternatives must be themselves, enclosed in a set of braces.

\repeat volta repeatcount musicexpr
\alternative {
  { musicexpr }
}

where musicexpr is a music expression.

If there are more repeats than there are alternate endings, the earliest repeats are given the first alternative.

A single repeat with one alternate ending:

\repeat volta 2 { c4 d e f | }
\alternative {
  { c2 e | }
  { f2 g | }
}
c1

[image of music]

Multiple repeats with one alternate ending:

\repeat volta 4 { c4 d e f | }
\alternative {
  { c2 e | }
  { f2 g | }
}
c1

[image of music]

Multiple repeats with more than one alternate ending:

\repeat volta 3 { c4 d e f | }
\alternative {
  { c2 e | }
  { f2 g | }
  { a2 g | }
}
c1

[image of music]

Note: If there are two or more alternatives, nothing should appear between the closing brace of one and the opening brace of the next in an \alternative block, otherwise you will not get the expected number of endings.

Note: If you include \relative inside a \repeat without explicitly instantiating the Voice context, extra (unwanted) staves will appear. See An extra staff appears.

If a repeat starts in the middle of a measure and has no alternate endings, normally the end of the repeat will also fall in the middle of a measure, so that the two ends add up to one complete measure. In such cases, the repeat signs do not constitute true bar lines. Do not use \partial commands or bar checks where these repeat signs are printed:

% no \partial here
c4 e g  % no bar check here
% no \partial here
\repeat volta 4 {
  e4 |
  c2 e |
  % no \partial here
  g4 g g  % no bar check here
}
% no \partial here
g4 |
a2 a |
g1 |

[image of music]

Similarly, if a repeat begins with the initial partial measure of a score and has no alternate endings, the same conditions apply as in the above example, except that in this case the \partial command is required at the beginning of the score:

\partial 4  % required
\repeat volta 4 {
  e4 |
  c2 e |
  % no \partial here
  g4 g g  % no bar check here
}
% no \partial here
g4 |
a2 a |
g1 |

[image of music]

Ties may be added to a second ending:

c1
\repeat volta 2 { c4 d e f~ }
\alternative {
  { f2 d }
  { f2\repeatTie f, }
}

[image of music]

The \inStaffSegno command can be used to generate a composite bar line incorporating the segno symbol with the appropriate repeat bar line when used with the \repeat volta command. The correct type of repeat bar line, viz. start repeat, end repeat or double repeat, is selected automatically. Note that the corresponding “D.S.” mark must be added manually.

Away from a repeat:

e1
\inStaffSegno
f2 g a b
c1_"D.S." \bar "|."

[image of music]

At the start of a repeat:

e1
\repeat volta 2 {
  \inStaffSegno  % start repeat
  f2 g a b
}
c1_"D.S." \bar "|."

[image of music]

At the end of a repeat:

e1
\repeat volta 2 {
  f2 g a b
  \inStaffSegno  % end repeat
}
f2 g a b
c1_"D.S." \bar "|."

[image of music]

Between two repeats:

e1
\repeat volta 2 {
  f2 g a b
}
\inStaffSegno  % double repeat
\repeat volta 2 {
  f2 g a b
}
c1_"D.S." \bar "|."

[image of music]

Alternative bar line symbols can be obtained by setting (in the Score context) the properties segnoType, startRepeatSegnoType, endRepeatSegnoType or doubleRepeatSegnoType to the required bar line type. The alternative bar line types must be selected from the pre-defined types or types previously defined with the \defineBarLine command (see Bar lines).

\defineBarLine ":|.S[" #'(":|." "S[" "")
\defineBarLine "]" #'("]" "" "")
e1
\repeat volta 2 {
  f2 g a b
  \once \set Score.endRepeatSegnoType = ":|.S["
  \inStaffSegno
}
f2 g \bar "]" a b
c1_"D.S." \bar "|."

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Shortening volta brackets

By default, the volta brackets will be drawn over all of the alternative music, but it is possible to shorten them by setting voltaSpannerDuration. In the next example, the bracket only lasts one measure, which is a duration of 3/4.

\relative c'' {
  \time 3/4
  c4 c c
  \set Score.voltaSpannerDuration = #(ly:make-moment 3/4)
  \repeat volta 5 { d4 d d }
  \alternative {
    {
      e4 e e
      f4 f f
    }
    { g4 g g }
  }
}

[image of music]

Adding volta brackets to additional staves

The Volta_engraver by default resides in the Score context, and brackets for the repeat are thus normally only printed over the topmost staff. This can be adjusted by adding the Volta_engraver to the Staff context where the brackets should appear; see also the “Volta multi staff” snippet.

<<
  \new Staff { \repeat volta 2 { c'1 } \alternative { c' } }
  \new Staff { \repeat volta 2 { c'1 } \alternative { c' } }
  \new Staff \with { \consists "Volta_engraver" } { c'2 g' e' a' }
  \new Staff { \repeat volta 2 { c'1 } \alternative { c' } }
>>

[image of music]

Setting the double repeat default for volte

There are three different styles of double repeats for volte, that can be set using doubleRepeatType.

\relative c'' {
  \repeat volta 1 { c1 }
  \set Score.doubleRepeatType = #":..:"
  \repeat volta 1 { c1 }
  \set Score.doubleRepeatType = #":|.|:"
  \repeat volta 1 { c1 }
  \set Score.doubleRepeatType = #":|.:"
  \repeat volta 1 { c1 }
}

[image of music]

Alternative bar numbering

Two alternative methods for bar numbering can be set, especially for when using repeated music.

\relative c'{
  \set Score.alternativeNumberingStyle = #'numbers
  \repeat volta 3 { c4 d e f | }
    \alternative {
      { c4 d e f | c2 d \break }
      { f4 g a b | f4 g a b | f2 a | \break }
      { c4 d e f | c2 d }
    }
  c1 \break
  \set Score.alternativeNumberingStyle = #'numbers-with-letters
  \repeat volta 3 { c,4 d e f | }
    \alternative {
      { c4 d e f | c2 d \break }
      { f4 g a b | f4 g a b | f2 a | \break }
      { c4 d e f | c2 d }
    }
  c1
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: repeat, volta.

Notation Reference: Bar lines, Modifying context plug-ins, Modifying ties and slurs, Time administration.

Installed Files: ‘ly/engraver-init.ly’.

Snippets: Repeats.

Internals Reference: VoltaBracket, RepeatedMusic, VoltaRepeatedMusic, UnfoldedRepeatedMusic.

Known issues and warnings

Slurs that span from a \repeat block into an \alternative block will only work for the first alternative ending. The visual appearance of a continuing slur in other alternative blocks may be simulated with \repeatTie if the slur extends into only one note in the alternative block, although this method does not work in TabStaff. Other methods which may be tailored to indicate continuing slurs over several notes in alternative blocks, and which also work in TabStaff contexts, are shown in Modifying ties and slurs.

Also, slurs cannot wrap around from the end of one alternative back to the beginning of the repeat.

Glissandi that span from a \repeat block into an \alternative block will only work for the first alternative ending. The visual appearance of a continuing glissando in other alternative blocks may be indicated by coding a glissando starting on a hidden grace note. For an example, see “Extending glissandi across repeats” under Selected Snippets in Glissando.

If a repeat that begins with an incomplete measure has an \alternative block that contains modifications to the measureLength property, using \unfoldRepeats will result in wrongly-placed bar lines and bar check warnings.

A nested repeat like

\repeat …
\repeat …
\alternative

is ambiguous, since it is not clear to which \repeat the \alternative belongs. This ambiguity is resolved by always having the \alternative belong to the inner \repeat. For clarity, it is advisable to use braces in such situations.


Manual repeat marks

Note: These methods are only used for displaying unusual repeat constructs, and may produce unexpected behavior. In most cases, repeats should be created using the standard \repeat command or by printing the relevant bar lines. For more information, see Bar lines.

The property repeatCommands can be used to control the layout of repeats. Its value is a Scheme list of repeat commands.

start-repeat

Print a .|: bar line.

c1
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'(start-repeat)
d4 e f g
c1

[image of music]

As per standard engraving practice, repeat signs are not printed at the beginning of a piece.

end-repeat

Print a :|. bar line:

c1
d4 e f g
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'(end-repeat)
c1

[image of music]

(volta number) … (volta #f)

Create a new volta with the specified number. The volta bracket must be explicitly terminated, or it will not be printed.

f4 g a b
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta "2"))
g4 a g a
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta #f))
c1

[image of music]

Multiple repeat commands may occur at the same point:

f4 g a b
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta "2, 5") end-repeat)
g4 a g a
c1
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta #f) (volta "95") end-repeat)
b1
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta #f))

[image of music]

Text can be included with the volta bracket. The text can be a number or numbers or markup text, see Formatting text. The simplest way to use markup text is to define the markup first, then include the markup in a Scheme list.

voltaAdLib = \markup { 1. 2. 3... \text \italic { ad lib. } }
\relative c'' {
  c1
  \set Score.repeatCommands =
    #(list(list 'volta voltaAdLib) 'start-repeat)
  c4 b d e
  \set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta #f) (volta "4.") end-repeat)
  f1
  \set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta #f))
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Bar lines, Formatting text.

Snippets: Repeats.

Internals Reference: VoltaBracket, RepeatedMusic, VoltaRepeatedMusic.


Written-out repeats

By using the unfold command, repeats can be used to simplify the writing out of repetitious music. The syntax is

\repeat unfold repeatcount musicexpr

where musicexpr is a music expression and repeatcount is the number of times musicexpr is repeated.

\repeat unfold 2 { c4 d e f }
c1

[image of music]

In some cases, especially in a \relative context, the \repeat unfold function is not the same as writing out the music expression multiple times. E.g,

\repeat unfold 2 { a'4 b c }

is not equivalent to

a'4 b c | a'4 b c

Unfold repeats can be made with alternate endings.

\repeat unfold 2 { c4 d e f }
\alternative {
  { c2 g' }
  { c,2 b }
}
c1

[image of music]

If there are more repeats than there are alternate endings, the first alternative is applied multiple times until the remaining alternatives make up the total number of repeats.

\repeat unfold 4 { c4 d e f }
\alternative {
  { c2 g' }
  { c,2 b }
  { e2 d }
 }
c1

[image of music]

If there are more alternate endings than repeats then only the first alternatives are applied. The remaining alternatives will be ignored and not printed.

\repeat unfold 2 { c4 d e f }
\alternative {
  { c2 g' }
  { c,2 b }
  { e2 d }
}
c1

[image of music]

It is also possible to nest multiple unfold functions (with or without alternate endings).

\repeat unfold 2 {
  \repeat unfold 2 { c4 d e f }
  \alternative {
    { c2 g' }
    { c,2 b }
  }
}
c1

[image of music]

Chord constructs can be repeated by the chord repetition symbol q. See Chord repetition.

Note: If you include \relative inside a \repeat without explicitly instantiating the Voice context, extra (unwanted) staves will appear. See An extra staff appears.

See also

Notation Reference: Chord repetition.

Snippets: Repeats.

Internals Reference: RepeatedMusic, UnfoldedRepeatedMusic.


1.4.2 Short repeats

This section discusses how to input short repeats. Short repeats can take two forms: slashes or percent signs to represent repeats of a single note, a single measure or two measures, and tremolos otherwise.


Percent repeats

Repeated short patterns are printed once, and the repeated pattern is replaced with a special sign.

The syntax is

\repeat percent number musicexpr

where musicexpr is a music expression.

Patterns that are shorter than one measure are replaced by slashes.

\repeat percent 4 { c128 d e f }
\repeat percent 4 { c64 d e f }
\repeat percent 5 { c32 d e f }
\repeat percent 4 { c16 d e f }
\repeat percent 4 { c8 d }
\repeat percent 4 { c4 }
\repeat percent 2 { c2 }

[image of music]

Patterns of one or two measures are replaced by percent-like symbols.

\repeat percent 2 { c4 d e f }
\repeat percent 2 { c2 d }
\repeat percent 2 { c1 }

[image of music]

\repeat percent 3 { c4 d e f | c2 g' }

[image of music]

Patterns that are shorter than one measure but contain mixed durations use a double-percent symbol.

\repeat percent 4 { c8. <d f>16 }
\repeat percent 2 { \tuplet 3/2 { r8 c d } e4 }

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Percent repeat counter

Measure repeats of more than two repeats can get a counter when the convenient property is switched, as shown in this example:

\relative c'' {
  \set countPercentRepeats = ##t
  \repeat percent 4 { c1 }
}

[image of music]

Percent repeat count visibility

Percent repeat counters can be shown at regular intervals by setting the context property repeatCountVisibility.

\relative c'' {
  \set countPercentRepeats = ##t
  \set repeatCountVisibility = #(every-nth-repeat-count-visible 5)
  \repeat percent 10 { c1 } \break
  \set repeatCountVisibility = #(every-nth-repeat-count-visible 2)
  \repeat percent 6 { c1 d1 }
}

[image of music]

Isolated percent repeats

Isolated percents can also be printed.

makePercent =
#(define-music-function (parser location note) (ly:music?)
   "Make a percent repeat the same length as NOTE."
   (make-music 'PercentEvent
               'length (ly:music-length note)))

\relative c'' {
  \makePercent s1
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: percent repeat, simile.

Snippets: Repeats.

Internals Reference: RepeatSlash, RepeatSlashEvent, DoubleRepeatSlash, PercentRepeat, PercentRepeatCounter, PercentRepeatedMusic, Percent_repeat_engraver, DoublePercentEvent, DoublePercentRepeat, DoublePercentRepeatCounter, Double_percent_repeat_engraver, Slash_repeat_engraver.


Tremolo repeats

Tremolos can take two forms: alternation between two chords or two notes, and rapid repetition of a single note or chord. Tremolos consisting of an alternation are indicated by adding beams between the notes or chords being alternated, while tremolos consisting of the rapid repetition of a single note are indicated by adding beams or slashes to a single note.

To place tremolo marks between notes, use \repeat with tremolo style:

\repeat tremolo 8 { c16 d }
\repeat tremolo 6 { c16 d }
\repeat tremolo 2 { c16 d }

[image of music]

The \repeat tremolo syntax expects exactly two notes within the braces, and the number of repetitions must correspond to a note value that can be expressed with plain or dotted notes. Thus, \repeat tremolo 7 is valid and produces a double dotted note, but \repeat tremolo 9 is not.

The duration of the tremolo equals the duration of the braced expression multiplied by the number of repeats: \repeat tremolo 8 { c16 d16 } gives a whole note tremolo, notated as two whole notes joined by tremolo beams.

There are two ways to put tremolo marks on a single note. The \repeat tremolo syntax is also used here, in which case the note should not be surrounded by braces:

\repeat tremolo 4 c'16

[image of music]

The same output can be obtained by adding :N after the note, where N indicates the duration of the subdivision (it must be at least 8). If N is 8, one beam is added to the note’s stem. If N is omitted, the last value is used:

c2:8 c:32
c: c:

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Cross-staff tremolos

Since \repeat tremolo expects exactly two musical arguments for chord tremolos, the note or chord which changes staff within a cross-staff tremolo should be placed inside curly braces together with its \change Staff command.

\new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff = "up" \relative c'' {
    \key a \major
    \time 3/8
    s4.
  }
  \new Staff = "down" \relative c'' {
    \key a \major
    \time 3/8
    \voiceOne
    \repeat tremolo 6 {
      <a e'>32
      {
        \change Staff = "up"
        \voiceTwo
        <cis a' dis>32
      }
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Repeats.


1.5 Simultaneous notes

[image of music]

Polyphony in music refers to having more than one voice occurring in a piece of music. Polyphony in LilyPond refers to having more than one voice on the same staff.


1.5.1 Single voice

This section discusses simultaneous notes inside the same voice.


Chorded notes

A chord is formed by enclosing a set of pitches between < and >. A chord may be followed by a duration just like simple notes.

<a c e>1 <a c e>2 <f a c e>4 <a c>8. <g c e>16

[image of music]

Chords may also be followed by articulations, again just like simple notes.

<a c e>1\fermata <a c e>2-> <f a c e>4\prall <a c>8.^! <g c e>16-.

[image of music]

The notes within the chord themselves can also be followed by articulation and ornamentation.

<a c\prall e>1 <a-> c-^ e>2 <f-. a c-. e-.>4
<a-+ c-->8. <g\fermata c e\turn>16

[image of music]

However some notation, such as dynamics, hairpins and slurs must be attached to the chord, rather than notes within the chord, otherwise they will not print.

<a\f c( e>1 <a c) e>\f <a\< c e>( <a\! c e>)
<a c e>\< <a c e> <a c e>\!

[image of music]

A chord acts merely as a container for its notes, its articulations and other attached elements. Consequently, a chord without notes inside does not actually have a duration. Any attached articulations will happen at the same musical time as the next following note or chord and be combined with them (for more complex possibilities of combining such elements, see Simultaneous expressions):

\grace { g8( a b }
<> ) \p \< -. -\markup \italic "sempre staccato"
\repeat unfold 4 { c4 e }  c1\f

[image of music]

Relative mode can be used for pitches in chords. The first note of each chord is always relative to the first note of the chord that came before it, or in the case where no preceding chord exists, the pitch of the last note that came before the chord. All remaining notes in the chord are relative to the note that came before it within the same chord.

<a c e>1 <f a c> <a c e> <f' a c> <b, e b,>

[image of music]

For more information about chords, see Chord notation.

See also

Music Glossary: chord.

Learning Manual: Combining notes into chords.

Notation Reference: Chord notation, Articulations and ornamentations, Relative octave entry, Multiple voices.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.

Known issues and warnings

Chords containing more than two pitches within a staff space, such as ‘<e f! fis!>’, create overlapping noteheads. Depending on the situation, better representations might involve


Chord repetition

In order to save typing, a shortcut can be used to repeat the preceding chord. The chord repetition symbol is q:

<a c e>1 q <f a c>2 q

[image of music]

As with regular chords, the chord repetition symbol can be used with durations, articulations, markups, slurs, beams, etc. as only the pitches of the previous chord are duplicated.

<a c e>1\p^"text" q2\<( q8)[-! q8.]\! q16-1-2-3 q8\prall

[image of music]

The chord repetition symbol always remembers the last instance of a chord so it is possible to repeat the most recent chord even if other non-chorded notes or rests have been added since.

<a c e>1 c'4 q2 r8 q8 |
q2 c, |

[image of music]

However, the chord repetition symbol does not retain any dynamics, articulation or ornamentation within, or attached to, the previous chord.

<a-. c\prall e>1\sfz c'4 q2 r8 q8 |
q2 c, |

[image of music]

To have some of them retained, the \chordRepeats function can be be called explicitly with an extra argument specifying a list of event types to keep unless events of that type are already present on the q chord itself.

\relative c'' {
  \chordRepeats #'(articulation-event)
  { <a-. c\prall e>1\sfz c'4 q2 r8 q8-. } |
  q2 c, |
}

[image of music]

Here using \chordRepeats inside of a \relative construction produces unexpected results: once chord events have been expanded, they are indistinguishable from having been entered as regular chords, making \relative assign an octave based on their current context.

Since nested instances of \relative don’t affect one another, another \relative inside of \chordRepeats can be used for establishing the octave relations before expanding the repeat chords. In that case, the whole content of the inner \relative does not affect the outer one; hence the different octave entry of the final note in this example.

\new Voice
\relative c'' {
  \chordRepeats #'(articulation-event)
  \relative c''
  { <a-. c\prall e>1\sfz c'4 q2 r8 q8-. } |
  q2 c |
}

[image of music]

Interactions with \relative occur only with explicit calls of \chordRepeats: the implicit expansion at the start of typesetting is done at a time where all instances of \relative have already been processed.

See also

Notation Reference: Chord notation, Articulations and ornamentations.

Installed Files: ‘ly/chord-repetition-init.ly’.


Simultaneous expressions

One or more music expressions enclosed in double angle brackets are taken to be simultaneous. If the first expression begins with a single note or if the whole simultaneous expression appears explicitly within a single voice, the whole expression is placed on a single staff; otherwise the elements of the simultaneous expression are placed on separate staves.

The following examples show simultaneous expressions on one staff:

\new Voice {  % explicit single voice
  << { a4 b g2 } { d4 g c,2 } >>
}

[image of music]

% single first note
a << { a4 b g } { d4 g c, } >>

[image of music]

This can be useful if the simultaneous sections have identical rhythms, but attempts to attach notes with different durations to the same stem will cause errors. Notes, articulations, and property changes in a singleVoice’ are collected and engraved in musical order:

<a c>4-.  <>-. << c a >>  << { c-. <c a> } { a s-. } >>

[image of music]

Multiple stems or beams or different note durations or properties at the same musical time require the use of multiple voices.

The following example shows how simultaneous expressions can generate multiple staves implicitly:

% no single first note
<< { a4 b g2 } { d4 g2 c,4 } >>

[image of music]

Here different rhythms cause no problems because they are interpreted in different voices.

Known issues and warnings

If notes from two or more voices, with stems in the same direction, are placed at the same position on the staff and have no shift (or have the same shift specified), the message:

warning: ignoring too many clashing note columns

will appear during compilation. This message can be suppressed by:

\override NoteColumn.ignore-collision = ##t

However, this not only suppresses the warning but will prevent any collision resolution whatsover and may have other unintended effects (also see Known Issues in Collision resolution).


Clusters

A cluster indicates a continuous range of pitches to be played. They can be denoted as the envelope of a set of notes. They are entered by applying the function \makeClusters to a sequence of chords, e.g.,

\makeClusters { <g b>2 <c g'> }

[image of music]

Ordinary notes and clusters can be put together in the same staff, even simultaneously. In such a case no attempt is made to automatically avoid collisions between ordinary notes and clusters.

See also

Music Glossary: cluster.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.

Internals Reference: ClusterSpanner, ClusterSpannerBeacon, Cluster_spanner_engraver.

Known issues and warnings

Clusters look good only if they span at least two chords; otherwise they appear too narrow.

Clusters do not have a stem and cannot indicate durations by themselves, but the length of the printed cluster is determined by the durations of the defining chords. Separate clusters need a separating rest between them.

Clusters do not produce MIDI output.


1.5.2 Multiple voices

This section discusses simultaneous notes in multiple voices or multiple staves.


Single-staff polyphony

Explicitly instantiating voices

The basic structure needed to achieve multiple independent voices in a single staff is illustrated in the following example:

\new Staff <<
  \new Voice = "first"
    { \voiceOne r8 r16 g e8. f16 g8[ c,] f e16 d }
  \new Voice= "second"
    { \voiceTwo d16 c d8~ 16 b c8~ 16 b c8~ 16 b8. }
>>

[image of music]

Here, voices are instantiated explicitly and are given names. The \voiceOne\voiceFour commands set up the voices so that first and third voices get stems up, second and fourth voices get stems down, third and fourth voice note heads are horizontally shifted, and rests in the respective voices are automatically moved to avoid collisions. The \oneVoice command returns all the voice settings to the neutral default directions.

