GNU LilyPond — Notation Reference

The music typesetter

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Copyright 1999–2008 by the authors

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License”.

This is the Notation Reference (NR) for GNU LilyPond version 2.11.65. For more information about how this fits with the other documentation, see About the documentation.

More information can be found at http://www.lilypond.org/. The website contains on-line copies of this and other documentation.

We want to dedicate this program to all the friends that we met through music.

Han-Wen and Jan


1. Musical notation

This chapter explains how to create musical notation.


1.1 Pitches

[image of music]

This section discusses how to specify the pitch of notes. There are three steps to this process: input, modification, and output.


1.1.1 Writing pitches

This section discusses how to input pitches. There are two different ways to place notes in octaves: absolute and relative mode. In most cases, relative mode will be more convenient.


Absolute octave entry

A pitch name is specified using lowercase letters a through g. The note names c to b are engraved in the octave below middle C.

\clef bass
c d e f
g a b c
d e f g

[image of music]

Other octaves may be specified with a single quote (') or comma (,) character. Each ' raises the pitch by one octave; each , lowers the pitch by an octave.

\clef treble
c' c'' e' g
d'' d' d c
\clef bass
c, c,, e, g
d,, d, d c

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: Pitch names.

Snippets: Pitches.


Relative octave entry

When octaves are specified in absolute mode it is easy to accidentally put a pitch in the wrong octave. Relative octave mode reduces these errors since most of the time it is not necessary to indicate any octaves at all. Furthermore, in absolute mode a single mistake may be difficult to spot, while in relative mode a single error puts the rest of the piece off by one octave.

\relative startpitch musicexpr

In relative mode, each note is assumed to be as close to the previous note as possible. This means that the octave of each pitch inside musicexpr is calculated as follows:

Here is the relative mode shown in action:

\relative c {
  \clef bass
  c d e f
  g a b c
  d e f g
}

[image of music]

Octave changing marks are used for intervals greater than a fourth:

\relative c'' {
  c g c f,
  c' a, e'' c
}

[image of music]

A note sequence without a single octave mark can nevertheless span large intervals:

\relative c {
  c f b e
  a d g c
}

[image of music]

If the preceding item is a chord, the first note of the chord is used as the reference point for the octave placement of a following note or chord. Inside chords, the next note is always relative to the preceding one. Examine the next example carefully, paying attention to the c notes.

\relative c' {
  c
  <c e g>
  <c' e g'>
  <c, e, g''>
}

[image of music]

As explained above, the octave of pitches is calculated only with the note names, regardless of any alterations. Therefore, an E-double-sharp following a B will be placed higher, while an F-double-flat will be placed lower. In other words, a double-augmented fourth is considered a smaller interval than a double-diminished fifth, regardless of the number of semitones that each interval contains.

\relative c'' {
  c2 fis
  c2 ges
  b2 eisis
  b2 feses
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: fifth, interval, Pitch names.

Notation Reference: Octave checks.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: RelativeOctaveMusic.

Known issues and warnings

The relative conversion will not affect \transpose, \chordmode or \relative sections in its argument. To use relative mode within transposed music, an additional \relative must be placed inside \transpose.

If no startpitch is specified for \relative, then c' is assumed. However, this is a deprecated option and may disappear in future versions, so its use is discouraged.


Accidentals

Note: New users are sometimes confused about accidentals and key signatures. In LilyPond, note names are the raw input; key signatures and clefs determine how this raw input is displayed. An unaltered note like c means ‘C natural’, regardless of the key signature or clef. For more information, see Accidentals and key signatures.

A sharp pitch is made by adding is to the note name, and a flat pitch by adding es. As you might expect, a double sharp or double flat is made by adding isis or eses. This syntax is derived from Dutch note naming conventions. To use other names for accidentals, see Note names in other languages.

ais1 aes aisis aeses

[image of music]

A natural will cancel the effect of an accidental or key signature. However, naturals are not encoded into the note name syntax with a suffix; a natural pitch is shown as a simple note name:

a4 aes a2

[image of music]

Quarter tones may be added; the following is a series of Cs with increasing pitches:

ceseh1 ces ceh c cih cis cisih

[image of music]

Normally accidentals are printed automatically, but you may also print them manually. A reminder accidental can be forced by adding an exclamation mark ! after the pitch. A cautionary accidental (i.e., an accidental within parentheses) can be obtained by adding the question mark ? after the pitch. These extra accidentals can also be used to produce natural signs.

cis cis cis! cis? c c c! c?

[image of music]

Accidentals on tied notes are only printed at the beginning of a new system:

cis1 ~ cis ~
\break
cis

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Preventing extra naturals from being automatically added

In accordance with standard typesetting rules, a natural sign is printed before a sharp or flat if a previous accidental on the same note needs to be canceled. To change this behavior, set the extraNatural property to "false" in the Staff context.

\relative c'' {
  aeses4 aes ais a
  \set Staff.extraNatural = ##f
  aeses4 aes ais a
}

[image of music]

Makam example

Makam is a type of melody from Turkey using 1/9th-tone microtonal alterations. Consult the initialization file makam.ly (see the ‘Learning Manual 2.11.65, 4.6.3 Other sources of information’ for the location of this file) for details of pitch names and alterations.

% Initialize makam settings
\include "makam.ly"

\relative c' {
  \set Staff.keySignature = #`((3 . ,BAKIYE) (6 . ,(- KOMA)))
  c4 cc db fk
  gbm4 gfc gfb efk
  fk4 db cc c
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: sharp, flat, double sharp, double flat, Pitch names, quarter tone.

Learning Manual: Accidentals and key signatures.

Notation Reference: Automatic accidentals, Annotational accidentals (musica ficta), Note names in other languages.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Accidental_engraver, Accidental, AccidentalCautionary, accidental-interface.

Known issues and warnings

There are no generally accepted standards for denoting quarter-tone accidentals, so LilyPond’s symbol does not conform to any standard.


Note names in other languages

There are predefined sets of note and accidental names for various other languages. To use them, include the language-specific init file listed below. For example, to use English notes names, add \include "english.ly" to the top of the input file.

The available language files and the note names they define are:

Language File

Note Names

nederlands.ly

c d e f g a bes b

arabic.ly

do re mi fa sol la sib si

catalan.ly

do re mi fa sol la sib si

deutsch.ly

c d e f g a b h

english.ly

c d e f g a bf b

espanol.ly

do re mi fa sol la sib si

italiano.ly

do re mi fa sol la sib si

norsk.ly

c d e f g a b h

portugues.ly

do re mi fa sol la sib si

suomi.ly

c d e f g a b h

svenska.ly

c d e f g a b h

vlaams.ly

do re mi fa sol la sib si

and the accidental suffixes they define are:

Language File

sharp

flat

double sharp

double flat

nederlands.ly

-is

-es

-isis

-eses

arabic.ly

-d

-b

-dd

-bb

catalan.ly

-d/-s

-b

-dd/-ss

-bb

deutsch.ly

-is

-es

-isis

-eses

english.ly

-s/-sharp

-f/-flat

-ss/-x/-sharpsharp

-ff/-flatflat

espanol.ly

-s

-b

-ss

-bb

italiano.ly

-d

-b

-dd

-bb

norsk.ly

-iss/-is

-ess/-es

-ississ/-isis

-essess/-eses

portugues.ly

-s

-b

-ss

-bb

suomi.ly

-is

-es

-isis

-eses

svenska.ly

-iss

-ess

-ississ

-essess

vlaams.ly

-k

-b

-kk

-bb

In Dutch, aes is contracted to as, but both forms are accepted in LilyPond. Similarly, both es and ees are accepted. This also applies to aeses / ases and eeses / eses. Sometimes only these contracted names are defined in the corresponding language files.

a2 as e es a ases e eses

[image of music]

Some music uses microtones whose alterations are fractions of a ‘normal’ sharp or flat. The note names for quarter-tones defined in the various language files are listed in the following table. Here the prefixes semi- and sesqui- mean ‘half’ and ‘one and a half’, respectively. For the other languages, no special names have been defined yet.

Language File

semi-sharp

semi-flat

sesqui-sharp

sesqui-flat

nederlands.ly

-ih

-eh

-isih

-eseh

arabic.ly

-sd

-sb

-dsd

-bsb

deutsch.ly

-ih

-eh

-isih

-eseh

english.ly

-qs

-qf

-tqs

-tqf

italiano.ly

-sd

-sb

-dsd

-bsb

portugues.ly

-sqt

-bqt

-stqt

-btqt

See also

Music Glossary: Pitch names.

Snippets: Pitches.


1.1.2 Changing multiple pitches

This section discusses how to modify pitches.


Octave checks

In relative mode, it is easy to forget an octave changing mark. Octave checks make such errors easier to find by displaying a warning and correcting the octave if a note is found in an unexpected octave.

To check the octave of a note, specify the absolute octave after the = symbol. This example will generate a warning (and change the pitch) because the second note is the absolute octave d'' instead of d' as indicated by the octave correction.

\relative c'' {
  c2 d='4 d
  e2 f
}

[image of music]

The octave of notes may also be checked with the \octaveCheck controlpitch command. controlpitch is specified in absolute mode. This checks that the interval between the previous note and the controlpitch is within a fourth (i.e., the normal calculation of relative mode). If this check fails, a warning is printed, but the previous note is not changed. Future notes are relative to the controlpitch.

\relative c'' {
  c2 d
  \octaveCheck c'
  e2 f
}

[image of music]

Compare the two bars below. The first and third \octaveCheck checks fail, but the second one does not fail.

\relative c'' {
  c4 f g f

  c4
  \octaveCheck c'
  f
  \octaveCheck c'
  g
  \octaveCheck c'
  f
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: RelativeOctaveCheck.


Transpose

A music expression can be transposed with \transpose. The syntax is

\transpose frompitch topitch musicexpr

This means that musicexpr is transposed by the interval between the pitches frompitch and topitch: any note with pitch frompitch is changed to topitch and any other note is transposed by the same interval. Both pitches are entered in absolute mode.

Consider a piece written in the key of D-major. It can be transposed up to E-major; note that the key signature is automatically transposed as well.

\transpose d e {
  \relative c' {
    \key d \major
    d4 fis a d
  }
}

[image of music]

If a part written in C (normal concert pitch) is to be played on the A clarinet (for which an A is notated as a C and thus sounds a minor third lower than notated), the appropriate part will be produced with:

\transpose a c' {
  \relative c' {
    \key c \major
    c4 d e g
  }
}

[image of music]

Note that we specify \key c \major explicitly. If we do not specify a key signature, the notes will be transposed but no key signature will be printed.

\transpose distinguishes between enharmonic pitches: both \transpose c cis or \transpose c des will transpose up a semitone. The first version will print sharps and the notes will remain on the same scale step, the second version will print flats on the scale step above.

music = \relative c' { c d e f }
\new Staff {
  \transpose c cis { \music }
  \transpose c des { \music }
}

[image of music]

\transpose may also be used in a different way, to input written notes for a transposing instrument. The previous examples show how to enter pitches in C (or concert pitch) and typeset them for a transposing instrument, but the opposite is also possible if you for example have a set of instrumental parts and want to print a conductor’s score. For example, when entering music for a B-flat trumpet that begins on a notated E (concert D), one would write:

musicInBflat = { e4 … }
\transpose c bes, \musicInBflat

To print this music in F (e.g., rearranging to a French horn) you could wrap the existing music with another \transpose:

musicInBflat = { e4 … }
\transpose f c' { \transpose c bes, \musicInBflat }

For more information about transposing instruments, see Instrument transpositions.

Selected Snippets

Transposing music with minimum accidentals

This example uses some Scheme code to enforce enharmonic modifications for notes in order to have the minimum number of accidentals. In this case, the following rules apply:

In this manner, the most natural enharmonic notes are chosen.

#(define  (naturalize-pitch p)
  (let* ((o (ly:pitch-octave p))
         (a (* 4 (ly:pitch-alteration p)))
    ; alteration, a, in quarter tone steps, for historical reasons
         (n (ly:pitch-notename p)))
    (cond
     ((and (> a 1) (or (eq? n 6) (eq? n 2)))
      (set! a (- a 2))
      (set! n (+ n 1)))
     ((and (< a -1) (or (eq? n 0) (eq? n 3)))
      (set! a (+ a 2))
      (set! n (- n 1))))
    (cond
     ((> a 2) (set! a (- a 4)) (set! n (+ n 1)))
     ((< a -2) (set! a (+ a 4)) (set! n (- n 1))))
    (if (< n 0) (begin (set! o (- o 1)) (set! n (+ n 7))))
    (if (> n 6) (begin (set! o (+ o 1)) (set! n (- n 7))))
    (ly:make-pitch o n (/ a 4))))

#(define (naturalize music)
  (let* ((es (ly:music-property music 'elements))
         (e (ly:music-property music 'element))
         (p (ly:music-property music 'pitch)))
    (if (pair? es)
        (ly:music-set-property!
         music 'elements
         (map (lambda (x) (naturalize x)) es)))
    (if (ly:music? e)
        (ly:music-set-property!
         music 'element
         (naturalize e)))
    (if (ly:pitch? p)
        (begin
          (set! p (naturalize-pitch p))
          (ly:music-set-property! music 'pitch p)))
    music))

naturalizeMusic =
#(define-music-function (parser location m)
					(ly:music?)
			(naturalize m))

music = \relative c' { c4 d e g }

\score {
  \new Staff {
    \transpose c ais { \music }
    \naturalizeMusic \transpose c ais { \music }
    \transpose c deses { \music }
    \naturalizeMusic \transpose c deses { \music }
  }
  \layout { }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Instrument transpositions.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: TransposedMusic.

Known issues and warnings

The relative conversion will not affect \transpose, \chordmode or \relative sections in its argument. To use relative mode within transposed music, an additional \relative must be placed inside \transpose.


1.1.3 Displaying pitches

This section discusses how to alter the output of pitches.


Clef

The clef may be altered. Middle C is shown in every example.

\clef treble
c2 c
\clef alto
c2 c
\clef tenor
c2 c
\clef bass
c2 c

[image of music]

Other clefs include:

\clef french
c2 c
\clef soprano
c2 c
\clef mezzosoprano
c2 c
\clef baritone
c2 c

\break

\clef varbaritone
c2 c
\clef subbass
c2 c
\clef percussion
c2 c
\clef tab
c2 c

[image of music]

Further supported clefs are described under Mensural clefs and Gregorian clefs.

By adding _8 or ^8 to the clef name, the clef is transposed one octave down or up, respectively, and _15 and ^15 transpose by two octaves. The clef name must be enclosed in quotes when it contains underscores or digits.

\clef treble
c2 c
\clef "treble_8"
c2 c
\clef "bass^15"
c2 c

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Tweaking clef properties

The command \clef "treble_8" is equivalent to setting clefGlyph, clefPosition (which controls the vertical position of the clef), middleCPosition and clefOctavation. A clef is printed when any of the properties except middleCPosition are changed.

Note that changing the glyph, the position of the clef, or the octavation does not in itself change the position of subsequent notes on the staff: the position of middle C must also be specified to do this. The positional parameters are relative to the staff center line, positive numbers displacing upwards, counting one for each line and space. The clefOctavation value would normally be set to 7, -7, 15 or -15, but other values are valid.

When a clef change takes place at a line break the new clef symbol is printed at both the end of the previous line and the beginning of the new line by default. If the warning clef at the end of the previous line is not required it can be suppressed by setting the Staff property explicitClefVisibility to the value end-of-line-invisible. The default behavior can be recovered with \unset Staff.explicitClefVisibility.

The following examples show the possibilities when setting these properties manually. On the first line, the manual changes preserve the standard relative positioning of clefs and notes, whereas on the second line, they do not.

\layout { ragged-right = ##t }

{
  % The default treble clef
  c'1
  % The standard bass clef
  \set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.F"
  \set Staff.clefPosition = #2
  \set Staff.middleCPosition = #6
  c'1
  % The baritone clef
  \set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.C"
  \set Staff.clefPosition = #4
  \set Staff.middleCPosition = #4
  c'1
  % The standard choral tenor clef
  \set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.G"
  \set Staff.clefPosition = #-2
  \set Staff.clefOctavation = #-7
  \set Staff.middleCPosition = #1
  c'1
  % A non-standard clef
  \set Staff.clefPosition = #0
  \set Staff.clefOctavation = #0
  \set Staff.middleCPosition = #-4
  c'1 \break

  % The following clef changes do not preserve
  % the normal relationship between notes and clefs:

  \set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.F"
  \set Staff.clefPosition = #2
  c'1
  \set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.G"
  c'1
  \set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.C"
  c'1
  \set Staff.clefOctavation = #7
  c'1
  \set Staff.clefOctavation = #0
  \set Staff.clefPosition = #0
  c'1
  
  % Here we go back to the normal clef:

  \set Staff.middleCPosition = #0
  c'1
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Mensural clefs, Gregorian clefs.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Clef_engraver, Clef, OctavateEight, clef-interface.


