### 1.1.4 Note heads

This section suggests ways of altering note heads.

#### Special note heads

The appearance of note heads may be altered:

```c4 b
\override NoteHead.style = #'cross
c4 b
\revert NoteHead.style
a b
\override NoteHead.style = #'harmonic
a b
\revert NoteHead.style
c4 d e f
```

To see all note head styles, see Note head styles.

The `cross` style is used to represent a variety of musical intentions. The following generic predefined commands modify the note head in both staff and tablature contexts and can be used to represent any musical meaning:

```c4 b
\xNotesOn
a b c4 b
\xNotesOff
c4 d
```

The music function form of this predefined command may be used inside and outside chords to generate crossed note heads in both staff and tablature contexts:

```c4 b
\xNote { e f }
c b < g \xNote c f > b
```

As synonyms for `\xNote`, `\xNotesOn` and `\xNotesOff`, `\deadNote`, `\deadNotesOn` and `\deadNotesOff` can be used. The term dead note is commonly used by guitarists.

There is also a similar shorthand for diamond shapes:

```<c f\harmonic>2 <d a'\harmonic>4 <c g'\harmonic> f\harmonic
```

#### Predefined commands

`\harmonic`, `\xNotesOn`, `\xNotesOff`, `\xNote`.

#### See also

Snippets: Pitches.

Notation Reference: Note head styles, Chorded notes, Indicating harmonics and dampened notes.

#### Easy notation note heads

The ‘easy play’ note head includes a note name inside the head. It is used in music for beginners. To make the letters readable, it should be printed in a large font size. To print with a larger font, see Setting the staff size.

```#(set-global-staff-size 26)
\relative c' {
\easyHeadsOn
c2 e4 f
g1
\easyHeadsOff
c,1
}
```

#### Predefined commands

`\easyHeadsOn`, `\easyHeadsOff`.

#### Selected Snippets

Numbers as easy note heads

Easy notation note heads use the `note-names` property of the `NoteHead` object to determine what appears inside the note head. By overriding this property, it is possible to print numbers representing the scale-degree.

A simple engraver can be created to do this for every note head object it sees.

```#(define Ez_numbers_engraver
(make-engraver
(acknowledgers
((note-head-interface engraver grob source-engraver)
(let* ((context (ly:translator-context engraver))
(tonic-pitch (ly:context-property context 'tonic))
(tonic-name (ly:pitch-notename tonic-pitch))
(grob-pitch
(ly:event-property (event-cause grob) 'pitch))
(grob-name (ly:pitch-notename grob-pitch))
(delta (modulo (- grob-name tonic-name) 7))
(note-names
(make-vector 7 (number->string (1+ delta)))))
(ly:grob-set-property! grob 'note-names note-names))))))

#(set-global-staff-size 26)

\layout {
ragged-right = ##t
\context {
\Voice
\consists \Ez_numbers_engraver
}
}

\relative c' {
\easyHeadsOn
c4 d e f
g4 a b c \break

\key a \major
a,4 b cis d
e4 fis gis a \break

\key d \dorian
d,4 e f g
a4 b c d
}
```

#### See also

Notation Reference: Setting the staff size.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: note-event, Note_heads_engraver, NoteHead, note-head-interface.

#### Shape note heads

In shape note head notation, the shape of the note head corresponds to the harmonic function of a note in the scale. This notation was popular in nineteenth-century American song books. Shape note heads can be produced in Sacred Harp, Southern Harmony, Funk (Harmonica Sacra), Walker, and Aiken (Christian Harmony) styles:

```\aikenHeads
c, d e f g2 a b1 c \break
\sacredHarpHeads
c,4 d e f g2 a b1 c \break
\southernHarmonyHeads
c,4 d e f g2 a b1 c \break
\funkHeads
c,4 d e f g2 a b1 c \break
\walkerHeads
c,4 d e f g2 a b1 c \break
```

Shapes are typeset according to the step in the scale, where the base of the scale is determined by the `\key` command. When writing in a minor key, the scale step can be determined from the relative major:

```\key a \minor
\aikenHeads
a b c d e2 f g1 a \break
\aikenHeadsMinor
a,4 b c d e2 f g1 a \break
\sacredHarpHeadsMinor
a,2 b c d \break
\southernHarmonyHeadsMinor
a2 b c d \break
\funkHeadsMinor
a2 b c d \break
\walkerHeadsMinor
a2 b c d \break

```

#### Predefined commands

`\aikenHeads`, `\aikenHeadsMinor`, `\funkHeads`, `\funkHeadsMinor`, `\sacredHarpHeads`, `\sacredHarpHeadsMinor`, `\southernHarmonyHeads`, `\southernHarmonyHeadsMinor`, `\walkerHeads`, `\walkerHeadsMinor`.

#### Selected Snippets

Applying note head styles depending on the step of the scale

The `shapeNoteStyles` property can be used to define various note head styles for each step of the scale (as set by the key signature or the `tonic` property). This property requires a set of symbols, which can be purely arbitrary (geometrical expressions such as `triangle`, `cross`, and `xcircle` are allowed) or based on old American engraving tradition (some latin note names are also allowed).

That said, to imitate old American song books, there are several predefined note head styles available through shortcut commands such as `\aikenHeads` or `\sacredHarpHeads`.

This example shows different ways to obtain shape note heads, and demonstrates the ability to transpose a melody without losing the correspondence between harmonic functions and note head styles.

```fragment = {
\key c \major
c2 d
e2 f
g2 a
b2 c
}

\new Staff {
\transpose c d
\relative c' {
\set shapeNoteStyles = ##(do re mi fa
#f la ti)
\fragment
}

\break

\relative c' {
\set shapeNoteStyles = ##(cross triangle fa #f
mensural xcircle diamond)
\fragment
}
}
```

To see all note head styles, see Note head styles.

#### See also

Snippets: Pitches.

Notation Reference: Note head styles.

Internals Reference: note-event, Note_heads_engraver, NoteHead, note-head-interface.

#### Improvisation

Improvisation is sometimes denoted with slashed note heads, where the performer may choose any pitch but should play the specified rhythm. Such note heads can be created:

```\new Voice \with {
\consists "Pitch_squash_engraver"
} {
e8 e g a a16( bes) a8 g
\improvisationOn
e8 ~
e2 ~ e8 f4 f8 ~
f2
\improvisationOff
a16( bes) a8 g e
}
```

#### Predefined commands

`\improvisationOn`, `\improvisationOff`.

#### See also

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Pitch_squash_engraver, Voice, RhythmicStaff.

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