Temporary polyphonic passages

A temporary polyphonic passage can be created with the following construct:

<< { \voiceOne … }
  \new Voice { \voiceTwo … }
>> \oneVoice

Here, the first expression within a temporary polyphonic passage is placed into the Voice context which was in use immediately before the polyphonic passage, and that same Voice context continues after the temporary section. Other expressions within the angle brackets are assigned to distinct temporary voices. This allows lyrics to be assigned to one continuing voice before, during and after a polyphonic section:

<<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    a4
    <<
      {
        \voiceOne
        g f
      }
      \new Voice {
        \voiceTwo
        d2
      }
    >>
    \oneVoice
    e4
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
  This is my song.
  }
>>

[image of music]

Here, the \voiceOne and \voiceTwo commands are required to define the settings of each voice.

The double backslash construct

The << {…} \\ {…} >> construct, where the two (or more) expressions are separated by double backslashes, behaves differently to the similar construct without the double backslashes: all the expressions within this construct are assigned to new Voice contexts. These new Voice contexts are created implicitly and are given the fixed names "1", "2", etc.

The first example could be typeset as follows:

<<
  { r8 r16 g e8. f16 g8[ c,] f e16 d }
  \\
  { d16 c d8~ 16 b c8~ 16 b c8~ 16 b8. }
>>

[image of music]

This syntax can be used where it does not matter that temporary voices are created and then discarded. These implicitly created voices are given the settings equivalent to the effect of the \voiceOne\voiceFour commands, in the order in which they appear in the code.

In the following example, the intermediate voice has stems up, therefore we enter it in the third place, so it becomes voice three, which has the stems up as desired. Spacer rests are used to avoid printing doubled rests.

<<
  { r8 g g  g g f16 ees f8 d }
  \\
  { ees,8 r ees r d r d r }
  \\
  { d'8 s c s bes s a s }
>>

[image of music]

In all but the simplest works it is advisable to create explicit Voice contexts as explained in Contexts and engravers and Explicitly instantiating voices.

Voice order

When entering multiple voices in the input file, use the following order:

Voice 1: highest
Voice 2: lowest
Voice 3: second highest
Voice 4: second lowest
Voice 5: third highest
Voice 6: third lowest
etc.

Though this may seem counterintuitive, it simplifies the automatic layout process. Note that the odd-numbered voices are given upstems, and the even-numbered voices are given downstems:

\new Staff <<
  \time 2/4
  { f''2 }  % 1: highest
  \\
  { c'2  }  % 2: lowest
  \\
  { d''2 }  % 3: second-highest
  \\
  { e'2  }  % 4: second-lowest
  \\
  { b'2  }  % 5: third-highest
  \\
  { g'2  }  % 6: third-lowest
>>

[image of music]

Note: Lyrics, spanners (such as slurs, ties, hairpins etc.) cannot be created ‘across’ voices.

Identical rhythms

In the special case that we want to typeset parallel pieces of music that have the same rhythm, we can combine them into a single Voice context, thus forming chords. To achieve this, enclose them in a simple simultaneous music construct within an explicit voice:

\new Voice <<
  { e4 f8 d e16 f g8 d4 }
  { c4 d8 b c16 d e8 b4 }
>>

[image of music]

This method leads to strange beamings and warnings if the pieces of music do not have the same rhythm.

Predefined commands

\voiceOne, \voiceTwo, \voiceThree, \voiceFour, \oneVoice.

See also

Learning Manual: Voices contain music, Explicitly instantiating voices.

Notation Reference: Percussion staves, Invisible rests, Stems.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.


Voice styles

Voices may be given distinct colors and shapes, allowing them to be easily identified:

<<
  { \voiceOneStyle d4 c2 b4 }
  \\
  { \voiceTwoStyle e,2 e }
  \\
  { \voiceThreeStyle b2. c4 }
  \\
  { \voiceFourStyle g'2 g }
>>

[image of music]

The \voiceNeutralStyle command is used to revert to the standard presentation.

Predefined commands

\voiceOneStyle, \voiceTwoStyle, \voiceThreeStyle, \voiceFourStyle, \voiceNeutralStyle.

See also

Learning Manual: I'm hearing Voices, Other sources of information.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.


Collision resolution

The note heads of notes in different voices with the same pitch, same note head and opposite stem direction are automatically merged, but notes with different note heads or the same stem direction are not. Rests opposite a stem in a different voice are shifted vertically. The following example shows three different circumstances, on beats 1 and 3 in bar 1 and beat 1 in bar 2, where the automatic merging fails.

<<
  {
    c8 d e d c d c4
    g'2 fis
  } \\ {
    c2 c8. b16 c4
    e,2 r
  } \\ {
    \oneVoice
    s1
    e8 a b c d2
  }
>>

[image of music]

Notes with different note heads may be merged as shown below. In this example the note heads on beat 1 of bar 1 are now merged:

<<
  {
    \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn
    c8 d e d c d c4
    g'2 fis
  } \\ {
    c2 c8. b16 c4
    e,2 r
  } \\ {
    \oneVoice
    s1
    e8 a b c d2
  }
>>

[image of music]

Quarter and half notes are not merged in this way, since it would be difficult to tell them apart.

Note heads with different dots as shown in beat 3 of bar 1 may be also be merged:

<<
  {
    \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn
    \mergeDifferentlyDottedOn
    c8 d e d c d c4
    g'2 fis
  } \\ {
    c2 c8. b16 c4
    e,2 r
  } \\ {
    \oneVoice
    s1
    e8 a b c d2
  }
>>

[image of music]

The half note and eighth note at the start of the second measure are incorrectly merged because the automatic merge cannot successfully complete the merge when three or more notes line up in the same note column, and in this case the merged note head is incorrect. To allow the merge to select the correct note head a \shift must be applied to the note that should not be merged. Here, \shiftOn is applied to move the top g out of the column, and \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn then works properly.

<<
  {
    \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn
    \mergeDifferentlyDottedOn
    c8 d e d c d c4
    \shiftOn
    g'2 fis
  } \\ {
    c2 c8. b16 c4
    e,2 r
  } \\ {
    \oneVoice
    s1
    e8 a b c d2
  }
>>

[image of music]

The \shiftOn command allows (but does not force) the notes in a voice to be shifted. When \shiftOn is applied to a voice, a note or chord in that voice is shifted only if its stem would otherwise collide with a stem from another voice, and only if the colliding stems point in the same direction. The \shiftOff command prevents this type of shifting from occurring.

By default, the outer voices (normally voices one and two) have \shiftOff specified, while the inner voices (three and above) have \shiftOn specified. When a shift is applied, voices with upstems (odd-numbered voices) are shifted to the right, and voices with downstems (even-numbered voices) are shifted to the left.

Here is an example to help you visualize how an abbreviated polyphonic expression would be expanded internally.

Note: Note that with three or more voices, the vertical order of voices in your input file should not be the same as the vertical order of voices on the staff!

\new Staff \relative c'' {
  %% abbreviated entry
  <<
    { f2  }  % 1: highest
    \\
    { g,2 }  % 2: lowest
    \\
    { d'2 }  % 3: upper middle
    \\
    { b2  }  % 4: lower middle
  >>
  %% internal expansion of the above
  <<
    \new Voice = "1" { \voiceOne   \shiftOff f'2 }
    \new Voice = "2" { \voiceTwo   \shiftOff g,2 }
    \new Voice = "3" { \voiceThree \shiftOn  d'2 } % shifts right
    \new Voice = "4" { \voiceFour  \shiftOn  b2  } % shifts left
  >>
}

[image of music]

Two additional commands, \shiftOnn and \shiftOnnn provide further shift levels which may be specified temporarily to resolve collisions in complex situations – see Real music example.

Notes are only merged if they have opposing stem directions (as they have, for example, in voices one and two by default or when the stems are explicitly set in opposite directions).

Predefined commands

\mergeDifferentlyDottedOn, \mergeDifferentlyDottedOff, \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn, \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOff.

\shiftOn, \shiftOnn, \shiftOnnn, \shiftOff.

Selected Snippets

Additional voices to avoid collisions

In some instances of complex polyphonic music, additional voices are necessary to prevent collisions between notes. If more than four parallel voices are needed, additional voices can be added by defining a variable using the Scheme function context-spec-music.

voiceFive = #(context-spec-music (make-voice-props-set 4) 'Voice)

\relative c'' {
  \time 3/4
  \key d \minor
  \partial 2
  <<
    \new Voice  {
      \voiceOne
      a4. a8
      e'4 e4. e8
      f4 d4. c8
    }
    \new Voice {
      \voiceTwo
      d,2
      d4 cis2
      d4 bes2
    }
    \new Voice {
      \voiceThree
      f'2
      bes4 a2
      a4 s2
    }
    \new Voice {
      \voiceFive
      s2
      g4 g2
      f4 f2
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Forcing horizontal shift of notes

When the typesetting engine cannot cope, the following syntax can be used to override typesetting decisions. The units of measure used here are staff spaces.

\relative c' <<
  {
    <d g>2 <d g>
  }
  \\
  {
    <b f'>2
    \once \override NoteColumn.force-hshift = #1.7
    <b f'>2
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: polyphony.

Learning Manual: Multiple notes at once, Voices contain music, Real music example.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.

Internals Reference: NoteColumn, NoteCollision, RestCollision.

Known issues and warnings

Using \override NoteColumn.ignore-collision = ##t will cause differently headed notes in different voices to merge incorrectly.

\mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn
<< { c16 a' b a } \\ { c,2 } >>
\override NoteColumn.ignore-collision = ##t
<< { c16 a' b a } \\ { c,2 } >>

[image of music]


Automatic part combining

Automatic part combining is used to merge two separate parts of music onto a single staff. This can be especially helpful when typesetting orchestral scores. A single Voice is printed while the two parts of music are the same, but in places where they differ, a second Voice is printed. Stem directions are set up & down accordingly while Solo and a due parts are also identified and marked appropriately.

The syntax for automatic part combining is:

\partcombine musicexpr1 musicexpr2

The following example demonstrates the basic functionality, putting parts on a single staff as polyphony and setting stem directions accordingly. The same variables are used for the independent parts and the combined staff.

instrumentOne = \relative c' {
  c4 d e f |
  R1 |
  d'4 c b a |
  b4 g2 f4 |
  e1 |
}

instrumentTwo = \relative g' {
  R1 |
  g4 a b c |
  d4 c b a |
  g4 f( e) d |
  e1 |
}

<<
  \new Staff \instrumentOne
  \new Staff \instrumentTwo
  \new Staff \partcombine \instrumentOne \instrumentTwo
>>

[image of music]

Both parts have identical notes in the third measure, so only one instance of the notes is printed. Stem, slur, and tie directions are set automatically, depending on whether the parts are playing solo or in unison. When needed in polyphony situations, the first part (with context called one) gets “up” stems, while the second (called two) always gets “down” stems. In solo situations, the first and second parts get marked with “Solo” and “Solo II”, respectively. The unison (a due) parts are marked with the text “a2”.

Both arguments to \partcombine will be interpreted as separate Voice contexts, so if the music is being specified in relative mode then both parts must contain a \relative function, i.e.,

\partcombine
  \relative … musicexpr1
  \relative … musicexpr2

A \relative section that encloses a \partcombine has no effect on the pitches of musicexpr1 or musicexpr2.

In professional scores, voices are often kept apart from each other for long passages of music even if some of the notes are the same in both voices, and could just as easily be printed as unison. Combining notes into a chord, or showing one voice as solo is, therefore, not ideal as the \partcombine function considers each note separately. In this case the \partcombine function can be overriden with the following commands:

Commands ending in …Once apply only to the next note in the music expression.

instrumentOne = \relative c' {
  \partcombineApart c2^"apart" e |
  \partcombineAutomatic e2^"auto" e |
  \partcombineChords e'2^"chord" e |
  \partcombineAutomatic c2^"auto" c |
  \partcombineApart c2^"apart" \partcombineChordsOnce e^"chord once" |
  c2 c |
}
instrumentTwo = \relative c' {
  c2 c |
  e2 e |
  a,2 c |
  c2 c' |
  c2 c |
  c2 c |
}

<<
  \new Staff { \instrumentOne }
  \new Staff { \instrumentTwo }
  \new Staff { \partcombine \instrumentOne \instrumentTwo }
>>

[image of music]

Using \partcombine with lyrics

The \partcombine command is not designed to work with lyrics; if one of the voices is explicitly named in order to attach lyrics to it, the partcombiner will stop working. However, this effect can be achieved using a NullVoice context. See Polyphony with shared lyrics.

Selected Snippets

Combining two parts on the same staff

The part combiner tool ( \partcombine command ) allows the combination of several different parts on the same staff. Text directions such as “solo” or “a2” are added by default; to remove them, simply set the property printPartCombineTexts to f. For vocal scores (hymns), there is no need to add “solo/a2” texts, so they should be switched off. However, it might be better not to use it if there are any solos, as they won’t be indicated. In such cases, standard polyphonic notation may be preferable.

This snippet presents the three ways two parts can be printed on a same staff: standard polyphony, \partcombine without texts, and \partcombine with texts.

musicUp = \relative c'' {
  \time 4/4
  a4 c4.( g8) a4 |
  g4 e' g,( a8 b) |
  c b a2.
}

musicDown = \relative c'' {
  g4 e4.( d8) c4 |
  r2 g'4( f8 e) |
  d2 \stemDown a
}

\score {
  <<
    <<
    \new Staff {
      \set Staff.instrumentName = #"Standard polyphony"
      << \musicUp \\ \musicDown >>
    }
    \new Staff \with { printPartCombineTexts = ##f } {
      \set Staff.instrumentName = #"PartCombine without texts"
      \partcombine \musicUp \musicDown
    }
    \new Staff {
      \set Staff.instrumentName = #"PartCombine with texts"
      \partcombine \musicUp \musicDown
    }
    >>
  >>
  \layout {
    indent = 6.0\cm
    \context {
      \Score
      \override SystemStartBar.collapse-height = #30
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Changing partcombine texts

When using the automatic part combining feature, the printed text for the solo and unison sections may be changed:

\new Staff <<
  \set Staff.soloText = #"girl"
  \set Staff.soloIIText = #"boy"
  \set Staff.aDueText = #"together"
  \partcombine
    \relative c'' {
      g4 g r r
      a2 g
    }
    \relative c'' {
      r4 r a( b)
      a2 g
    }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: a due, part.

Notation Reference: Writing parts.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.

Internals Reference: PartCombineMusic, Voice.

Known issues and warnings

All \partcombine… functions can only accept two voices.

\partcombine… functions cannot be placed inside a \tuplet or \relative block.

If printPartCombineTexts is set and the two voices play the same notes “on and off”, in the same measure, the part combiner may typeset a2 more than once in that measure.

\partcombine only knows when a note starts in a Voice; it cannot, for example, remember if a note in one Voice has already started when combining notes that have just started in the other Voice. This can lead to a number of unexpected issues including “Solo” or “Unison” marks being printed incorrectly.

\partcombine keeps all spanners (slurs, ties, hairpins etc.) in the same Voice so that if any such spanners start or end in a different Voice, they may not be printed properly or at all.

If the \partcombine function cannot combine both music expressions (i.e. when both voices have different durations), it will give the voices, internally, its own custom names: one and two respectively. This means if there is any “switch” to a differently named Voice context, the events in that differently named Voice will be ignored.

Refer also to Known issues and warnings when using \partcombine with tablature in Default tablatures and the Note in Automatic beams when using automatic beaming.


Writing music in parallel

Music for multiple parts can be interleaved in input code. The function \parallelMusic accepts a list with the names of a number of variables to be created, and a musical expression. The content of alternate measures from the expression become the value of the respective variables, so you can use them afterwards to print the music.

Note: Bar checks | must be used, and the measures must be of the same length.

\parallelMusic #'(voiceA voiceB voiceC) {
  % Bar 1
  r8 g'16 c'' e'' g' c'' e'' r8 g'16 c'' e'' g' c'' e'' |
  r16 e'8.~   4              r16 e'8.~   4              |
  c'2                        c'2                        |

  % Bar 2
  r8 a'16 d'' f'' a' d'' f'' r8 a'16 d'' f'' a' d'' f'' |
  r16 d'8.~   4              r16 d'8.~   4              |
  c'2                        c'2                        |

}
\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff << \voiceA \\ \voiceB >>
  \new Staff { \clef bass \voiceC }
>>

[image of music]

Relative mode may be used. Note that the \relative command is not used inside \parallelMusic itself. The notes are relative to the preceding note in the voice, not to the previous note in the input – in other words, relative notes for voiceA ignore the notes in voiceB.

\parallelMusic #'(voiceA voiceB voiceC) {
  % Bar 1
  r8 g16 c e g, c e r8 g,16 c e g, c e  |
  r16 e8.~ 4        r16 e8.~  4         |
  c2                c                   |

  % Bar 2
  r8 a,16 d f a, d f r8 a,16 d f a, d f |
  r16 d8.~  4        r16 d8.~  4        |
  c2                 c                  |

 }
\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff << \relative c'' \voiceA \\ \relative c' \voiceB >>
  \new Staff \relative c' { \clef bass \voiceC }
>>

[image of music]

This works quite well for piano music. This example maps four consecutive measures to four variables:

global = {
  \key g \major
  \time 2/4
}

\parallelMusic #'(voiceA voiceB voiceC voiceD) {
  % Bar 1
  a8    b     c   d     |
  d4          e         |
  c16 d e fis d e fis g |
  a4          a         |

  % Bar 2
  e8      fis  g     a   |
  fis4         g         |
  e16 fis g  a fis g a b |
  a4           a         |

  % Bar 3 ...
}

\score {
  \new PianoStaff <<
     \new Staff {
       \global
       <<
         \relative c'' \voiceA
         \\
         \relative c'  \voiceB
       >>
     }
     \new Staff {
       \global \clef bass
       <<
         \relative c \voiceC
         \\
         \relative c \voiceD
       >>
     }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Learning Manual: Organizing pieces with variables.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.


1.6 Staff notation

[image of music]

This section explains how to influence the appearance of staves, how to print scores with more than one staff, and how to add tempo indications and cue notes to staves.


1.6.1 Displaying staves

This section describes the different methods of creating and grouping staves.


Instantiating new staves

Staves (singular: staff) are created with the \new or \context commands. For details, see Creating and referencing contexts.

The basic staff context is Staff:

\new Staff { c4 d e f }

[image of music]

The DrumStaff context creates a five-line staff set up for a typical drum set. Each instrument is shown with a different symbol. The instruments are entered in drum mode following a \drummode command, with each instrument specified by name. For details, see Percussion staves.

\new DrumStaff {
  \drummode { cymc hh ss tomh }
}

[image of music]

RhythmicStaff creates a single-line staff that only displays the rhythmic values of the input. Real durations are preserved. For details, see Showing melody rhythms.

\new RhythmicStaff { c4 d e f }

[image of music]

TabStaff creates a tablature with six strings in standard guitar tuning. For details, see Default tablatures.

\new TabStaff { c4 d e f }

[image of music]

There are two staff contexts specific for the notation of ancient music: MensuralStaff and VaticanaStaff. They are described in Pre-defined contexts.

The GregorianTranscriptionStaff context creates a staff to notate modern Gregorian chant. It does not show bar lines.

\new GregorianTranscriptionStaff { c4 d e f e d }

[image of music]

New single staff contexts may be defined. For details, see Defining new contexts.

See also

Music Glossary: staff, staves.

Notation Reference: Creating and referencing contexts, Percussion staves, Showing melody rhythms, Default tablatures, Pre-defined contexts, Staff symbol, Gregorian chant contexts, Mensural contexts, Defining new contexts.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: Staff, DrumStaff, GregorianTranscriptionStaff, RhythmicStaff, TabStaff, MensuralStaff, VaticanaStaff, StaffSymbol.


Grouping staves

Various contexts exist to group single staves together in order to form multi-stave systems. Each grouping context sets the style of the system start delimiter and the behavior of bar lines.

If no context is specified, the default properties will be used: the group is started with a vertical line, and the bar lines are not connected.

<<
  \new Staff { c1 c }
  \new Staff { c1 c }
>>

[image of music]

In the StaffGroup context, the group is started with a bracket and bar lines are drawn through all the staves.

\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff { c1 c }
  \new Staff { c1 c }
>>

[image of music]

In a ChoirStaff, the group starts with a bracket, but bar lines are not connected.

\new ChoirStaff <<
  \new Staff { c1 c }
  \new Staff { c1 c }
>>

[image of music]

In a GrandStaff, the group begins with a brace, and bar lines are connected between the staves.

\new GrandStaff <<
  \new Staff { c1 c }
  \new Staff { c1 c }
>>

[image of music]

The PianoStaff is identical to a GrandStaff, except that it supports printing the instrument name directly. For details, see Instrument names.

\new PianoStaff <<
  \set PianoStaff.instrumentName = #"Piano"
  \new Staff { c1 c }
  \new Staff { c1 c }
>>

[image of music]

Each staff group context sets the property systemStartDelimiter to one of the following values: SystemStartBar, SystemStartBrace, or SystemStartBracket. A fourth delimiter, SystemStartSquare, is also available, but it must be explicitly specified.

New staff group contexts may be defined. For details, see Defining new contexts.

Selected Snippets

Use square bracket at the start of a staff group

The system start delimiter SystemStartSquare can be used by setting it explicitly in a StaffGroup or ChoirStaff context.

\score {
  \new StaffGroup { <<
  \set StaffGroup.systemStartDelimiter = #'SystemStartSquare
    \new Staff { c'4 d' e' f' }
    \new Staff { c'4 d' e' f' }
  >> }
}

[image of music]

Display bracket with only one staff in a system

If there is only one staff in one of the staff types ChoirStaff or StaffGroup, by default the bracket and the starting bar line will not be displayed. This can be changed by overriding collapse-height to set its value to be less than the number of staff lines in the staff.

Note that in contexts such as PianoStaff and GrandStaff where the systems begin with a brace instead of a bracket, another property has to be set, as shown on the second system in the example.

\score {
  \new StaffGroup <<
    % Must be lower than the actual number of staff lines
    \override StaffGroup.SystemStartBracket.collapse-height = #4
    \override Score.SystemStartBar.collapse-height = #4
    \new Staff {
      c'1
    }
  >>
}
\score {
  \new PianoStaff <<
    \override PianoStaff.SystemStartBrace.collapse-height = #4
    \override Score.SystemStartBar.collapse-height = #4
    \new Staff {
      c'1
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Mensurstriche layout (bar lines between the staves)

The mensurstriche-layout where the bar lines do not show on the staves but between staves can be achieved with a StaffGroup instead of a ChoirStaff. The bar line on staves is blanked out by setting the transparent property.

global = {
  \hide Staff.BarLine
  s1 s
  % the final bar line is not interrupted
  \undo \hide Staff.BarLine
  \bar "|."
}
\new StaffGroup \relative c'' {
  <<
    \new Staff { << \global { c1 c } >> }
    \new Staff { << \global { c c } >> }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: brace, bracket, grand staff.