Key signature

Note: New users are sometimes confused about accidentals and key signatures. In LilyPond, note names are the raw input; key signatures and clefs determine how this raw input is displayed. An unaltered note like c means ‘C natural’, regardless of the key signature or clef. For more information, see Accidentals and key signatures.

The key signature indicates the tonality in which a piece is played. It is denoted by a set of alterations (flats or sharps) at the start of the staff. The key signature may be altered:

\key pitch mode

Here, mode should be \major or \minor to get a key signature of pitch-major or pitch-minor, respectively. You may also use the standard mode names, also called church modes: \ionian, \dorian, \phrygian, \lydian, \mixolydian, \aeolian, and \locrian.

\key g \major
fis1
f
fis

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Preventing natural signs from being printed when the key signature changes

When the key signature changes, natural signs are automatically printed to cancel any accidentals from previous key signatures. This may be prevented by setting to "false" the printKeyCancellation property in the Staff context.

\relative c' {
  \key d \major
  a4 b cis d
  \key g \minor
  a4 bes c d
  \set Staff.printKeyCancellation = ##f
  \key d \major
  a4 b cis d
  \key g \minor
  a4 bes c d
}

[image of music]

Non-traditional key signatures

The commonly used \key command sets the keySignature property, in the Staff context.

To create non-standard key signatures, set this property directly. The format of this command is a list:

\set Staff.keySignature = #`(((octave . step) . alter) ((octave . step) . alter) ...) where, for each element in the list, octave specifies the octave (0 being the octave from middle C to the B above), step specifies the note within the octave (0 means C and 6 means B), and alter is ,SHARP ,FLAT ,DOUBLE-SHARP etc. (Note the leading comma.)

Alternatively, for each item in the list, using the more concise format (step . alter) specifies that the same alteration should hold in all octaves.

Here is an example of a possible key signature for generating a whole-tone scale:

\relative c' {
  \set Staff.keySignature = #`(((0 . 3) . ,SHARP)
                               ((0 . 5) . ,FLAT)
                               ((0 . 6) . ,FLAT))
  c4 d e fis
  aes4 bes c2
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: church mode, scordatura.

Learning Manual: Accidentals and key signatures.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: KeyChangeEvent, Key_engraver, Key_performer, KeyCancellation, KeySignature, key-cancellation-interface, key-signature-interface.


Ottava brackets

Ottava brackets introduce an extra transposition of an octave for the staff:

a'2 b
\ottava #1
a b
\ottava #0
a b

[image of music]

The ottava function also takes -1 (for 8va bassa), 2 (for 15ma), and -2 (for 15ma bassa) as arguments.

Selected Snippets

Ottava text

Internally, the set-octavation function sets the properties ottavation (for example, to "8va" or "8vb") and middleCPosition. To override the text of the bracket, set ottavation after invoking set-octavation.

{
  \ottava #1
  \set Staff.ottavation = #"8"
  c''1
  \ottava #0
  c'1
  \ottava #1
  \set Staff.ottavation = #"Text"
  c''1
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: octavation.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Ottava_spanner_engraver, OttavaBracket, ottava-bracket-interface.


Instrument transpositions

When typesetting scores that involve transposing instruments, some parts can be typeset in a different pitch than the concert pitch. In these cases, the key of the transposing instrument should be specified; otherwise the MIDI output and cues in other parts will produce incorrect pitches. For more information about quotations, see Quoting other voices.

\transposition pitch

The pitch to use for \transposition should correspond to the real sound heard when a c' written on the staff is played by the transposing instrument. This pitch is entered in absolute mode, so an instrument that produces a real sound which is one tone higher than the printed music should use \transposition d'. \transposition should only be used if the pitches are not being entered in concert pitch.

Here are a few notes for violin and B-flat clarinet where the parts have been entered using the notes and key as they appear in each part of the conductor’s score. The two instruments are playing in unison.

\new GrandStaff <<
  \new Staff = "violin" {
    \relative c'' {
      \set Staff.instrumentName = "Vln"
      \set Staff.midiInstrument = "violin"
      % not strictly necessary, but a good reminder
      \transposition c'

      \key c \major
      g4( c8) r c r c4
    }
  }
  \new Staff = "clarinet" {
    \relative c'' {
      \set Staff.instrumentName = \markup { Cl (B\flat) }
      \set Staff.midiInstrument = "clarinet"
      \transposition bes

      \key d \major
      a4( d8) r d r d4
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

The \transposition may be changed during a piece. For example, a clarinetist may switch from an A clarinet to a B-flat clarinet.

\set Staff.instrumentName = "Cl (A)"
\key a \major
\transposition a
c d e f
\textLengthOn
s1*0^\markup { Switch to B\flat clarinet }
R1

\key bes \major
\transposition bes
c2 g

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: concert pitch, transposing instrument.

Notation Reference: Quoting other voices, Transpose.

Snippets: Pitches.


Automatic accidentals

There are many different conventions on how to typeset accidentals. LilyPond provides a function to specify which accidental style to use. This function is called as follows:

\new Staff <<
  #(set-accidental-style 'voice)
  { … }
>>

The accidental style applies to the current Staff by default (with the exception of the styles piano and piano-cautionary, which are explained below). Optionally, the function can take a second argument that determines in which scope the style should be changed. For example, to use the same style in all staves of the current StaffGroup, use:

#(set-accidental-style 'voice 'StaffGroup)

The following accidental styles are supported. To demonstrate each style, we use the following example:

musicA = {
  <<
    \relative c' {
      cis'8 fis, d'4 <a cis>8 f bis4 |
      cis2. <c, g'>4 |
    }
    \\
    \relative c' {
      ais'2 cis, |
      fis8 b a4 cis2 |
    }
  >>
}

musicB = {
  \clef bass
  \new Voice {
    \voiceTwo \relative c' {
      <fis, a cis>4
      \change Staff = up
      cis'
      \change Staff = down
      <fis, a>
      \change Staff = up
      dis' |
      \change Staff = down
      <fis, a cis>4 gis <f a d>2 |
    }
  }
}

\new PianoStaff {
  <<
    \context Staff = "up" {
      #(set-accidental-style 'default)
      \musicA
    }
    \context Staff = "down" {
      #(set-accidental-style 'default)
      \musicB
    }
  >>
}

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Note that the last lines of this example can be replaced by the following, as long as the same accidental style should be used in both staves.

\new PianoStaff {
  <<
    \context Staff = "up" {
      %%% change the next line as desired:
      #(set-accidental-style 'default 'Score)
      \musicA
    }
    \context Staff = "down" {
      \musicB
    }
  >>
}
default

This is the default typesetting behavior. It corresponds to eighteenth-century common practice: accidentals are remembered to the end of the measure in which they occur and only in their own octave. Thus, in the example below, no natural signs are printed before the b in the second measure or the last c:

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voice

The normal behavior is to remember the accidentals at Staff-level. In this style, however, accidentals are typeset individually for each voice. Apart from that, the rule is similar to default.

As a result, accidentals from one voice do not get canceled in other voices, which is often an unwanted result: in the following example, it is hard to determine whether the second a should be played natural or sharp. The voice option should therefore be used only if the voices are to be read solely by individual musicians. If the staff is to be used by one musician (e.g., a conductor or in a piano score) then modern or modern-cautionary should be used instead.

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modern

This rule corresponds to the common practice in the twentieth century. It prints the same accidentals as default, with two exceptions that serve to avoid ambiguity: after temporary accidentals, cancellation marks are printed also in the following measure (for notes in the same octave) and, in the same measure, for notes in other octaves. Hence the naturals before the b and the c in the second measure of the upper staff:

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modern-cautionary

This rule is similar to modern, but the ‘extra’ accidentals (the ones not typeset by default) are typeset as cautionary accidentals. They are by default printed with parentheses, but they can also be printed in reduced size by defining the cautionary-style property of AccidentalSuggestion.

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modern-voice

This rule is used for multivoice accidentals to be read both by musicians playing one voice and musicians playing all voices. Accidentals are typeset for each voice, but they are canceled across voices in the same Staff. Hence, the a in the last measure is canceled because the previous cancellation was in a different voice, and the d in the lower staff is canceled because of the accidental in a different voice in the previous measure:

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modern-voice-cautionary

This rule is the same as modern-voice, but with the extra accidentals (the ones not typeset by voice) typeset as cautionaries. Even though all accidentals typeset by default are typeset with this rule, some of them are typeset as cautionaries.

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piano

This rule reflects twentieth-century practice for piano notation. Its behavior is very similar to modern style, but here accidentals also get canceled across the staves in the same GrandStaff or PianoStaff, hence all the cancellations of the final notes.

This accidental style applies to the current GrandStaff or PianoStaff by default.

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piano-cautionary

This is the same as piano but with the extra accidentals typeset as cautionaries.

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neo-modern

This rule reproduces a common practice in contemporary music: accidentals are printed like with modern, but they are printed again if the same note appears later in the same measure – except if the note is immediately repeated.

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neo-modern-cautionary

This rule is similar to neo-modern, but the extra accidentals are printed as cautionary accidentals.

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dodecaphonic

This rule reflects a practice introduced by composers at the beginning of the 20th century, in an attempt to abolish the hierarchy between natural and non-natural notes. With this style, every note gets an accidental sign, including natural signs.

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teaching

This rule is intended for students, and makes it easy to create scale sheets with automagically created cautionary accidentals. Accidentals are printed like with modern, but cautionary accidentals are added for all sharp or flat tones specified by the key signature, except if the note is immediately repeated.

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no-reset

This is the same as default but with accidentals lasting ‘forever’ and not only within the same measure:

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forget

This is the opposite of no-reset: Accidentals are not remembered at all – and hence all accidentals are typeset relative to the key signature, regardless of what came before in the music. Unlike dodecaphonic, this rule never prints any naturals.

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Selected Snippets

Dodecaphonic-style accidentals for each note including naturals

In early 20th century works, starting with Schoenberg, Berg and Webern (the "Second" Viennese school), every pitch in the twelve-tone scale has to be regarded as equal, without any hierarchy such as the classical (tonal) degrees. Therefore, these composers print one accidental for each note, even at natural pitches, to emphasize their new approach to music theory and language.

This snippet shows how to achieve such notation rules.

\score {
  \new Staff {
    #(set-accidental-style 'dodecaphonic)
    c'4 dis' cis' cis'
    c'4 dis' cis' cis'
    c'4 c' dis' des'
  }
  \layout {
    \context {
    \Staff
    \remove "Key_engraver"
    }
  }
}

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See also

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Accidental, Accidental_engraver, GrandStaff and PianoStaff, Staff, AccidentalSuggestion, AccidentalPlacement, accidental-suggestion-interface.

Known issues and warnings

Simultaneous notes are considered to be entered in sequential mode. This means that in a chord the accidentals are typeset as if the notes in the chord happen one at a time, in the order in which they appear in the input file. This is a problem when accidentals in a chord depend on each other, which does not happen for the default accidental style. The problem can be solved by manually inserting ! and ? for the problematic notes.


Ambitus

The term ambitus (pl. ambitus) denotes a range of pitches for a given voice in a part of music. It may also denote the pitch range that a musical instrument is capable of playing. Ambitus are printed on vocal parts so that performers can easily determine if it matches their capabilities.

Ambitus are denoted at the beginning of a piece near the initial clef. The range is graphically specified by two note heads that represent the lowest and highest pitches. Accidentals are only printed if they are not part of the key signature.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  }
}

\relative c'' {
  aes c e2
  cis,1
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Adding ambitus per voice

Ambitus can be added per voice. In this case, the ambitus must be moved manually to prevent collisions.

\new Staff <<
  \new Voice \with {
    \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  } \relative c'' {
    \override Ambitus #'X-offset = #2.0
    \voiceOne
    c4 a d e
    f1
  }
  \new Voice \with {
    \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  } \relative c' {
    \voiceTwo
    es4 f g as
    b1
  }
>>

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Ambitus with multiple voices

Adding the Ambitus_engraver to the Staff context creates a single ambitus per staff, even in the case of staves with multiple voices.

\new Staff \with {
  \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  }
<<
  \new Voice \relative c'' {
    \voiceOne
    c4 a d e
    f1
  }
  \new Voice \relative c' {
    \voiceTwo
    es4 f g as
    b1
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: ambitus.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Ambitus_engraver, Voice, Staff, Ambitus, AmbitusAccidental, AmbitusLine, AmbitusNoteHead, ambitus-interface.

Known issues and warnings

There is no collision handling in the case of multiple per-voice ambitus.


1.1.4 Note heads

This section suggests ways of altering note heads.


Special note heads

Note heads may be altered:

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

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There is a shorthand for diamond shapes which can only be used inside chords:

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

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

See also

Snippets: Pitches.

Notation Reference: Note head styles, Chorded notes.

Internals Reference: note-event, Note_heads_engraver, Ledger_line_engraver, NoteHead, LedgerLineSpanner, note-head-interface, ledger-line-spanner-interface.


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
}

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Predefined commands

\easyHeadsOn, \easyHeadsOff

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:

\aikenHeads
c, d e f g a b c
\sacredHarpHeads
c, d e f g a b c

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Shapes are typeset according to the step in the scale, where the base of the scale is determined by the \key command.

Predefined commands

\aikenHeads, \sacredHarpHeads

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.

\layout { ragged-right = ##t }

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

\score {
  \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
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

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
}

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\improvisationOn, \improvisationOff

See also

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Pitch_squash_engraver, Voice, RhythmicStaff.


1.2 Rhythms

[image of music]

This section discusses rhythms, rests, durations, beaming and bars.


1.2.1 Writing rhythms


Durations

Durations are designated by numbers and dots. Durations are entered as their reciprocal values. For example, a quarter note is entered using a 4 (since it is a 1/4 note), and a half note is entered using a 2 (since it is a 1/2 note). For notes longer than a whole you must use the \longa (a double breve) and \breve commands. Durations as short as 64th notes may be specified. Shorter values are possible, but only as beamed notes.

\time 8/1
c\longa c\breve c1 c2
c4 c8 c16 c32 c64 c64

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Here are the same durations with automatic beaming turned off.

\time 8/1
\autoBeamOff
c\longa c\breve c1 c2
c4 c8 c16 c32 c64 c64

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A note with the duration of a quadruple breve may be entered with \maxima, but this is supported only within ancient music notation. For details, see Ancient notation.

If the duration is omitted, it is set to the previously entered duration. The default for the first note is a quarter note.

a a a2 a a4 a a1 a

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To obtain dotted note lengths, place a dot (.) after the duration. Double-dotted notes are specified by appending two dots, and so on.

a4 b c4. b8 a4. b4.. c8.

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Some durations cannot be represented with just binary durations and dots; they can be represented only by tying two or more notes together. For details, see Ties.

For ways of specifying durations for the syllables of lyrics and ways of aligning lyrics to notes, see Vocal music.

Optionally, notes can be spaced strictly proportionately to their duration. For details of this and other settings which control proportional notation, see Proportional notation.

Dots are normally moved up to avoid staff lines, except in polyphonic situations. Predefined commands are available to force a particular direction manually, for details see Direction and placement.

Predefined commands

\autoBeamOff, \dotsUp, \dotsDown, \dotsNeutral.

See also

Music Glossary: breve, longa, note value, Duration names notes and rests.

Notation Reference: Automatic beams, Ties, Writing rhythms, Writing rests, Vocal music, Ancient notation, Proportional notation.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: Dots, DotColumn.

Known issues and warnings

There is no fundamental limit to rest durations (both in terms of longest and shortest), but the number of glyphs is limited: rests from 128th to maxima (8 x whole) may be printed.


Tuplets

Tuplets are made from a music expression by multiplying all the durations with a fraction:

\times fraction { music }

The duration of music will be multiplied by the fraction. The fraction’s denominator will be printed over or under the notes, optionally with a bracket. The most common tuplet is the triplet in which 3 notes have the duration of 2, so the notes are 2/3 of their written length.

a2 \times 2/3 { b4 b b }
c4 c \times 2/3 { b4 a g }

[image of music]

The automatic placement of the tuplet bracket above or below the notes may be overridden manually with predefined commands, for details see Direction and placement.

Tuplets may be nested:

\autoBeamOff
c4 \times 4/5 { f8 e f \times 2/3 { e[ f g] } } f4 |

[image of music]

Modifying nested tuplets which begin at the same musical moment must be done with \tweak.

To modify the duration of notes without printing a tuplet bracket, see Scaling durations.

Predefined commands

\tupletUp, \tupletDown, \tupletNeutral.

Selected Snippets

Entering several tuplets using only one \times command

The property tupletSpannerDuration sets how long each of the tuplets contained within the brackets after \times should last. Many consecutive tuplets can then be placed within a single \times expression, thus saving typing.

In the example, two triplets are shown, while \times was entered only once.

For more information about make-moment, see "Time administration".

\relative c' {
  \time 2/4
  \set tupletSpannerDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1 4)
  \times 2/3 { c8 c c c c c }
}

[image of music]

Changing the tuplet number

By default, only the numerator of the tuplet number is printed over the tuplet bracket, i.e., the denominator of the argument to the \times command. Alternatively, num:den of the tuplet number may be printed, or the tuplet number may be suppressed altogether.

