Staff symbol

The \stopStaff and \startStaff commands can be used to stop or (re)start the staff lines respectively, from being printed at any point within a score.

\relative {
  \stopStaff f''4 d \startStaff g, e
  f'4 d \stopStaff g, e
  f'4 d \startStaff g, e
}

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Predefined commands

\startStaff, \stopStaff.

The lines of a staff belong to the StaffSymbol grob (including ledger lines) and can be modified using StaffSymbol properties, but these modifications must be made before the staff is (re)started.

The number of staff lines can be altered:

\relative {
  f''4 d \stopStaff
  \override Staff.StaffSymbol.line-count = 2
  \startStaff g, e |

  f'4 d \stopStaff
  \revert Staff.StaffSymbol.line-count
  \startStaff g, e |
}

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The position of each staff line can also be altered. A list of numbers sets each line’s position. 0 corresponds to the normal center line, and the normal line positions are (-4 -2 0 2 4). A single staff line is printed for every value entered so that the number of staff lines, as well as their position, can be changed with a single override (thus, the line-count property is disregarded if line-positions is set).

\relative {
  f''4 d \stopStaff
  \override Staff.StaffSymbol.line-positions = #'(1 3 5 -1 -3)
  \startStaff g, e |
  f'4 d \stopStaff
  \override Staff.StaffSymbol.line-positions = #'(8 6.5 -6 -8 -0.5)
  \startStaff g, e |
}

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To preserve typical stem directions (in the bottom half of the staff stems point up, in the top half they point down), align the center line (or space) of the customized staff with the position of the normal center line (0). The clef position and the position of middle C may need to be adjusted accordingly to fit the new lines. See Clef.

Staff line thickness can be altered. Ledger lines and note stems, by default, are also affected.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol.thickness = 3
} \relative {
  f''4 d g, e
}

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It is also possible to set ledger line thickness independently of staff lines.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol.thickness = 2
  \override StaffSymbol.ledger-line-thickness = #'(0.5 . 0.4)
} \relative {
  f'''4 a, a,, f
}

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The first value is multiplied by the staff line thickness, the second by the staff space and then the two values are added together to give the new thickness of the ledger line.

The vertical positions of ledger lines can be altered,

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol.ledger-positions = #'(-3 -2 -1 2 5 6)
} \relative {
  f'''4 a, a,, f
}

[image of music]

Additional ledger lines can be made to appear above or below note heads depending on the current position relative to other note heads that also have their own ledger lines.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol.ledger-extra = 4
} \relative {
  f'''4 a, d, f,
}

[image of music]

Ledger lines can also be made to appear inside the staff where custom staff lines are required. The example shows the default position of ledger lines when the explicit ledger-position is and is not set. The \stopStaff is needed in the example to revert the \override for the whole StaffSymbol.

\relative d' {
  \override Staff.StaffSymbol.line-positions = #'(-8 0 2 4)
  d4 e f g
  \stopStaff
  \startStaff
  \override Staff.StaffSymbol.ledger-positions = #'(-8 -6 (-4 -2) 0)
  d4 e f g
}

[image of music]

The distance between staff lines can be altered. This affects ledger line spacing as well.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol.staff-space = 1.5
} \relative {
  f'''4 d, g, e,
}

[image of music]

The width of a staff can be modified. The units are staff spaces. The spacing of objects inside the staff is not affected by this setting.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol.width = 23
}
\relative { a4 e' f b | d1 }

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Making some staff lines thicker than the others

For educational purposes, a staff line can be thickened (e.g., the middle line, or to emphasize the line of the G clef). This can be achieved by adding extra lines very close to the line that should be emphasized, using the line-positions property of the StaffSymbol object.

{
  \override Staff.StaffSymbol.line-positions =
    #'(-4 -2 -0.2 0 0.2 2 4)
  d'4 e' f' g'
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: line, ledger line, staff.

Notation Reference: Clef.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: StaffSymbol, staff-symbol-interface.


LilyPond Notation Reference v2.25.13 (development-branch).