Slurs

Slurs are entered using parentheses:

Note: In polyphonic music, a slur must be terminated in the same voice it began.

\relative {
  f''4( g a) a8 b(
  a4 g2 f4)
  <c e>2( <b d>2)
}

[image of music]

Slurs may be manually placed above or below the staff; see Direction and placement.

Simultaneous or overlapping slurs require special attention. Most occurrences of outer slurs actually indicate phrasing, and phrasing slurs may overlap a regular slur, see Phrasing slurs. When multiple regular slurs are needed in a single Voice, matching slur starts and ends need to be labeled by preceding them with \= followed by an identifying key (a symbol or non-negative integer).

\fixed c' {
  <c~ f\=1( g\=2( >2 <c e\=1) a\=2) >
}

[image of music]

Slurs can be solid, dotted, or dashed. Solid is the default slur style:

\relative {
  c'4( e g2)
  \slurDashed
  g4( e c2)
  \slurDotted
  c4( e g2)
  \slurSolid
  g4( e c2)
}

[image of music]

Slurs can also be made half-dashed (the first half dashed, the second half solid) or half-solid (the first half solid, the second half dashed):

\relative {
  c'4( e g2)
  \slurHalfDashed
  g4( e c2)
  \slurHalfSolid
  c4( e g2)
  \slurSolid
  g4( e c2)
}

[image of music]

Custom dash patterns for slurs can be defined:

\relative {
  c'4( e g2)
  \slurDashPattern 0.7 0.75
  g4( e c2)
  \slurDashPattern 0.5 2.0
  c4( e g2)
  \slurSolid
  g4( e c2)
}

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\slurUp, \slurDown, \slurNeutral, \slurDashed, \slurDotted, \slurHalfDashed, \slurHalfSolid, \slurDashPattern, \slurSolid.

Selected Snippets

Adjusting slur positions vertically

Using \override Slur.positions it is possible to set the vertical position of the start and end points of a slur to absolute values (or rather, forcing LilyPond’s slur algorithm to consider these values as desired). In many cases, this means a lot of trial and error until good values are found. You probably have tried the \offset command next just to find out that it doesn’t work for slurs, emitting a warning instead.

The code in this snippet allows you to tweak the vertical start and end positions by specifying relative changes, similar to \offset.

Syntax: \offsetPositions #'(dy1 . dy2)

offsetPositions =
#(define-music-function (offsets) (number-pair?)
  #{
     \once \override Slur.control-points =
       #(lambda (grob)
          (match-let ((((_ . y1) _ _ (_ . y2))
                       (ly:slur::calc-control-points grob))
                      ((off1 . off2) offsets))
            (set! (ly:grob-property grob 'positions)
                  (cons (+ y1 off1) (+ y2 off2)))
            (ly:slur::calc-control-points grob)))
  #})

\relative c'' {
  c4(^"default" c, d2)
  \offsetPositions #'(0 . 1)
  c'4(^"(0 . 1)" c, d2)
  \offsetPositions #'(0 . 2)
  c'4(^"(0 . 2)" c, d2)
  \bar "||"
  g4(^"default" a d'2)
  \offsetPositions #'(1 . 0)
  g,,4(^"(1 . 0)" a d'2)
  \offsetPositions #'(2 . 0)
  g,,4(^"(2 . 0)" a d'2)
}

[image of music]

Using double slurs for legato chords

Some composers write two slurs when they want legato chords. This can be achieved by setting doubleSlurs.

\relative c' {
  \set doubleSlurs = ##t
  <c e>4( <d f> <c e> <d f>)
}

[image of music]

Positioning text markups inside slurs

Text markups need to have the outside-staff-priority property set to false in order to be printed inside slurs.

\relative c'' {
  \override TextScript.avoid-slur = #'inside
  \override TextScript.outside-staff-priority = ##f
  c2(^\markup { \halign #-10 \natural } d4.) c8
}

[image of music]

Making slurs with complex dash structure

Slurs can be made with complex dash patterns by defining the dash-definition property. dash-definition is a list of dash-elements. A dash-element is a list of parameters defining the dash behavior for a segment of the slur.

The slur is defined in terms of the bezier parameter t which ranges from 0 at the left end of the slur to 1 at the right end of the slur. dash-element is a list (start-t stop-t dash-fraction dash-period). The region of the slur from start-t to stop-t will have a fraction dash-fraction of each dash-period black. dash-period is defined in terms of staff spaces. dash-fraction is set to 1 for a solid slur.

\relative c' {
  \once \override
    Slur.dash-definition = #'((0 0.3 0.1 0.75)
                                (0.3 0.6 1 1)
                                (0.65 1.0 0.4 0.75))
  c4( d e f)
  \once \override
    Slur.dash-definition = #'((0 0.25 1 1)
                                (0.3 0.7 0.4 0.75)
                                (0.75 1.0 1 1))
  c4( d e f)
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: slur.

Learning Manual: On the un-nestedness of brackets and ties.

Notation Reference: Direction and placement, Phrasing slurs.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: Slur.


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