\relative c'' {
  \times 2/3 { c8 c c } \times 2/3 { c8 c c }
  \override TupletNumber #'text = #tuplet-number::calc-fraction-text
  \times 2/3 { c8 c c }
  \override TupletNumber #'stencil = ##f
  \times 2/3 { c8 c c }
}

[image of music]

Permitting line breaks within beamed tuplets

This artificial example shows how both manual and automatic line breaks may be permitted to within a beamed tuplet. Note that such off-beat tuplets have to be beamed manually.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    % Permit line breaks within tuplets
    \remove "Forbid_line_break_engraver"
    % Allow beams to be broken at line breaks
    \override Beam #'breakable = ##t
  }
}
\relative c'' {
  a8
  \repeat unfold 8 { \times 2/3 { c[ b a] } }
  % Insert a manual line break within a tuplet
  \times 2/3 { c[ b \bar "" \break a] }
  \repeat unfold 2 { \times 2/3 { c[ b a] } }
  c8
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: triplet, tuplet, polymetric.

Learning Manual: Tweaking methods.

Notation Reference: Time administration, Scaling durations, The \tweak command, Polymetric notation.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: TupletBracket, TupletNumber, TimeScaledMusic.

Known issues and warnings

When the first note on a staff is a grace note followed by a tuplet the grace note must be placed before the \times command to avoid errors. Anywhere else, grace notes may be placed within tuplet brackets.


Scaling durations

You can alter the duration of single notes, rests or chords by a fraction N/M by appending *N/M (or *N if M is 1) to the duration. This will not affect the appearance of the notes or rests produced, but the altered duration will be used in calculating the position within the measure and setting the duration in the MIDI output. Multiplying factors may be combined such as *L*M/N.

In the following example, the first three notes take up exactly two beats, but no triplet bracket is printed.

\time 2/4
% Alter durations to triplets
a4*2/3 gis4*2/3 a4*2/3
% Normal durations
a4 a4
% Double the duration of chord
<a d>4*2
% Duration of quarter, appears like sixteenth
b16*4 c4

[image of music]

The duration of skip or spacing notes may also be modified by a multiplier. This is useful for skipping many measures, e.g., s1*23.

Longer stretches of music may be compressed by a fraction in the same way, as if every note, chord or rest had the fraction as a multiplier. This leaves the appearance of the music unchanged but the internal duration of the notes will be multiplied by the fraction num/den. The spaces around the dot are required. Here is an example showing how music can be compressed and expanded:

\time 2/4
% Normal durations
<c a>4 c8 a
% Scale music by *2/3
\scaleDurations #'(2 . 3) {
  <c a f>4. c8 a f
}
% Scale music by *2
\scaleDurations #'(2 . 1) {
  <c' a>4 c8 b
}

[image of music]

One application of this command is in polymetric notation, see Polymetric notation.

See also

Notation Reference: Tuplets, Invisible rests, Polymetric notation.

Snippets: Rhythms.


Ties

A tie connects two adjacent note heads of the same pitch. The tie in effect extends the duration of a note.

Note: Ties should not be confused with slurs, which indicate articulation, or phrasing slurs, which indicate musical phrasing. A tie is just a way of extending a note duration, similar to the augmentation dot.

A tie is entered using the tilde symbol ~

a2 ~ a

[image of music]

Ties are used either when the note crosses a bar line, or when dots cannot be used to denote the rhythm. Ties should also be used when note values cross larger subdivisions of the measure:

\relative c' {
  r8 c8 ~ c2 r4 |
  r8^"not" c2 ~ c8 r4
}

[image of music]

If you need to tie many notes across bar lines, it may be easier to use automatic note splitting, see Automatic note splitting. This mechanism automatically splits long notes, and ties them across bar lines.

When a tie is applied to a chord, all note heads whose pitches match are connected. When no note heads match, no ties will be created. Chords may be partially tied by placing the tie inside the chord.

<c e g> ~ <c e g>
<c~ e g~ b> <c e g b>

[image of music]

When a second alternative of a repeat starts with a tied note, you have to specify the repeated tie as follows:

\repeat volta 2 { c g <c e>2 ~ }
\alternative {
  % First alternative: following note is tied normally
  { <c e>2. r4 }
  % Second alternative: following note has a repeated tie
  { <c e>2\repeatTie d4 c } }

[image of music]

L.v. ties (laissez vibrer) indicate that notes must not be damped at the end. It is used in notation for piano, harp and other string and percussion instruments. They can be entered as follows:

<c f g>1\laissezVibrer

[image of music]

The vertical placement of ties may be controlled, see Predefined commands, or for details, see Direction and placement.

Solid, dotted or dashed ties may be specified, see Predefined commands.

Predefined commands

\tieUp, \tieDown, \tieNeutral, \tieDotted, \tieDashed, \tieSolid.

Selected Snippets

Using ties with arpeggios

Ties are sometimes used to write out arpeggios. In this case, two tied notes need not be consecutive. This can be achieved by setting the tieWaitForNote property to #t. The same feature is also useful, for example, to tie a tremolo to a chord, but in principle, it can also be used for ordinary consecutive notes.

\relative c' {
  \set tieWaitForNote = ##t
  \grace { c16[ ~ e ~ g] ~ } <c, e g>2
  \repeat tremolo 8 { c32 ~ c' ~ } <c c,>1
  e8 ~ c ~ a ~ f ~ <e' c a f>2
  \tieUp
  c8 ~ a
  \tieDown
  \tieDotted
  g8 ~ c g2
}

[image of music]

Engraving ties manually

Ties may be engraved manually by changing the tie-configuration property of the TieColumn object. The first number indicates the distance from the center of the staff in staff-spaces, and the second number indicates the direction (1 = up, -1 = down).

\relative c' {
  <c e g>2 ~ <c e g>
  \override TieColumn #'tie-configuration =
    #'((0.0 . 1) (-2.0 . 1) (-4.0 . 1))
  <c e g> ~ <c e g>
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: tie, laissez vibrer.

Notation Reference: Automatic note splitting.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: LaissezVibrerTie, LaissezVibrerTieColumn, TieColumn, Tie.

Known issues and warnings

Switching staves when a tie is active will not produce a slanted tie.

Changing clefs or octavations during a tie is not really well-defined. In these cases, a slur may be preferable.


1.2.2 Writing rests

Rests are entered as part of the music in music expressions.


Rests

Rests are entered like notes with the note name r. Durations longer than a whole rest use the predefined commands shown:

\new Staff {
  % These two lines are just to prettify this example
  \time 16/1
  \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
  % Print a maxima rest, equal to four breves
  r\maxima
  % Print a longa rest, equal to two breves
  r\longa
  % Print a breve rest
  r\breve
  r1 r2 r4 r8 r16 r32 r64 r128
}

[image of music]

Whole measure rests, centered in the middle of the measure, must be entered as multi-measure rests. They can be used for a single measure as well as many measures and are discussed in Full measure rests.

To explicitly specify a rest’s vertical position, write a note followed by \rest. A rest of the duration of the note will be placed at the staff position where the note would appear. This allows for precise manual formatting of polyphonic music, since the automatic rest collision formatter will not move these rests.

a4\rest d4\rest

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Rest styles

Rests may be used in various styles.

\layout {
  indent = 0.0
  \context {
    \Staff
    \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
  }
}

\relative c {
  \set Score.timing = ##f
  \override Staff.Rest #'style = #'mensural
  r\maxima^\markup \typewriter { mensural }
  r\longa r\breve r1 r2 r4 r8 r16 r32 r64 s128 s128
  \bar ""
  
  \override Staff.Rest #'style = #'neomensural
  r\maxima^\markup \typewriter { neomensural }
  r\longa r\breve r1 r2 r4 r8 r16 r32 r64 s128 s128
  \bar ""
  
  \override Staff.Rest #'style = #'classical
  r\maxima^\markup \typewriter { classical }
  r\longa r\breve r1 r2 r4 r8 r16 r32 r64 r128 s128
  \bar ""
  
  \override Staff.Rest  #'style = #'default
  r\maxima^\markup \typewriter { default }
  r\longa r\breve r1 r2 r4 r8 r16 r32 r64 r128 s128
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Full measure rests.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: Rest.

Known issues and warnings

There is no fundamental limit to rest durations (both in terms of longest and shortest), but the number of glyphs is limited: there are rests from 128th to maxima (8 x whole).


Invisible rests

An invisible rest (also called a ‘spacer rest’) can be entered like a note with the note name s:

c4 c s c
s2 c

[image of music]

Spacer rests are available only in note mode and chord mode. In other situations, for example, when entering lyrics, \skip is used to skip a musical moment. \skip requires an explicit duration.

<<
  {
    a2 \skip2 a2 a2
  }
  \new Lyrics {
    \lyricmode {
      foo2 \skip 1 bla2
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

A spacer rest implicitly causes Staff and Voice contexts to be created if none exist, just like notes and rests do:

s1 s s

[image of music]

\skip simply skips musical time; it creates no output of any kind.

% This is valid input, but does nothing
\skip 1 \skip1 \skip 1

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: SkipMusic


Full measure rests

Rests for one or more full measures are entered like notes with the note name uppercase R:

% Rest measures contracted to single measure
\compressFullBarRests
R1*4
R1*24
R1*4
b2^"Tutti" b4 a4

[image of music]

The duration of full-measure rests is identical to the duration notation used for notes. The duration in a multi-measure rest must always be an integral number of measure-lengths, so augmentation dots or fractions must often be used:

\compressFullBarRests
\time 2/4
R1 | R2 |
\time 3/4
R2. | R2.*2 |
\time 13/8
R1*13/8 | R1*13/8*12 |
\time 10/8
R4*5*4 |

[image of music]

A full-measure rest is printed as either a whole or breve rest, centered in the measure, depending on the time signature.

\time 4/4
R1 |
\time 6/4
R1*3/2 |
\time 8/4
R1*2 |

[image of music]

By default a multi-measure rest is expanded in the printed score to show all the rest measures explicitly. Alternatively, a mult-measure rest can be shown as a single measure containing a multi-measure rest symbol, with the number of measures of rest printed above the measure:

% Default behavior
\time 3/4 r2. | R2.*2 |
\time 2/4 R2 |
\time 4/4
% Rest measures contracted to single measure
\compressFullBarRests
r1 | R1*17 | R1*4 |
% Rest measures expanded
\expandFullBarRests
\time 3/4
R2.*2 |

[image of music]

Markups can be added to multi-measure rests. The predefined command \fermataMarkup is provided for adding fermatas.

\compressFullBarRests
\time 3/4
R2.*10^\markup { \italic "ad lib." }
R2.^\fermataMarkup

[image of music]

Note: Markups attached to a multi-measure rest are objects of type MultiMeasureRestText, not TextScript. Overrides must be directed to the correct object, or they will be ignored. See the following example.

% This fails, as the wrong object name is specified
\override TextScript #'padding = #5
R1^"wrong"
% This is correct and works
\override MultiMeasureRestText #'padding = #5
R1^"right"

[image of music]

When a multi-measure rest immediately follows a \partial setting, resulting bar-check warnings may not be displayed.

Predefined commands

\textLengthOn, \textLengthOff, \fermataMarkup, \compressFullBarRests, \expandFullBarRests.

Selected Snippets

Changing form of multi-measure rests

If there are ten or fewer measures of rests, a series of longa and breve rests (called in German "Kirchenpausen" - church rests) is printed within the staff; otherwise a simple line is shown. This default number of ten may be changed by overriding the expand-limit property:

\relative c'' {
  \compressFullBarRests
  R1*2 | R1*5 | R1*9
  \override MultiMeasureRest #'expand-limit = #3
  R1*2 | R1*5 | R1*9
}

[image of music]

Positioning multi-measure rests

Unlike ordinary rests, there is no predefined command to change the staff position of a multi-measure rest symbol of either form by attaching it to a note. However, in polyphonic music multi-measure rests in odd-numbered and even-numbered voices are vertically separated. The positioning of multi-measure rests can be controlled as follows:

\relative c'' {
  % Multi-measure rests by default are set under the second line
  R1
  % They can be moved with an override
  \override MultiMeasureRest #'staff-position = #-2
  R1
  % A value of 0 is the default position;
  % the following trick moves the rest to the center line
  \override MultiMeasureRest #'staff-position = #-0.01
  R1
  % Multi-measure rests in odd-numbered voices are under the top line
  << { R1 } \\ { a1 } >>
  % Multi-measure rests in even-numbered voices are under the bottom line
  << { c1 } \\ { R1 } >>
  % They remain separated even in empty measures
  << { R1 } \\ { R1 } >>
  % This brings them together even though there are two voices
  \compressFullBarRests
  <<
    \revert MultiMeasureRest #'staff-position
    { R1*3 }
    \\
    \revert MultiMeasureRest #'staff-position
    { R1*3 }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Multi-measure rest markup

Markups attached to a multi-measure rest will be centered above or below it. Long markups attached to multi-measure rests do not cause the measure to expand. To expand a multi-measure rest to fit the markup, use a spacer rest with an attached markup before the multi-measure rest.

Note that the spacer rest causes a bar line to be inserted. Text attached to a spacer rest in this way is left-aligned to the position where the note would be placed in the measure, but if the measure length is determined by the length of the text, the text will appear to be centered.

\relative c' {
  \compressFullBarRests
  \textLengthOn
  s1*0^\markup { [MAJOR GENERAL] }
  R1*19
  s1*0_\markup { \italic { Cue: ... it is yours } }
  s1*0^\markup { A }
  R1*30^\markup { [MABEL] }
  \textLengthOff
  c4^\markup { CHORUS } d f c
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: multi-measure rest.

Notation Reference: Durations, Text, Formatting text, Text scripts.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: MultiMeasureRest, MultiMeasureRestNumber, MultiMeasureRestText.

Known issues and warnings

If an attempt is made to use fingerings (e.g., R1*10-4) to put numbers over multi-measure rests, the fingering numeral (4) may collide with the bar counter numeral (10).

There is no way to automatically condense multiple ordinary rests into a single multi-measure rest.

Multi-measure rests do not take part in rest collisions.


1.2.3 Displaying rhythms


Time signature

The time signature is set as follows:

\time 2/4 c2
\time 3/4 c2.

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Time signatures are printed at the beginning of a piece and whenever the time signature changes. If a change takes place at the end of a line a warning time signature sign is printed there. This default behavior may be changed, see Visibility of objects.

\time 2/4
c2 c
\break
c c
\break
\time 4/4
c c c c

[image of music]

The time signature symbol that is used in 2/2 and 4/4 time can be changed to a numeric style:

% Default style
\time 4/4 c1
\time 2/2 c1
% Change to numeric style
\numericTimeSignature
\time 4/4 c1
\time 2/2 c1
% Revert to default style
\defaultTimeSignature
\time 4/4 c1
\time 2/2 c1

[image of music]

Mensural time signatures are covered in Mensural time signatures.

Predefined commands

\numericTimeSignature, \defaultTimeSignature.

Selected Snippets

Changing the time signature without affecting the beaming

The \time command sets the properties timeSignatureFraction, beatLength, beatGrouping and measureLength in the Timing context, which is normally aliased to Score. Changing the value of timeSignatureFraction causes the new time signature symbol to be printed without changing any of the other properties:

\relative c'' {
  \time 3/4
  a16 a a a a a a a a a a a

  % Change time signature symbol but keep 3/4 beaming
  % due to unchanged underlying time signature
  \set Score.timeSignatureFraction = #'(12 . 16)
  a16 a a a a a a a a a a a

  \time 12/16
  % Lose 3/4 beaming now \time has been changed
  a16 a a a a a a a a a a a
}

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Compound time signatures

Odd 20th century time signatures (such as "5/8") can often be played as compound time signatures (e.g. "3/8 + 2/8"), which combine two or more inequal metrics. LilyPond can make such music quite easy to read and play, by explicitly printing the compound time signatures and adapting the automatic beaming behavior. (Graphic measure grouping indications can also be added; see the appropriate snippet in this database.)

#(define (compound-time one two num)
  (markup #:override '(baseline-skip . 0) #:number
   (#:line ((#:column (one num)) #:vcenter "+" (#:column (two num))))
  ))

\relative {  
  \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = #ly:text-interface::print
  \override Staff.TimeSignature #'text = #(compound-time "2" "3" "8")
  \time 5/8
  #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end 1 8 5 8) 1 4)
  c8 d e fis gis
  c8 fis, gis e d
  c8 d e4 gis8
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: time signature

Notation Reference: Mensural time signatures, Time administration.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: TimeSignature, Timing_translator.


Upbeats

Partial or pick-up measures, such as an anacrusis or upbeat, are entered using the \partial command, with the syntax

\partial duration

where duration is the rhythmic length of the interval before the start of the first complete measure:

\partial 4 e4 |
a2. c,4 |

[image of music]

The partial measure can be any duration less than a full measure:

\partial 8*3 c8 d e |
a2. c,4 |

[image of music]

Internally, this is translated into

\set Timing.measurePosition = -duration

The property measurePosition contains a rational number indicating how much of the measure has passed at this point. Note that this is set to a negative number by the \partial command: i.e., \partial 4 is internally translated to -4, meaning “there is a quarter note left in the measure.”