Notation Reference: Instrument names, Defining new contexts.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: Staff, StaffGroup, ChoirStaff, GrandStaff, PianoStaff, SystemStartBar, SystemStartBrace, SystemStartBracket, SystemStartSquare.

Known issues and warnings

PianoStaff does not, by default, accept ChordNames.


Nested staff groups

Staff-group contexts can be nested to arbitrary depths. In this case, each child context creates a new bracket adjacent to the bracket of its parent group.

\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff { c2 c | c2 c }
  \new StaffGroup <<
    \new Staff { g2 g | g2 g }
    \new StaffGroup \with {
      systemStartDelimiter = #'SystemStartSquare
    }
    <<
      \new Staff { e2 e | e2 e }
      \new Staff { c2 c | c2 c }
    >>
  >>
>>

[image of music]

New nested staff group contexts can be defined. For details, see Defining new contexts.

Selected Snippets

Nesting staves

The property systemStartDelimiterHierarchy can be used to make more complex nested staff groups. The command \set StaffGroup.systemStartDelimiterHierarchy takes an alphabetical list of the number of staves produced. Before each staff a system start delimiter can be given. It has to be enclosed in brackets and takes as much staves as the brackets enclose. Elements in the list can be omitted, but the first bracket takes always the complete number of staves. The possibilities are SystemStartBar, SystemStartBracket, SystemStartBrace, and SystemStartSquare.

\new StaffGroup
\relative c'' <<
  \set StaffGroup.systemStartDelimiterHierarchy
    = #'(SystemStartSquare (SystemStartBrace (SystemStartBracket a
                             (SystemStartSquare b)  ) c ) d)
  \new Staff { c1 }
  \new Staff { c1 }
  \new Staff { c1 }
  \new Staff { c1 }
  \new Staff { c1 }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Grouping staves, Instrument names, Defining new contexts.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: StaffGroup, ChoirStaff, SystemStartBar, SystemStartBrace, SystemStartBracket, SystemStartSquare.


Separating systems

If the number of systems per page changes from page to page it is customary to separate the systems by placing a system separator mark between them. By default the system separator is blank, but can be turned on with a \paper option.

\book {
  \score {
    \new StaffGroup <<
      \new Staff {
        \relative c'' {
          c4 c c c
          \break
          c4 c c c
        }
      }
      \new Staff {
        \relative c'' {
          c4 c c c
          \break
          c4 c c c
        }
      }
    >>
  }
  \paper {
    system-separator-markup = \slashSeparator
    % following commands are needed only to format this documentation
    paper-width = 100\mm
    paper-height = 100\mm
    tagline = ##f
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Page layout.

Snippets: Staff notation.


1.6.2 Modifying single staves

This section explains how to change specific attributes of one staff: for example, modifying the number of staff lines or the staff size. Methods to start and stop staves and set ossia sections are also described.


Staff symbol

The \stopStaff and \startStaff commands can be used to stop or (re)start the staff lines respectively, from being printed at any point witin a score.

\stopStaff f4 d \startStaff g, e
f'4 d \stopStaff g, e
f'4 d \startStaff g, e

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\startStaff, \stopStaff.

The lines of a staff belong to the StaffSymbol grob (including ledger lines) and can be modified using StaffSymbol properties, but these modifications must be made before the staff is (re)started.

The number of staff lines can be altered:

f4 d \stopStaff
\override Staff.StaffSymbol.line-count = #2
\startStaff g, e |

f'4 d \stopStaff
\revert Staff.StaffSymbol.line-count
\startStaff g, e |

[image of music]

The position of each staff line can also be altered. A list of numbers sets each line’s position. 0 corresponds to the normal center line, and the normal line positions are (-4 -2 0 2 4). A single staff line is printed for every value entered so that the number of staff lines, as well as their position, can be changed with a single override.

f4 d \stopStaff
\override Staff.StaffSymbol.line-positions = #'(1 3 5 -1 -3)
\startStaff g, e |
f'4 d \stopStaff
\override Staff.StaffSymbol.line-positions = #'(8 6.5 -6 -8 -0.5)
\startStaff g, e

[image of music]

To preserve typical stem directions (in the bottom half of the staff stems point up, in the top half they point down), align the center line (or space) of the customized staff with the position of the normal center line (0). The clef position and the position of middle C may need to be adjusted accordingly to fit the new lines. See Clef.

Staff line thickness can be altered. Ledger lines and note stems, by default, are also affected.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol.thickness = #3
}
{ f4 d g, e }

[image of music]

It is also possible to set ledger line thickness independently of staff lines.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol.thickness = #2
  \override StaffSymbol.ledger-line-thickness = #'(0.5 . 0.4)
}
{ f'4 a, a,, f }

[image of music]

The first value is multiplied by the staff line thickness, the second by the staff space and then the two values are added together to give the new thickness of the ledger line.

The vertical positions of ledger lines can be altered,

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol.ledger-positions = #'(-3 -2 -1 2 5 6)
}
{ f'4 a, a,, f }

[image of music]

Additional ledger lines can be made to appear above or below note heads depending on the current position relative to other note heads that also have their own ledger lines.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol.ledger-extra = #4
}
{ f'4 a, d, f, }

[image of music]

Ledger lines can also be made to appear inside the staff where custom staff lines are required. The example shows the default position of ledger lines when the explicit ledger-position is and is not set. The \stopStaff is needed in the example to revert the \override for the whole StaffSymbol.

\override Staff.StaffSymbol.line-positions = #'(-8 0 2 4)
d4 e f g
\stopStaff
\startStaff
\override Staff.StaffSymbol.ledger-positions = #'(-8 -6 (-4 -2) 0)
d4 e f g

[image of music]

The distance between staff lines can be altered. This affects ledger line spacing as well.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol.staff-space = #1.5
}
{ f'4 d, g, e, }

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Making some staff lines thicker than the others

For educational purposes, a staff line can be thickened (e.g., the middle line, or to emphasize the line of the G clef). This can be achieved by adding extra lines very close to the line that should be emphasized, using the line-positions property of the StaffSymbol object.

{
  \override Staff.StaffSymbol.line-positions =
    #'(-4 -2 -0.2 0 0.2 2 4)
  d'4 e' f' g'
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: line, ledger line, staff.

Notation Reference: Clef.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: StaffSymbol, staff-symbol-interface.


Ossia staves

Ossia staves can be set by creating a new simultaneous staff in the appropriate location:

\new Staff \relative c'' {
  c4 b d c
  <<
    { c4 b d c }
    \new Staff { e4 d f e }
  >>
  c4 b c2
}

[image of music]

However, the above example is not what is usually desired. To create ossia staves that are above the original staff, have no time signature or clef, and have a smaller font size, tweaks must be used. The Learning Manual describes a specific technique to achieve this goal, beginning with Nesting music expressions.

The following example uses the alignAboveContext property to align the ossia staff. This method is most appropriate when only a few ossia staves are needed.

\new Staff = "main" \relative c'' {
  c4 b d c
  <<
    { c4 b d c }

    \new Staff \with {
      \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
      alignAboveContext = #"main"
      fontSize = #-3
      \override StaffSymbol.staff-space = #(magstep -3)
      \override StaffSymbol.thickness = #(magstep -3)
      firstClef = ##f
    }
    { e4 d f e }
  >>
  c4 b c2
}

[image of music]

If many isolated ossia staves are needed, creating an empty Staff context with a specific context id may be more appropriate; the ossia staves may then be created by calling this context and using \startStaff and \stopStaff at the desired locations. The benefits of this method are more apparent if the piece is longer than the following example.

<<
  \new Staff = "ossia" \with {
    \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
    \hide Clef
    fontSize = #-3
    \override StaffSymbol.staff-space = #(magstep -3)
    \override StaffSymbol.thickness = #(magstep -3)
  }
  { \stopStaff s1*6 }

  \new Staff \relative c' {
    c4 b c2
    <<
      { e4 f e2 }
      \context Staff = "ossia" {
        \startStaff e4 g8 f e2 \stopStaff
      }
    >>
    g4 a g2 \break
    c4 b c2
    <<
      { g4 a g2 }
      \context Staff = "ossia" {
        \startStaff g4 e8 f g2 \stopStaff
      }
    >>
    e4 d c2
  }
>>

[image of music]

Using the \Staff \RemoveEmptyStaves command to create ossia staves may be used as an alternative. This method is most convenient when ossia staves occur immediately following a line break. For more information about \Staff \RemoveEmptyStaves, see Hiding staves.

<<
  \new Staff = "ossia" \with {
    \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
    \hide Clef
    fontSize = #-3
    \override StaffSymbol.staff-space = #(magstep -3)
    \override StaffSymbol.thickness = #(magstep -3)
  } \relative c'' {
    R1*3
    c4 e8 d c2
  }
  \new Staff \relative c' {
    c4 b c2
    e4 f e2
    g4 a g2 \break
    c4 b c2
    g4 a g2
    e4 d c2
  }
>>

\layout {
  \context {
    \Staff \RemoveEmptyStaves
    \override VerticalAxisGroup.remove-first = ##t
  }
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Vertically aligning ossias and lyrics

This snippet demonstrates the use of the context properties alignBelowContext and alignAboveContext to control the positioning of lyrics and ossias.

\paper {
  ragged-right = ##t
}

\relative c' <<
  \new Staff = "1" { c4 c s2 }
  \new Staff = "2" { c4 c s2 }
  \new Staff = "3" { c4 c s2 }
  { \skip 2
    <<
      \lyrics {
        \set alignBelowContext = #"1"
        lyrics4 below
      }
      \new Staff \with {
        alignAboveContext = #"3"
        fontSize = #-2
        \override StaffSymbol.staff-space = #(magstep -2)
        \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
      } {
        \tuplet 6/4 {
          \override TextScript.padding = #3
          c8[^"ossia above" d e d e f]
        }
      }
    >>
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: ossia, staff, Frenched staff.

Learning Manual: Nesting music expressions, Size of objects, Length and thickness of objects.

Notation Reference: Hiding staves.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: StaffSymbol.


Hiding staves

Staff lines can be hidden by removing the Staff_symbol_engraver from the Staff context. As an alternative, \stopStaff may be used.

\new Staff \with {
  \remove "Staff_symbol_engraver"
}
\relative c''' { a8 f e16 d c b a2 }

[image of music]

Empty staves can be hidden by setting the \Staff \RemoveEmptyStaves command in the \layout block. In orchestral scores, this style is known as ‘Frenched Score’. By default, this command hides and removes all empty staves in a score except for those in the first system.

Note: A staff is considered empty when it contains only multi-measure rests, rests, skips, spacer rests, or a combination of these elements.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Staff \RemoveEmptyStaves
  }
}

\relative c' <<
  \new Staff {
    e4 f g a \break
    b1 \break
    a4 b c2
  }
  \new Staff {
    c,4 d e f \break
    R1 \break
    f4 g c,2
  }
>>

[image of music]

\Staff \RemoveEmptyStaves can also be used to create ossia sections for a staff. For details, see Ossia staves.

The \VaticanaStaff \RemoveEmptyStaves command may be used to hide empty staves in ancient music contexts. Similarly, \RhythmicStaff \RemoveEmptyStaves may be used to hide empty RhythmicStaff contexts.

Predefined commands

\Staff \RemoveEmptyStaves, \VaticanaStaff \RemoveEmptyStaves, \RhythmicStaff \RemoveEmptyStaves.

Selected Snippets

Removing the first empty line

The first empty staff can also be removed from the score by setting the VerticalAxisGroup property remove-first. This can be done globally inside the \layout block, or locally inside the specific staff that should be removed. In the latter case, you have to specify the context (Staff applies only to the current staff) in front of the property.

The lower staff of the second staff group is not removed, because the setting applies only to the specific staff inside of which it is written.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Staff \RemoveEmptyStaves
    % To use the setting globally, uncomment the following line:
    % \override VerticalAxisGroup.remove-first = ##t
  }
}
\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff \relative c' {
    e4 f g a \break
    c1
  }
  \new Staff {
    % To use the setting globally, comment this line,
    % uncomment the line in the \layout block above
    \override Staff.VerticalAxisGroup.remove-first = ##t
    R1 \break
    R
  }
>>
\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff \relative c' {
    e4 f g a \break
    c1
  }
  \new Staff {
    R1 \break
    R
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: Frenched staff.

Learning Manual: Visibility and color of objects.

Notation Reference: Changing context default settings, Staff symbol, Ossia staves, Hidden notes, Invisible rests, Visibility of objects.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: ChordNames, FiguredBass, Lyrics, Staff, VerticalAxisGroup, Staff_symbol_engraver.

Known issues and warnings

Removing Staff_symbol_engraver also hides bar lines. If bar line visibility is forced, formatting errors may occur. In this case, use the following overrides instead of removing the engraver:

\omit StaffSymbol
\override NoteHead.no-ledgers = ##t

For the Known issues and warnings associated with \Staff \RemoveEmptyStaves see Changing context default settings.


1.6.3 Writing parts

This section explains how to insert tempo indications and instrument names into a score. Methods to quote other voices and format cue notes are also described.


Instrument names

Instrument names can be printed on the left side of staves in the Staff, PianoStaff, StaffGroup, GrandStaff and ChoirStaff contexts. The value of instrumentName is used for the first staff, and the value of shortInstrumentName is used for all succeeding staves.

\new Staff \with {
  instrumentName = #"Violin "
  shortInstrumentName = #"Vln. "
}
{ c4.. g'16 c4.. g'16 \break | c1 }

[image of music]

\markup can be used to create more complex instrument names:

\new Staff \with {
  instrumentName = \markup {
    \column { "Clarinetti"
      \line { "in B" \smaller \flat }
    }
  }
}
{ c4 c,16 d e f g2 }

[image of music]

When two or more staff contexts are grouped together, the instrument names and short instrument names are centered by default. To center multi-line instrument names, \center-column must be used:

<<
  \new Staff \with {
    instrumentName = #"Flute"
  }
  { f2 g4 f }
  \new Staff \with {
    instrumentName = \markup {
      \center-column { "Clarinet"
        \line { "in B" \smaller \flat }
      }
    }
  }
  { c4 b c2 }
>>

[image of music]

However, if the instrument names are longer, the instrument names in a staff group may not be centered unless the indent and short-indent settings are increased. For details about these settings, see \paper variables for shifts and indents.

\relative c'' {
  <<
    \new Staff \with {
      instrumentName = #"Alto Flute in G"
      shortInstrumentName = #"Flt."
    }
    {
      f2 g4 f \break
      g4 f g2
    }
    \new Staff \with {
      instrumentName = #"Clarinet"
      shortInstrumentName = #"Clar."
    }
    {
      c,4 b c2 \break
      c2 b4 c
    }
  >>
}

\layout {
  indent = 3.0\cm
  short-indent = 1.5\cm
}

[image of music]

To add instrument names to other contexts (such as ChordNames or FiguredBass), Instrument_name_engraver must be added to that context. For details, see Modifying context plug-ins.

The shortInstrumentName may be changed in the middle of a piece. However, only the first instance of instrumentName will be printed and subsequent changes will be ignored:

\new Staff \with {
  instrumentName = #"Flute"
  shortInstrumentName = #"Flt."
}
{
  c1 c c c \break
  c1 c c c \break
  \set Staff.instrumentName = #"Clarinet"
  \set Staff.shortInstrumentName = #"Clt."
  c1 c c c \break
  c1 c c c \break
}

[image of music]

If an instrument switch is needed, \addInstrumentDefinition may be used in combination with \instrumentSwitch to create a detailed list of the necessary changes for the switch. The \addInstrumentDefinition command has two arguments: an identifying string, and an association list of context properties and values to be used for the instrument. It must be placed in the toplevel scope. \instrumentSwitch is used in the music expression to declare the instrument switch:

\addInstrumentDefinition #"contrabassoon"
  #`((instrumentTransposition . ,(ly:make-pitch -1 0 0))
     (shortInstrumentName . "Cbsn.")
     (clefGlyph . "clefs.F")
     (middleCPosition . 6)
     (clefPosition . 2)
     (instrumentCueName . ,(make-bold-markup "cbsn."))
     (midiInstrument . "bassoon"))

\new Staff \with {
  instrumentName = #"Bassoon"
}
\relative c' {
  \clef tenor
  \compressFullBarRests
  c2 g'
  R1*16
  \instrumentSwitch "contrabassoon"
  c,,2 g \break
  c,1 ~ | 1
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: \paper variables for shifts and indents, Modifying context plug-ins.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: InstrumentName, PianoStaff, Staff.


Quoting other voices

It is very common for one voice to use the same notes as those from another voice. For example, first and second violins playing the same phrase during a particular passage of the music. This is done by letting one voice quote the other, without having to re-enter the music all over again for the second voice.

The \addQuote command, used in the top level scope, defines a stream of music from which fragments can be quoted.

The \quoteDuring command is used to indicate the point where the quotation begins. It is followed by two arguments: the name of the quoted voice, as defined with \addQuote, and a music expression for the duration of the quote.

fluteNotes = \relative c'' {
  a4 gis g gis | b4^"quoted" r8 ais\p a4( f)
}

oboeNotes = \relative c'' {
  c4 cis c b \quoteDuring #"flute" { s1 }
}

\addQuote "flute" { \fluteNotes }

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff \with { instrumentName = "Flute" } \fluteNotes
    \new Staff \with { instrumentName = "Oboe" } \oboeNotes
  >>
}

[image of music]

If the music expression used in \quoteDuring contains notes instead of spacer or multimeasure rests then the quote will appear as polyphony and may produce unexpected results.

fluteNotes = \relative c'' {
  a4 gis g gis | b4^"quoted" r8 ais\p a4( f)
}

oboeNotes = \relative c'' {
  c4 cis c b \quoteDuring #"flute" { e4 r8 ais b4 a }
}

\addQuote "flute" { \fluteNotes }

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff \with { instrumentName = "Flute" } \fluteNotes
    \new Staff \with { instrumentName = "Oboe" } \oboeNotes
  >>
}

[image of music]

The \quoteDuring command uses the \transposition settings of both quoted and quoting parts to produce notes for the quoting part that have the same sounding pitch as those in the quoted part.

clarinetNotes = \relative c'' {
  \transposition bes
  \key d \major
  b4 ais a ais | cis4^"quoted" r8 bis\p b4( f)
}

oboeNotes = \relative c'' {
  c4 cis c b \quoteDuring #"clarinet" { s1 }
}

\addQuote "clarinet" { \clarinetNotes }


\score {
  <<
    \new Staff \with { instrumentName = "Clarinet" } \clarinetNotes
    \new Staff \with { instrumentName = "Oboe" } \oboeNotes
  >>
}

[image of music]

By default quoted music will include all articulations, dynamics, markups, etc., in the quoted expression. It is possible to choose which of these objects from the quoted music are displayed by using the quotedEventTypes context property.

fluteNotes = \relative c'' {
  a2 g2 |
  b4\<^"quoted" r8 ais a4\f( c->)
 }

oboeNotes = \relative c'' {
  c2. b4 |
  \quoteDuring #"flute" { s1 }
}

\addQuote "flute" { \fluteNotes }

\score {
  <<
    \set Score.quotedEventTypes = #'(note-event articulation-event
                                     crescendo-event rest-event
                                     slur-event dynamic-event)
    \new Staff \with { instrumentName = "Flute" } \fluteNotes
    \new Staff \with { instrumentName = "Oboe" } \oboeNotes
  >>
 }

[image of music]

Quotes can also be tagged, see Using tags.

See also

Notation Reference: Instrument transpositions, Using tags.

Installed Files: ‘scm/define-event-classes.scm’.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: Music classes, QuoteMusic, Voice.

Known issues and warnings

Only the contents of the first Voice occurring in an \addQuote command will be considered for quotation, so if the music expression contains \new or \context Voice statements, their contents will not be quoted. Quoting grace notes is unsupported and may cause LilyPond to crash whereas quoting nested triplets may result in poor notation.


Formatting cue notes

The simplest way to format cue notes is to explicitly create a CueVoice context within the part.

R1
<<
  { e2\rest r4. e8 }
  \new CueVoice {
    \stemUp d'8^"flute" c d e fis2
  }
>>
d,4 r a r

[image of music]

The \cueClef command can also be used with an explict CueVoice context if a change of clef is required and will print an appropriately sized clef for the cue notes. The \cueClefUnset command can then be used to switch back to the original clef, again with an appropriately sized clef.

\clef "bass"
R1
<<
  { e2\rest r4. \cueClefUnset e,8 }
  \new CueVoice {
    \cueClef "treble" \stemUp d''8^"flute" c d e fis2
  }
>>
d,,4 r a r

[image of music]

The \cueClef and \cueClefUnset command can also be used without a CueVoice if required.

\clef "bass"
R1
\cueClef "treble"
d'8^"flute" c d e fis2
\cueClefUnset
d,,4 r a r

[image of music]

For more complex cue note placement, e.g including transposition, or inserting cue notes from multiple music sources the \cueDuring or \cueDuringWithClef commands can be used. These are more specialized form of \quoteDuring, see Quoting other voices in the previous section.

The syntax is:

\cueDuring #quotename #direction #music

and

\cueDuringWithClef #quotename #direction #clef #music

The music from the corresponding measures of the quote name is added as a CueVoice context and occurs simultaneously with the music, which then creates a polyphonic situation. The direction takes the argument UP or DOWN, and corresponds to the first and second voices respectively, determining how the cue notes are printed in relation to the other voice.

fluteNotes = \relative c'' {
  r2. c4 | d8 c d e fis2 | g2 d |
}

oboeNotes = \relative c'' {
  R1
  \new CueVoice { \set instrumentCueName = "flute" }
  \cueDuring #"flute" #UP { R1 }
  g2 c,
}

\addQuote "flute" { \fluteNotes }

\new Staff {
  \oboeNotes
}

[image of music]

It is possible to adjust which aspects of the music are quoted with \cueDuring by setting the quotedCueEventTypes property. Its default value is '(note-event rest-event tie-event beam-event tuplet-span-event), which means that only notes, rests, ties, beams and tuplets are quoted, but not articulations, dynamic marks, markup etc.

