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, or explicitly instantiated, for example by using the empty chord, <>, see Chorded notes.

\new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff = "up" {
    % enforce creation of all contexts at this point of time
    <>
    \change Staff = "down" c2
    \change Staff = "up" c'2
  }
  \new Staff = "down" {
    \clef bass
    % keep staff alive
    s1
  }
>>

[image of music]

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 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.


LilyPond Notation Reference v2.25.17 (development-branch).