See also

Music Glossary: anacrusis.

Notation Reference: Grace notes.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internal Reference: Timing_translator.

Known issues and warnings

The \partial command is intended to be used only at the beginning of a piece. If you use it after the beginning, some odd warnings may occur.


Unmetered music

Bar lines and bar numbers are calculated automatically. For unmetered music (some cadenzas, for example), this is not desirable. To turn off automatic calculation of bar lines and bar numbers, use the command \cadenzaOn, and use \cadenzaOff to turn them on again.

c4 d e d
\cadenzaOn
c4 c d8 d d f4 g4.
\cadenzaOff
\bar "|"
d4 e d c

[image of music]

Bar numbering is resumed at the end of the cadenza as if the cadenza were not there:

% Show all bar numbers
\override Score.BarNumber #'break-visibility = #all-visible
c4 d e d
\cadenzaOn
c4 c d8 d d f4 g4.
\cadenzaOff
\bar "|"
d4 e d c

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\cadenzaOn, \cadenzaOff.

See also

Music Glossary: cadenza.

Notation Reference:

Snippets: Rhythms.

Known issues and warnings

LilyPond will insert line breaks and page breaks only at a bar line. Unless the unmetered music ends before the end of the staff line, you will need to insert invisible bar lines with

\bar ""

to indicate where breaks can occur.


Polymetric notation

Polymetric notation is supported, either explicitly or by modifying the visible time signature symbol and scaling the note durations.

Staves with different time signatures, equal measure lengths

This notation can be created by setting a common time signature for each staff but replacing the symbol manually by setting timeSignatureFraction to the desired fraction and scaling the printed durations in each staff to the common time signature; see Time signature. The scaling is done with \scaleDurations, which is used in a similar way to \times, but does not create a tuplet bracket; see Scaling durations.

In this example, music with the time signatures of 3/4, 9/8, and 10/8 are used in parallel. In the second staff, shown durations are multiplied by 2/3, as 2/3 * 9/8 = 3/4, and in the third staff, shown durations are multiplied by 3/5, as 3/5 * 10/8 = 3/4. It will often be necessary to insert beams manually, as the duration scaling affects the autobeaming rules.

\relative c' <<
  \new Staff {
    \time 3/4
    c4 c c |
    c c c |
  }
  \new Staff {
    \time 3/4
    \set Staff.timeSignatureFraction = #'(9 . 8)
    \scaleDurations #'(2 . 3)
    \repeat unfold 6 { c8[ c c] }
  }
  \new Staff {
    \time 3/4
    \set Staff.timeSignatureFraction = #'(10 . 8)
    \scaleDurations #'(3 . 5) {
      \repeat unfold 2 { c8[ c c] }
      \repeat unfold 2 { c8[ c] } |
      c4. c4. \times 2/3 { c8[ c c] } c4
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

Staves with different time signatures, unequal bar lengths

Each staff can be given its own independent time signature by moving the Timing_translator and the Default_bar_line_engraver to the Staff context.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Score
    \remove "Timing_translator"
    \remove "Default_bar_line_engraver"
  }
  \context {
    \Staff
    \consists "Timing_translator"
    \consists "Default_bar_line_engraver"
  }
}

% Now each staff has its own time signature.

\relative c' <<
  \new Staff {
    \time 3/4
    c4 c c |
    c c c |
  }
  \new Staff {
    \time 2/4
    c4 c |
    c c |
    c c |
  }
  \new Staff {
    \time 3/8
    c4. |
    c8 c c |
    c4. |
    c8 c c |
  }
>>

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Compound time signatures

Odd 20th century time signatures (such as "5/8") can often be played as compound time signatures (e.g. "3/8 + 2/8"), which combine two or more inequal metrics. LilyPond can make such music quite easy to read and play, by explicitly printing the compound time signatures and adapting the automatic beaming behavior. (Graphic measure grouping indications can also be added; see the appropriate snippet in this database.)

#(define (compound-time one two num)
  (markup #:override '(baseline-skip . 0) #:number
   (#:line ((#:column (one num)) #:vcenter "+" (#:column (two num))))
  ))

\relative {  
  \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = #ly:text-interface::print
  \override Staff.TimeSignature #'text = #(compound-time "2" "3" "8")
  \time 5/8
  #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end 1 8 5 8) 1 4)
  c8 d e fis gis
  c8 fis, gis e d
  c8 d e4 gis8
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: polymetric, polymetric time signature, meter.

Notation Reference: Time signature, Scaling durations.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: TimeSignature, Timing_translator, Default_bar_line_engraver, Staff.

Known issues and warnings

When using different time signatures in parallel, notes at the same moment will be be placed at the same horizontal location. However, the bar lines in the different staves will cause the note spacing to be less regular in each of the individual staves than would be normal without the different time signatures.


Automatic note splitting

Long notes which overrun bar lines can be converted automatically to tied notes. This is done by replacing the Note_heads_engraver with the Completion_heads_engraver. In the following example, notes crossing the bar lines are split and tied.

\new Voice \with {
  \remove "Note_heads_engraver"
  \consists "Completion_heads_engraver"
}

{ c2. c8 d4 e f g a b c8 c2 b4 a g16 f4 e d c8. c2 }

[image of music]

This engraver splits all running notes at the bar line, and inserts ties. One of its uses is to debug complex scores: if the measures are not entirely filled, then the ties show exactly how much each measure is off.

See also

Music Glossary: tie

Learning Manual: Engravers explained, Adding and removing engravers.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: Note_heads_engraver, Completion_heads_engraver, Forbid_line_break_engraver.

Known issues and warnings

Not all durations (especially those containing tuplets) can be represented exactly with normal notes and dots, but the Completion_heads_engraver will not insert tuplets.

The Completion_heads_engraver only affects notes; it does not split rests.


Showing melody rhythms

Sometimes you might want to show only the rhythm of a melody. This can be done with the rhythmic staff. All pitches of notes on such a staff are squashed, and the staff itself has a single line

<<
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    \new Voice = "myRhythm" {
      \time 4/4
      c4 e8 f g2
      r4 g g f
      g1
    }
  }
  \new Lyrics {
    \lyricsto "myRhythm" {
      This is my song
      I like to sing
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

Guitar chord charts often show the strumming rhythms. This can be done with the Pitch_squash_engraver and \improvisationOn.

<<
  \new ChordNames {
    \chordmode {
      c1 f g c
    }
  }

  \new Voice \with {
    \consists Pitch_squash_engraver
  } \relative c'' {
    \improvisationOn
    c4 c8 c c4 c8 c
    f4 f8 f f4 f8 f
    g4 g8 g g4 g8 g
    c4 c8 c c4 c8 c
  }
>>

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\improvisationOn, \improvisationOff.

Selected Snippets

Guitar strum rhythms

For guitar music, it is possible to show strum rhythms, along with melody notes, chord names, and fret diagrams.

\include "predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly"
<<
  \new ChordNames {
    \chordmode {
      c1 f g c
    }
  }

  \new FretBoards {
    \chordmode {
      c1 f g c
    }
  }


  \new Voice \with {
    \consists Pitch_squash_engraver
  } \relative c'' {
    \improvisationOn
    c4 c8 c c4 c8 c
    f4 f8 f f4 f8 f
    g4 g8 g g4 g8 g
    c4 c8 c c4 c8 c
  }


  \new Voice = "melody" {
    \relative c'' {
      \improvisationOff
      c2 e4 e4
      f2. r4
      g2. a4
      e4 c2.
    }
  }

  \new Lyrics {
    \lyricsto "melody" {
      This is my song.
      I like to sing.
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: RhythmicStaff, Pitch_squash_engraver.


1.2.4 Beams


Automatic beams

By default, beams are inserted automatically:

\time 2/4 c8 c c c
\time 6/8 c c c c8. c16 c8

[image of music]

If these automatic decisions are not satisfactory, beaming can be entered explicitly; see Manual beams. It is also possible to define beaming patterns that differ from the defaults. The default beaming rules for most common time signatures are defined in ‘scm/auto-beam.scm’. If there are no beaming rules defined for a particular beam’s duration in the time signature being used, its beaming is controlled by the values of three context properties, measureLength, beatLength and beatGrouping. Both the beaming rules and the context properties can be overridden, see Setting automatic beam behavior.

Note: If beams are used to indicate melismata in songs, then automatic beaming should be switched off with autoBeamOff and the beams indicated manually.

Automatic beaming may be turned off and on with \autoBeamOff and \autoBeamOn commands:

c4 c8 c8. c16 c8. c16 c8
\autoBeamOff
c4 c8 c8. c16 c8.
\autoBeamOn
c16 c8

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\autoBeamOff, \autoBeamOn.

Selected Snippets

Beams across line breaks

Line breaks are normally forbidden when beams cross bar lines. This behavior can be changed as shown:

\relative c'' {
  \override Beam #'breakable = ##t
  c8 c[ c] c[ c] c[ c] c[ \break  
  c8] c[ c] c[ c] c[ c] c
}

[image of music]

Changing beam knee gap

Kneed beams are inserted automatically when a large gap is detected between the note heads. This behavior can be tuned through the auto-knee-gap property. A kneed beam is drawn if the gap is larger than the value of auto-knee-gap plus the width of the beam object (which depends on the duration of the notes and the slope of the beam). By default auto-knee-gap is set to 5.5 staff spaces.

{
  f8 f''8 f8 f''8
  \override Beam #'auto-knee-gap = #6
  f8 f''8 f8 f''8
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Manual beams, Setting automatic beam behavior.

Installed Files: ‘scm/auto-beam.scm’.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: Beam.

Known issues and warnings

Automatically kneed cross-staff beams cannot be used together with hidden staves. See Hiding staves.

Beams can collide with note heads and accidentals in other voices


Setting automatic beam behavior

The placement of automatic beams is determined by the rules described in Automatic beams. There are two mutually exclusive ways in which these rules may be modified. The first, modifying the grouping of beats, applies to uncommon time signatures, i.e. those for which there are no predefined rules defining the beam end points. The second method, modifying the specification of the beam end points, can be used for any time signature. This second method must be used for those time signatures and beam durations combinations for which beam ending rules are pre-defined, unless these have all been reverted. There are predefined rules for time signatures of 3/2, 3/4, 4/4, 2/4, 4/8, 4/16, 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8.

Modifying the grouping of beats

If there are no beam-ending rules defined for the beam duration of a particular beam in the time signature in use, its beaming is controlled by three context properties: measureLength, beatLength and beatGrouping. These properties may be set in the Score, Staff or Voice contexts to delimit their scope.

These determine the beaming as follows:

Beams may begin anywhere (unless a beam is already active). Beams end at a time determined by the values of beatGrouping and beatLength, as follows:

Note: These three properties become effective for a particular beam only if there are no beam-ending rules predefined for that beam’s duration in the time signature in use, or if these beam-ending rules have all been reverted.

By default the measureLength and beatLength are derived from the time signature set by the \time command. The measureLength is set to be exactly the same length as the measure length given by the time signature, and the beatLength is set to be the same as one over the denominator of the time signature.

The default value of beatGrouping is taken from a table in ‘scm/music-functions.scm’. To find this, see Other sources of information. It defines the beat grouping for 5/8, 6/8, 8/8, 9/8 and 12/8 time signatures.

Both measureLength and beatLength are moments, units of musical duration. A quantity of type moment is created by the scheme function ly:make-moment. For more information about this function, see Time administration.

beatGrouping is a list of integers giving the number of beats in each group.

Selected Snippets

Grouping beats

Beaming patterns may be altered with the beatGrouping property:

\relative c'' {
  \time 5/16
  \set beatGrouping = #'(2 3)
  c8[^"(2+3)" c16 c8]
  \set beatGrouping = #'(3 2)
  c8[^"(3+2)" c16 c8]
}

[image of music]

Specifying context with beatGrouping

By specifying the context, the effect of beatGrouping can be limited to the context specified, and the values which may have been set in higher-level contexts can be overridden:

\score {
  \new Staff <<
    \time 7/8
    \new Voice {
      \relative c'' {
        \set Staff.beatGrouping = #'(2 3 2)
        a8 a a a a a a
      }
    }
    \new Voice {
      \relative c' {
        \voiceTwo
        \set Voice.beatGrouping = #'(1 3 3)
        f8 f f f f f f
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Using beatLength and beatGrouping

The property measureLength determines where bar lines should be inserted and, with beatLength and beatGrouping, how automatic beams should be generated for beam durations and time signatures for which no beam-ending rules are defined. This example shows several ways of controlling beaming by setting these properties. The explanations are shown as comments in the code.

\relative c'' {
  \time 3/4
  % The default in 3/4 time is to beam in three groups
  % each of a quarter note length
  a16 a a a a a a a a a a a

  \time 12/16
  % No auto-beaming is defined for 12/16
  a16 a a a a a a a a a a a

  \time 3/4
  % Change time signature symbol, but retain underlying 3/4 beaming
  \set Score.timeSignatureFraction = #'(12 . 16)
  a16 a a a a a a a a a a a

  % The 3/4 time default grouping of (1 1 1) and beatLength of 1/8
  % are not consistent with a measureLength of 3/4, so the beams
  % are grouped at beatLength intervals
  \set Score.beatLength = #(ly:make-moment 1 8)
  a16 a a a a a a a a a a a

  % Specify beams in groups of (3 3 2 3) 1/16th notes
  % 3+3+2+3=11, and 11*1/16<>3/4, so beatGrouping does not apply,
  % and beams are grouped at beatLength (1/16) intervals
  \set Score.beatLength = #(ly:make-moment 1 16)
  \set Score.beatGrouping = #'(3 3 2 3)
  a16 a a a a a a a a a a a

  % Specify beams in groups of (3 4 2 3) 1/16th notes
  % 3+4+2+3=12, and 12*1/16=3/4, so beatGrouping applies
  \set Score.beatLength = #(ly:make-moment 1 16)
  \set Score.beatGrouping = #'(3 4 2 3)
  a16 a a a a a a a a a a a
}

[image of music]

Sub-dividing beams

The beams of consecutive 16th (or shorter) notes are, by default, not sub-divided. That is, the three (or more) beams stretch unbroken over entire groups of notes. This behavior can be modified to sub-divide the beams into sub-groups by setting the property subdivideBeams. When set, multiple beams will be sub-divided at intervals defined by the current value of beatLength by reducing the multiple beams to just one beam between the sub-groups. Note that beatLength defaults to one over the denominator of the current time signature if not set explicitly. It must be set to a fraction giving the duration of the beam sub-group using the make-moment function, as shown here:

\relative c'' {
  c32[ c c c c c c c]
  \set subdivideBeams = ##t
  c32[ c c c c c c c]

  % Set beam sub-group length to an eighth note
  \set beatLength = #(ly:make-moment 1 8)
  c32[ c c c c c c c]

  % Set beam sub-group length to a sixteenth note
  \set beatLength = #(ly:make-moment 1 16)
  c32[ c c c c c c c]
}

[image of music]

Conducting signs, measure grouping signs

Options to group beats within a bar are available through the Scheme function set-time-signature, which takes three arguments: the number of beats, the beat length, and the internal grouping of beats in the measure. If the Measure_grouping_engraver is included, the function will also create MeasureGrouping signs. Such signs ease reading rhythmically complex modern music. In the example, the 9/8 measure is subdivided in 2, 2, 2 and 3. This is passed to set-time-signature as the third argument: '(2 2 2 3):

\score {
  \relative c'' {
    #(set-time-signature 9 8 '(2 2 2 3))
    #(revert-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 9 8) 3 8)
    #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end 1 8 9 8) 1 4)
    #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end 1 8 9 8) 2 4)
    #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end 1 8 9 8) 3 4)
    g8 g d d g g a( bes g) |
    #(set-time-signature 5 8 '(3 2))
    a4. g4
  }
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Staff
      \consists "Measure_grouping_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Modifying the beam end points

In common time signatures, automatic beams can start on any note but can end at only a few positions within the measure, namely at durations specified by the properties in autoBeamSettings. These properties consist of a list of rules defining where beams can end. The default autoBeamSettings rules are defined in ‘scm/auto-beam.scm’. To find this, see Other sources of information.

This method must be used for the time signatures for which beam-ending rules are defined by default, unless these have all been reverted. It is also particularly suitable for many other time signatures if the time signature of the measures changes frequently, or if the beaming should be different for different beam durations.

