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.

\relative {
  a'4^\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 {
  \repeat unfold 3 { a'4 a a a }

dialogue = \lyricmode {
  \markup {
    \fontsize #1 \upright \smallCaps Abe:
    "Say this over measures one and"
  "two"4 |
  "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.

LilyPond — Notation Reference v2.25.8 (development-branch).