Chords

Chord notation


Adding a figured bass above or below the notes

When writing a figured bass, you can place the figures above or below the bass notes, by defining the BassFigureAlignmentPositioning.direction property (exclusively in a Staff context). Choices are #UP (or #1), #CENTER (or #0) and #DOWN (or #-1).

This property can be changed as many times as you wish. Use \once \override if you don’t want the override to apply to the whole score.

bass = {
  \clef bass
  g4 b, c d
  e d8 c d2
}

continuo = \figuremode {
  <_>4 <6>4 <5/>4
  \override Staff.BassFigureAlignmentPositioning.direction = #UP
  %\bassFigureStaffAlignmentUp
  < _+ >4 <6>
  \set Staff.useBassFigureExtenders = ##t
  \override Staff.BassFigureAlignmentPositioning.direction = #DOWN
  %\bassFigureStaffAlignmentDown
  <4>4. <4>8 <_+>4
}

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff = bassStaff \bass
    \context Staff = bassStaff \continuo
  >>
}

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Adding bar lines to ChordNames context

To add bar line indications in the ChordNames context, add the Bar_engraver.

\new ChordNames \with {
  \override BarLine.bar-extent = #'(-2 . 2)
  \consists "Bar_engraver"
}

\chordmode {
  f1:maj7 f:7 bes:7
}

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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

  % No tweak needed
  r8
  <f c'-5>8
  <f c'\5>8
   % Corrected to avoid collisions
  \override StrokeFinger.add-stem-support = ##t
  <f c'-\rightHandFinger #2 >8
}

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Bar chords notation for Guitar (with Text Spanner)

Here is how to print bar chords (or barre chords) or half-bar chords (just uncomment the appropriate line for to select either one). The syntax is : \bbarre #'fret_number' note(s)

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
%% %%%%%%%  Cut here ----- Start 'bbarred.ly'

%% C with slash -------------------------------
cWithSlash = \markup {
  \combine \roman C \translate #'(0.6 . -0.4) \draw-line #'(0 . 2.0)
}
%% Span -----------------------------------
%% Syntax: \bbarre #"text" { notes } - text = any number of box
bbarre =
#(define-music-function (barre location str music) (string? ly:music?)
   (let ((elts (extract-named-music music '(NoteEvent EventChord))))
     (if (pair? elts)
         (let ((first-element (first elts))
               (last-element (last elts)))
           (set! (ly:music-property first-element 'articulations)
                 (cons (make-music 'TextSpanEvent 'span-direction -1)
                       (ly:music-property first-element 'articulations)))
           (set! (ly:music-property last-element 'articulations)
                 (cons (make-music 'TextSpanEvent 'span-direction 1)
                       (ly:music-property last-element 'articulations))))))
   #{
       \once \override TextSpanner.font-size = #-2
       \once \override TextSpanner.font-shape = #'upright
       \once \override TextSpanner.staff-padding = #3
       \once \override TextSpanner.style = #'line
       \once \override TextSpanner.to-barline = ##f
       \once \override TextSpanner.bound-details =
            #`((left
                (text . ,#{ \markup { \draw-line #'( 0 . -.5) } #})
                (Y . 0)
                (padding . 0.25)
                (attach-dir . -2))
               (right
                (text . ,#{ \markup { \cWithSlash #str } #})
                (Y . 0)
                (padding . 0.25)
                (attach-dir . 2)))
%% uncomment this line for make full barred
       % \once  \override TextSpanner.bound-details.left.text =  \markup { "B" #str }
       $music
   #})

%% %%%%%%%  Cut here ----- End 'bbarred.ly'
%% Copy and change the last line for full barred. Rename in 'fbarred.ly'
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

%% Syntaxe: \bbarre #"text" { notes } - text = any number of box
\relative c'{ \clef "G_8" \stemUp \bbarre #"III" { <f a'>16[  c' d c d8] } }

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Changing chord separator

The separator between different parts of a chord name can be set to any markup.

