Polyphony with shared lyrics

When two voices with different rhythms share the same lyrics, aligning the lyrics to one of the voices may lead to problems in the other voice. For example, the second lyric extender below is too short, since the lyrics are aligned only to the top voice:

soprano = \relative { b'8( c d c) d2 }
alto = \relative { g'2 b8( a g a) }
words = \lyricmode { la __ la __ }

\new Staff <<
  \new Voice = "sopranoVoice" { \voiceOne \soprano }
  \new Voice { \voiceTwo \alto }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "sopranoVoice" \words
>>

[image of music]

To get the desired result, align the lyrics to a new NullVoice context containing a suitable combination of the two voices. The notes of the NullVoice context do not appear on the printed page, but can be used to align the lyrics appropriately:

soprano = \relative { b'8( c d c) d2 }
alto = \relative { g'2 b8( a g a) }
aligner = \relative { b'8( c d c) b( a g a) }
words = \lyricmode { la __ la __ }

\new Staff <<
  \new Voice { \voiceOne \soprano }
  \new Voice { \voiceTwo \alto }
  \new NullVoice = "aligner" \aligner
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "aligner" \words
>>

[image of music]

This method also can be used with the \partCombine function, which does not allow lyrics on its own:

soprano = \relative { b'8( c d c) d2 }
alto = \relative { g'2 b8( a g a) }
aligner = \relative { b'8( c d c) b( a g a) }
words = \lyricmode { la __ la __ }

\new Staff <<
  \new Voice \partCombine \soprano \alto
  \new NullVoice = "aligner" \aligner
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "aligner" \words
>>

[image of music]

Known issues and warnings

The \addlyrics function only works with Voice lyrics and so cannot be used with NullVoice.

The \partCombine function is described in Automatic part combining.

Lastly, this method can be used even when the voices are in different staves, and is not limited to only two voices:

soprano = \relative { b'8( c d c) d2 }
altoOne = \relative { g'2 b8( a b4) }
altoTwo = \relative { d'2 g4( fis8 g) }
aligner = \relative { b'8( c d c) d( d d d) }
words = \lyricmode { la __ la __ }

\new ChoirStaff \with {\accepts NullVoice } <<
  \new Staff \soprano
  \new NullVoice = "aligner" \aligner
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "aligner" \words
  \new Staff \partCombine \altoOne \altoTwo
>>

[image of music]


LilyPond Notation Reference v2.25.14 (development-branch).