Note: When a Voice starts with cueDuring, as in the following example, the Voice context must be explicitly declared, or else the entire music expression would belong to the CueVoice context.

oboeNotes = \relative c'' {
  r2 r8 d16(\f f e g f a)
  g8 g16 g g2.
}
\addQuote "oboe" { \oboeNotes }

\new Voice \relative c'' {
  \set Score.quotedCueEventTypes = #'(note-event rest-event tie-event
                                      beam-event tuplet-span-event
                                      dynamic-event slur-event)
  \cueDuring #"oboe" #UP { R1 }
  g2 c,
}

[image of music]

The name of the instrument playing the cue can be printed by setting the instrumentCueName property in a temporary CueVoice context. The placement and style of the instrumentCueName is controlled by the InstrumentSwitch object, see Instrument names. If the cue notes require a change in clef, this can be done manually but the original clef should also be restored manually at the end of the cue notes.

fluteNotes = \relative c'' {
  r2. c4 d8 c d e fis2 g2 d2
}

bassoonNotes = \relative c {
  \clef bass
  R1
  \clef treble
  \new CueVoice { \set instrumentCueName = "flute" }
  \cueDuring #"flute" #UP { R1 }
  \clef bass
  g4. b8 d2
}

\addQuote "flute" { \fluteNotes }

\new Staff {
  \bassoonNotes
}

[image of music]

Alternatively, the \cueDuringWithClef function can be used instead. This command takes an extra argument to specify the change of clef that needs to be printed for the cue notes but will automatically print the original clef once the cue notes have finished.

fluteNotes = \relative c'' {
  r2. c4 d8 c d e fis2 g2 d2
}

bassoonNotes = \relative c {
  \clef bass
  R1
  \new CueVoice { \set instrumentCueName = "flute" }
  \cueDuringWithClef #"flute" #UP #"treble" { R1 }
  g4. b8 d2
}

\addQuote "flute" { \fluteNotes }

\new Staff {
  \bassoonNotes
}

[image of music]

Like \quoteDuring, \cueDuring takes instrument transpositions into account. Cue notes are produced at the pitches that would be written for the instrument receiving the cue to produce the sounding pitches of the source instrument.

To transpose cue notes differently, use \transposedCueDuring. This command takes an extra argument to specify (in absolute mode) the printed pitch that you want to represent the sound of a concert middle C. This is useful for taking cues from an instrument in a completely different register.

piccoloNotes = \relative c''' {
  \clef "treble^8"
  R1
  c8 c c e g2
  c4 g g2
}

bassClarinetNotes = \relative c' {
  \key d \major
  \transposition bes,
  d4 r a r
  \transposedCueDuring #"piccolo" #UP d { R1 }
  d4 r a r
}

\addQuote "piccolo" { \piccoloNotes }

<<
  \new Staff \piccoloNotes
  \new Staff \bassClarinetNotes
>>

[image of music]

The \killCues command removes cue notes from a music expression, so the same music expression can be used to produce the instrument part with cues and the score. The \killCues command removes only the notes and events that were quoted by \cueDuring. Other markup associated with cues, such as clef changes and a label identifying the source instrument, can be tagged for selective inclusion in the score; see Using tags.

fluteNotes = \relative c'' {
  r2. c4 d8 c d e fis2 g2 d2
}

bassoonNotes = \relative c {
  \clef bass
  R1
  \tag #'part {
    \clef treble
    \new CueVoice { \set instrumentCueName = "flute" }
  }
  \cueDuring #"flute" #UP { R1 }
  \tag #'part \clef bass
  g4. b8 d2
}

\addQuote "flute" { \fluteNotes }

\new Staff {
  \bassoonNotes
}

\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff {
    \fluteNotes
  }
  \new Staff {
    \removeWithTag #'part { \killCues { \bassoonNotes } }
  }
>>

[image of music]

Alternatively, Clef changes and instrument labels can be collected into an instrument definition for repeated use, using \addInstrumentDefinition described in Instrument names.

See also

Notation Reference: Quoting other voices, Instrument transpositions, Instrument names, Clef, Musical cues, Using tags.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: CueVoice, Voice.

Known issues and warnings

Collisions can occur with rests, when using \cueDuring, between Voice and CueVoice contexts. When using \cueDuringWithClef or \transposedCueDuring the extra argument required for each case must come after the quote and the direction.


1.7 Editorial annotations

[image of music]

This section discusses the various ways to change the appearance of notes and add analysis or educational emphasis.


1.7.1 Inside the staff

This section discusses how to add emphasis to elements that are inside the staff.


Selecting notation font size

The font size of notation elements may be altered. It does not change the size of variable symbols, such as beams or slurs.

Note: For font sizes of text, see Selecting font and font size.

\huge
c4.-> d8---3
\large
c4.-> d8---3
\normalsize
c4.-> d8---3
\small
c4.-> d8---3
\tiny
c4.-> d8---3
\teeny
c4.-> d8---3

[image of music]

Internally, this sets the fontSize property. This in turn causes the font-size property to be set in all layout objects. The value of font-size is a number indicating the size relative to the standard size for the current staff height. Each step up is an increase of approximately 12% of the font size. Six steps is exactly a factor of two. The Scheme function magstep converts a font-size number to a scaling factor. The font-size property can also be set directly, so that only certain layout objects are affected.

\set fontSize = #3
c4.-> d8---3
\override NoteHead.font-size = #-4
c4.-> d8---3
\override Script.font-size = #2
c4.-> d8---3
\override Stem.font-size = #-5
c4.-> d8---3

[image of music]

Font size changes are achieved by scaling the design size that is closest to the desired size. The standard font size (for font-size = #0) depends on the standard staff height. For a 20pt staff, a 10pt font is selected.

The font-size property can only be set on layout objects that use fonts. These are the ones supporting the font-interface layout interface.

Predefined commands

\teeny, \tiny, \small, \normalsize, \large, \huge.

See also

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: font-interface.


Fingering instructions

Fingering instructions can be entered using ‘note-digit’:

c4-1 d-2 f-4 e-3

[image of music]

Markup texts or strings may be used for finger changes.

c4-1 d-2 f\finger \markup \tied-lyric #"4~3" c\finger "2 - 3"

[image of music]

A thumb-script can be added (e.g. cello music) to indicate that a note should be played with the thumb.

<a_\thumb a'-3>2 <b_\thumb b'-3>

[image of music]

Fingerings for chords can also be added to individual notes by adding them after the pitches.

<c-1 e-2 g-3 b-5>2 <d-1 f-2 a-3 c-5>

[image of music]

Fingering instructions may be manually placed above or below the staff, see Direction and placement.

Selected Snippets

Controlling the placement of chord fingerings

The placement of fingering numbers can be controlled precisely. For fingering orientation to apply, you must use a chord construct <> even if it is a single note.

\relative c' {
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(left)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(down)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(down right up)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(up)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(left)
  <c-1>2
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(down)
  <e-3>2
}

[image of music]

Allowing fingerings to be printed inside the staff

By default, vertically oriented fingerings are positioned outside the staff. However, this behavior can be canceled. Note: you must use a chord construct <>, even if it is only a single note.

\relative c' {
  <c-1 e-2 g-3 b-5>2
  \override Fingering.staff-padding = #'()
  <c-1 e-2 g-3 b-5>4 <g'-0>
}

[image of music]

Avoiding collisions with chord fingerings

Fingerings and string numbers applied to individual notes will automatically avoid beams and stems, but this is not true by default for fingerings and string numbers applied to the individual notes of chords. The following example shows how this default behavior can be overridden.

\relative c' {
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(up)
  \set stringNumberOrientations = #'(up)
  \set strokeFingerOrientations = #'(up)

  % Default behavior
  r8
  <f c'-5>8
  <f c'\5>8
  <f c'-\rightHandFinger #2 >8

  % Corrected to avoid collisions
  r8
  \override Fingering.add-stem-support = ##t
  <f c'-5>8
  \override StringNumber.add-stem-support = ##t
  <f c'\5>8
  \override StrokeFinger.add-stem-support = ##t
  <f c'-\rightHandFinger #2 >8
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Direction and placement.

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: FingeringEvent, fingering-event, Fingering_engraver, New_fingering_engraver, Fingering.


Hidden notes

Hidden (or invisible or transparent) notes can be useful in preparing theory or composition exercises.

c4 d
\hideNotes
e4 f
\unHideNotes
g a
\hideNotes
b
\unHideNotes
c

[image of music]

Note heads, stems, and flags, and rests are invisible. Beams are invisible if they start on a hidden note. Objects that are attached to invisible notes are still visible.

e8(\p f g a)--
\hideNotes
e8(\p f g a)--

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\hideNotes, \unHideNotes.

See also

Learning Manual: Visibility and color of objects.

Notation Reference: Invisible rests, Visibility of objects, Hiding staves.

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: Note_spacing_engraver, NoteSpacing.


Coloring objects

Individual objects may be assigned colors. Valid color names are listed in the List of colors.

\override NoteHead.color = #red
c4 c
\override NoteHead.color = #(x11-color 'LimeGreen)
d
\override Stem.color = #blue
e

[image of music]

The full range of colors defined for X11 can be accessed by using the Scheme function x11-color. The function takes one argument; this can be a symbol in the form 'FooBar or a string in the form "FooBar". The first form is quicker to write and is more efficient. However, using the second form it is possible to access X11 colors by the multi-word form of its name.

If x11-color cannot make sense of the parameter then the color returned defaults to black.

\override Staff.StaffSymbol.color = #(x11-color 'SlateBlue2)
\set Staff.instrumentName = \markup {
  \with-color #(x11-color 'navy) "Clarinet"
}

gis8 a
\override Beam.color = #(x11-color "medium turquoise")
gis a
\override Accidental.color = #(x11-color 'DarkRed)
gis a
\override NoteHead.color = #(x11-color "LimeGreen")
gis a
% this is deliberate nonsense; note that the stems remain black
\override Stem.color = #(x11-color 'Boggle)
b2 cis

[image of music]

Exact RGB colors can be specified using the Scheme function rgb-color.

\override Staff.StaffSymbol.color = #(x11-color 'SlateBlue2)
\set Staff.instrumentName = \markup {
  \with-color #(x11-color 'navy) "Clarinet"
}

\override Stem.color = #(rgb-color 0 0 0)
gis8 a
\override Stem.color = #(rgb-color 1 1 1)
gis8 a
\override Stem.color = #(rgb-color 0 0 0.5)
gis4 a

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: List of colors, The \tweak command.

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Known issues and warnings

An X11 color is not necessarily exactly the same shade as a similarly named normal color.

Not all X11 colors are distinguishable in a web browser, i.e., a web browser might not display a difference between LimeGreen and ForestGreen. For web use normal colors are recommended (i.e., blue, green, red).

Notes in a chord cannot be colored with \override; use \tweak instead, see The \tweak command.


Parentheses

Objects may be parenthesized by prefixing \parenthesize to the music event. When prefixed to a chord, it parenthesizes every note. Individual notes inside a chord may also be parenthesized.

c2 \parenthesize d
c2 \parenthesize <c e g>
c2 <c \parenthesize e g>

[image of music]

Non-note objects may be parenthesized as well. For articulations, a hyphen is needed before the \parenthesize command.

c2-\parenthesize -. d
c2 \parenthesize r

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: Parenthesis_engraver, ParenthesesItem, parentheses-interface.

Known issues and warnings

Parenthesizing a chord prints parentheses around each individual note, instead of a single large parenthesis around the entire chord.


Stems

Whenever a note is found, a Stem object is created automatically. For whole notes and rests, they are also created but made invisible.

Stems may be manually placed to point up or down; see Direction and placement.

Predefined commands

\stemUp, \stemDown, \stemNeutral.

Selected Snippets

Default direction of stems on the center line of the staff

The default direction of stems on the center line of the staff is set by the Stem property neutral-direction.

\relative c'' {
  a4 b c b
  \override Stem.neutral-direction = #up
  a4 b c b
  \override Stem.neutral-direction = #down
  a4 b c b
}

[image of music]

Automatically changing the stem direction of the middle note based on the melody

LilyPond can alter the stem direction of the middle note on a staff so that it follows the melody, by adding the Melody_engraver to the Voice context and overriding the neutral-direction of Stem.

\relative c'' {
  \time 3/4
  \autoBeamOff
  a8 b g f b g |
  c b d c b c
}

\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    \consists "Melody_engraver"
    \override Stem.neutral-direction = #'()
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Direction and placement.

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: Stem_engraver, Stem, stem-interface.


1.7.2 Outside the staff

This section discusses how to add emphasis to elements in the staff from outside of the staff.


Balloon help

Elements of notation can be marked and named with the help of a square balloon. The primary purpose of this feature is to explain notation.

\new Voice \with { \consists "Balloon_engraver" }
{
  \balloonGrobText #'Stem #'(3 . 4) \markup { "I'm a Stem" }
  a8
  \balloonGrobText #'Rest #'(-4 . -4) \markup { "I'm a rest" }
  r
  <c, g'-\balloonText #'(-2 . -2) \markup { "I'm a note head" } c>2.
}

[image of music]

There are two music functions, balloonGrobText and balloonText; the former is used like \once \override to attach text to any grob, and the latter is used like \tweak, typically within chords, to attach text to an individual note.

Balloon text does not influence note spacing, but this can be altered:

\new Voice \with { \consists "Balloon_engraver" }
{
  \balloonGrobText #'Stem #'(3 . 4) \markup { "I'm a Stem" }
  a8
  \balloonGrobText #'Rest #'(-4 . -4) \markup { "I'm a rest" }
  r
  \balloonLengthOn
  <c, g'-\balloonText #'(-2 . -2) \markup { "I'm a note head" } c>2.
}

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\balloonLengthOn, \balloonLengthOff.

See also

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: Balloon_engraver, BalloonTextItem, balloon-interface.


Grid lines

Vertical lines can be drawn between staves synchronized with the notes.

The Grid_point_engraver must be used to create the end points of the lines, while the Grid_line_span_engraver must be used to actually draw the lines. By default this centers grid lines horizontally below and to the left side of each note head. Grid lines extend from the middle lines of each staff. The gridInterval must specify the duration between the grid lines.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Staff
    \consists "Grid_point_engraver"
    gridInterval = #(ly:make-moment 1/4)
  }
  \context {
    \Score
    \consists "Grid_line_span_engraver"
  }
}

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff <<
    \new Staff \relative c'' {
      \stemUp
      c4. d8 e8 f g4
    }
    \new Staff \relative c {
      \clef bass
      \stemDown
      c4 g' f e
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Grid lines: changing their appearance

The appearance of grid lines can be changed by overriding some of their properties.

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff <<
    \new Staff {
      \relative c'' {
        \stemUp
        c'4. d8 e8 f g4
      }
    }
    \new Staff {
      \relative c {
        % this moves them up one staff space from the default position
        \override Score.GridLine.extra-offset = #'(0.0 . 1.0)
        \stemDown
        \clef bass
        \once \override Score.GridLine.thickness = #5.0
        c4
        \once \override Score.GridLine.thickness = #1.0
        g'4
        \once \override Score.GridLine.thickness = #3.0
        f4
        \once \override Score.GridLine.thickness = #5.0
        e4
      }
    }
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Staff
      % set up grids
      \consists "Grid_point_engraver"
      % set the grid interval to one quarter note
      gridInterval = #(ly:make-moment 1/4)
    }
    \context {
      \Score
      \consists "Grid_line_span_engraver"
      % this moves them to the right half a staff space
      \override NoteColumn.X-offset = #-0.5
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: Grid_line_span_engraver, Grid_point_engraver, GridLine, GridPoint, grid-line-interface, grid-point-interface.


Analysis brackets

Brackets are used in musical analysis to indicate structure in musical pieces. Simple horizontal brackets are supported.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    \consists "Horizontal_bracket_engraver"
  }
}
\relative c'' {
  c2\startGroup
  d\stopGroup
}

[image of music]

Analysis brackets may be nested.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    \consists "Horizontal_bracket_engraver"
  }
}
\relative c'' {
  c4\startGroup\startGroup
  d4\stopGroup
  e4\startGroup
  d4\stopGroup\stopGroup
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: Horizontal_bracket_engraver, HorizontalBracket, horizontal-bracket-interface, Staff.


1.8 Text

[image of music]

This section explains how to include text (with various formatting) in music scores.

Some text elements that are not dealt with here are discussed in other specific sections: Vocal music, Titles and headers.


1.8.1 Writing text

This section introduces different ways of adding text to a score.

Note: To write accented and special text (such as characters from other languages), simply insert the characters directly into the LilyPond file. The file must be saved as UTF-8. For more information, see Text encoding.


Text scripts

Simple “quoted text” indications may be added to a score, as demonstrated in the following example. Such indications may be manually placed above or below the staff, using the syntax described in Direction and placement.

a8^"pizz." g f e a4-"scherz." f

[image of music]

This syntax is actually a shorthand; more complex text formatting may be added to a note by explicitly using a \markup block, as described in Formatting text.

a8^\markup { \italic pizz. } g f e
a4_\markup { \tiny scherz. \bold molto } f

[image of music]

By default, text indications do not influence the note spacing. However, their widths can be taken into account: in the following example, the first text string does not affect spacing, whereas the second one does.

a8^"pizz." g f e
\textLengthOn
a4_"scherzando" f

[image of music]

In addition to text scripts, articulations can be attached to notes. For more information, see Articulations and ornamentations.

For more information about the relative ordering of text scripts and articulations, see Placement of objects.

Predefined commands

\textLengthOn, \textLengthOff.

See also

Learning Manual: Placement of objects.

Notation Reference: Formatting text, Direction and placement, Articulations and ornamentations.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.

Known issues and warnings

Checking to make sure that text scripts and lyrics are within the margins requires additonal calculations. In cases where slightly faster performance is desired, use

\override Score.PaperColumn.keep-inside-line = ##f

Text spanners

Some performance indications, e.g., rallentando or accelerando, are written as text and are extended over multiple notes with dotted lines. Such objects, called “spanners”, may be created from one note to another using the following syntax:

\override TextSpanner.bound-details.left.text = "rit."
b1\startTextSpan
e,\stopTextSpan

[image of music]

The string to be printed is set through object properties. By default it is printed in italic characters, but different formatting can be obtained using \markup blocks, as described in Formatting text.

\override TextSpanner.bound-details.left.text =
  \markup { \upright "rit." }
b1\startTextSpan c
e,\stopTextSpan

[image of music]

The line style, as well as the text string, can be defined as an object property. This syntax is described in Line styles.

Predefined commands

\textSpannerUp, \textSpannerDown, \textSpannerNeutral.

Known issues and warnings

LilyPond is only able to handle one text spanner per voice.

Selected Snippets

Dynamics text spanner postfix

Custom text spanners can be defined and used with hairpin and text crescendos. \< and \> produce hairpins by default, \cresc etc. produce text spanners by default.

% Some sample text dynamic spanners, to be used as postfix operators
crpoco =
#(make-music 'CrescendoEvent
             'span-direction START
             'span-type 'text
             'span-text "cresc. poco a poco")

\relative c' {
  c4\cresc d4 e4 f4 |
  g4 a4\! b4\crpoco c4 |
  c4 d4 e4 f4 |
  g4 a4\! b4\< c4 |
  g4\dim a4 b4\decresc c4\!
}

[image of music]

Dynamics custom text spanner postfix

Postfix functions for custom crescendo text spanners. The spanners should start on the first note of the measure. One has to use -\mycresc, otherwise the spanner start will rather be assigned to the next note.

% Two functions for (de)crescendo spanners where you can explicitly give the
% spanner text.
mycresc =
#(define-music-function (parser location mymarkup) (markup?)
   (make-music 'CrescendoEvent
               'span-direction START
               'span-type 'text
               'span-text mymarkup))
mydecresc =
#(define-music-function (parser location mymarkup) (markup?)
   (make-music 'DecrescendoEvent
               'span-direction START
               'span-type 'text
               'span-text mymarkup))

\relative c' {
  c4-\mycresc "custom cresc" c4 c4 c4 |
  c4 c4 c4 c4 |
  c4-\mydecresc "custom decresc" c4 c4 c4 |
  c4 c4\! c4 c4
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Line styles, Dynamics, Formatting text.

Snippets: Text, Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: TextSpanner.


Text marks

Various text elements may be added to a score using the syntax described in Rehearsal marks:

c4
\mark "Allegro"
c c c

[image of music]

This syntax makes it possible to put any text on a bar line; more complex text formatting may be added using a \markup block, as described in Formatting text:

<c e>1
\mark \markup { \italic { colla parte } }
<d f>2 <e g>
<c f aes>1

[image of music]

This syntax also allows to print special signs, like coda, segno or fermata, by specifying the appropriate symbol name as explained in Music notation inside markup:

<bes f>2 <aes d>
\mark \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts.ufermata" }
<e g>1

[image of music]

Such objects are only typeset above the top staff of the score; depending on whether they are specified at the end or the middle of a bar, they can be placed above the bar line or between notes. When specified at a line break, the mark will be printed at the beginning of the next line.

\mark "Allegro"
c1 c
\mark "assai" \break
c  c

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\markLengthOn, \markLengthOff.

Selected Snippets

Printing marks at the end of a line

Marks can be printed at the end of the current line, instead of the beginning of the following line. In such cases, it might be preferable to align the right end of the mark with the bar line.

\relative c'' {
  g2 c
  d,2 a'
  \once \override Score.RehearsalMark.break-visibility = #end-of-line-visible
  \once \override Score.RehearsalMark.self-alignment-X = #RIGHT
  \mark "D.C. al Fine"
  \break
  g2 b,
  c1 \bar "||"
}

[image of music]

Printing marks on every staff

Although text marks are normally only printed above the topmost staff, they may also be printed on every staff.

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff { c''1 \mark "molto" c'' }
    \new Staff { c'1 \mark "molto" c' }
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Score
      \remove "Mark_engraver"
      \remove "Staff_collecting_engraver"
    }
    \context {
      \Staff
      \consists "Mark_engraver"
      \consists "Staff_collecting_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Rehearsal marks, Formatting text, Music notation inside markup, The Feta font.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: MarkEvent, Mark_engraver, RehearsalMark.


Separate text

A \markup block can exist by itself, outside of any \score block, as a “top-level expression”. This syntax is described in File structure.

\markup {
  Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...
}

[image of music]

This allows printing text separately from the music, which is particularly useful when the input file contains several music pieces, as described in Multiple scores in a book.

\score {
  c'1
}
\markup {
  Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...
}
\score {
  c'1
}

[image of music]

Separate text blocks can be spread over multiple pages, making it possible to print text documents or books entirely within LilyPond. This feature, and the specific syntax it requires, are described in Multi-page markup.

Predefined commands

\markup, \markuplist.