In order to add a rule to the list, use

#(override-auto-beam-setting
  '(beam-limit
    beam-numerator  beam-denominator
    time-signature-numerator time-signature-denominator)
  moment-numerator moment-denominator [context])

where

For example, if automatic beams should always end on the first quarter note, whatever the time signature or beam duration, use

a8 a a a a a a a
#(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * * *) 1 4)
a8 a a a a a a a

[image of music]

You can force the beam settings to take effect only on beams whose shortest note is a certain duration

\time 2/4
% end 1/16 beams for all time signatures at the 1/16 moment
#(override-auto-beam-setting '(end 1 16 * *) 1 16)
a16 a a a a a a a |
a32 a a a a16 a a a a a |
% end 1/32 beams for all time signatures at the 1/16 moment
#(override-auto-beam-setting '(end 1 32 * *) 1 16)
a32 a a a a16 a a a a a |

[image of music]

You can force the beam settings to take effect only in certain time signatures

\time 5/8
% end beams of all durations in 5/8 time signature at the 2/8 moment
#(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 5 8) 2 8)
c8 c d d d
\time 4/4
e8 e f f e e d d
\time 5/8
c8 c d d d

[image of music]

When multiple voices are used the Staff context must be specified if the beaming is to be applied to all voices in the staff:

\time 7/8
% rhythm 3-1-1-2
% Context not specified - does not work correctly
#(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 7 8) 3 8)
#(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 7 8) 4 8)
#(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 7 8) 5 8)
<< {a8 a a a16 a a a a8 a} \\ {f4. f8 f f f} >>

% Works correctly with context specified
#(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 7 8) 3 8 'Staff)
#(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 7 8) 4 8 'Staff)
#(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 7 8) 5 8 'Staff)
<< {a8 a a a16 a a a a8 a} \\ {f4. f8 f f f} >>

[image of music]

Note: If any unexpected beam behavior occurs, check the default automatic beam settings in ‘scm/auto-beam.scm’ for possible interference, because the beam endings defined there will still apply in addition to your own.

Any unwanted or conflicting default endings must be reverted for your time signature(s). Existing auto-beam rules are removed by using

#(revert-auto-beam-setting
  '(beam-limit
    beam-numerator  beam-denominator
    time-signature-numerator time-signature-denominator)
  moment-numerator moment-denominator [context])

beam-limit, beam-numerator, beam-denominator, time-signature-numerator, time-signature-denominator, moment-numerator, moment-denominator and context are the same as above.

\time 4/4
a16 a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a
% undo a rule ending 1/16 beams in 4/4 time at 1/4 moment
#(revert-auto-beam-setting '(end 1 16 4 4) 1 4)
a16 a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a

[image of music]

The rule in a revert-auto-beam-setting statement must exactly match the original rule. That is, no wildcard expansion is taken into account.

\time 1/4
#(override-auto-beam-setting '(end 1 16 1 4) 1 8)
a16 a a a
#(revert-auto-beam-setting '(end 1 16 * *) 1 8) % this won't revert it!
a a a a
#(revert-auto-beam-setting '(end 1 16 1 4) 1 8) % this will
a a a a

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Beam grouping in 7/8 time

There are no default automatic beam groupings specified for 7/8 time, so if automatic beams are required the grouping must be specified. For example, to group all beams 2-3-2 in 7/8 time, specify beam endings at 2/8 and 5/8:

\relative c'' {
  \time 7/8
  % rhythm 2-3-2
  a8 a a a a a a
  #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 7 8) 2 8)
  #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 7 8) 5 8)
  a8 a a a a a a
}

[image of music]

Reverting default beam endings

To typeset beams grouped 3-4-3-2 in 12/8 it is necessary first to override the default beam endings in 12/8, and then to set up the new beaming endings:

\relative c'' {
  \time 12/8

  % Default beaming
  a8 a a a a a a a a a a a

  % Revert default values in scm/auto-beam.scm for 12/8 time
  #(revert-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 12 8) 3 8)
  #(revert-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 12 8) 3 4)
  #(revert-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 12 8) 9 8)
  a8 a a a a a a a a a a a

  % Set new values for beam endings
  #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 12 8) 3 8)
  #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 12 8) 7 8)
  #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 12 8) 10 8)
  a8 a a a a a a a a a a a
}

[image of music]

Beam endings in Score context

Beam-ending rules specified in the Score context apply to all staves, but can be modified at both Staff and Voice levels:

\relative c'' {
  \time 5/4
  % Set default beaming for all staves
  #(score-override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 5 4) 3 8)
  #(score-override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 5 4) 7 8)
  <<
    \new Staff {
      c8 c c c c c c c c c
    }
    \new Staff {
      % Modify beaming for just this staff
      #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 5 4) 6 8 'Staff)
      #(revert-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 5 4) 7 8 'Staff)
      c8 c c c c c c c c c
    }
    \new Staff {
      % Inherit beaming from Score context
      <<
        {
          \voiceOne
          c8 c c c c c c c c c
        }
        % Modify beaming for this voice only
        \new Voice {
          \voiceTwo
          #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 5 4) 6 8)
          #(revert-auto-beam-setting '(end * * 5 4) 7 8)
          a8 a a a a a a a a a
        }
      >>
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\autoBeamOff, \autoBeamOn.

Known issues and warnings

If a score ends while an automatic beam has not been ended and is still accepting notes, this last beam will not be typeset at all. The same holds for polyphonic voices, entered with << … \\ … >>. If a polyphonic voice ends while an automatic beam is still accepting notes, it is not typeset.

See also

Snippets: Rhythms.


Manual beams

In some cases it may be necessary to override the automatic beaming algorithm. For example, the autobeamer will not put beams over rests or bar lines, and in choral scores the beaming is often set to follow the meter of the lyrics rather than the notes. Such beams can be specified manually by marking the begin and end point with [ and ]

{
  r4 r8[ g' a r8] r8 g[ | a] r8
}

[image of music]

Individual notes may be marked with \noBeam to prevent them from being beamed:

\time 2/4 c8 c\noBeam c c

[image of music]

Even more strict manual control with the beams can be achieved by setting the properties stemLeftBeamCount and stemRightBeamCount. They specify the number of beams to draw on the left and right side, respectively, of the next note. If either property is set, its value will be used only once, and then it is erased. In this example, the last f is printed with only one beam on the left side, i.e., the eighth-note beam of the group as a whole.

a8[ r16 f g a]
a8[ r16
\set stemLeftBeamCount = #2
\set stemRightBeamCount = #1
f
\set stemLeftBeamCount = #1
g a]

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Flat flags and beam nibs

Flat flags on lone notes and beam nibs at the ends of beamed figures are both possible with a combination of stemLeftBeamCount, stemRightBeamCount and paired [ ] beam indicators.

For right-pointing flat flags on lone notes, use paired [ ] beam indicators and set stemLeftBeamCount to zero (see Example 1).

For left-pointing flat flags, set stemRightBeamCount instead (Example 2).

For right-pointing nibs at the end of a run of beamed notes, set stemRightBeamCount to a positive value. And for left-pointing nibs at the start of a run of beamed notes, set stemLeftBeamCount instead (Example 3).

Sometimes it may make sense for a lone note surrounded by rests to carry both a left- and right-pointing flat flag. Do this with paired [ ] beam indicators alone (Example 4).

(Note that \set stemLeftBeamCountis always equivalent to \once \set. In other words, the beam count settings aren’t "sticky", so the pair of flat flags attached to the lone c'16 [ ] in the last example have nothing to do with the \set two notes prior.)

\score {
<<
% Example 1
\new RhythmicStaff {
  \set stemLeftBeamCount = #0
  c'16 [ ]
  r8.
}

% Example 2
\new RhythmicStaff {
  r8.
  \set stemRightBeamCount = #0
  c'16 [ ]
}

% Example 3
\new RhythmicStaff {
  c'16
  c'16
  \set stemRightBeamCount = #2
  c'16
  r16
  r16
  \set stemLeftBeamCount = #2
  c'16
  c'16
  c'16
}

% Example 4
\new RhythmicStaff {
   c'16
   c'16
   \set stemRightBeamCount = #2
   c'16
   r16
   c'16 [ ]
   r16
   \set stemLeftBeamCount = #2
   c'16
   c'16
}
>>
}

[image of music]


Feathered beams

Feathered beams are used to indicate that a small group of notes should be played at an increasing (or decreasing) tempo, without changing the overall tempo of the piece. The extent of the feathered beam must be indicated manually using [ and ], and the beam feathering is turned on by specifying a direction to the Beam property grow-direction.

If the placement of the notes and the sound in the MIDI output is to reflect the ritardando or accelerando indicated by the feathered beam the notes must be grouped as a music expression delimited by braces and preceded by a featheredDurations command which specifies the ratio between the durations of the first and last notes in the group.

The square brackets show the extent of the beam and the braces show which notes are to have their durations modified. Normally these would delimit the same group of notes, but this is not required: the two commands are independent.

In the following example the eight 16th notes occupy exactly the same time as a half note, but the first note is one half as long as the last one, with the intermediate notes gradually lengthening. The first four 32nd notes gradually speed up, while the last four 32nd notes are at a constant tempo.

\override Beam #'grow-direction = #LEFT
\featherDurations #(ly:make-moment 2 1)
{ c16[ c c c c c c c] }
\override Beam #'grow-direction = #RIGHT
\featherDurations #(ly:make-moment 2 3)
{ c32[ d e f] }
% revert to non-feathered beams
\override Beam #'grow-direction = #'()
{ g32[ a b c] }

[image of music]

The spacing in the printed output represents the note durations only approximately, but the MIDI output is exact.

Known issues and warnings

The \featherDurations command only works with very short music snippets, and when numbers in the fraction are small.

See also

Snippets: Rhythms.


1.2.5 Bars


Bar lines

Bar lines delimit measures, and are also used to indicate repeats. Normally, simple bar lines are automatically inserted into the printed output at places based on the current time signature.

The simple bar lines inserted automatically can be changed to other types with the \bar command. For example, a closing double bar line is usually placed at the end of a piece:

e4 d c2 \bar "|."

[image of music]

It is not invalid if the final note in a measure does not end on the automatically entered bar line: the note is assumed to carry over into the next measure. But if a long sequence of such carry-over measures appears the music can appear compressed or even flowing off the page. This is because automatic line breaks happen only at the end of complete measures, i.e., where all notes end before the end of a measure.

Note: An incorrect duration can cause line breaks to be inhibited, leading to a line of highly compressed music or music which flows off the page.

Line breaks are also permitted at manually inserted bar lines even within incomplete measures. To allow a line break without printing a bar line, use

\bar ""

This will insert an invisible bar line and allow (but not force) a line break to occur at this point. The bar number counter is not increased. To force a line break see Line breaking.

This and other special bar lines may be inserted manually at any point. When they coincide with the end of a measure they replace the simple bar line which would have been inserted there automatically. When they do not coincide with the end of a measure the specified bar line is inserted at that point in the printed output. Such insertions do not affect the calculation and placement of subsequent automatic bar lines.

The simple bar line and five types of double bar line are available for manual insertion:

f1 \bar "|" g \bar "||" a \bar ".|" b \bar ".|." c \bar "|.|" d \bar "|." e

[image of music]

together with dotted and dashed bar lines:

f1 \bar ":" g \bar "dashed" a

[image of music]

and five types of repeat bar line:

f1 \bar "|:" g \bar ":|:" a \bar ":|.|:" b \bar ":|.:" c \bar ":|" d

[image of music]

Although the bar line types signifying repeats may be inserted manually they do not in themselves cause LilyPond to recognize a repeated section. Such repeated sections are better entered using the various repeat commands (see Repeats), which automatically print the appropriate bar lines.

In addition, you can specify "||:", which is equivalent to "|:" except at line breaks, where it gives a double bar line at the end of the line and a start repeat at the beginning of the next line.

\override Score.RehearsalMark #'padding = #3
c c c c
\bar "||:"
c c c c \break
\bar "||:"
c c c c

[image of music]

In scores with many staves, a \bar command in one staff is automatically applied to all staves. The resulting bar lines are connected between different staves of a StaffGroup, PianoStaff, or GrandStaff.

<<
  \new StaffGroup <<
    \new Staff {
      e'4 d'
      \bar "||"
      f' e'
    }
    \new Staff { \clef bass c4 g e g }
  >>
  \new Staff { \clef bass c2 c2 }
>>

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

The command \bar bartype is a shortcut for \set Timing.whichBar = bartype. A bar line is created whenever the whichBar property is set.

The default bar type used for automatically inserted bar lines is "|". This may be changed at any time with \set Timing.defaultBarType = bartype.

See also

Notation Reference: Line breaking, Repeats, Grouping staves.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: BarLine (created at Staff level), SpanBar (across staves), Timing_translator (for Timing properties).


Bar numbers

Bar numbers are typeset by default at the start of every line except the first line. The number itself is stored in the currentBarNumber property, which is normally updated automatically for every measure. It may also be set manually:

c1 c c c
\break
\set Score.currentBarNumber = #50
c1 c c c

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Bar numbers can be typeset at regular intervals instead of just at the beginning of every line. To do this the default behavior must be overridden to permit bar numbers to be printed at places other than the start of a line. This is controlled by the break-visibility property of BarNumber. This takes three values which may be set to #t or #f to specify whether the corresponding bar number is visible or not. The order of the three values is end of line visible, middle of line visible, beginning of line visible. In the following example bar numbers are printed at all possible places:

\override Score.BarNumber #'break-visibility = #'#(#t #t #t)
\set Score.currentBarNumber = #11
\bar ""  % Permit first bar number to be printed
c1 c c c
\break
c c c c

[image of music]

and here the bar numbers are printed every two measures except at the end of the line:

\override Score.BarNumber #'break-visibility = #'#(#f #t #t)
\set Score.currentBarNumber = #11
\bar ""  % Permit first bar number to be printed
% Print a bar number every second measure
\set Score.barNumberVisibility = #(every-nth-bar-number-visible 2)
c1 c c c c
\break
c c c c c

[image of music]

The size of the bar number may be changed. This is illustrated in the following example, which also shows how to enclose bar numbers in boxes and circles, and shows an alternative way of specifying #(#f #t #t) for break-visibility.

% Prevent bar numbers at the end of a line and permit them elsewhere
\override Score.BarNumber #'break-visibility
  = #end-of-line-invisible

% Increase the size of the bar number by 2
\override Score.BarNumber #'font-size = #2
\repeat unfold 3 { c1 } \bar "|"

% Draw a box round the following bar number(s)
\override Score.BarNumber  #'stencil
  = #(make-stencil-boxer 0.1 0.25 ly:text-interface::print)
\repeat unfold 3 { c1 } \bar "|"

% Draw a circle round the following bar number(s)
\override Score.BarNumber  #'stencil
  = #(make-stencil-circler 0.1 0.25 ly:text-interface::print)
\repeat unfold 4 { c1 } \bar "|."

[image of music]

Bar numbers by default are left-aligned to their parent object. This is usually the left edge of a line or, if numbers are printed within a line, the left bar line of the measure. The numbers may also be positioned directly on the bar line or right-aligned to the bar line:

\set Score.currentBarNumber = #111
\override Score.BarNumber #'break-visibility = #'#(#t #t #t)
% Increase the size of the bar number by 2
\override Score.BarNumber #'font-size = #2
% Print a bar number every second measure
\set Score.barNumberVisibility = #(every-nth-bar-number-visible 2)
c1 c1
% Center-align bar numbers
\override Score.BarNumber #'self-alignment-X = #0
c1 c1
% Right-align bar numbers
\override Score.BarNumber #'self-alignment-X = #-1
c1 c1

[image of music]

Bar numbers can be removed entirely by removing the Bar_number_engraver from the Score context.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Score
    \remove "Bar_number_engraver"
  }
}
\relative c''{
  c4 c c c \break
  c4 c c c
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: BarNumber.

Known issues and warnings

Bar numbers may collide with the top of the StaffGroup bracket, if there is one. To solve this, the padding property of BarNumber can be used to position the number correctly.

Bar numbers may only be printed at bar lines; to print a bar number at the beginning of a piece, an empty bar line must be inserted there, and a value other than 1 must be placed in currentBarNumber:

\set Score.currentBarNumber = #50
\bar ""
c1 c c c
c1 c c c
\break

[image of music]


Bar and bar number checks

Bar checks help detect errors in the entered durations. A bar check may be entered using the bar symbol, |, at any place where a bar line is expected to fall. If bar check lines are encountered at other places, a list of warnings is printed in the log file, showing the line numbers and lines in which the bar checks failed. In the next example, the second bar check will signal an error.

\time 3/4 c2 e4 | g2 |

Bar checks can also be used in lyrics, for example

\lyricmode {
  \time 2/4
  Twin -- kle | Twin -- kle |
}

An incorrect duration can result in a completely garbled score, especially if the score is polyphonic, so a good place to start correcting input is by scanning for failed bar checks and incorrect durations.

If successive bar checks are off by the same musical interval, only the first warning message is displayed. This allows the warning to focus on the source of the timing error.

It is also possible to redefine the action taken when a bar check or pipe symbol, |, is encountered in the input, so that it does something other than a bar check. This is done by assigning a music expression to pipeSymbol. In the following example | is set to insert a double bar line wherever it appears in the input, rather than checking for end of bar.

pipeSymbol = \bar "||"
{
  c'2 c'2 |
  c'2 c'2
  c'2 | c'2
  c'2 c'2
}

[image of music]

When copying large pieces of music, it can be helpful to check that the LilyPond bar number corresponds to the original that you are entering from. This can be checked with \barNumberCheck, for example,

\barNumberCheck #123

will print a warning if the currentBarNumber is not 123 when it is processed.

