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.

\relative c' {
  \override Beam.grow-direction = #LEFT
  \featherDurations 2/1
  { c16[ c c c c c c c] }
  \override Beam.grow-direction = #RIGHT
  \featherDurations 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


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.

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