Selected Snippets

Stand-alone two-column markup

Stand-alone text may be arranged in several columns using \markup commands:

\markup {
  \fill-line {
    \hspace #1
    \column {
      \line { O sacrum convivium }
      \line { in quo Christus sumitur, }
      \line { recolitur memoria passionis ejus, }
      \line { mens impletur gratia, }
      \line { futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur. }
      \line { Amen. }
    }
    \hspace #2
    \column \italic {
      \line { O sacred feast }
      \line { in which Christ is received, }
      \line { the memory of His Passion is renewed, }
      \line { the mind is filled with grace, }
      \line { and a pledge of future glory is given to us. }
      \line { Amen. }
    }
    \hspace #1
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Formatting text, File structure, Multiple scores in a book, Multi-page markup.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.


1.8.2 Formatting text

This section presents basic and advanced text formatting, using the \markup mode specific syntax.


Text markup introduction

A \markup block is used to typeset text with an extensible syntax called “markup mode”.

The markup syntax is similar to LilyPond’s usual syntax: a \markup expression is enclosed in curly braces {… }. A single word is regarded as a minimal expression, and therefore does not need to be enclosed with braces.

Unlike simple “quoted text” indications, \markup blocks may contain nested expressions or markup commands, entered using the backslash \ character. Such commands only affect the first following expression.

a1-\markup intenso
a2^\markup { poco \italic più forte  }
c e1
d2_\markup { \italic "string. assai" }
e
b1^\markup { \bold { molto \italic  agitato } }
c

[image of music]

A \markup block may also contain quoted text strings. Such strings are treated as minimal text expressions, and therefore any markup command or special character (such as \ and #) will be printed verbatim without affecting the formatting of the text. Double quotation marks themselves may be printed by preceding them with backslashes.

a1^"\italic markup..."
a_\markup { \italic "... prints \"italic\" letters!" }
a a

[image of music]

To be treated as a distinct expression, a list of words needs to be enclosed with double quotes or preceded by a command. The way markup expressions are defined affects how these expressions will be stacked, centered and aligned; in the following example, the second \markup expression is treated the same as the first one:

c1^\markup { \center-column { a bbb c } }
c1^\markup { \center-column { a { bbb c } } }
c1^\markup { \center-column { a \line { bbb c } } }
c1^\markup { \center-column { a "bbb c" } }

[image of music]

Markups can be stored in variables. Such variables may be directly attached to notes:

allegro = \markup { \bold \large Allegro }

{
  d''8.^\allegro
  d'16 d'4 r2
}

[image of music]

An exhaustive list of \markup-specific commands can be found in Text markup commands.

See also

Notation Reference: Text markup commands.

Snippets: Text.

Installed Files: ‘scm/markup.scm’.

Known issues and warnings

Syntax errors for markup mode can be confusing.


Selecting font and font size

Basic font switching is supported in markup mode:

d1^\markup {
  \bold { Più mosso }
  \italic { non troppo \underline Vivo }
}
r2 r4 r8
d,_\markup { \italic quasi \smallCaps Tromba }
f1 d2 r

[image of music]

The font size can be altered, relative to the global staff size, in a number of different ways

It can be set to predefined size,

b1_\markup { \huge Sinfonia }
b1^\markup { \teeny da }
b1-\markup { \normalsize camera }

[image of music]

It can be set relative to its previous value,

b1_\markup { \larger Sinfonia }
b1^\markup { \smaller da }
b1-\markup { \magnify #0.6  camera }

[image of music]

It can be increased or decreased relative to the value set by the global staff size,

b1_\markup { \fontsize #-2 Sinfonia }
b1^\markup { \fontsize #1 da }
b1-\markup { \fontsize #3 camera }

[image of music]

It can also be set to a fixed point-size, regardless of the global staff size,

b1_\markup { \abs-fontsize #20 Sinfonia }
b1^\markup { \abs-fontsize #8 da }
b1-\markup { \abs-fontsize #14 camera }

[image of music]

Text may be printed as subscript or superscript. By default these are printed in a smaller size, but a normal size can be used as well:

\markup {
  \column {
    \line { 1 \super st movement }
    \line { 1 \normal-size-super st movement
      \sub { (part two) }  }
  }
}

[image of music]

The markup mode provides an easy way to select alternate font families. The default serif font, of roman type, is automatically selected unless specified otherwise; on the last line of the following example, there is no difference between the first and the second word.

\markup {
  \column {
    \line { Act \number 1 }
    \line { \sans { Scene I. } }
    \line { \typewriter { Verona. An open place. } }
    \line { Enter \roman Valentine and Proteus. }
  }
}

[image of music]

Some of these font families, used for specific items such as numbers or dynamics, do not provide all characters, as mentioned in New dynamic marks and Manual repeat marks.

When used inside a word, some font-switching or formatting commands may produce an unwanted blank space. This can easily be solved by concatenating the text elements together:

\markup {
  \column {
    \line {
      \concat { 1 \super st }
      movement
    }
    \line {
      \concat { \dynamic p , }
      \italic { con dolce espressione }
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

An exhaustive list of font switching commands and custom font usage commands can be found in Font.

Defining custom font sets is also possible, as explained in Fonts.

Predefined commands

\teeny, \tiny, \small, \normalsize, \large, \huge, \smaller, \larger.

See also

Notation Reference: Font, New dynamic marks, Manual repeat marks, Fonts.

Installed Files: ‘scm/define-markup-commands.scm’.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.

Known issues and warnings

Using the font sizing commands \teeny, \tiny, \small, \normalsize, \large, and \huge will lead to inconsistent line spacing compared to using \fontsize.


Text alignment

This subsection discusses how to place text in markup mode. Markup objects can also be moved as a whole, using the syntax described in Moving objects.

Markup objects may be aligned in different ways. By default, a text indication is aligned on its left edge: in the following example, there is no difference between the first and the second markup.

d1-\markup { poco }
f
d-\markup { \left-align poco }
f
d-\markup { \center-align { poco } }
f
d-\markup { \right-align poco }

[image of music]

Horizontal alignment may be fine-tuned using a numeric value:

a1-\markup { \halign #-1 poco }
e'
a,-\markup { \halign #0 poco }
e'
a,-\markup { \halign #0.5 poco }
e'
a,-\markup { \halign #2 poco }

[image of music]

Some objects may have alignment procedures of their own, and therefore are not affected by these commands. It is possible to move such markup objects as a whole, as shown for instance in Text marks.

Vertical alignment is a bit more complex. As stated above, markup objects can be moved as a whole; however, it is also possible to move specific elements inside a markup block. In this case, the element to be moved needs to be preceded with an anchor point, that can be another markup element or an invisible object. The following example demonstrates these two possibilities; the last markup in this example has no anchor point, and therefore is not moved.

d2^\markup {
  Acte I
  \raise #2 { Scène 1 }
}
a'
g_\markup {
  \null
  \lower #4 \bold { Très modéré }
}
a
d,^\markup {
  \raise #4 \italic { Une forêt. }
}
a'4 a g2 a

[image of music]

Some commands can affect both the horizontal and vertical alignment of text objects in markup mode. Any object affected by these commands must be preceded with an anchor point:

d2^\markup {
  Acte I
  \translate #'(-1 . 2) "Scène 1"
}
a'
g_\markup {
  \null
  \general-align #Y #3.2 \bold "Très modéré"
}
a
d,^\markup {
  \null
  \translate-scaled #'(-1 . 2) \teeny "Une forêt."
}
a'4 a g2 a

[image of music]

A markup object may include several lines of text. In the following example, each element or expression is placed on its own line, either left-aligned or centered:

\markup {
  \column {
    a
    "b c"
    \line { d e f }
  }
  \hspace #10
  \center-column {
    a
    "b c"
    \line { d e f }
  }
}

[image of music]

Similarly, a list of elements or expressions may be spread to fill the entire horizontal line width (if there is only one element, it will be centered on the page). These expressions can, in turn, include multi-line text or any other markup expression:

\markup {
  \fill-line {
    \line { William S. Gilbert }
    \center-column {
      \huge \smallCaps "The Mikado"
      or
      \smallCaps "The Town of Titipu"
    }
    \line { Sir Arthur Sullivan }
  }
}
\markup {
  \fill-line { 1885 }
}

[image of music]

Long text indications can also be automatically wrapped accordingly to the given line width. These will be either left-aligned or justified, as shown in the following example.

\markup {
  \column {
    \line  \smallCaps { La vida breve }
    \line \bold { Acto I }
    \wordwrap \italic {
      (La escena representa el corral de una casa de
      gitanos en el Albaicín de Granada.  Al fondo una
      puerta por la que se ve el negro interior de
      una Fragua, iluminado por los rojos resplandores
      del fuego.)
    }
    \hspace #0

    \line \bold { Acto II }
    \override #'(line-width . 50)
    \justify \italic {
      (Calle de Granada.  Fachada de la casa de Carmela
      y su hermano Manuel con grandes ventanas abiertas
      a través de las que se ve el patio
      donde se celebra una alegre fiesta)
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

An exhaustive list of text alignment commands can be found in Align.

See also

Learning Manual: Moving objects.

Notation Reference: Align, Text marks.

Installed Files: ‘scm/define-markup-commands.scm’.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.


Graphic notation inside markup

Various graphic objects may be added to a score, using markup commands.

Some markup commands allow decoration of text elements with graphics, as demonstrated in the following example.

\markup \fill-line {
  \center-column {
    \circle Jack
    \box "in the box"
    \null
    \line {
      Erik Satie
      \hspace #3
      \bracket "1866 - 1925"
    }
    \null
    \rounded-box \bold Prelude
  }
}

[image of music]

Some commands may require an increase in the padding around the text; this is achieved with some markup commands exhaustively described in Align.

\markup \fill-line {
  \center-column {
    \box "Charles Ives (1874 - 1954)"
    \null
    \box \pad-markup #2 "THE UNANSWERED QUESTION"
    \box \pad-x #8 "A Cosmic Landscape"
    \null
  }
}
\markup \column {
  \line {
    \hspace #10
    \box \pad-to-box #'(-5 . 20) #'(0 . 5)
      \bold "Largo to Presto"
  }
  \pad-around #3
      "String quartet keeps very even time,
Flute quartet keeps very uneven time."
}

[image of music]

Other graphic elements or symbols may be printed without requiring any text. As with any markup expression, such objects can be combined.

\markup {
  \combine
    \draw-circle #4 #0.4 ##f
    \filled-box #'(-4 . 4) #'(-0.5 . 0.5) #1
  \hspace #5

  \center-column {
    \triangle ##t
    \combine
      \draw-line #'(0 . 4)
      \arrow-head #Y #DOWN ##f
  }
}

[image of music]

Advanced graphic features include the ability to include external image files converted to the Encapsulated PostScript format (eps), or to directly embed graphics into the input file, using native PostScript code. In such a case, it may be useful to explicitly specify the size of the drawing, as demonstrated below:

c1^\markup {
  \combine
    \epsfile #X #10 #"./context-example.eps"
    \with-dimensions #'(0 . 6) #'(0 . 10)
    \postscript #"
      -2 3 translate
      2.7 2 scale
      newpath
      2 -1 moveto
      4 -2 4 1 1 arct
      4 2 3 3 1 arct
      0 4 0 3 1 arct
      0 0 1 -1 1 arct
      closepath
      stroke"
  }
c

[image of music]

An exhaustive list of graphics-specific commands can be found in Graphic.

See also

Notation Reference: Graphic, Editorial annotations, Align.

Installed Files: ‘scm/define-markup-commands.scm’, ‘scm/stencil.scm’.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.


Music notation inside markup

Various musical notation elements may be added to a score, inside a markup object.

Notes and accidentals can be entered using markup commands:

a2 a^\markup {
  \note #"4" #1
  =
  \note-by-number #1 #1 #1.5
}
b1_\markup {
  \natural \semiflat \flat
  \sesquiflat \doubleflat
}
\glissando
a1_\markup {
  \natural \semisharp \sharp
  \sesquisharp \doublesharp
}
\glissando b

[image of music]

Other notation objects may also be printed in markup mode:

g1 bes
ees\finger \markup \tied-lyric #"4~1"
fis_\markup { \dynamic rf }
bes^\markup {
  \beam #8 #0.1 #0.5
}
cis
d-\markup {
  \markalphabet #8
  \markletter #8
}

[image of music]

More generally, any available musical symbol may be included separately in a markup object, as demonstrated below; an exhaustive list of these symbols and their names can be found in The Feta font.

c2
c'^\markup { \musicglyph #"eight" }
c,4
c,8._\markup { \musicglyph #"clefs.G_change" }
c16
c2^\markup { \musicglyph #"timesig.neomensural94" }

[image of music]

Another way of printing non-text glyphs is described in Fonts explained. This is useful for printing braces of various sizes.

The markup mode also supports diagrams for specific instruments:

c1^\markup {
  \fret-diagram-terse #"x;x;o;2;3;2;"
}
c^\markup {
  \harp-pedal #"^-v|--ov^"
}
c
c^\markup {
  \combine
    \musicglyph #"accordion.discant"
    \combine
      \raise #0.5 \musicglyph #"accordion.dot"
      \raise #1.5 \musicglyph #"accordion.dot"
}

[image of music]

Such diagrams are documented in Instrument Specific Markup.

A whole score can even be nested inside a markup object. In such a case, the nested \score block must contain a \layout block, as demonstrated here:

c4 d^\markup {
  \score {
    \relative c' { c4 d e f }
    \layout { }
  }
}
e f |
c d e f

[image of music]

An exhaustive list of music notation related commands can be found in Music.

See also

Notation Reference: Music, The Feta font, Fonts explained.

Installed Files: ‘scm/define-markup-commands.scm’, ‘scm/fret-diagrams.scm’, ‘scm/harp-pedals.scm’.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.


Multi-page markup

Although standard markup objects are not breakable, a specific syntax makes it possible to enter lines of text that can spread over multiple pages:

\markuplist {
  \justified-lines {
    A very long text of justified lines.
    ...
  }
  \wordwrap-lines {
    Another very long paragraph.
    ...
  }
  ...
}

[image of music]

This syntax accepts a list of markups, that can be

An exhaustive list of markup list commands can be found in Text markup list commands.

See also

Notation Reference: Text markup list commands.

Extending LilyPond: New markup list command definition.

Installed Files: ‘scm/define-markup-commands.scm’.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.

Predefined commands

\markuplist.


1.8.3 Fonts

This section presents the way fonts are handled, and how they may be changed in scores.


Fonts explained

Fonts are handled through several libraries. FontConfig is used to detect available fonts on the system; the selected fonts are rendered using Pango.

Music notation fonts can be described as a set of specific glyphs, ordered in several families. The following syntax allows various LilyPond feta non-text fonts to be used directly in markup mode:

a1^\markup {
  \vcenter {
    \override #'(font-encoding . fetaBraces)
    \lookup #"brace120"
    \override #'(font-encoding . fetaText)
    \column { 1 3 sf }
    \override #'(font-encoding . fetaMusic)
    \lookup #"noteheads.s0petrucci"
  }
}

[image of music]

However, all these glyphs except the braces of various sizes contained in fetaBraces are available using the simpler syntax described in Music notation inside markup.

When using the glyphs contained in fetaBraces, the size of the brace is specified by the numerical part of the glyph name, in arbitrary units. Any integer from 0 to 575 inclusive may be specified, 0 giving the smallest brace. The optimum value must be determined by trial and error. These glyphs are all left braces; right braces may be obtained by rotation, see Rotating objects.

Three families of text fonts are made available: the roman (serif) font, that defaults to New Century Schoolbook, the sans font and the monospaced typewriter font – these last two families are determined by the Pango installation.

Note: There are no default fonts associated with the sans and typewriter font-families. An input file that specifies either of these can lead to different output on different computers. To ensure consistent output among multiple platforms, fonts must be specified by name, and those fonts must be available on any system that processes the file. See Single entry fonts and Entire document fonts.

Each family may include different shapes and series. The following example demonstrates the ability to select alternate families, shapes, series and sizes. The value supplied to font-size is the required change from the default size.

\override Score.RehearsalMark.font-family = #'typewriter
\mark \markup "Ouverture"
\override Voice.TextScript.font-shape = #'italic
\override Voice.TextScript.font-series = #'bold
d2.^\markup "Allegro"
\override Voice.TextScript.font-size = #-3
c4^smaller

[image of music]

A similar syntax may be used in markup mode; however in this case it is preferable to use the simpler syntax explained in Selecting font and font size:

\markup {
  \column {
    \line {
      \override #'(font-shape . italic)
      \override #'(font-size . 4)
      Idomeneo,
    }
    \line {
      \override #'(font-family . typewriter)
      {
        \override #'(font-series . bold)
        re
        di
      }
      \override #'(font-family . sans)
      Creta
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Although it is easy to switch between preconfigured fonts, it is also possible to use other fonts, as explained in the following sections: Single entry fonts and Entire document fonts.

See also

Notation Reference: The Feta font, Music notation inside markup, Rotating objects, Selecting font and font size, Font.


Single entry fonts

Any font that is installed on the operating system and recognized by FontConfig may be used in a score, using the following syntax:

\override Staff.TimeSignature.font-name = #"Bitstream Charter"
\override Staff.TimeSignature.font-size = #2
\time 3/4

a1_\markup {
  \override #'(font-name . "Vera Bold")
    { Vera Bold }
}

[image of music]

Running lilypond with the following option displays a list of all available fonts on the operating system:

lilypond -dshow-available-fonts x

See also

Notation Reference: Fonts explained, Entire document fonts.

Snippets: Text.


Entire document fonts

It is possible to change the fonts to be used as the default fonts in the roman, sans and typewriter font families by specifying them, in that order, as shown in the example below, which automatically scales the fonts with the value set for the global staff size. For an explanation of fonts, see Fonts explained.

\paper  {
  #(define fonts
    (make-pango-font-tree "Times New Roman"
                          "Nimbus Sans"
                          "Luxi Mono"
                          (/ staff-height pt 20)))
}

\relative c'{
  c1-\markup {
    roman,
    \sans sans,
    \typewriter typewriter. }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Fonts explained, Single entry fonts, Selecting font and font size, Font.


2. Specialist notation

This chapter explains how to create musical notation for specific types of instrument or in specific styles.


2.1 Vocal music

[image of music]

This section explains how to typeset vocal music, and make sure that the lyrics will be aligned with the notes of their melody.


2.1.1 Common notation for vocal music

This section discusses issues common to most types of vocal music.


References for vocal music

This section indicates where to find details of notation issues that may arise in any type of vocal music.

See also

Music Glossary: ambitus.

Learning Manual: Setting simple songs.

Notation Reference: Text markup introduction, Ambitus, Score layouts for choral.

Snippets: Vocal music.


Entering lyrics

Lyrics are entered in a special input mode, which can be introduced by the keyword \lyricmode, or by using \addlyrics or \lyricsto. In this special input mode, the input d is not parsed as the pitch D, but rather as a one-letter syllable of text. In other words, syllables are entered like notes but with pitches replaced by text.

For example:

\lyricmode { Three4 blind mice,2 three4 blind mice2 }

There are two main methods for specifying the horizontal placement of the syllables, either by specifying the duration of each syllable explicitly, as in the example above, or by leaving the lyrics to be aligned automatically to a melody or other voice of music, using \addlyrics or \lyricsto. The former method is described below in Manual syllable durations. The latter method is described in Automatic syllable durations.

A word or syllable of lyrics begins with an alphabetic character (plus some other characters, see below) and is terminated by any white space or a digit. Later characters in the syllable can be any character that is not a digit or white space.

Because any character that is not a digit or white space is regarded as part of the syllable, a word is valid even if it ends with }, which often leads to the following mistake:

\lyricmode { lah lah lah}

In this example, the } is included in the final syllable, so the opening brace is not balanced and the input file will probably not compile. Instead, braces should always be surrounded with white space:

\lyricmode { lah lah lah }

Punctuation, lyrics with accented characters, characters from non-English languages, or special characters (such as the heart symbol or slanted quotes), may simply be inserted directly into the input file, providing it is saved with UTF-8 encoding. For more information, see Special characters.

\relative c'' { d8 c16 a bes8 f e' d c4 }
\addlyrics { „Schad’ um das schö -- ne grü -- ne Band, }

[image of music]

Normal quotes may be used in lyrics, but they have to be preceded with a backslash character and the whole syllable has to be enclosed between additional quotes. For example,

\relative c' { \time 3/4 e4 e4. e8 d4 e d c2. }
\addlyrics { "\"I" am so lone -- "ly,\"" said she }

[image of music]

The full definition of a word start in lyrics mode is somewhat more complex. A word in lyrics mode is one that begins with an alphabetic character, _, ?, !, :, ', the control characters ^A through ^F, ^Q through ^W, ^Y, ^^, any 8-bit character with an ASCII code over 127, or a two-character combination of a backslash followed by one of `, ', ", or ^.

Great control over the appearance of lyrics comes from using \markup inside the lyrics themselves. For explanation of many options, see Formatting text.

Selected Snippets

Formatting lyrics syllables

Markup mode may be used to format individual syllables in lyrics.

mel = \relative c'' { c4 c c c }
lyr = \lyricmode {
  Lyrics \markup { \italic can } \markup { \with-color #red contain }
  \markup { \fontsize #8 \bold Markup! }
}

<<
  \new Voice = melody \mel
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto melody \lyr
>>

[image of music]

See also

Learning Manual: Songs.

Notation Reference: Automatic syllable durations, Fonts, Formatting text, Input modes, Manual syllable durations, Special characters.

Internals Reference: LyricText.

Snippets: Text.


Aligning lyrics to a melody

Lyrics are printed by interpreting them in the context called Lyrics, see Contexts explained.

\new Lyrics \lyricmode { … }

Lyrics can be aligned with melodies in two main ways:

See also

Learning Manual: Aligning lyrics to a melody.

Notation Reference: Contexts explained, Automatic syllable durations, Stanzas, Manual syllable durations, Dialogue over music, Manual syllable durations.

Internals Reference: Lyrics.


Automatic syllable durations

Lyrics can be automatically aligned to the notes of a melody in three ways:

In all three methods hyphens can be drawn between the syllables of a word and extender lines can be drawn beyond the end of a word. For details, see Extenders and hyphens.

The Voice context containing the melody to which the lyrics are being aligned must not have “died”, or the lyrics after that point will be lost. This can happen if there are periods when that voice has nothing to do. For methods of keeping contexts alive, see Keeping contexts alive.

Using \lyricsto

Lyrics can be aligned under a melody automatically by specifying the named Voice context containing the melody with \lyricsto:

<<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    a1 a4. a8 a2
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
    These are the words
  }
>>

[image of music]

This aligns the lyrics to the notes of the named Voice context, which must already exist. Therefore normally the Voice context is specified first, followed by the Lyrics context. The lyrics themselves follow the \lyricsto command. The \lyricsto command invokes lyric mode automatically, so the \lyricmode keyword may be omitted. By default, the lyrics are placed underneath the notes. For other placements, see Placing lyrics vertically.