See also

Snippets: Rhythms.


Rehearsal marks

To print a rehearsal mark, use the \mark command

c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark #8
c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark \default

[image of music]

The letter ‘I’ is skipped in accordance with engraving traditions. If you wish to include the letter ‘I’, then use

\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-alphabet

The mark is incremented automatically if you use \mark \default, but you can also use an integer argument to set the mark manually. The value to use is stored in the property rehearsalMark.

The style is defined by the property markFormatter. It is a function taking the current mark (an integer) and the current context as argument. It should return a markup object. In the following example, markFormatter is set to a pre-defined procedure. After a few measures, it is set to a procedure that produces a boxed number.

\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-numbers
c1 \mark \default
c1 \mark \default
\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-box-numbers
c1 \mark \default
\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-circle-numbers
c1 \mark \default
\set Score.markFormatter = #format-mark-circle-letters
c1

[image of music]

The file ‘scm/translation-functions.scm’ contains the definitions of format-mark-numbers (the default format), format-mark-box-numbers, format-mark-letters and format-mark-box-letters. These can be used as inspiration for other formatting functions.

You may use format-mark-barnumbers, format-mark-box-barnumbers, and format-mark-circle-barnumbers to get bar numbers instead of incremented numbers or letters.

Other styles of rehearsal mark can be specified manually

\mark "A1"

Score.markFormatter does not affect marks specified in this manner. However, it is possible to apply a \markup to the string.

\mark \markup{ \box A1 }

Music glyphs (such as the segno sign) may be printed inside a \mark

c1 \mark \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts.segno" }
c1 \mark \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts.coda" }
c1 \mark \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts.ufermata" }
c1

[image of music]

See The Feta font, for a list of symbols which may be printed with \musicglyph.

For common tweaks to the positioning of rehearsal marks, see Formatting text.

See also

Notation Reference: The Feta font, Formatting text.

Installed Files: ‘scm/translation-functions.scm’ contains the definition of format-mark-numbers and format-mark-letters. They can be used as inspiration for other formatting functions.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: RehearsalMark.


1.2.6 Special rhythmic concerns


Grace notes

Grace notes are ornaments that are written out. Grace notes are printed in a smaller font and take up no logical time in a measure.

c4 \grace c16 c4
\grace { c16[ d16] } c2

[image of music]

Lilypond also supports two special types of grace notes, the acciaccatura–an unmeasured grace note indicated by a slurred small note with a slashed stem–and the appoggiatura, which takes a fixed fraction of the main note and appears in small print without a slash.

\grace c8 b4
\acciaccatura d8 c4
\appoggiatura e8 d4
\acciaccatura { g16[ f] } e4

[image of music]

The placement of grace notes is synchronized between different staves. In the following example, there are two sixteenth grace notes for every eighth grace note

<< \new Staff { e2 \grace { c16[ d e f] } e2 }
   \new Staff { c2 \grace { g8[ b] } c2 } >>

[image of music]

If you want to end a note with a grace, use the \afterGrace command. It takes two arguments: the main note, and the grace notes following the main note.

c1 \afterGrace d1 { c16[ d] } c1

[image of music]

This will put the grace notes after a space lasting 3/4 of the length of the main note. The default fraction 3/4 can be changed by setting afterGraceFraction. The following example shows the results from setting the space at the default, at 15/16, and finally at 1/2 of the main note.

<<
  \new Staff {
    c1 \afterGrace d1 { c16[ d] } c1
  }
  \new Staff {
    #(define afterGraceFraction (cons 15 16))
    c1 \afterGrace d1 { c16[ d] } c1
  }
  \new Staff {
    #(define afterGraceFraction (cons 1 2))
    c1 \afterGrace d1 { c16[ d] } c1
  }
>>

[image of music]

The space between the main note and the grace note may also be specified using spacers. The following example places the grace note after a space lasting 7/8 of the main note.

\new Voice {
  << { d1^\trill_( }
     { s2 s4. \grace { c16[ d] } } >>
  c1)
}

[image of music]

A \grace music expression will introduce special typesetting settings, for example, to produce smaller type, and set directions. Hence, when introducing layout tweaks to override the special settings, they should be placed inside the grace expression. The overrides should also be reverted inside the grace expression. Here, the grace note’s default stem direction is overriden and then reverted.

\new Voice {
  \acciaccatura {
    \stemDown
    f16->
    \stemNeutral
  }
  g4 e c2
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

The slash through the stem found in acciaccaturas can be applied in other situations:

\relative c'' {
  \override Stem #'stroke-style = #"grace"
  c8( d2) e8( f4)
}

[image of music]

The layout of grace expressions can be changed throughout the music using the function add-grace-property. The following example undefines the Stem direction for this grace, so that stems do not always point up.

\relative c'' {
  \new Staff {
    #(add-grace-property 'Voice 'Stem 'direction ly:stem::calc-direction)
    #(remove-grace-property 'Voice 'Stem 'direction)
    \new Voice {
       \acciaccatura { f16 } g4
       \grace { d16[ e] } f4
       \appoggiatura { a,32[ b c d] } e2
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Another option is to change the variables startGraceMusic, stopGraceMusic, startAcciaccaturaMusic, stopAcciaccaturaMusic, startAppoggiaturaMusic, stopAppoggiaturaMusic. The default values of these can be seen in the file ly/grace-init.ly. By redefining them other effects may be obtained.

Grace notes may be forced to align with regular notes in other staves:

\relative c'' {
  <<
    \override Score.SpacingSpanner #'strict-grace-spacing = ##t
    \new Staff {
      c4
      \afterGrace c4 { c16[ c8 c16] }
      c4 r
    }
    \new Staff {
      c16 c c c c c c c c4 r
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: grace notes, acciaccatura, appoggiatura.

Installed Files: ‘ly/grace-init.ly’.

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: GraceMusic.

Known issues and warnings

A multi-note beamed acciaccatura is printed without a slash, and looks exactly the same as a multi-note beamed appoggiatura.

Grace note synchronization can also lead to surprises. Staff notation, such as key signatures, bar lines, etc., are also synchronized. Take care when you mix staves with grace notes and staves without, for example,

<< \new Staff { e4 \bar "|:" \grace c16 d2. }
   \new Staff { c4 \bar "|:" d2. } >>

[image of music]

This can be remedied by inserting grace skips of the corresponding durations in the other staves. For the above example

<< \new Staff { e4 \bar "|:" \grace c16 d2. }
   \new Staff { c4 \bar "|:" \grace s16 d2. } >>

[image of music]

Grace sections should only be used within sequential music expressions. Nesting or juxtaposing grace sections is not supported, and might produce crashes or other errors.


Aligning to cadenzas

In an orchestral context, cadenzas present a special problem: when constructing a score that includes a measured cadenza or other solo passage, all other instruments should skip just as many notes as the length of the cadenza, otherwise they will start too soon or too late.

One solution to this problem is to use the functions mmrest-of-length and skip-of-length. These Scheme functions take a defined piece of music as an argument and generate a multi-measure rest or \skip exactly as long as the piece.

MyCadenza = \relative c' {
  c4 d8 e f g g4
  f2 g4 g
}

\new GrandStaff <<
  \new Staff {
    \MyCadenza c'1
    \MyCadenza c'1
  }
  \new Staff {
    #(ly:export (mmrest-of-length MyCadenza))
    c'1
    #(ly:export (skip-of-length MyCadenza))
    c'1
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: cadenza.

Snippets: Rhythms.


Time administration

Time is administered by the Timing_translator, which by default is to be found in the Score context. An alias, Timing, is added to the context in which the Timing_translator is placed.

The following properties of Timing are used to keep track of timing within the score.

currentBarNumber

The current measure number. For an example showing the use of this property see Bar numbers.

measureLength

The length of the measures in the current time signature. For a 4/4 time this is 1, and for 6/8 it is 3/4. Its value determines when bar lines are inserted and how automatic beams should be generated.

measurePosition

The point within the measure where we currently are. This quantity is reset by subtracting measureLength whenever measureLength is reached or exceeded. When that happens, currentBarNumber is incremented.

timing

If set to true, the above variables are updated for every time step. When set to false, the engraver stays in the current measure indefinitely.

Timing can be changed by setting any of these variables explicitly. In the next example, the default 4/4 time signature is printed, but measureLength is set to 5/4. At 4/8 through the third measure, the measurePosition is advanced by 1/8 to 5/8, shortening that bar by 1/8. The next bar line then falls at 9/8 rather than 5/4.

\set Score.measureLength = #(ly:make-moment 5 4)
c1 c4
c1 c4
c4 c4
\set Score.measurePosition = #(ly:make-moment 5 8)
b4 b4 b8
c4 c1

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As the example illustrates, ly:make-moment n m constructs a duration of n/m of a whole note. For example, ly:make-moment 1 8 is an eighth note duration and ly:make-moment 7 16 is the duration of seven sixteenths notes.

See also

This manual: Bar numbers, Unmetered music

Snippets: Rhythms.

Internals Reference: Timing_translator, Score


1.3 Expressive marks

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This section lists various expressive marks that can be created in a score.


1.3.1 Attached to notes

This section explains how to create expressive marks that are attached to notes: articulations, ornamentations, and dynamics. Methods to create new dynamic markings are also discussed.


Articulations and ornamentations

A variety of symbols that denote articulations, ornamentations, and other performance indications can be attached to a note using this syntax:

note\name

The possible values for name are listed in List of articulations. For example:

c4\staccato c\mordent b2\turn
c1\fermata

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Some of these articulations have shorthands for easier entry. Shorthands are appended to the note name, and their syntax consists of a dash - followed by a symbol signifying the articulation. Predefined shorthands exist for marcato, stopped, tenuto, staccatissimo, accent, staccato, and portato. Their corresponding output appears as follows:

c4-^  c-+  c--  c-|
c4->  c-.  c2-_

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The rules for the default placement of articulations are defined in ‘scm/script.scm’. Articulations and ornamentations may be manually placed above or below the staff, see Direction and placement.

Selected Snippets

Modifying default values for articulation shorthand notation

The shorthands are defined in ‘ly/script-init.ly’, where the variables dashHat, dashPlus, dashDash, dashBar, dashLarger, dashDot, and dashUnderscore are assigned default values. The default values for the shorthands can be modified. For example, to associate the -+ (dashPlus) shorthand with the trill symbol instead of the default + symbol, assign the value trill to the variable dashPlus:

\relative c'' { c1-+ }
dashPlus = "trill"
\relative c'' { c1-+ }

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Controlling the vertical ordering of scripts

The vertical ordering of scripts is controlled with the 'script-priority property. The lower this number, the closer it will be put to the note. In this example, the TextScript (the sharp symbol) first has the lowest priority, so it is put lowest in the first example. In the second, the prall trill (the Script) has the lowest, so it is on the inside. When two objects have the same priority, the order in which they are entered determines which one comes first.

\relative c''' {
  \once \override TextScript #'script-priority = #-100
  a2^\prall^\markup { \sharp }
  
  \once \override Script #'script-priority = #-100
  a2^\prall^\markup { \sharp }
}

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See also

Music Glossary: tenuto, accent, staccato, portato.

Notation Reference: Direction and placement, List of articulations, Trills.

Installed Files: ‘scm/script.scm’.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: Script, TextScript.


Dynamics

Absolute dynamic marks are specified using a command after a note, such as c4\ff. The available dynamic marks are \ppppp, \pppp, \ppp, \pp, \p, \mp, \mf, \f, \ff, \fff, \ffff, \fp, \sf, \sff, \sp, \spp, \sfz, and \rfz. The dynamic marks may be manually placed above or below the staff, see Direction and placement.

c2\ppp c\mp
c2\rfz c^\mf
c2_\spp c^\ff

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A crescendo mark is started with \< and terminated with \!, an absolute dynamic, or an additional crescendo or decrescendo mark. A decrescendo mark is started with \> and is also terminated with \!, an absolute dynamic, or another crescendo or decrescendo mark. \cr and \decr may be used instead of \< and \>. Hairpins are engraved by default using this notation.

c2\< c\!
d2\< d\f
e2\< e\>
f2\> f\!
e2\> e\mp
d2\> d\>
c1\!

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Spacer rests are needed to engrave multiple marks on one note.

c4\< c\! d\> e\!
<< f1 { s4 s4\< s4\> s4\! } >>

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In some situations the \espressivo articulation mark may be the appropriate choice to indicate a crescendo and decrescendo on one note:

c2 b4 a
g1\espressivo

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Crescendos and decrescendos can be engraved as textual markings instead of hairpins. Dashed lines are printed to indicate their extent. The built-in commands that enable these text modes are \crescTextCresc, \dimTextDecresc, \dimTextDecr, and \dimTextDim. The corresponding \crescHairpin and \dimHairpin commands will revert to hairpins again:

\crescTextCresc
c2\< d | e f\!
\dimTextDecresc
e2\> d | c b\!
\crescHairpin
c2\< d | e f\!
\dimHairpin
e2\> d\!

[image of music]

To create new absolute dynamic marks or text that should be aligned with dynamics, see New dynamic marks.

Vertical positioning of dynamics is handled by DynamicLineSpanner.

Predefined commands

\dynamicUp, \dynamicDown, \dynamicNeutral, \crescTextCresc, \dimTextDim, \dimTextDecr, \dimTextDecresc, \crescHairpin, \dimHairpin.

Selected Snippets

Setting hairpin behavior at bar lines

If the note which ends a hairpin falls on a downbeat, the hairpin stops at the bar line immediately preceding. This behavior can be controlled by overriding the 'to-barline property.

\relative c'' {
  e4\< e2.
  e1\!
  \override Hairpin #'to-barline = ##f
  e4\< e2.
  e1\!
}

[image of music]

Setting the minimum length of hairpins

If hairpins are too short, they can be lengthened by modifying the minimum-length property of the Hairpin object.

\relative c'' {
  c4\< c\! d\> e\!
  \override Hairpin #'minimum-length = #5
  << f1 { s4 s\< s\> s\! } >>
}

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Printing hairpins using al niente notation

Hairpins may be printed with a circled tip (al niente notation) by setting the circled-tip property of the Hairpin object to #t.

\relative c'' {
  \override Hairpin #'circled-tip = ##t
  c2\< c\!
  c4\> c\< c2\!
}

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Vertically aligned dynamics and textscripts

By setting the 'Y-extent property to a suitable value, all DynamicLineSpanner objects (hairpins and dynamic texts) can be aligned to a common reference point, regardless of their actual extent. This way, every element will be vertically aligned, thus producing a more pleasing output.

The same idea is used to align the text scripts along their baseline.

music = \relative c'' {
  c2\p^\markup { gorgeous } c\f^\markup { fantastic }
  c4\p c\f\> c c\!\p
}

{
  \music \break
  \override DynamicLineSpanner #'staff-padding = #2.0
  \override DynamicLineSpanner #'Y-extent = #'(-1.5 . 1.5)
  \override TextScript #'Y-extent = #'(-1.5 . 1.5)
  \music
}

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Hiding the extender line for text dynamics

Text style dynamic changes (such as cresc. and dim.) are printed with a dashed line showing their extent. This line can be suppressed in the following way:

\relative c'' {
  \override DynamicTextSpanner #'dash-period = #-1.0
  \crescTextCresc
  c1\< | d | b | c\!
}

[image of music]

Changing text and spanner styles for text dynamics

The text used for crescendos and decrescendos can be changed by modifying the context properties crescendoText and decrescendoText. The style of the spanner line can be changed by modifying the 'style property of DynamicTextSpanner. The default value is 'hairpin, and other possible values include 'line, 'dashed-line and 'dotted-line:

\relative c'' {
  \set crescendoText = \markup { \italic { cresc. poco } }
  \set crescendoSpanner = #'text
  \override DynamicTextSpanner #'style = #'dotted-line
  a2\< a
  a2 a
  a2 a
  a2 a\mf
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: al niente, crescendo, decrescendo, hairpin.

Learning Manual: Articulation and dynamics.

Notation Reference: Direction and placement, New dynamic marks, What goes into the MIDI output?, Controlling MIDI dynamics.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: DynamicText, Hairpin, DynamicLineSpanner.