\chords {
  c:7sus4
  \set chordNameSeparator
    = \markup { \typewriter | }
  c:7sus4
}

[image of music]


Changing the chord names to German or semi-German notation

The english naming of chords (default) can be changed to german (\germanChords replaces B and Bes with H and B) or semi-german (\semiGermanChords replaces B and Bes with H and Bb).

scm = \chordmode {
  c1/c | cis/cis
  b1/b | bis/bis | bes/bes
}


\layout {
  ragged-right = ##t
  \context {
    \ChordNames
    \consists "Instrument_name_engraver"
  }
}

<<
  \new ChordNames {
    \set instrumentName = #"default"
    \scm
  }
  \new ChordNames {
    \set instrumentName = #"german"
    \germanChords \scm
  }
  \new ChordNames {
    \set instrumentName = #"semi-german"
    \semiGermanChords \scm
  }
  \new ChordNames {
    \set instrumentName = #"italian"
    \italianChords \scm
  }
  \new ChordNames {
    \set instrumentName = #"french"
    \frenchChords \scm
  }
  \context Voice { \scm }
>>

[image of music]


Changing the positions of figured bass alterations

Accidentals and plus signs can appear before or after the numbers, depending on the figuredBassAlterationDirection and figuredBassPlusDirection properties.

\figures {
  <6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
  \set figuredBassAlterationDirection = #RIGHT
  <6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
  \set figuredBassPlusDirection = #RIGHT
  <6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
  \set figuredBassAlterationDirection = #LEFT
  <6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
}

[image of music]


Chord name exceptions

The property chordNameExceptions can be used to store a list of special notations for specific chords.

% modify maj9 and 6(add9)
% Exception music is chords with markups
chExceptionMusic = {
  <c e g b d'>1-\markup { \super "maj9" }
  <c e g a d'>1-\markup { \super "6(add9)" }
}

% Convert music to list and prepend to existing exceptions.
chExceptions = #( append
  ( sequential-music-to-chord-exceptions chExceptionMusic #t)
  ignatzekExceptions)

theMusic = \chordmode {
  g1:maj9 g1:6.9
  \set chordNameExceptions = #chExceptions
  g1:maj9 g1:6.9
}

\layout {
  ragged-right = ##t
}

<< \context ChordNames \theMusic
   \context Voice \theMusic
>>

[image of music]


chord name major7

The layout of the major 7 can be tuned with majorSevenSymbol.

\chords {
  c:7+
  \set majorSevenSymbol = \markup { j7 }
  c:7+
}

[image of music]


Clusters

Clusters are a device to denote that a complete range of notes is to be played.

fragment = \relative c' {
  c4 f <e d'>4
  <g a>8 <e a> a4 c2 <d b>4
  e2 c
}

<<
  \new Staff \fragment
  \new Staff \makeClusters \fragment
>>

[image of music]


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]


Cross-staff chords - beaming problems workaround

Sometimes it is better to use stems from the upper staff for creating cross-staff chords, because no problems with automatic beam collision avoidance then arise. If the stems from the lower staff were used in the following example, it would be necessary to change the automatic beam collision avoidance settings so that it doesn’t detect collisions between staves using \override Staff.Beam.collision-voice-only = ##t

\new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff = up
    \relative c' {
      <<
        { r4
          \override Stem.cross-staff = ##t
          \override Stem.length = #19 % this is in half-spaces,
              % so it makes stems 9.5 staffspaces long
          \override Stem.Y-offset = #-6 % stems are normally lengthened
              % upwards, so here we must lower the stem by the amount
              % equal to the lengthening - in this case (19 - 7) / 2
              % (7 is default stem length)
          e e e }
        { s4
          \change Staff = "bottom"
          \override NoteColumn.ignore-collision = ##t
          c, c c
        }
      >>
    }
  \new Staff = bottom
    \relative c' {
      \clef bass
      \voiceOne
      g8 a g a g a g a
    }
>>

[image of music]


Displaying complex chords

Here is a way to display a chord where the same note is played twice with different accidentals.

fixA = {
  \once \override Stem.length = #11
}

fixB = {
  \once \override NoteHead.X-offset = #1.7
  \once \override Stem.length = #7
  \once \override Stem.rotation = #'(45 0 0)
  \once \override Stem.extra-offset = #'(-0.1 . -0.2)
  \once \override Flag.style = #'no-flag
  \once \override Accidental.extra-offset = #'(4 . -.1)
}

\relative c' {
  << { \fixA <b d!>8 } \\ { \voiceThree \fixB dis } >> s
}

[image of music]