Using \addlyrics

The \addlyrics command is just a convenient shortcut that can sometimes be used instead of having to set up the lyrics through a more complicated LilyPond structure.

{ MUSIC }
\addlyrics { LYRICS }

is the same as

\new Voice = "blah" { MUSIC }
\new Lyrics \lyricsto "blah" { LYRICS }

Here is an example,

{
  \time 3/4
  \relative c' { c2 e4 g2. }
  \addlyrics { play the game }
}

[image of music]

More stanzas can be added by adding more \addlyrics sections:

{
  \time 3/4
  \relative c' { c2 e4 g2. }
  \addlyrics { play the game }
  \addlyrics { speel het spel }
  \addlyrics { joue le jeu }
}

[image of music]

The command \addlyrics cannot handle polyphonic settings. Also, it cannot be used to associate lyrics to a TabVoice. For these cases one should use \lyricsto.

Using associatedVoice

The melody to which the lyrics are being aligned can be changed by setting the associatedVoice property,

\set associatedVoice = #"lala"

The value of the property (here: "lala") should be the name of a Voice context. For technical reasons, the \set command must be placed one syllable before the one to which the change in voice is to apply.

Here is an example demonstrating its use:

<<
  \new Staff <<
    \time 2/4
    \new Voice = "one" \relative c'' {
      \voiceOne
      c4 b8. a16 g4. r8 a4 ( b ) c2
    }
    \new Voice = "two" \relative c' {
      \voiceTwo
       s2 s4. f8 e8 d4. c2
    }
  >>
% takes durations and alignment from notes in "one" initially
% then switches to "two"
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "one" {
    No more let
    \set associatedVoice = "two"  % must be set one syllable early
    sins and sor -- rows grow.
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Extenders and hyphens, Keeping contexts alive, Placing lyrics vertically.


Manual syllable durations

In some complex vocal music, it may be desirable to place lyrics completely independently of notes. In this case do not use \lyricsto or \addlyrics and do not set associatedVoice. Syllables are entered like notes – but with pitches replaced by text – and the duration of each syllable is entered explicitly after the syllable.

By default, syllables will be left-aligned to the corresponding musical moment. Hyphenated lines may be drawn between syllables as usual, but extender lines cannot be drawn when there is no associated voice.

Here are two examples:

<<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    \time 3/4
    c2 e4 g2 f
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricmode {
    play1 the4 game4
  }
>>

[image of music]

<<
  \new Staff {
    \relative c'' {
      c2 c2
      d1
    }
  }
  \new Lyrics {
    \lyricmode {
      I2 like4. my8 cat!1
    }
  }
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' {
      c8 c c c c c c c
      c8 c c c c c c c
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

This technique is useful when writing dialogue over music, see Dialogue over music.

To center-align syllables on the notes at the corresponding musical moments, set associatedVoice to the name of the Voice context containing those notes. When associatedVoice is set, both double hyphens and double underscores can be used to draw hyphenated lines and extenders under melismata correctly.

<<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    \time 3/4
    c2 e4 g f g
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricmode {
    \set associatedVoice = #"melody"
    play2 the4 game2. __
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Dialogue over music.

Internals Reference: Lyrics, Voice.


Multiple syllables to one note

In order to assign more than one syllable to a single note with spaces between the syllables, you can surround the phrase with quotes or use a _ character. Alternatively, you can use the tilde symbol (~) to get a lyric tie.

{
  { \autoBeamOff
    r8 b c fis, fis c' b e,
  }
  \addlyrics
  {
    \override LyricHyphen.minimum-distance = #1.0 % Ensure hyphens are visible
    Che_in ques -- ta_e_in quel -- l'al -- tr'on -- da
  }
  \addlyrics { "Che in" ques -- "ta e in" quel -- l'al -- tr'on -- da }
  \addlyrics { Che~in ques -- ta~e~in quel -- l'al -- tr'on -- da }
}

[image of music]

See also

Internals Reference: LyricCombineMusic.


Multiple notes to one syllable

Sometimes, particularly in Medieval and baroque music, several notes are sung on one syllable; this is called melisma, see melisma. The syllable to a melisma is usually left-aligned with the first note of the melisma.

When a melisma occurs on a syllable other than the last one in a word, that syllable is usually joined to the following one with a hyphenated line. This is indicated by placing a double hyphen, --, immediately after the syllable.

Alternatively, when a melisma occurs on the last or only syllable in a word an extender line is usually drawn from the end of the syllable to the last note of the melisma. This is indicated by placing a double underscore, __, immediately after the word.

There are five ways in which melismata can be indicated:

It is possible to have ties, slurs and manual beams in the melody without their indicating melismata. To do this, set melismaBusyProperties:

<<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    \time 3/4
    \set melismaBusyProperties = #'()
    c4 d ( e )
    g8 [ f ] f4 ~ 4
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
    Ky -- ri -- e e -- le -- i -- son
  }
>>

[image of music]

Other settings for melismaBusyProperties can be used to selectively include or exclude ties, slurs, and beams from the automatic detection of melismata; see melismaBusyProperties in Tunable context properties.

Alternatively, if all melismata indications are to be ignored, ignoreMelismata may be set true; see Stanzas with different rhythms.

If a melisma is required during a passage in which melismaBusyProperties is active, it may be indicated by placing a single underscore in the lyrics for each note which should be included in the melisma:

<<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    \time 3/4
    \set melismaBusyProperties = #'()
    c4 d ( e )
    g8 [ f ] ~ 4 ~ f
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
    Ky -- ri -- _ e __ _ _ _
  }
>>

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\autoBeamOff, \autoBeamOn, \melisma, \melismaEnd.

See also

Musical Glossary: melisma.

Learning Manual: Aligning lyrics to a melody.

Notation Reference: Aligning lyrics to a melody, Automatic syllable durations, Setting automatic beam behavior, Stanzas with different rhythms.

Internals Reference: Tunable context properties.

Known issues and warnings

Extender lines under melismata are not created automatically; they must be inserted manually with a double underscore.


Extenders and hyphens

In the last syllable of a word, melismata are sometimes indicated with a long horizontal line starting in the melisma syllable, and ending in the next one. Such a line is called an extender line, and it is entered as ‘ __ ’ (note the spaces before and after the two underscore characters).

Note: Melismata are indicated in the score with extender lines, which are entered as one double underscore; but short melismata can also be entered by skipping individual notes, which are entered as single underscore characters; these do not make an extender line to be typeset by default.

Centered hyphens are entered as ‘ -- ’ between syllables of a same word (note the spaces before and after the two hyphen characters). The hyphen will be centered between the syllables, and its length will be adjusted depending on the space between the syllables.

In tightly engraved music, hyphens can be removed. Whether this happens can be controlled with the minimum-distance (minimum distance between two syllables) and the minimum-length (threshold below which hyphens are removed) properties of LyricHyphen.

See also

Internals Reference: LyricExtender, LyricHyphen.


2.1.2 Techniques specific to lyrics


Working with lyrics and variables

Variables containing lyrics can be created, but the lyrics must be entered in lyric mode:

musicOne = \relative c'' {
  c4 b8. a16 g4. f8 e4 d c2
}
verseOne = \lyricmode {
  Joy to the world, the Lord is come.
}
\score {
  <<
    \new Voice = "one" {
      \time 2/4
      \musicOne
    }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "one" {
      \verseOne
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Durations do not need to be added if the variable is to be invoked with \addlyrics or \lyricsto.

For different or more complex orderings, the best way is to define the music and lyric variables first, then set up the hierarchy of staves and lyrics, omitting the lyrics themselves, and then add the lyrics using \context underneath. This ensures that the voices referenced by \lyricsto have always been defined earlier. For example:

sopranoMusic = \relative c'' { c4 c c c }
contraltoMusic = \relative c'' { a4 a a a }
sopranoWords = \lyricmode { Sop -- ra -- no words }
contraltoWords = \lyricmode { Con -- tral -- to words }

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff <<
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "sopranos" {
        \sopranoMusic
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics = "sopranos"
    \new Lyrics = "contraltos"
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "contraltos" {
        \contraltoMusic
      }
    }
    \context Lyrics = "sopranos" {
      \lyricsto "sopranos" {
        \sopranoWords
      }
    }
    \context Lyrics = "contraltos" {
      \lyricsto "contraltos" {
        \contraltoWords
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Placing lyrics vertically.

Internals Reference: LyricCombineMusic, Lyrics.


Placing lyrics vertically

Depending on the type of music, lyrics may be positioned above the staff, below the staff, or between staves. Placing lyrics below the associated staff is the easiest, and can be achieved by simply defining the Lyrics context below the Staff context:

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "melody" {
        \relative c'' { c4 c c c }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        Here are the words
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Lyrics may be positioned above the staff using one of two methods. The simplest (and preferred) method is to use the same syntax as above and explicitly specify the position of the lyrics:

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff = "staff" {
      \new Voice = "melody" {
        \relative c'' { c4 c c c }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics \with { alignAboveContext = "staff" } {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        Here are the words
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Alternatively, a two-step process may be used. First the Lyrics context is declared (without any content) before the Staff and Voice contexts, then the \lyricsto command is placed after the Voice declaration it references by using \context, as follows:

\score {
  <<
    \new Lyrics = "lyrics" \with {
      % lyrics above a staff should have this override
      \override VerticalAxisGroup.staff-affinity = #DOWN
    }
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "melody" {
        \relative c'' { c4 c c c }
      }
    }
    \context Lyrics = "lyrics" {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        Here are the words
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

When there are two voices on separate staves the lyrics may be placed between the staves using either of these methods. Here is an example of the second method:

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff <<
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "sopranos" {
        \relative c'' { c4 c c c }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics = "sopranos"
    \new Lyrics = "contraltos" \with {
      % lyrics above a staff should have this override
      \override VerticalAxisGroup.staff-affinity = #DOWN
    }
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "contraltos" {
        \relative c'' { a4 a a a }
      }
    }
    \context Lyrics = "sopranos" {
      \lyricsto "sopranos" {
        Sop -- ra -- no words
      }
    }
    \context Lyrics = "contraltos" {
      \lyricsto "contraltos" {
        Con -- tral -- to words
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Other combinations of lyrics and staves may be generated by elaborating these examples, or by examining the templates in the Learning Manual, see Vocal ensembles templates.

Selected Snippets

Obtaining 2.12 lyrics spacing in newer versions

The vertical spacing engine changed for version 2.14. This can cause lyrics to be spaced differently. It is possible to set properties for Lyric and Staff contexts to get the spacing engine to behave as it did in version 2.12.

global = {
  \key d \major
  \time 3/4
}

sopMusic = \relative c' {
  % VERSE ONE
  fis4 fis fis | \break
  fis4. e8 e4
}

altoMusic = \relative c' {
  % VERSE ONE
  d4 d d |
  d4. b8 b4 |
}

tenorMusic = \relative c' {
  a4 a a |
  b4. g8 g4 |
}

bassMusic = \relative c {
  d4 d d |
  g,4. g8 g4 |
}

words = \lyricmode {
  Great is Thy faith- ful- ness,
}

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff <<
    \new Lyrics = sopranos
    \new Staff = women <<
      \new Voice = "sopranos" {
        \voiceOne
        \global \sopMusic
      }
      \new Voice = "altos" {
        \voiceTwo
        \global \altoMusic
      }
    >>
    \new Lyrics = "altos"
    \new Lyrics = "tenors"
    \new Staff = men <<
      \clef bass
      \new Voice = "tenors" {
        \voiceOne
        \global \tenorMusic
      }
      \new Voice = "basses" {
        \voiceTwo  \global \bassMusic
      }
    >>
    \new Lyrics = basses
    \context Lyrics = sopranos \lyricsto sopranos \words
    \context Lyrics = altos \lyricsto altos \words
    \context Lyrics = tenors \lyricsto tenors \words
    \context Lyrics = basses \lyricsto basses \words
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Lyrics
      \override VerticalAxisGroup.staff-affinity = ##f
      \override VerticalAxisGroup.staff-staff-spacing =
        #'((basic-distance . 0)
	   (minimum-distance . 2)
	   (padding . 2))
    }
    \context {
      \Staff
      \override VerticalAxisGroup.staff-staff-spacing =
        #'((basic-distance . 0)
	   (minimum-distance . 2)
	   (padding . 2))
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Learning Manual: Vocal ensembles templates.

Notation Reference: Context layout order, Creating and referencing contexts.


Placing syllables horizontally

To increase the spacing between lyrics, set the minimum-distance property of LyricSpace.

{
  c c c c
  \override Lyrics.LyricSpace.minimum-distance = #1.0
  c c c c
}
\addlyrics {
  longtext longtext longtext longtext
  longtext longtext longtext longtext
}

[image of music]

To make this change for all lyrics in the score, set the property in the \layout block.

\score {
  \relative c' {
  c c c c
  c c c c
  }
  \addlyrics {
  longtext longtext longtext longtext
  longtext longtext longtext longtext
  }
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Lyrics
      \override LyricSpace.minimum-distance = #1.0
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Lyrics alignment

Horizontal alignment for lyrics can be set by overriding the self-alignment-X property of the LyricText object. #-1 is left, #0 is center and #1 is right; however, you can use #LEFT, #CENTER and #RIGHT as well.

\layout { ragged-right = ##f }
\relative c'' {
  c1
  c1
  c1
}
\addlyrics {
  \once \override LyricText.self-alignment-X = #LEFT
  "This is left-aligned"
  \once \override LyricText.self-alignment-X = #CENTER
  "This is centered"
  \once \override LyricText.self-alignment-X = #1
  "This is right-aligned"
}

[image of music]

Checking to make sure that text scripts and lyrics are within the margins requires additional calculations. To speed up processing slightly, this feature can be disabled:

\override Score.PaperColumn.keep-inside-line = ##f

To make lyrics avoid bar lines as well, use

\layout {
  \context {
    \Lyrics
      \consists "Bar_engraver"
      \consists "Separating_line_group_engraver"
      \hide BarLine
  }
}

Lyrics and repeats

Simple repeats

Repeats in music are fully described elsewhere; see Repeats. This section explains how to add lyrics to repeated sections of music.

Lyrics to a section of music that is repeated should be surrounded by exactly the same repeat construct as the music, if the words are unchanged.

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "melody" {
        \relative c'' {
          a4 a a a
          \repeat volta 2 { b4 b b b }
        }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        Not re -- peat -- ed.
        \repeat volta 2 { Re -- peat -- ed twice. }
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

The words will then be correctly expanded if the repeats are unfolded.

\score {
  \unfoldRepeats {
    <<
      \new Staff {
        \new Voice = "melody" {
          \relative c'' {
            a4 a a a
            \repeat volta 2 { b4 b b b }
          }
        }
      }
      \new Lyrics {
        \lyricsto "melody" {
          Not re -- peat -- ed.
          \repeat volta 2 { Re -- peat -- ed twice. }
        }
      }
    >>
  }
}

[image of music]

If the repeated section is to be unfolded and has different words, simply enter all the words:

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "melody" {
        \relative c'' {
          a4 a a a
          \repeat unfold 2 { b4 b b b }
        }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        Not re -- peat -- ed.
        The first time words.
        Sec -- ond time words.
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

When the words to a repeated volta section are different, the words to each repeat must be entered in separate Lyrics contexts, correctly nested in parallel sections:

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "melody" {
        \relative c'' {
          a4 a a a
          \repeat volta 2 { b4 b b b }
        }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
      Not re -- peat -- ed.
      <<
	{ The first time words. }
	\new Lyrics {
	  \set associatedVoice = "melody"
	  Sec -- ond time words.
	}
      >>
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

More verses may be added in a similar way:

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "singleVoice" {
        \relative c'' {
	  a4 a a a
	  \repeat volta 3 { b4 b b b }
          c4 c c c
	}
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "singleVoice" {
      Not re -- peat -- ed.
      <<
        { The first time words.	}
	\new Lyrics {
	  \set associatedVoice = "singleVoice"
	  Sec -- ond time words.
	}
	\new Lyrics {
	  \set associatedVoice = "singleVoice"
	  The third time words.
	}
      >>
      The end sec -- tion.
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

However, if this construct is embedded within a multi-staved context such as a ChoirStaff the lyrics of the second and third verses will appear beneath the bottom staff.

To position them correctly use alignBelowContext:

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "melody" {
        \relative c'' {
	  a4 a a a
	  \repeat volta 3 { b4 b b b }
          c4 c c c
	}
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics = "firstVerse" \lyricsto "melody" {
      Not re -- peat -- ed.
      <<
        { The first time words.	}
	\new Lyrics = "secondVerse"
        \with { alignBelowContext = #"firstVerse" } {
	  \set associatedVoice = "melody"
	  Sec -- ond time words.
	}
	\new Lyrics = "thirdVerse"
        \with { alignBelowContext = #"secondVerse" } {
	  \set associatedVoice = "melody"
	  The third time words.
	}
      >>
      The end sec -- tion.
    }
    \new Voice = "harmony" {
      \relative c' {
        f4 f f f \repeat volta 2 { g8 g g4 g2 } a4 a8. a16 a2
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Repeats with alternative endings

If the words of the repeated section are the same, exactly the same structure can be used for both the lyrics and music.

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \time 2/4
      \new Voice = "melody" {
        \relative c'' {
          a4 a a a
          \repeat volta 2 { b4 b }
          \alternative { { b b } { b c } }
        }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        Not re -- peat -- ed.
        \repeat volta 2 { Re -- peat -- }
        \alternative { { ed twice. } { ed twice. } }
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

But when the repeated section has different words, a repeat construct cannot be used around the words and \skip commands have to be inserted manually to skip over the notes in the alternative sections which do not apply.

Note: do not use an underscore, _, to skip notes – an underscore indicates a melisma, causing the preceding syllable to be left-aligned.

Note: The \skip command must be followed by a number, but this number is ignored in lyrics which derive their durations from the notes in an associated melody through addlyrics or lyricsto. Each \skip skips a single note of any value, irrespective of the value of the following number.

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \time 2/4
      \new Voice = "melody" {
        \relative c'' {
          \repeat volta 2 { b4 b }
          \alternative { { b b } { b c } }
          c4 c
        }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        The first time words.
        \repeat unfold 2 { \skip 1 }
        End here.
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        Sec -- ond
        \repeat unfold 2 { \skip 1 }
        time words.
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

When a note is tied over into two or more alternative endings a tie is used to carry the note into the first alternative ending and a \repeatTie is used in the second and subsequent endings. This structure causes difficult alignment problems when lyrics are involved and increasing the length of the alternative sections so the tied notes are contained wholly within them may give a more acceptable result.

The tie creates a melisma into the first alternative, but not into the second and subsequent alternatives, so to align the lyrics correctly it is necessary to disable the automatic creation of melismata over the volta section and insert manual skips.

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \time 2/4
      \new Voice = "melody" {
        \relative c'' {
          \set melismaBusyProperties = #'()
          \repeat volta 2 { b4 b ~}
          \alternative { { b b } { b \repeatTie c } }
          \unset melismaBusyProperties
          c4 c
        }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        \repeat volta 2 { Here's a __ }
        \alternative {
          { \skip 1 verse }
          { \skip 1 sec }
        }
        ond one.
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Note that if \unfoldRepeats is used around a section containing \repeatTie, the \repeatTie should be removed to avoid both types of tie being printed.

When the repeated section has different words a \repeat cannot be used around the lyrics and \skip commands need to be inserted manually, as before.

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \time 2/4
      \new Voice = "melody" {
        \relative c'' {
          \repeat volta 2 { b4 b ~}
          \alternative { { b b } { b \repeatTie c } }
          c4 c
        }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        Here's a __ verse.
        \repeat unfold 2 { \skip 1 }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        Here's one
        \repeat unfold 2 { \skip 1 }
        more to sing.
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

If you wish to show extenders and hyphens into and out of alternative sections these must be inserted manually.

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \time 2/4
      \new Voice = "melody" {
        \relative c'' {
          \repeat volta 2 { b4 b ~}
          \alternative { { b b } { b \repeatTie c } }
          c4 c
        }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        Here's a __ verse.
        \repeat unfold 2 { \skip 1 }
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "melody" {
        Here's "a_"
        \skip 1
        "_" sec -- ond one.
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Keeping contexts alive, Repeats.


Divisi lyrics

When just the words and rhythms of the two parts differ with the pitches remaining the same, temporarily turning off the automatic detection of melismata and indicating the melisma in the lyrics may be the appropriate method to use:

\score {
  <<
    \new Voice = "melody" {
      \relative c' {
        \set melismaBusyProperties = #'()
        \slurDown
        \slurDashed
        e4 e8 ( e ) c4 c |
        \unset melismaBusyProperties
        c
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
      They shall not o -- ver -- come
    }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
      We will _
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

When both music and words differ it may be better to display the differing music and lyrics by naming voice contexts and attaching lyrics to those specific contexts:

\score {
  <<
    \new Voice = "melody" {
      \relative c' {
        <<
          {
            \voiceOne
            e4 e8 e
          }
          \new Voice = "splitpart" {
            \voiceTwo
            c4 c
          }
        >>
        \oneVoice
        c4 c |
        c
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
      They shall not o -- ver -- come
    }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "splitpart" {
      We will
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

It is common in choral music to have a voice part split for several measures. The << {…} \\ {…} >> construct, where the two (or more) musical expressions are separated by double backslashes, might seem the proper way to set the split voices. This construct, however, will assign all the expressions within it to NEW Voice contexts which will result in no lyrics being set for them since the lyrics will be set to the original voice context – not, typically, what one wants. The temporary polyphonic passage is the proper construct to use, see section Temporary polyphonic passages in Single-staff polyphony.


Polyphony with shared lyrics

When two voices with different rhythms share the same lyrics, aligning the lyrics to one of the voices may lead to problems in the other voice. For example, the second lyric extender below is too short, since the lyrics are aligned only to the top voice:

soprano = \relative { b'8( c d c) d2 }
alto = \relative { g'2 b8( a g a) }
words = \lyricmode { la __ la __ }

\new Staff <<
  \new Voice = "sopranoVoice" { \voiceOne \soprano }
  \new Voice { \voiceTwo \alto }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "sopranoVoice" \words
>>

[image of music]

To get the desired result, align the lyrics to a new NullVoice context containing a suitable combination of the two voices. The notes of the NullVoice context do not appear on the printed page, but can be used to align the lyrics appropriately:

soprano = \relative { b'8( c d c) d2 }
alto = \relative { g'2 b8( a g a) }
aligner = \relative { b'8( c d c) b( a g a) }
words = \lyricmode { la __ la __ }

\new Staff <<
  \new Voice { \voiceOne \soprano }
  \new Voice { \voiceTwo \alto }
  \new NullVoice = "aligner" \aligner
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "aligner" \words
>>

[image of music]

The NullVoice context must be placed within a Staff context and contain notes that are already being displayed in that staff and that are also in the same octave. Otherwise the NullVoice may interact with the printed voices in unexpected ways. For example, arbitrary notes in the NullVoice may cause accidentals to appear (or disappear) on the staff.