New dynamic marks

The easiest way to create dynamic indications is to use \markup objects.

moltoF = \markup { molto \dynamic f }

\relative c' {
  <d e>16_\moltoF <d e>
  <d e>2..
}

[image of music]

In markup mode, editorial dynamics (within parentheses or square brackets) can be created. The syntax for markup mode is described in Formatting text.

roundF = \markup { \center-align \concat { \bold { \italic ( }
           \dynamic f \bold { \italic ) } } }
boxF = \markup { \bracket { \dynamic f } }
\relative c' {
  c1_\roundF
  c1_\boxF
}

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Simple, centered dynamic marks are easily created with the make-dynamic-script function. The dynamic font only contains the characters f,m,p,r,s and z.

sfzp = #(make-dynamic-script "sfzp")
\relative c' {
  c4 c c\sfzp c
}

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In general, make-dynamic-script takes any markup object as its argument. In the following example, using make-dynamic-script ensures the vertical alignment of markup objects and hairpins that are attached to the same note head.

roundF = \markup { \center-align \concat {
           \normal-text { \bold { \italic ( } }
           \dynamic f
           \normal-text { \bold { \italic ) } } } }
boxF = \markup { \bracket { \dynamic f } }
roundFdynamic = #(make-dynamic-script roundF)
boxFdynamic = #(make-dynamic-script boxF)
\relative c' {
  c4_\roundFdynamic\< d e f
  g,1_\boxFdynamic
}

[image of music]

The Scheme form of markup mode may be used instead. Its syntax is explained in Markup construction in Scheme.

moltoF = #(make-dynamic-script
            (markup #:normal-text "molto"
                    #:dynamic "f"))
\relative c' {
  <d e>16 <d e>
  <d e>2..\moltoF
}

[image of music]

Font settings in markup mode are described in Selecting font and font size.

See also

Notation Reference: Formatting text, Selecting font and font size, Markup construction in Scheme, What goes into the MIDI output?, Controlling MIDI dynamics.

Snippets: Expressive marks.


1.3.2 Curves

This section explains how to create various expressive marks that are curved: normal slurs, phrasing slurs, breath marks, falls, and doits.


Slurs

Slurs are entered using parentheses:

f4( 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 notes, see Direction and placement.

c2( d)
\slurDown
c2( d)
\slurNeutral
c2( d)

[image of music]

Simultaneous or overlapping slurs are not permitted, but a phrasing slur can overlap a slur. This permits two slurs to be printed at once. For details, see Phrasing slurs.

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

c4( e g2)
\slurDashed
g4( e c2)
\slurDotted
c4( e g2)
\slurSolid
g4( e c2)

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\slurUp, \slurDown, \slurNeutral, \slurDashed, \slurDotted, \slurSolid.

Selected Snippets

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]

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.


Phrasing slurs

Phrasing slurs (or phrasing marks) that indicate a musical sentence are written using the commands \( and \) respectively:

c4\( d( e) f(
e2) d\)

[image of music]

Typographically, a phrasing slur behaves almost exactly like a normal slur. However, they are treated as different objects; a \slurUp will have no effect on a phrasing slur. Phrasing slurs may be manually placed above or below the notes, see Direction and placement.

c4\( g' c,( b) | c1\)
\phrasingSlurUp
c4\( g' c,( b) | c1\)

[image of music]

Simultaneous or overlapping phrasing slurs are not permitted.

Phrasing slurs can be solid, dotted, or dashed. Solid is the default style for phrasing slurs:

c4\( e g2\)
\phrasingSlurDashed
g4\( e c2\)
\phrasingSlurDotted
c4\( e g2\)
\phrasingSlurSolid
g4\( e c2\)

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\phrasingSlurUp, \phrasingSlurDown, \phrasingSlurNeutral, \phrasingSlurDashed, \phrasingSlurDotted, \phrasingSlurSolid.

See also

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

Notation Reference: Direction and placement.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: PhrasingSlur.


Breath marks

Breath marks are entered using \breathe:

c2. \breathe d4

[image of music]

Musical indicators for breath marks in ancient notation, divisiones, are supported. For details, see Divisiones.

Selected Snippets

Changing the breath mark symbol

The glyph of the breath mark can be tuned by overriding the text property of the BreathingSign layout object with any markup text.

\relative c'' {
  c2
  \override BreathingSign #'text = \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts.rvarcomma" }
  \breathe
  d2
}

[image of music]

Inserting a caesura

Caesura marks can be created by overriding the 'text property of the BreathingSign object. A curved caesura mark is also available.

\relative c'' {
  \override BreathingSign #'text = \markup {
    \musicglyph #"scripts.caesura.straight"
  }
  c8 e4. \breathe g8. e16 c4

  \override BreathingSign #'text = \markup {
    \musicglyph #"scripts.caesura.curved"
  }
  g8 e'4. \breathe g8. e16 c4
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: caesura.

Notation Reference: Divisiones.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: BreathingSign.


Falls and doits

Falls and doits can be added to notes using the \bendAfter command. The direction of the fall or doit is indicated with a plus or minus (up or down). The number indicates the pitch interval that the fall or doit will extend beyond the main note.

c2-\bendAfter #+4
c2-\bendAfter #-4
c2-\bendAfter #+8
c2-\bendAfter #-8

[image of music]

The dash - immediately preceding the \bendAfter command is required when writing falls and doits.

Selected Snippets

Adjusting the shape of falls and doits

The shortest-duration-space property may have to be tweaked to adjust the shape of falls and doits.

\relative c'' {
  \override Score.SpacingSpanner #'shortest-duration-space = #4.0
  c2-\bendAfter #+5
  c2-\bendAfter #-3
  c2-\bendAfter #+8
  c2-\bendAfter #-6
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: fall, doit.

Snippets: Expressive marks.


1.3.3 Lines

This section explains how to create various expressive marks that follow a linear path: glissandos, arpeggios, and trills.


Glissando

A glissando is created by attaching \glissando to a note:

g2\glissando g'
c2\glissando c,

[image of music]

Different styles of glissandi can be created. For details, see Line styles.

Selected Snippets

Contemporary glissando

A contemporary glissando without a final note can be typeset using a hidden note and cadenza timing.

\relative c'' {
  \time 3/4
  \override Glissando #'style = #'zigzag
  c4 c
  \cadenzaOn
  c4\glissando
  \hideNotes
  c,,4 
  \unHideNotes
  \cadenzaOff
  \bar "|"
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: glissando.

Notation Reference: Line styles.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: Glissando.

Known issues and warnings

Printing text over the line (such as gliss.) is not supported.


Arpeggio

An arpeggio on a chord (also known as a broken chord) is denoted by appending \arpeggio to the chord construct:

<c e g c>1\arpeggio

[image of music]

Different types of arpeggios may be written. \arpeggioNormal reverts to a normal arpeggio:

<c e g c>2\arpeggio
\arpeggioArrowUp
<c e g c>2\arpeggio
\arpeggioArrowDown
<c e g c>2\arpeggio
\arpeggioNormal
<c e g c>2\arpeggio

[image of music]

Special bracketed arpeggio symbols can be created:

<c e g c>2
\arpeggioBracket
<c e g c>2\arpeggio
\arpeggioParenthesis
<c e g c>2\arpeggio
\arpeggioNormal
<c e g c>2\arpeggio

[image of music]

Arpeggios can be explicitly written out with ties. For more information, see Ties.

Predefined commands

\arpeggio, \arpeggioArrowUp, \arpeggioArrowDown, \arpeggioNormal, \arpeggioBracket, \arpeggioParenthesis.

Selected Snippets

Creating cross-staff arpeggios in a piano staff

In a PianoStaff, it is possible to let an arpeggio cross between the staves by setting the property PianoStaff.connectArpeggios.

\new PianoStaff \relative c'' <<
  \set PianoStaff.connectArpeggios = ##t
  \new Staff {
    <c e g c>4\arpeggio
    <g c e g>4\arpeggio
    <e g c e>4\arpeggio
    <c e g c>4\arpeggio
  }
  \new Staff {
    \clef bass
    \repeat unfold 4 {
      <c,, e g c>4\arpeggio
    }
  }
>>

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Creating cross-staff arpeggios in other contexts

Cross-staff arpeggios can be created in contexts other than PianoStaff if the Span_arpeggio_engraver is included in the Score context.

\score {
  \new StaffGroup {
    \set Score.connectArpeggios = ##t
    <<
      \new Voice \relative c' {
        <c e>2\arpeggio
        <d f>2\arpeggio
        <c e>1\arpeggio
      }
      \new Voice  \relative c {
        \clef bass
         <c g'>2\arpeggio
         <b g'>2\arpeggio
         <c g'>1\arpeggio
      }
    >>
  }
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Score
      \consists "Span_arpeggio_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Creating arpeggios across notes in different voices

An arpeggio can be drawn across notes in different voices on the same staff if the Span_arpeggio_engraver is moved to the Staff context:

\new Staff \with {
  \consists "Span_arpeggio_engraver"
}
\relative c' {
  \set Staff.connectArpeggios = ##t
  <<
    { <e' g>4\arpeggio <d f> <d f>2 } \\
    { <d, f>2\arpeggio <g b>2 }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: arpeggio.

Notation Reference: Ties.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: Arpeggio, PianoStaff.

Known issues and warnings

It is not possible to mix connected arpeggios and unconnected arpeggios in one PianoStaff at the same point in time.

The parenthesis-style arpeggio brackets do not work for cross-staff arpeggios.


Trills

Short trills without an extender line are printed with \trill; see Articulations and ornamentations.

Longer trills with an extender line are made with \startTrillSpan and \stopTrillSpan:

d1~\startTrillSpan
d1
c2\stopTrillSpan r2

[image of music]

In the following example, a trill is combined with grace notes. The syntax of this construct and the method to precisely position the grace notes are described in Grace notes.

c1 \afterGrace
d1\startTrillSpan { c32[ d]\stopTrillSpan }
e2 r2

[image of music]

Trills that require an auxiliary note with an explicit pitch can be typeset with the \pitchedTrill command. The first argument is the main note, and the second is the trilled note, printed as a stemless note head in parentheses.

\pitchedTrill e2\startTrillSpan fis
d\stopTrillSpan

[image of music]

In the following example, the second pitched trill is ambiguous; the accidental of the trilled note is not printed. As a workaround, the accidentals of the trilled notes can be forced. The second measure illustrates this method:

\pitchedTrill eis4\startTrillSpan fis
g\stopTrillSpan
\pitchedTrill eis4\startTrillSpan fis
g\stopTrillSpan
\pitchedTrill eis4\startTrillSpan fis
g\stopTrillSpan
\pitchedTrill eis4\startTrillSpan fis!
g\stopTrillSpan

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\startTrillSpan, \stopTrillSpan.

See also

Music Glossary: trill.

Notation Reference: Articulations and ornamentations, Grace notes.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: TrillSpanner.


1.4 Repeats

[image of music]

Repetition is a central concept in music, and multiple notations exist for repetitions. LilyPond supports the following kinds of repeats:

volta

The repeated music is not written out but enclosed between repeat bar lines. If the repeat is at the beginning of a piece, a repeat bar line is only printed at the end of the repeat. Alternative endings (volte) are printed left to right with brackets. This is the standard notation for repeats with alternatives.

unfold

The repeated music is fully written out, as many times as specified by repeatcount. This is useful when entering repetitious music.

percent

These are beat or measure repeats. They look like single slashes or percent signs.

tremolo

This is used to write tremolo beams.


1.4.1 Long repeats

This section discusses how to input long (usually multi-measure) repeats. The repeats can take two forms: repeats enclosed between repeat signs; or written out repeats, used to input repetitious music. Repeat signs can also be controlled manually.


Normal repeats

The syntax for a normal repeat is

\repeat volta repeatcount musicexpr

where musicexpr is a music expression. Alternate endings can be produced using \alternative. In order to delimit the alternate endings, the group of alternatives must be enclosed in a set of braces. If there are more repeats than there are alternate endings, the earliest repeats are given the first alternative.

Normal repeats without alternate endings:

\repeat volta 2 { c4 d e f }
c2 d
\repeat volta 2 { d4 e f g }

[image of music]

Normal repeats with alternate endings:

\repeat volta 4 { c4 d e f }
\alternative {
  { d2 e }
  { f2 g }
}
c1

[image of music]

Repeats with upbeats can be entered in two ways:

\partial 4
e |
\repeat volta 4 { c2 d | e2 f | }
\alternative {
  { g4 g g e }
  { a4 a a a | b2. }
}

[image of music]

or

\partial 4
\repeat volta 4 { e4 | c2 d | e2 f | }
\alternative {
  { \partial 4*3 g4 g g }
  { a4 a a a | b2. }
}

[image of music]

Ties may be added to a second ending:

c1
\repeat volta 2 { c4 d e f ~ }
\alternative {
  { f2 d }
  { f2\repeatTie f, }
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Shortening volta brackets

By default, the volta brackets will be drawn over all of the alternative music, but it is possible to shorten them by setting voltaSpannerDuration. In the next example, the bracket only lasts one measure, which is a duration of 3/4.

\relative c'' {
  \time 3/4
  c4 c c
  \set Score.voltaSpannerDuration = #(ly:make-moment 3 4)
  \repeat volta 5 { d4 d d }
  \alternative {
    {
      e4 e e
      f4 f f
    }
    { g4 g g }
  }
}

[image of music]

Adding volta brackets to additional staves

The Volta_engraver by default resides in the Score context, and brackets for the repeat are thus normally only printed over the topmost staff. This can be adjusted by adding the Volta_engraver to the Staff context where the brackets should appear; see also the "Volta multi staff" snippet.

<<
  \new Staff { \repeat volta 2 { c'1 } \alternative { c' } }
  \new Staff { \repeat volta 2 { c'1 } \alternative { c' } }
  \new Staff \with { \consists "Volta_engraver" } { c'2 g' e' a' }
  \new Staff { \repeat volta 2 { c'1 } \alternative { c' } }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: repeat, volta.

Notation Reference: Bar lines, Modifying context plug-ins.

Snippets: Repeats.

Internals Reference: VoltaBracket, RepeatedMusic, VoltaRepeatedMusic, UnfoldedRepeatedMusic.

Known issues and warnings

A nested repeat like

\repeat …
\repeat …
\alternative

is ambiguous, since it is is not clear to which \repeat the \alternative belongs. This ambiguity is resolved by always having the \alternative belong to the inner \repeat. For clarity, it is advisable to use braces in such situations.

Timing information is not remembered at the start of an alternative, so after a repeat timing information must be reset by hand; for example, by setting Score.measurePosition or entering \partial. Similarly, slurs are also not repeated.


Manual repeat marks

Note: These methods are only used for displaying unusual repeat constructs, and may produce unexpected behavior. In most cases, repeats should be created using the standard \repeat command or by printing the relevant bar lines. For more information, see Bar lines.

The property repeatCommands can be used to control the layout of repeats. Its value is a Scheme list of repeat commands.

start-repeat

Print a |: bar line.

c1
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'(start-repeat)
d4 e f g
c1

[image of music]

As per standard engraving practice, repeat signs are not printed at the beginning of a piece.

end-repeat

Print a :| bar line:

c1
d4 e f g
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'(end-repeat)
c1

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(volta number) ... (volta #f)

Create a new volta with the specified number. The volta bracket must be explicitly terminated, or it will not be printed.

f4 g a b
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta "2"))
g4 a g a
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta #f))
c1

[image of music]

Multiple repeat commands may occur at the same point:

f4 g a b
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta "2, 5") end-repeat)
g4 a g a
c1
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta #f) (volta "95") end-repeat)
b1
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta #f))

[image of music]

Text can be included with the volta bracket. The text can be a number or numbers or markup text, see Formatting text. The simplest way to use markup text is to define the markup first, then include the markup in a Scheme list.

voltaAdLib = \markup { 1. 2. 3... \text \italic { ad lib. } }
\relative c'' {
  c1
  \set Score.repeatCommands = #(list(list 'volta voltaAdLib) 'start-repeat)
  c4 b d e
  \set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta #f) (volta "4.") end-repeat)
  f1
  \set Score.repeatCommands = #'((volta #f))
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Printing a repeat sign at the beginning of a piece

A |: bar line can be printed at the beginning of a piece, by overriding the relevant property:

\relative c'' {
  \once \override Score.BreakAlignment #'break-align-orders =
        #(make-vector 3 '(instrument-name
                          left-edge
                          ambitus
                          span-bar
                          breathing-sign
                          clef
                          key-signature
                          time-signature
                          staff-bar
                          custos
                          span-bar))
  \bar "|:"
  c1
  d1
  d4 e f g
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Bar lines, Formatting text.

Snippets: Repeats.

Internals Reference: VoltaBracket, RepeatedMusic, VoltaRepeatedMusic.


Written-out repeats

By using the unfold command, repeats can be used to simplify the writing out of repetitious music. The syntax is

\repeat unfold repeatcount musicexpr

where musicexpr is a music expression and repeatcount is the number of times musicexpr is repeated.

c1
\repeat unfold 2 { c4 d e f }
c1

[image of music]

Unfold repeats can be made with alternate endings. If there are more repeats than there are alternate endings, the first alternative ending is applied to the earliest endings.

c1
\repeat unfold 2 { g4 f e d }
  \alternative {
    { cis2 g' }
    { cis,2 b }
  }
c1

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Repeats.

Internals Reference: RepeatedMusic, UnfoldedRepeatedMusic.


1.4.2 Short repeats

This section discusses how to input short repeats. Short repeats can take two basic forms: repeats of a single note to two measures, represented by slashes or percent signs; and tremolos.