Manually break figured bass extenders for only some numbers

Figured bass often uses extenders to indicate continuation of the corresponding step. However, in this case lilypond is in greedy-mode and uses extenders whenever possible. To break individual extenders, one can simply use a modifier \! to a number, which breaks any extender attributed to that number right before the number.

bassfigures = \figuremode {
  \set useBassFigureExtenders = ##t
  <6 4>4 <6 4\!> <6 4\!> <6 4\!> |  <6\! 4\!>  <6 4> <6 4\!> <6 4>
}

<<
  \new Staff \relative c'' { c1 c1 }
  \new FiguredBass \bassfigures
>>

[image of music]


Showing chords at changes

Chord names can be displayed only at the start of lines and when the chord changes.

harmonies = \chordmode {
  c1:m c:m \break c:m c:m d
}

<<
  \new ChordNames {
    \set chordChanges = ##t
    \harmonies
  }
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' { \harmonies }
  }
>>

[image of music]


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]


Single staff template with notes lyrics and chords

This template allows the preparation of a song with melody, words, and chords.

melody = \relative c' {
  \clef treble
  \key c \major
  \time 4/4

  a4 b c d
}

text = \lyricmode {
  Aaa Bee Cee Dee
}

harmonies = \chordmode {
  a2 c
}

\score {
  <<
    \new ChordNames {
      \set chordChanges = ##t
      \harmonies
    }
    \new Voice = "one" { \autoBeamOff \melody }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "one" \text
  >>
  \layout { }
  \midi { }
}

[image of music]


Single staff template with notes lyrics chords and frets

Here is a simple lead sheet template with melody, lyrics, chords and fret diagrams.

verseI = \lyricmode {
  \set stanza = #"1."
  This is the first verse
}

verseII = \lyricmode {
  \set stanza = #"2."
  This is the second verse.
}

theChords = \chordmode {
  % insert chords for chordnames and fretboards here
  c2 g4 c
}

staffMelody = \relative c' {
   \key c \major
   \clef treble
   % Type notes for melody here
   c4 d8 e f4 g
   \bar "|."
}

\score {
  <<
    \context ChordNames { \theChords }
    \context FretBoards { \theChords }
    \new Staff {
      \context Voice = "voiceMelody" { \staffMelody }
    }
    \new Lyrics = "lyricsI" {
      \lyricsto "voiceMelody" \verseI
    }
    \new Lyrics = "lyricsII" {
      \lyricsto "voiceMelody" \verseII
    }
  >>
  \layout { }
  \midi { }
}

[image of music]


Single staff template with notes and chords

Want to prepare a lead sheet with a melody and chords? Look no further!

melody = \relative c' {
  \clef treble
  \key c \major
  \time 4/4

  f4 e8[ c] d4 g
  a2 ~ a
}

harmonies = \chordmode {
  c4:m f:min7 g:maj c:aug
  d2:dim b:sus
}

\score {
  <<
    \new ChordNames {
      \set chordChanges = ##t
      \harmonies
    }
    \new Staff \melody
  >>
  \layout{ }
  \midi { }
}

[image of music]


Vertically centering paired figured bass extenders

Where figured bass extender lines are being used by setting useBassFigureExtenders to true, pairs of congruent figured bass extender lines are vertically centered if figuredBassCenterContinuations is set to true.

<<
  \relative c' {
    c8 c b b a a c16 c b b
    c8 c b b a a c16 c b b
    c8 c b b a a c c b b
  }
  \figures {
    \set useBassFigureExtenders = ##t
    <6+ 4 3>4 <6 4 3>8 r
    <6+ 4 3>4 <6 4 3>8 <4 3+>16 r
    \set figuredBassCenterContinuations = ##t
    <6+ 4 3>4 <6 4 3>8 r
    <6+ 4 3>4 <6 4 3>8 <4 3+>16 r
    \set figuredBassCenterContinuations = ##f
    <6+ 4 3>4 <6 4 3>8 r
    <6+ 4 3>4 <6 4 3>8 <4 3+>8
  }
>>

[image of music]


Volta below chords

By adding the Volta_engraver to the relevant staff, volte can be put under chords.

\score {
  <<
    \chords {
      c1
      c1
    }
    \new Staff \with {
      \consists "Volta_engraver"
    }
    {
      \repeat volta 2 { c'1 }
      \alternative { c' }
    }
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Score
      \remove "Volta_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]


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