This method also can be used with the \partcombine function, which does not allow lyrics on its own:

soprano = \relative { b'8( c d c) d2 }
alto = \relative { g'2 b8( a g a) }
aligner = \relative { b'8( c d c) b( a g a) }
words = \lyricmode { la __ la __ }

\new Staff <<
  \new Voice \partcombine \soprano \alto
  \new NullVoice = "aligner" \aligner
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "aligner" \words
>>

[image of music]

Known issues and warnings

The \addLyrics function only works with Voice lyrics and so cannot be used with NullVoice.

The \partcombine function is described in Automatic part combining.

Lastly, this method can be used even when the voices are in different staves, and is not limited to only two voices:

soprano = \relative { b'8( c d c) d2 }
altoOne = \relative { g'2 b8( a b4) }
altoTwo = \relative { d'2 g4( fis8 g) }
aligner = \relative { b'8( c d c) d( d d d) }
words = \lyricmode { la __ la __ }

\new ChoirStaff <<
  \new Staff <<
    \soprano
    \new NullVoice = "aligner" \aligner
  >>
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "aligner" \words
  \new Staff \partcombine \altoOne \altoTwo
>>

[image of music]

However, note that in the second half of the measure above, the notes in the NullVoice context reflect the rhythm of the lower staff, but they do not deviate from the single pitch being displayed in the staff to which the NullVoice belongs. While not actually required in this particular example, it is a good idea in general to enter the notes in this way.


2.1.3 Stanzas


Adding stanza numbers

Stanza numbers can be added by setting stanza, e.g.,

\new Voice {
  \time 3/4 g2 e4 a2 f4 g2.
} \addlyrics {
  \set stanza = #"1. "
  Hi, my name is Bert.
} \addlyrics {
  \set stanza = #"2. "
  Oh, ché -- ri, je t'aime
}

[image of music]

These numbers are put just before the start of the first syllable.


Adding dynamics marks to stanzas

Stanzas differing in loudness may be indicated by putting a dynamics mark before each stanza. In LilyPond, everything coming in front of a stanza goes into the StanzaNumber object; dynamics marks are no different. For technical reasons, you have to set the stanza outside \lyricmode:

text = {
  \set stanza = \markup { \dynamic "ff" "1. " }
  \lyricmode {
    Big bang
  }
}

<<
  \new Voice = "tune" {
    \time 3/4
    g'4 c'2
  }
\new Lyrics \lyricsto "tune" \text
>>

[image of music]


Adding singers’ names to stanzas

Names of singers can also be added. They are printed at the start of the line, just like instrument names. They are created by setting vocalName. A short version may be entered as shortVocalName.

\new Voice {
  \time 3/4 g2 e4 a2 f4 g2.
} \addlyrics {
  \set vocalName = #"Bert "
  Hi, my name is Bert.
} \addlyrics {
  \set vocalName = #"Ernie "
  Oh, ché -- ri, je t'aime
}

[image of music]


Stanzas with different rhythms

Often, different stanzas of one song are put to one melody in slightly differing ways. Such variations can still be captured with \lyricsto.

Ignoring melismata

One possibility is that the text has a melisma in one stanza, but multiple syllables in another. One solution is to make the faster voice ignore the melisma. This is done by setting ignoreMelismata in the Lyrics context.

<<
  \relative c' \new Voice = "lahlah" {
    \set Staff.autoBeaming = ##f
    c4
    \slurDotted
    f8.[( g16])
    a4
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "lahlah" {
    more slow -- ly
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "lahlah" {
    go
    \set ignoreMelismata = ##t
    fas -- ter
    \unset ignoreMelismata
    still
  }
>>

[image of music]

Known issues and warnings

Unlike most \set commands, \set ignoreMelismata does not work if prefixed with \once. It is necessary to use \set and \unset to bracket the lyrics where melismata are to be ignored.

Adding syllables to grace notes

By default, grace notes (e.g. via \grace) do not get assigned syllables when using \lyricsto, but this behavior can be changed:

<<
  \new Voice = melody \relative c' {
    f4 \appoggiatura a32 b4
    \grace { f16 a16 } b2
    \afterGrace b2 { f16[ a16] }
    \appoggiatura a32 b4
    \acciaccatura a8 b4
  }
  \new Lyrics
  \lyricsto melody {
    normal
    \set includeGraceNotes = ##t
    case,
    gra -- ce case,
    after -- grace case,
    \set ignoreMelismata = ##t
    app. case,
    acc. case.
  }
>>

[image of music]

Known issues and warnings

Like associatedVoice, includeGraceNotes needs to be set at latest one syllable before the one which is to be put under a grace note. For the case of a grace note at the very beginning of a piece of music, consider using a \with or \context block:

<<
  \new Voice = melody \relative c' {
    \grace { c16( d e f }
    g1) f
  }
  \new Lyrics \with { includeGraceNotes = ##t }
  \lyricsto melody {
    Ah __ fa
  }
>>

[image of music]

Switching to an alternative melody

More complex variations in setting lyrics to music are possible. The melody to which the lyrics are being set can be changed from within the lyrics by setting the associatedVoice property:

<<
  \relative c' \new Voice = "lahlah" {
    \set Staff.autoBeaming = ##f
    c4
    <<
      \new Voice = "alternative" {
        \voiceOne
        \tuplet 3/2 {
          % show associations clearly.
          \override NoteColumn.force-hshift = #-3
          f8 f g
        }
      }
      {
        \voiceTwo
        f8.[ g16]
        \oneVoice
      } >>
    a8( b) c
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "lahlah" {
    Ju -- ras -- sic Park
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "lahlah" {
    % Tricky: need to set associatedVoice
    % one syllable too soon!
    \set associatedVoice = "alternative" % applies to "ran"
    Ty --
    ran --
    no --
    \set associatedVoice = "lahlah" % applies to "rus"
    sau -- rus Rex
  } >>

[image of music]

The text for the first stanza is set to the melody called ‘lahlah’ in the usual way, but the second stanza is set initally to the lahlah context and is then switched to the alternative melody for the syllables ‘ran’ to ‘sau’ by the lines:

\set associatedVoice = "alternative" % applies to "ran"
Ty --
ran --
no --
\set associatedVoice = "lahlah" % applies to "rus"
sau -- rus Rex

Here, alternative is the name of the Voice context containing the triplet.

Note the placement of the \set associatedVoice command – it appears to be one syllable too early, but this is correct.

Note: The set associatedVoice command must be placed one syllable before the one at which the switch to the new voice is to occur. In other words, changing the associated Voice happens one syllable later than expected. This is for technical reasons, and it is not a bug.


Printing stanzas at the end

Sometimes it is appropriate to have one stanza set to the music, and the rest added in verse form at the end of the piece. This can be accomplished by adding the extra verses into a \markup section outside of the main score block. Notice that there are two different ways to force linebreaks when using \markup.

melody = \relative c' {
e d c d | e e e e |
d d e d | c1 |
}

text = \lyricmode {
\set stanza = #"1." Ma- ry had a lit- tle lamb,
its fleece was white as snow.
}

\score{ <<
  \new Voice = "one" { \melody }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "one" \text
>>
  \layout { }
}
\markup { \column{
  \line{ Verse 2. }
  \line{ All the children laughed and played }
  \line{ To see a lamb at school. }
  }
}
\markup{
  \wordwrap-string #"
  Verse 3.

  Mary took it home again,

  It was against the rule."
}

[image of music]


Printing stanzas at the end in multiple columns

When a piece of music has many verses, they are often printed in multiple columns across the page. An outdented verse number often introduces each verse. The following example shows how to produce such output in LilyPond.

melody = \relative c' {
  c4 c c c | d d d d
}

text = \lyricmode {
  \set stanza = #"1." This is verse one.
  It has two lines.
}

\score {
  <<
    \new Voice = "one" { \melody }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "one" \text
  >>
  \layout { }
}

\markup {
  \fill-line {
    \hspace #0.1 % moves the column off the left margin;
     % can be removed if space on the page is tight
     \column {
      \line { \bold "2."
        \column {
          "This is verse two."
          "It has two lines."
        }
      }
      \combine \null \vspace #0.1 % adds vertical spacing between verses
      \line { \bold "3."
        \column {
          "This is verse three."
          "It has two lines."
        }
      }
    }
    \hspace #0.1 % adds horizontal spacing between columns;
    \column {
      \line { \bold "4."
        \column {
          "This is verse four."
          "It has two lines."
        }
      }
      \combine \null \vspace #0.1 % adds vertical spacing between verses
      \line { \bold "5."
        \column {
          "This is verse five."
          "It has two lines."
        }
      }
    }
  \hspace #0.1 % gives some extra space on the right margin;
  % can be removed if page space is tight
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Internals Reference: LyricText, StanzaNumber.


2.1.4 Songs


References for songs

Songs are usually written on three staves with the melody for the singer on the top staff and two staves of piano accompaniment at the bottom. The lyrics of the first stanza are printed immediately underneath the top staff. If there are just a small number of further stanzas these can be printed immediately under the first one, but if there are more stanzas than can be easily accommodated there the second and subsequent stanzas are printed after the music as stand-alone text.

All the notational elements needed to write songs are fully described elsewhere:

See also

Learning Manual: Songs.

Notation Reference: Common notation for vocal music, Displaying chords, Displaying staves, Keyboard and other multi-staff instruments, Placing lyrics vertically, Stanzas.

Snippets: Vocal music.


Lead sheets

Lead sheets may be printed by combining vocal parts and ‘chord mode’; this syntax is explained in Chord notation.

Selected Snippets

Simple lead sheet

When put together, chord names, a melody, and lyrics form a lead sheet:

<<
  \chords { c2 g:sus4 f e }
  \relative c'' {
    a4 e c8 e r4
    b2 c4( d)
  }
  \addlyrics { One day this shall be free __ }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Chord notation.


2.1.5 Choral

This section discusses notation issues that relate most directly to choral music. This includes anthems, part songs, oratorio, etc.


References for choral

Choral music is usually notated on two, three or four staves within a ChoirStaff group. Accompaniment, if required, is placed beneath in a PianoStaff group, which is usually reduced in size for rehearsal of a cappella choral works. The notes for each vocal part are placed in a Voice context, with each staff being given either a single vocal part (i.e., one Voice) or a pair of vocal parts (i.e., two Voices).

Words are placed in Lyrics contexts, either underneath each corresponding music staff, or one above and one below the music staff if this contains the music for two parts.

Several common topics in choral music are described fully elsewhere:

Predefined commands

\oneVoice, \voiceOne, \voiceTwo.

See also

Learning Manual: Four-part SATB vocal score, Vocal ensembles templates.

Notation Reference: Context layout order, Grouping staves, Shape note heads, Single-staff polyphony.

Snippets: Vocal music.

Internals Reference: ChoirStaff, Lyrics, PianoStaff.


Score layouts for choral

Choral music containing four staves, with or without piano accompaniment, is usually laid out with two systems per page. Depending on the page size, achieving this may require changes to several default settings. The following settings should be considered:

Dynamic markings by default are placed below the staff, but in choral music they are usually placed above the staff in order to avoid the lyrics. The predefined command \dynamicUp does this for the dynamic markings in a single Voice context. If there are many Voice contexts this predefined command would have to be placed in every one. Alternatively its expanded form can be used to place all dynamic markings in the entire score above their respective staves, as shown here:

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff <<
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice {
        \relative c'' { g4\f g g g }
      }
    }
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice {
        \relative c' { d4 d d\p d }
      }
    }
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Score
      \override DynamicText.direction = #UP
      \override DynamicLineSpanner.direction = #UP
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\dynamicUp, \dynamicDown, \dynamicNeutral.

See also

Notation Reference: Changing spacing, Displaying spacing, Fitting music onto fewer pages, Page layout, Score layout, Separating systems, Setting the staff size, Using an extra voice for breaks, Vertical spacing.

Internals Reference: VerticalAxisGroup, StaffGrouper.


Divided voices

Using arpeggioBracket to make divisi more visible

The arpeggioBracket can be used to indicate the division of voices where there are no stems to provide the information. This is often seen in choral music.

\include "english.ly"

\score {
  \relative c'' {
    \key a \major
    \time 2/2
    <<
      \new Voice = "upper"
      <<
        { \voiceOne \arpeggioBracket
          a2( b2
          <b d>1\arpeggio)
          <cs e>\arpeggio ~
          <cs e>4
        }
        \addlyrics { \lyricmode { A -- men. } }
      >>
      \new Voice = "lower"
      { \voiceTwo
        a1 ~
        1
        a ~
        4 \bar "|."
      }
    >>
  }
  \layout { ragged-right = ##t }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Expressive marks as lines.


2.1.6 Opera and stage musicals

The music, lyrics and dialogue to opera and stage musicals are usually set out in one or more of the following forms:

The sections in the LilyPond documentation which cover the topics needed to create scores in the styles commonly found in opera and musicals are indicated in the References below. This is followed by sections covering those techniques which are peculiar to typesetting opera and musical scores.


References for opera and stage musicals

See also

Musical Glossary: Frenched score, Frenched staves, transposing instrument.

Notation Reference: Creating footnotes, Grouping staves, Hiding staves, Instrument transpositions, Nested staff groups, Page layout, Separating systems, Transpose, Writing parts, Writing text.

Snippets: Vocal music.


Character names

Character names are usually shown to the left of the staff when the staff is dedicated to that character alone:

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \set Staff.vocalName = \markup \smallCaps Kaspar
      \set Staff.shortVocalName = \markup \smallCaps Kas.
      \relative c' {
        \clef "G_8"
        c4 c c c
        \break
        c4 c c c
      }
    }
    \new Staff {
      \set Staff.vocalName = \markup \smallCaps Melchior
      \set Staff.shortVocalName = \markup \smallCaps Mel
      \clef "bass"
      \relative c' {
        a4 a a a
        a4 a a a
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

When two or more characters share a staff the character’s name is usually printed above the staff at the start of every section applying to that character. This can be done with markup. Often a specific font is used for this purpose.

\clef "G_8"
c4^\markup \fontsize #1 \smallCaps Kaspar
c c c
\clef "bass"
a4^\markup \fontsize #1 \smallCaps Melchior
a a a
\clef "G_8"
c4^\markup \fontsize #1 \smallCaps Kaspar
c c c

[image of music]

Alternatively, if there are many character changes, it may be easier to set up “instrument” definitions for each character at the top level so that \instrumentSwitch can be used to indicate each change.

\addInstrumentDefinition #"kaspar"
  #`((instrumentTransposition . ,(ly:make-pitch -1 0 0))
     (shortInstrumentName . "Kas.")
     (clefGlyph . "clefs.G")
     (clefTransposition . -7)
     (middleCPosition . 1)
     (clefPosition . -2)
     (instrumentCueName . ,(markup #:fontsize 1 #:smallCaps "Kaspar"))
     (midiInstrument . "voice oohs"))

\addInstrumentDefinition #"melchior"
  #`((instrumentTransposition . ,(ly:make-pitch 0 0 0))
     (shortInstrumentName . "Mel.")
     (clefGlyph . "clefs.F")
     (clefTransposition . 0)
     (middleCPosition . 6)
     (clefPosition . 2)
     (instrumentCueName . ,(markup #:fontsize 1 #:smallCaps "Melchior"))
     (midiInstrument . "choir aahs"))

\relative c' {
  \instrumentSwitch "kaspar"
  c4 c c c
  \instrumentSwitch "melchior"
  a4 a a a
  \instrumentSwitch "kaspar"
  c4 c c c
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Instrument names, Scheme functions, Text, Text markup commands.

Extending LilyPond: Markup construction in Scheme.


Musical cues

Musical cues can be inserted in Vocal Scores, Vocal Books and Orchestral Parts to indicate what music in another part immediately precedes an entry. Also, cues are often inserted in the piano reduction in Vocal Scores to indicate what each orchestral instrument is playing. This aids the conductor when a full Conductors’ Score is not available.

The basic mechanism for inserting cues is fully explained in the main text, see Quoting other voices and Formatting cue notes. But when many cues have to be inserted, for example, as an aid to a conductor in a vocal score, the instrument name must be positioned carefully just before and close to the start of the cue notes. The following example shows how this is done.

flute = \relative c'' {
  s4 s4 e g
}
\addQuote "flute" { \flute }

pianoRH = \relative c'' {
  c4. g8
  % position name of cue-ing instrument just before the cue notes,
  % and above the staff
  \new CueVoice {
    \override InstrumentSwitch.self-alignment-X = #RIGHT
    \set instrumentCueName = "Flute"
  }
  \cueDuring "flute" #UP { g4 bes4 }
}
pianoLH = \relative c { c4 <c' e> e, <g c> }

\score {
  \new PianoStaff <<
    \new Staff {
      \pianoRH
    }
    \new Staff {
      \clef "bass"
      \pianoLH
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

If a transposing instrument is being quoted the instrument part should specify its key so the conversion of its cue notes will be done automatically. The example below shows this transposition for a B-flat clarinet. The notes in this example are low on the staff so DOWN is specified in \cueDuring (so the stems are down) and the instrument name is positioned below the staff. Note also that the piano right-hand voice is explicitly declared. This is because the cue notes in this example begin at the start of the first bar and this would otherwise cause the entire piano right-hand notes to be placed in a CueVoice context.

clarinet = \relative c' {
  \transposition bes
  fis4 d d c
}
\addQuote "clarinet" { \clarinet }

pianoRH = \relative c'' {
  \transposition c'
  % position name of cue-ing instrument below the staff
  \new CueVoice {
    \override InstrumentSwitch.self-alignment-X = #RIGHT
    \override InstrumentSwitch.direction = #DOWN
    \set instrumentCueName = "Clar."
  }
  \cueDuring "clarinet" #DOWN { c4. g8 }
  g4 bes4
}
pianoLH = \relative c { c4 <c' e> e, <g c> }

\score {
  <<
    \new PianoStaff <<
      \new Staff {
        \new Voice {
          \pianoRH
        }
      }
      \new Staff {
        \clef "bass"
        \pianoLH
      }
    >>
  >>
}

[image of music]

From these two examples it is clear that inserting many cues in a Vocal Score would be tedious, and the notes of the piano part would become obscured. However, as the following snippet shows, it is possible to define a music function to reduce the amount of typing and to make the piano notes clearer.

Selected Snippets

Adding orchestral cues to a vocal score

This shows one approach to simplify adding many orchestral cues to the piano reduction in a vocal score. The music function \cueWhile takes four arguments: the music from which the cue is to be taken, as defined by \addQuote, the name to be inserted before the cue notes, then either #UP or #DOWN to specify either \voiceOne with the name above the staff or \voiceTwo with the name below the staff, and finally the piano music in parallel with which the cue notes are to appear. The name of the cued instrument is positioned to the left of the cued notes. Many passages can be cued, but they cannot overlap each other in time.

cueWhile =
#(define-music-function
   (parser location instrument name dir music)
   (string? string? ly:dir? ly:music?)
   #{
     \cueDuring $instrument #dir {
       \once \override TextScript.self-alignment-X = #RIGHT
       \once \override TextScript.direction = $dir
       <>-\markup { \tiny #name }
       $music
     }
   #})

flute = \relative c'' {
  \transposition c'
  s4 s4 e g
}
\addQuote "flute" { \flute }

clarinet = \relative c' {
  \transposition bes
  fis4 d d c
}
\addQuote "clarinet" { \clarinet }

singer = \relative c'' { c4. g8 g4 bes4 }
words = \lyricmode { here's the lyr -- ics }

pianoRH = \relative c'' {
  \transposition c'
  \cueWhile "clarinet" "Clar." #DOWN { c4. g8 }
  \cueWhile "flute" "Flute" #UP { g4 bes4 }
}
pianoLH = \relative c { c4 <c' e> e, <g c> }

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "singer" {
        \singer
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "singer"
      \words
    }
    \new PianoStaff <<
      \new Staff {
        \new Voice {
          \pianoRH
        }
      }
      \new Staff {
        \clef "bass"
        \pianoLH
      }
    >>
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Musical Glossary: cue-notes.

Notation Reference: Aligning objects, Direction and placement, Formatting cue notes, Quoting other voices, Using music functions.

Snippets: Vocal music.

Internals Reference: InstrumentSwitch, CueVoice.

Known issues and warnings

\cueDuring automatically inserts a CueVoice context and all cue notes are placed in that context. This means it is not possible to have two overlapping sequences of cue notes by this technique. Overlapping sequences could be entered by explicitly declaring separate CueVoice contexts and using \quoteDuring to extract and insert the cue notes.


Spoken music

Such effects as ‘parlato’ or ‘Sprechgesang’ require performers to speak without pitch but still with rhythm; these are notated by cross note heads, as demonstrated in Special note heads.


Dialogue over music

Dialogue over music is usually printed over the staves in an italic font, with the start of each phrase keyed in to a particular music moment.

For short interjections a simple markup suffices.

a4^\markup { \smallCaps { Alex - } \italic { He's gone } } a a a
a4 a a^\markup { \smallCaps { Bethan - } \italic Where? } a
a4 a a a

[image of music]

For longer phrases it may be necessary to expand the music to make the words fit neatly. There is no provision in LilyPond to do this fully automatically, and some manual intervention to layout the page will be necessary.

For long phrases or for passages with a lot of closely packed dialogue, using a Lyrics context will give better results. The Lyrics context should not be associated with a music Voice; instead each section of dialogue should be given an explicit duration. If there is a gap in the dialogue, the final word should be separated from the rest and the duration split between them so that the underlying music spaces out smoothly.

If the dialogue extends for more than one line it will be necessary to manually insert \breaks and adjust the placing of the dialogue to avoid running into the right margin. The final word of the last measure on a line should also be separated out, as above.

Here is an example illustrating how this might be done.

music = \relative c'' {
  \repeat unfold 3 { a4 a a a }
}

dialogue = \lyricmode {
  \markup {
    \fontsize #1 \upright \smallCaps Abe:
    "Say this over measures one and"
  }4*7
  "two"4 |
  \break
  "and this over measure"4*3
  "three"4 |
}

\score {
  <<
    \new Lyrics \with {
      \override LyricText.font-shape = #'italic
      \override LyricText.self-alignment-X = #LEFT
    }
    { \dialogue }
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice { \music }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Manual syllable durations, Text.

Internal Reference: LyricText.


2.1.7 Chants psalms and hymns

The music and words for chants, psalms and hymns usually follow a well-established format in any particular church. Although the formats may differ from church to church the type-setting problems which arise are broadly similar, and are covered in this section.


References for chants and psalms

Typesetting Gregorian chant in various styles of ancient notation is described in Ancient notation.

