A ligature is a graphical symbol that represents at least two distinct notes. Ligatures originally appeared in the manuscripts of Gregorian chant notation to denote ascending or descending sequences of notes on the same syllable. They are also used in mensural notation.

Ligatures are entered by enclosing them in \[ and \]. Some ligature styles may need additional input syntax specific for this particular type of ligature. By default, the LigatureBracket engraver just puts a square bracket above the ligature.

\relative {
  \[ g' c, a' f d' \]
  a g f
  \[ e f a g \]

[image of music]

Three other ligature styles are available: ‘Vaticana’ for Gregorian chant, ‘Mensural’ for mensural music (only white mensural ligatures are supported for mensural music, and with certain limitations), and ‘Kievan’ for Kievan melismata. To use any of these styles, the default Ligature_bracket_engraver has to be replaced with one of the specialized ligature engravers in the Voice context. For more information, see White mensural ligatures, Gregorian square neume ligatures, and Kievan melismata.

See also

Music Glossary: ligature.

Notation Reference: White mensural ligatures, Gregorian square neume ligatures.

Known issues and warnings

Spacing required for ligatures is not currently implemented and, as a result, there may end up being too much space between them. Line breaking may also be unsatisfactory.

Lyrics might not align as expected when using ligatures.

Accidentals must not be printed within a ligature, but instead be collected and printed in front of it.

The syntax still uses the deprecated “infix” style \[ music expr \]. For consistency reasons, it will eventually be changed to “postfix” style note\[ … note\].

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