See also

Notation reference: Ancient notation.

Snippets: Vocal music.


Setting a chant

Modern chant settings use modern notation with varying numbers of elements taken from ancient notation. Some of the elements and methods to consider are shown here.

Chants often use quarter notes without stems to indicate the pitch, with the rhythm being taken from the spoken rhythm of the words.

stemOff = { \hide Staff.Stem }

\relative c' {
  \stemOff
  a'4 b c2 |
}

[image of music]

Chants often omit the bar lines or use shortened or dotted bar lines to indicate pauses in the music. To omit all bar lines from all staves remove the bar line engraver completely:

\score {
  \new StaffGroup <<
    \new Staff {
      \relative c'' {
        a4 b c2 |
        a4 b c2 |
        a4 b c2 |
      }
    }
    \new Staff {
      \relative c'' {
        a4 b c2 |
        a4 b c2 |
        a4 b c2 |
      }
    }
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Staff
      \remove "Bar_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Bar lines can also be removed on a staff-by-staff basis:

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff <<
    \new Staff
    \with { \remove "Bar_engraver" } {
      \relative c'' {
        a4 b c2 |
        a4 b c2 |
        a4 b c2 |
      }
    }
    \new Staff {
      \relative c'' {
        a4 b c2 |
        a4 b c2 |
        a4 b c2 |
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

To remove bar lines from just a section of music treat it as a cadenza. If the section is long you may need to insert dummy bar lines with \bar "" to show where the line should break.

a4 b c2 |
\cadenzaOn
a4 b c2
a4 b c2
\bar ""
a4 b c2
a4 b c2
\cadenzaOff
a4 b c2 |
a4 b c2 |

[image of music]

Rests or pauses in chants can be indicated by modified bar lines.

a4
\cadenzaOn
b c2
a4 b c2
\bar "'"
a4 b c2
a4 b c2
\bar ";"
a4 b c2
\bar "!"
a4 b c2
\bar "||"

[image of music]

Alternatively, the notation used in Gregorian chant for pauses or rests is sometimes used even though the rest of the notation is modern. This uses a modified \breathe mark:

divisioMinima = {
  \once \override BreathingSign.stencil = #ly:breathing-sign::divisio-minima
  \once \override BreathingSign.Y-offset = #0
  \breathe
}
divisioMaior = {
  \once \override BreathingSign.stencil = #ly:breathing-sign::divisio-maior
  \once \override BreathingSign.Y-offset = #0
  \breathe
}
divisioMaxima = {
  \once \override BreathingSign.stencil = #ly:breathing-sign::divisio-maxima
  \once \override BreathingSign.Y-offset = #0
  \breathe
}
finalis = {
  \once \override BreathingSign.stencil = #ly:breathing-sign::finalis
  \once \override BreathingSign.Y-offset = #0
  \breathe
}

\score {
  \relative c'' {
    g2 a4 g
    \divisioMinima
    g2 a4 g
    \divisioMaior
    g2 a4 g
    \divisioMaxima
    g2 a4 g
    \finalis
  }
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Staff
      \remove "Bar_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Chants usually omit the time signature and often omit the clef too.

\score {
  \new Staff {
    \relative c'' {
      a4 b c2 |
      a4 b c2 |
      a4 b c2 |
    }
  }
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Staff
      \remove "Bar_engraver"
      \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
      \remove "Clef_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Chants for psalms in the Anglican tradition are usually either single, with 7 bars of music, or double, with two lots of 7 bars. Each group of 7 bars is divided into two halves, corresponding to the two halves of each verse, usually separated by a double bar line. Only whole and half notes are used. The 1st bar in each half always contains a single chord of whole notes. This is the “reciting note”. Chants are usually centered on the page.

SopranoMusic = \relative g' {
  g1 | c2 b | a1 | \bar "||"
  a1 | d2 c | c b | c1 | \bar "||"
}

AltoMusic = \relative c' {
  e1 | g2 g | f1 |
  f1 | f2 e | d d | e1 |
}

TenorMusic = \relative a {
  c1 | c2 c | c1 |
  d1 | g,2 g | g g | g1 |
}

BassMusic =  \relative c {
  c1 | e2 e | f1 |
  d1 | b2 c | g' g | c,1 |
}

global = {
  \time 2/2
}

% Use markup to center the chant on the page
\markup {
  \fill-line {
    \score {  % centered
      <<
        \new ChoirStaff <<
          \new Staff <<
            \global
            \clef "treble"
            \new Voice = "Soprano" <<
              \voiceOne
              \SopranoMusic
            >>
            \new Voice = "Alto" <<
              \voiceTwo
              \AltoMusic
            >>
          >>
          \new Staff <<
            \clef "bass"
            \global
            \new Voice = "Tenor" <<
              \voiceOne
              \TenorMusic
            >>
            \new Voice = "Bass" <<
              \voiceTwo
              \BassMusic
            >>
          >>
        >>
      >>
      \layout {
        \context {
          \Score
          \override SpacingSpanner.base-shortest-duration = #(ly:make-moment 1/2)
        }
        \context {
          \Staff
          \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
        }
      }
    }  % End score
  }
}  % End markup

[image of music]

Some other approaches to setting such a chant are shown in the first of the following snippets.

Selected Snippets

Chant or psalms notation

This form of notation is used for the chant of the Psalms, where verses aren’t always the same length.

stemOff = \hide Staff.Stem
stemOn  = \undo \stemOff

\score {
  \new Staff \with { \remove "Time_signature_engraver" }
  {
    \key g \minor
    \cadenzaOn
    \stemOff a'\breve bes'4 g'4
    \stemOn a'2 \bar "||"
    \stemOff a'\breve g'4 a'4
    \stemOn f'2 \bar "||"
    \stemOff a'\breve^\markup { \italic flexe }
    \stemOn g'2 \bar "||"
  }
}

[image of music]

Canticles and other liturgical texts may be set more freely, and may use notational elements from ancient music. Often the words are shown underneath and aligned with the notes. If so, the notes are spaced in accordance with the syllables rather than the notes’ durations.

Ancient notation template – modern transcription of gregorian music

This example demonstrates how to do modern transcription of Gregorian music. Gregorian music has no measure, no stems; it uses only half and quarter note heads, and special marks, indicating rests of different length.

\include "gregorian.ly"

chant = \relative c' {
  \set Score.timing = ##f
  f4 a2 \divisioMinima
  g4 b a2 f2 \divisioMaior
  g4( f) f( g) a2 \finalis
}

verba = \lyricmode {
  Lo -- rem ip -- sum do -- lor sit a -- met
}

\score {
  \new Staff <<
    \new Voice = "melody" \chant
    \new Lyrics = "one" \lyricsto melody \verba
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Staff
      \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
      \remove "Bar_engraver"
      \hide Stem
    }
    \context {
      \Voice
      \override Stem.length = #0
    }
    \context {
      \Score
      barAlways = ##t
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Learning Manual: Visibility and color of objects, Vocal ensembles templates.

Notation Reference: Ancient notation, Bar lines, Modifying context plug-ins, Typesetting Gregorian chant, Unmetered music, Visibility of objects.


Pointing a psalm

The words to an Anglican psalm are usually printed in separate verses centered underneath the chant.

Single chants (with 7 bars) are repeated for every verse. Double chants (with 14 bars) are repeated for every pair of verses. Marks are inserted in the words to show how they should be fitted to the chant. Each verse is divided into two halves. A colon is usually used to indicate this division. This corresponds to the double bar line in the music. The words before the colon are sung to the first three bars of music; the words after the colon are sung to the last four bars.

Single bar lines (or in some psalters an inverted comma or similar symbol) are inserted between words to indicate where the bar lines in the music fall. In markup mode a single bar line can be entered with the bar check symbol, |.

\markup {
  \fill-line {
    \column {
      \left-align {
        \line { O come let us sing | unto the | Lord : let }
        \line { us heartily rejoice in the | strength of | our }
        \line { sal- | -vation. }
      }
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Other symbols may require glyphs from the fetaMusic fonts. For details, see Fonts.

tick = \markup {
  \raise #1 \fontsize #-5 \musicglyph #"scripts.rvarcomma"
}
\markup {
  \fill-line {
    \column {
      \left-align {
        \line { O come let us sing \tick unto the \tick Lord : let }
        \line {
          us heartily rejoice in the \tick strength of \tick our
        }
        \line { sal \tick vation. }
      }
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Where there is one whole note in a bar all the words corresponding to that bar are recited on that one note in speech rhythm. Where there are two notes in a bar there will usually be only one or two corresponding syllables. If there are more that two syllables a dot is usually inserted to indicate where the change in note occurs.

dot = \markup {
  \raise #0.7 \musicglyph #"dots.dot"
}
tick = \markup {
  \raise #1 \fontsize #-5 \musicglyph #"scripts.rvarcomma"
}
\markup {
  \fill-line {
    \column {
      \left-align {
        \line {
          O come let us sing \tick unto \dot the \tick Lord : let
        }
        \line {
          us heartily rejoice in the \tick strength of \tick our
        }
        \line { sal \tick vation. }
      }
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

In some psalters an asterisk is used to indicate a break in a recited section instead of a comma, and stressed or slightly lengthened syllables are indicated in bold text.

dot = \markup {
  \raise #0.7 \musicglyph #"dots.dot"
}
tick = \markup {
  \raise #1 \fontsize #-5 \musicglyph #"scripts.rvarcomma"
}
\markup {
  \fill-line {
    \column {
      \left-align {
        \line { Today if ye will hear his voice * }
        \line {
          \concat { \bold hard en }
          | not your | hearts : as in the pro-
        }
        \line { vocation * and as in the \bold day of tempt- | }
        \line { -ation | in the | wilderness. }
      }
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

In other psalters an accent is placed over the syllable to indicate stress.

tick = \markup {
  \raise #2 \fontsize #-5 \musicglyph #"scripts.rvarcomma"
}
\markup {
  \fill-line {
    \column {
      \left-align {
        \line {
          O come let us \concat {
            si \combine \tick ng
          }
          | unto the | Lord : let
        }
        \line {
          us heartily \concat {
            rejo \combine \tick ice
          }
          in the | strength of | our
        }
        \line { sal- | -vation. }
      }
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

The use of markup to center text, and arrange lines in columns is described in Formatting text.

Most of these elements are shown in one or other of the two verses in the template, see Psalms.

See also

Learning Manual: Psalms, Vocal ensembles templates.

Notation Reference: Fonts, Formatting text.


Partial measures in hymn tunes

Hymn tunes frequently start and end every line of music with partial measures so that each line of music corresponds exactly with a line of text. This requires a \partial command at the start of the music and \bar "|" or \bar "||" commands at the end of each line.

Hymn template

This code shows one way of setting out a hymn tune when each line starts and ends with a partial measure. It also shows how to add the verses as stand-alone text under the music.

Timeline = {
  \time 4/4
  \tempo 4=96
  \partial 2
  s2 | s1 | s2 \breathe s2 | s1 | s2 \bar "||" \break
  s2 | s1 | s2 \breathe s2 | s1 | s2 \bar "||"
}

SopranoMusic = \relative g' {
  g4 g | g g g g | g g g g | g g g g | g2
  g4 g | g g g g | g g g g | g g g g | g2
}

AltoMusic = \relative c' {
  d4 d | d d d d | d d d d | d d d d | d2
  d4 d | d d d d | d d d d | d d d d | d2
}

TenorMusic = \relative a {
  b4 b | b b b b | b b b b | b b b b | b2
  b4 b | b b b b | b b b b | b b b b | b2
}

BassMusic =  \relative g {
  g4 g | g g g g | g g g g | g g g g | g2
  g4 g | g g g g | g g g g | g g g g | g2
}

global = {
 \key g \major
}

\score {  % Start score
  <<
    \new PianoStaff <<  % Start pianostaff
      \new Staff <<  % Start Staff = RH
        \global
        \clef "treble"
        \new Voice = "Soprano" <<  % Start Voice = "Soprano"
          \Timeline
          \voiceOne
          \SopranoMusic
        >>  % End Voice = "Soprano"
        \new Voice = "Alto" <<  % Start Voice = "Alto"
          \Timeline
          \voiceTwo
          \AltoMusic
        >>  % End Voice = "Alto"
      >>  % End Staff = RH
      \new Staff <<  % Start Staff = LH
        \global
        \clef "bass"
        \new Voice = "Tenor" <<  % Start Voice = "Tenor"
          \Timeline
          \voiceOne
          \TenorMusic
        >>  % End Voice = "Tenor"
        \new Voice = "Bass" <<  % Start Voice = "Bass"
          \Timeline
          \voiceTwo
          \BassMusic
        >>  % End Voice = "Bass"
      >>  % End Staff = LH
    >>  % End pianostaff
  >>
}  % End score

\markup {
  \fill-line {
    ""
    {
      \column {
        \left-align {
          "This is line one of the first verse"
          "This is line two of the same"
          "And here's line three of the first verse"
          "And the last line of the same"
        }
      }
    }
    ""
  }
}

\paper {  % Start paper block
  indent = 0     % don't indent first system
  line-width = 130   % shorten line length to suit music
}  % End paper block

[image of music]


2.1.8 Ancient vocal music

Ancient vocal music is supported, as explained in Ancient notation.

See also

Notation Reference: Ancient notation.


2.2 Keyboard and other multi-staff instruments

[image of music]

This section discusses several aspects of music notation that are unique to keyboard instruments and other instruments notated on many staves, such as harps and vibraphones. For the purposes of this section this entire group of multi-staff instruments is called “keyboards” for short, even though some of them do not have a keyboard.


2.2.1 Common notation for keyboards

This section discusses notation issues that may arise for most keyboard instruments.


References for keyboards

Keyboard instruments are usually notated with Piano staves. These are two or more normal staves coupled with a brace. The same notation is also used for other keyed instruments. Organ music is normally written with two staves inside a PianoStaff group and third, normal staff for the pedals.

The staves in keyboard music are largely independent, but sometimes voices can cross between the two staves. This section discusses notation techniques particular to keyboard music.

Several common issues in keyboard music are covered elsewhere:

See also

Learning Manual: Real music example, Other uses for tweaks.

Notation Reference: Grouping staves, Instrument names, Collision resolution, Writing music in parallel, Fingering instructions, List of articulations, Grid lines, Ties, Arpeggio, Tremolo repeats.

Internals Reference: PianoStaff.

Snippets: Keyboards.


Changing staff manually

Voices can be switched between staves manually, using the command

\change Staff = staffname

The string staffname is the name of the staff. It switches the current voice from its current staff to the staff called staffname. Typical values for staffname are "up" and "down", or "RH" and "LH".

The staff to which the voice is being switched must exist at the time of the switch. If necessary, staves should be “kept alive”, see Keeping contexts alive.

Cross-staff notes are beamed automatically:

\new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff = "up" {
    <e' c'>8
    \change Staff = "down"
    g8 fis g
    \change Staff = "up"
    <g'' c''>8
    \change Staff = "down"
    e8 dis e
    \change Staff = "up"
  }
  \new Staff = "down" {
    \clef bass
    % keep staff alive
    s1
  }
>>

[image of music]

If the beaming needs to be tweaked, make any changes to the stem directions first. The beam positions are then measured from the center of the staff that is closest to the beam. For a simple example of beam tweaking, see notation Fixing overlapping notation.

Overlapping notation can result when voices cross staves:

\new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff = "up" {
    \voiceOne
    % Make space for fingering in the cross-staff voice
    \once\override DynamicLineSpanner.staff-padding = #4
    e''2\p\< d''\>
    c''1\!
  }
  \new Staff = "down" <<
    {
      \clef bass
      s4. e,8\rest g,2\rest
      c1
    } \\ {
      c8\( g c'
      \change Staff = "up"
      e' g' b'-3 a' g'\)
      f'1
    }
  >>
>>

[image of music]

The stem and slur overlap the intervening line of dynamics because automatic collision resolution is suspended for beams, slurs and other spanners that connect notes on different staves, as well as for stems and articulations if their placement is affected by a cross-staff spanner. The resulting collisions must be resolved manually, where necessary, using the methods in Fixing overlapping notation.

See also

Learning Manual: Fixing overlapping notation.

Notation Reference: Stems, Automatic beams, Keeping contexts alive.

Snippets: Keyboards.

Internals Reference: Beam, ContextChange.

Known issues and warnings

Beam collision avoidance does not work for automatic beams that end right before a change in staff. In this case use manual beams.


Changing staff automatically

Voices can be made to switch automatically between the top and the bottom staff. The syntax for this is

\autochange …music

This will create two staves inside the current staff group (usually a PianoStaff), called "up" and "down". The lower staff will be in the bass clef by default. The autochanger switches on the basis of the pitch (middle C is the turning point), and it looks ahead skipping over rests to switch in advance.

\new PianoStaff {
  \autochange {
    g4 a b c'
    d'4 r a g
  }
}

[image of music]

A \relative section that is outside of \autochange has no effect on the pitches of the music, so if necessary, put \relative inside \autochange.

If additional control is needed over the individual staves, they can be created manually with the names "up" and "down". The \autochange command will then switch its voice between the existing staves.

Note: If staves are created manually, they must be named "up" and "down".

For example, staves must be created manually in order to place a key signature in the lower staff:

\new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff = "up" {
    \new Voice = "melOne" {
      \key g \major
      \autochange \relative c' {
        g8 b a c b d c e
        d8 r fis, g a2
      }
    }
  }
  \new Staff = "down" {
    \key g \major
    \clef bass
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Changing staff manually.

Snippets: Keyboards.

Internals Reference: AutoChangeMusic.

Known issues and warnings

The staff switches may not end up in optimal places. For high quality output, staff switches should be specified manually.

Chords will not be split across the staves; they will be assigned to a staff based on the first note named in the chord construct.


Staff-change lines

Whenever a voice switches to another staff, a line connecting the notes can be printed automatically:

\new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff = "one" {
    \showStaffSwitch
    c1
    \change Staff = "two"
    b2 a
  }
  \new Staff = "two" {
    \clef bass
    s1*2
  }
>>

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\showStaffSwitch, \hideStaffSwitch.

See also

Snippets: Keyboards.

Internals Reference: Note_head_line_engraver, VoiceFollower.


Cross-staff stems

Chords that cross staves may be produced using the Span_stem_engraver. Care must be taken to ensure that automatic beams do not beam the notes on one staff when it’s not required on the other.

\layout {
  \context {
    \PianoStaff
    \consists #Span_stem_engraver
  }
}

{
  \new PianoStaff <<
    \new Staff {
      <b d'>4 r d'16\> e'8. g8 r\!
      e'8 f' g'4 e'2
    }
    \new Staff {
      \clef bass
      \voiceOne
      \autoBeamOff
      \crossStaff { <e g>4 e, g16 a8. c8} d
      \autoBeamOn
      g8 f g4 c2
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

For the time being, this engraver can not be specified by its name in double quotes, but rather prefixing its name with a hash symbol #, due to the way it is implemented.

Selected Snippets

Indicating cross-staff chords with arpeggio bracket

An arpeggio bracket can indicate that notes on two different staves are to be played with the same hand. In order to do this, the PianoStaff must be set to accept cross-staff arpeggios and the arpeggios must be set to the bracket shape in the PianoStaff context.

(Debussy, Les collines d’Anacapri, m. 65)

\new PianoStaff <<
  \set PianoStaff.connectArpeggios = ##t
  \override PianoStaff.Arpeggio.stencil = #ly:arpeggio::brew-chord-bracket
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' {
      \key b \major
      \time 6/8
      b8-.(\arpeggio fis'-.\> cis-. e-. gis-. b-.)\!\fermata^\laissezVibrer
      \bar "||"
    }
  }
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' {
      \clef bass
      \key b \major
      <<
        {
          <a e cis>2.\arpeggio
        }
        \\
        {
          <a, e a,>2.
        }
      >>
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Keyboards.

Internals Reference: Stem.


2.2.2 Piano

This section discusses notation issues that relate most directly to the piano.


Piano pedals

Pianos generally have three pedals that alter the way sound is produced: sustain, sostenuto (sos.), and una corda (U.C.). Sustain pedals are also found on vibraphones and celestas.

c4\sustainOn d e g
<c, f a>1\sustainOff
c4\sostenutoOn e g c,
<bes d f>1\sostenutoOff
c4\unaCorda d e g
<d fis a>1\treCorde

[image of music]

There are three styles of pedal indications: text, bracket, and mixed. The sustain pedal and the una corda pedal use the text style by default while the sostenuto pedal uses mixed by default.

c4\sustainOn g c2\sustainOff
\set Staff.pedalSustainStyle = #'mixed
c4\sustainOn g c d
d\sustainOff\sustainOn g, c2\sustainOff
\set Staff.pedalSustainStyle = #'bracket
c4\sustainOn g c d
d\sustainOff\sustainOn g, c2
\bar "|."

[image of music]

The placement of the pedal commands matches the physical movement of the sustain pedal during piano performance. Pedalling to the final bar line is indicated by omitting the final pedal off command.

Pedal indications may be placed in a Dynamics context, which aligns them on a horizontal line.

See also

Notation Reference: Ties.

Snippets: Keyboards.

Internals Reference: SustainPedal, SustainPedalLineSpanner, SustainEvent, SostenutoPedal, SostenutoPedalLineSpanner, SostenutoEvent, UnaCordaPedal, UnaCordaPedalLineSpanner, UnaCordaEvent, PianoPedalBracket, Piano_pedal_engraver.


2.2.3 Accordion

This section discusses notation that is unique to the accordion.


Discant symbols

Accordions are often built with more than one set of reeds that may be in unison with, an octave above, or an octave below the written pitch. Each accordion maker has different names for the shifts that select the various reed combinations, such as oboe, musette, or bandonium, so a system of symbols has come into use to simplify the performance instructions.

Selected Snippets

Accordion register symbols

Accordion register symbols are available as \markup as well as as standalone music events (as register changes tend to occur between actual music events. Bass registers are not overly standardized. The available commands can be found in Accordion Registers.

\layout { ragged-right = ##t }

#(use-modules (scm accreg))

\new PianoStaff
<<
  \new Staff \relative
  { \clef treble \discant "10" r8 s32 f'[ bes f] s e[ a e] s d[ g d] s16 e32[ a]
    << { r16 <f bes> r <e a> r <d g> } \\ { d r a r bes r } >> | <cis e a>1 }
  \new Staff \relative
  { \clef treble \freeBass "1" r8 d'32 s16. c32 s16. bes32 s16. a32[ cis] s16
    \clef bass \stdBass "Master"
    << { r16 <f, bes d>^"b" r <e a c>^"am" r <d g bes>^"gm" |
	 <e a cis>1^"a" } \\
       { d8_"D" c_"C" bes_"B" | a1_"A" }
     >>
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Keyboards.