Percent repeats

Repeated short patterns of notes are supported. The music is printed once, and the pattern is replaced with a special sign. Patterns that are shorter than one measure are replaced by slashes, and patterns of one or two measures are replaced by percent-like signs. The syntax is

\repeat percent number musicexpr

where musicexpr is a music expression.

\repeat percent 4 { c4 }
\repeat percent 2 { b4 a g f }
\repeat percent 2 { c2 es | f4 fis g c | }

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Percent repeat counter

Measure repeats of more than two repeats can get a counter when the convenient property is switched, as shown in this example:

\relative c'' {
  \set countPercentRepeats = ##t
  \repeat percent 4 { c1 }
}

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Percent repeat count visibility

Percent repeat counters can be shown at regular intervals by setting the context property repeatCountVisibility.

\relative c'' {
  \set countPercentRepeats = ##t
  \set repeatCountVisibility = #(every-nth-repeat-count-visible 5)
  \repeat percent 10 { c1 } \break
  \set repeatCountVisibility = #(every-nth-repeat-count-visible 2)
  \repeat percent 6 { c1 d1 }
}

[image of music]

Isolated percent repeats

Isolated percents can also be printed. This is done by entering a multi-measure rest with a different print function:

\relative c'' {
  \override MultiMeasureRest #'stencil
    = #ly:multi-measure-rest::percent
  \override MultiMeasureRest #'thickness = #0.48
  R1
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: percent repeat, simile.

Snippets: Repeats.

Internals Reference: RepeatSlash, PercentRepeat, DoublePercentRepeat, DoublePercentRepeatCounter, PercentRepeatCounter, PercentRepeatedMusic.

Known issues and warnings

Only three kinds of percent repeats are supported: a single slash representing a single beat (regardless of the duration of the repeated notes); a single slash with dots representing one full measure; and two slashes with dots crossing a bar line representing two full measures. Neither multiple slashes representing single beat repeats consisting of sixteenth or shorter notes, nor two slashes with dots representing single beat repeats consisting of notes of varying durations, are supported.


Tremolo repeats

Tremolos can take two forms: alternation between two chords or two notes, and rapid repetition of a single note or chord. Tremolos consisting of an alternation are indicated by adding beams between the notes or chords being alternated, while tremolos consisting of the rapid repetition of a single note are indicated by adding beams or slashes to a single note.

To place tremolo marks between notes, use \repeat with tremolo style:

\repeat tremolo 8 { c16 d }
\repeat tremolo 6 { c16 d }
\repeat tremolo 2 { c16 d }

[image of music]

The \repeat tremolo syntax expects exactly two notes within the braces, and the number of repetitions must correspond to a note value that can be expressed with plain or dotted notes. Thus, \repeat tremolo 7 is valid and produces a double dotted note, but \repeat tremolo 9 is not.

The duration of the tremolo equals the duration of the braced expression multiplied by the number of repeats: \repeat tremolo 8 { c16 d16 } gives a whole note tremolo, notated as two whole notes joined by tremolo beams.

There are two ways to put tremolo marks on a single note. The \repeat tremolo syntax is also used here, in which case the note should not be surrounded by braces:

\repeat tremolo 4 c'16

[image of music]

The same output can be obtained by adding ‘:[number]’ after the note. The number indicates the duration of the subdivision, and it must be at least 8. A number value of 8 gives one line across the note stem. If the length is omitted, the last value (stored in tremoloFlags) is used

c2:8 c:32
c: c:

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Repeats.

Known issues and warnings

Cross-staff tremolos do not work well.


1.5 Simultaneous notes

[image of music]

Polyphony in music refers to having more than one voice occurring in a piece of music. Polyphony in LilyPond refers to having more than one voice on the same staff.


1.5.1 Single voice

This section discusses simultaneous notes inside the same voice.


Chorded notes

A chord is formed by enclosing a set of pitches between < and >. A chord may be followed by a duration and/or a set of articulations, just like simple notes:

<c e g>2 <c f a>4-> <e g c>-.

[image of music]

Relative mode can be used for pitches in chords. The octave of each pitch is chosen using the preceding pitch as a reference except in the case of the first pitch in a chord: the reference for the first pitch is the first pitch of the preceding chord.

For more information about chords, see Chord notation.

See also

Music Glossary: chord.

Learning Manual: Combining notes into chords.

Notation Reference: Chord notation.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.


Simultaneous expressions

One or more music expressions enclosed in double angle brackets are taken to be simultaneous. If the first expression begins with a single note or if the whole simultaneous expression appears explicitly within a single voice, the whole expression is placed on a single staff; otherwise the elements of the simultaneous expression are placed on separate staves.

The following examples show simultaneous expressions on one staff:

\new Voice {  % explicit single voice
  << {a4 b g2} {d4 g c,2} >>
}

[image of music]

% single first note
a << {a4 b g}  {d4 g c,} >>

[image of music]

This can be useful if the simultaneous sections have identical rhythms, but attempts to attach notes with different durations to the same stem will cause errors.

The following example shows how simultaneous expressions can generate multiple staves implicitly:

% no single first note
<< {a4 b g2}  {d4 g2 c,4} >>

[image of music]

Here different rhythms cause no problems.


Clusters

A cluster indicates a continuous range of pitches to be played. They can be denoted as the envelope of a set of notes. They are entered by applying the function \makeClusters to a sequence of chords, e.g.,

\makeClusters { <g b>2 <c g'> }

[image of music]

Ordinary notes and clusters can be put together in the same staff, even simultaneously. In such a case no attempt is made to automatically avoid collisions between ordinary notes and clusters.

See also

Music Glossary: cluster.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.

Internals Reference: ClusterSpanner, ClusterSpannerBeacon, Cluster_spanner_engraver.

Known issues and warnings

Clusters look good only if they span at least two chords; otherwise they appear too narrow.

Clusters do not have a stem and cannot indicate durations by themselves, but the length of the printed cluster is determined by the durations of the defining chords. Separate clusters need a separating rest between them.

Clusters do not produce MIDI output.


1.5.2 Multiple voices

This section discusses simultaneous notes in multiple voices or multiple staves.


Single-staff polyphony

Explicitly instantiating voices

The basic structure needed to achieve multiple independent voices in a single staff is illustrated in the following example:

\new Staff <<
  \new Voice = "first"
    { \voiceOne r8 r16 g e8. f16 g8[ c,] f e16 d }
  \new Voice= "second"
    { \voiceTwo d16 c d8~ d16 b c8~ c16 b c8~ c16 b8. }
>>

[image of music]

Here, voices are instantiated explicitly and are given names. The \voiceOne ... \voiceFour commands set up the voices so that first and third voices get stems up, second and fourth voices get stems down, third and fourth voice note heads are horizontally shifted, and rests in the respective voices are automatically moved to avoid collisions. The \oneVoice command returns all the voice settings to the neutral default directions.

Temporary polyphonic passages

A temporary polyphonic passage can be created with the following construct:

<< { \voiceOne ... }
  \new Voice { \voiceTwo ... }
>> \oneVoice

Here, the first expression within a temporary polyphonic passage is placed into the Voice context which was in use immediately before the polyphonic passage, and that same Voice context continues after the temporary section. Other expressions within the angle brackets are assigned to distinct temporary voices. This allows lyrics to be assigned to one continuing voice before, during and after a polyphonic section:

<<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    a4
    <<
      {
        \voiceOne
        g f
      }
      \new Voice {
        \voiceTwo
        d2
      }
    >>
    \oneVoice
    e4
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
  This is my song.
  }
>>

[image of music]

Here, the \voiceOne and \voiceTwo commands are required to define the settings of each voice.

The double backslash construct

The << {...} \\ {...} >> construct, where the two (or more) expressions are separated by double backslashes, behaves differently to the similar construct without the double backslashes: all the expressions within this contruct are assigned to new Voice contexts. These new Voice contexts are created implicitly and are given the fixed names "1", "2", etc.

The first example could be typeset as follows:

<<
  { r8 r16 g e8. f16 g8[ c,] f e16 d }
  \\
  { d16 c d8~ d16 b c8~ c16 b c8~ c16 b8. }
>>

[image of music]

This syntax can be used where it does not matter that temporary voices are created and then discarded. These implicitly created voices are given the settings equivalent to the effect of the \voiceOne ... \voiceFour commands, in the order in which they appear in the code.

In the following example, the intermediate voice has stems up, therefore we enter it in the third place, so it becomes voice three, which has the stems up as desired. Spacer rests are used to avoid printing doubled rests.

<<
  { r8 g g  g g f16 ees f8 d }
  \\
  { ees,8 r ees r d r d r }
  \\
  { d'8 s c s bes s a s }
>>

[image of music]

In all but the simplest works it is advisable to create explicit Voice contexts as explained in Contexts and engravers and Explicitly instantiating voices.

Identical rhythms

In the special case that we want to typeset parallel pieces of music that have the same rhythm, we can combine them into a single Voice context, thus forming chords. To achieve this, enclose them in a simple simultaneous music construct within an explicit voice:

\new Voice <<
  { e4 f8 d e16 f g8 d4 }
  { c4 d8 b c16 d e8 b4 }
>>

[image of music]

This method leads to strange beamings and warnings if the pieces of music do not have the same rhythm.

Predefined commands

\voiceOne, \voiceTwo, \voiceThree, \voiceFour, \oneVoice.

See also

Learning Manual: Voices contain music, Explicitly instantiating voices.

Notation Reference: Percussion staves, Invisible rests.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.


Voice styles

Voices may be given distinct colors and shapes, allowing them to be easily identified:

<<
  { \voiceOneStyle d4 c2 b4 }
  \\
  { \voiceTwoStyle e,2 e }
  \\
  { \voiceThreeStyle b2. c4 }
  \\
  { \voiceFourStyle g'2 g }
>>

[image of music]

The \voiceNeutralstyle command is used to revert to the standard presentation.

Predefined commands

\voiceOneStyle,

\voiceTwoStyle, \voiceThreeStyle, \voiceFourStyle, \voiceNeutralStyle.

See also

Learning Manual: I'm hearing Voices, Other sources of information.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.


Collision resolution

The note heads of notes in different voices with the same pitch, same note head and opposite stem direction are automatically merged, but notes with different note heads or the same stem direction are not. Rests opposite a stem in a different voice are shifted vertically.

<<
  {
    c8 d e d c d c4
    g'2 fis
  } \\ {
    c2 c8. b16 c4
    e,2 r
  } \\ {
    \oneVoice
    s1
    e8 a b c d2
  }
>>

[image of music]

Notes with different note heads may be merged, with the exception of half-note heads and quarter-note heads:

<<
  {
    \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn
    c8 d e d c d c4
    g'2 fis
  } \\ {
    c2 c8. b16 c4
    e,2 r
  } \\ {
    \oneVoice
    s1
    e8 a b c d2
  }
>>

[image of music]

Note heads with different dots may be merged:

<<
  {
    \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn
    \mergeDifferentlyDottedOn
    c8 d e d c d c4
    g'2 fis
  } \\ {
    c2 c8. b16 c4
    e,2 r
  } \\ {
    \oneVoice
    s1
    e8 a b c d2
  }
>>

[image of music]

The half note and eighth note at the start of the second measure are incorrectly merged because \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn cannot successfully complete the merge when three or more notes line up in the same column, and in this case a warning is given. To allow the merge to work properly a \shift must be applied to the note that should not be merged. Here, \shiftOn is applied to move the top g out of the column, and \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn then works properly.

<<
  {
    \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn
    \mergeDifferentlyDottedOn
    c8 d e d c d c4
    \shiftOn
    g'2 fis
  } \\ {
    c2 c8. b16 c4
    e,2 r
  } \\ {
    \oneVoice
    s1
    e8 a b c d2
  }

>>

[image of music]

The \shiftOn, \shiftOnn, and \shiftOnnn commands specify the degree to which chords of the current voice should be shifted. The outer voices (normally: voices one and two) have \shiftOff, while the inner voices (three and four) have \shiftOn. \shiftOnn and \shiftOnnn define further shift levels.

Notes are only merged if they have opposing stem directions (e.g. in Voice 1 and 2).

Predefined commands

\mergeDifferentlyDottedOn, \mergeDifferentlyDottedOff, \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn, \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOff.

\shiftOn, \shiftOnn, \shiftOnnn, \shiftOff.

Selected Snippets

Additional voices to avoid collisions

In some instances of complex polyphonic music, additional voices are necessary to prevent collisions between notes. If more than four parallel voices are needed, additional voices can be added by defining a variable using the Scheme function context-spec-music.

voiceFive = #(context-spec-music (make-voice-props-set 4) 'Voice)
\relative c'' {
  \time 3/4 \key d \minor \partial 2
  <<
    { \voiceOne
      a4. a8
      e'4 e4. e8
      f4 d4. c8
    } \\ {
      \voiceThree
      f,2
      bes4 a2
      a4 s2
    } \\ {
      \voiceFive
      s2
      g4 g2
      f4 f2
    } \\ {
      \voiceTwo
      d2
      d4 cis2
      d4 bes2
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Forcing horizontal shift of notes

When the typesetting engine cannot cope, the following syntax can be used to override typesetting decisions. The units of measure used here are staff spaces.

\relative c' <<
  {
    <d g>2 <d g>
  }
  \\
  {
    <b f'>2
    \once \override NoteColumn #'force-hshift = #1.7
    <b f'>2
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: polyphony.

Learning Manual: Multiple notes at once, Voices contain music, Collisions of objects.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.

Internals Reference: NoteColumn, NoteCollision, RestCollision.

Known issues and warnings

When using \mergeDifferentlyHeadedOn with an upstem eighth or a shorter note, and a downstem half note, the eighth note stem gets a slightly wrong offset because of the different width of the half note head symbol.

There is no support for chords where the same note occurs with different accidentals in the same chord. In this case, it is recommended to use enharmonic transcription, or to use special cluster notation (see Clusters).


Automatic part combining

Automatic part combining is used to merge two parts of music onto a staff. It is aimed at typesetting orchestral scores. When the two parts are identical for a period of time, only one is shown. In places where the two parts differ, they are typeset as separate voices, and stem directions are set automatically. Also, solo and a due parts are identified and marked by default.

The syntax for part combining is:

\partcombine musicexpr1 musicexpr2

The following example demonstrates the basic functionality of the part combiner: putting parts on one staff and setting stem directions and polyphony. The same variables are used for the independent parts and the combined staff.

instrumentOne = \relative c' {
  c4 d e f
  R1
  d'4 c b a
  b4 g2 f4
  e1
}

instrumentTwo = \relative g' {
  R1
  g4 a b c
  d c b a
  g f( e) d
  e1
}

<<
  \new Staff \instrumentOne
  \new Staff \instrumentTwo
  \new Staff \partcombine \instrumentOne \instrumentTwo
>>

[image of music]

The notes in the third measure appear only once, although they were specified in both parts. Stem, slur, and tie directions are set automatically, depending whether there is a solo or unison. When needed in polyphony situations, the first part (with context called one) always gets up stems, while the second (called two) always gets down stems. In solo situations, the first and second parts get marked with ‘Solo’ and ‘Solo II’, respectively. The unisono (a due) parts are marked by default with the text “a2”.

Both arguments to \partcombine will be interpreted as Voice contexts. If using relative octaves, \relative should be specified for both music expressions, i.e.,

\partcombine
  \relative … musicexpr1
  \relative … musicexpr2

A \relative section that is outside of \partcombine has no effect on the pitches of musicexpr1 and musicexpr2.

Selected Snippets

Combining two parts on the same staff

The part combiner tool ( \partcombine command ) allows the combination of several different parts on the same staff. Text directions such as "solo" or "a2" are added by default; to remove them, simply set the property printPartCombineTexts to "false". For vocal scores (hymns), there is no need to add "solo"/"a2" texts, so they should be switched off. However, it might be better not to use it if there are any solos, as they won’t be indicated. In such cases, standard polyphonic notation may be preferable.

This snippet presents the three ways two parts can be printed on a same staff: standard polyphony, \partcombine without texts, and \partcombine with texts.

musicUp = \relative c'' {
  \time 4/4
  a4 c4.( g8) a4 |
  g4 e' g,( a8 b) |
  c b a2.
}

musicDown = \relative c'' {
  g4 e4.( d8) c4 |
  r2 g'4( f8 e) |
  d2 \stemDown a
}

\score {
  <<
    <<
    \new Staff {
      \set Staff.instrumentName = "Standard polyphony  "
      << \musicUp \\ \musicDown >>
    }
    \new Staff \with { printPartCombineTexts = ##f } {
      \set Staff.instrumentName = "PartCombine without texts  "
      \partcombine \musicUp \musicDown
    }
    \new Staff {
      \set Staff.instrumentName = "PartCombine with texts  "
      \partcombine \musicUp \musicDown
    }
    >>
  >>
  \layout {
    indent = 6.0\cm
    \context {
      \Score
      \override SystemStartBar #'collapse-height = #30
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Changing partcombine texts

When using the automatic part combining feature, the printed text for the solo and unison sections may be changed:

\new Staff <<
  \set Staff.soloText = #"girl"
  \set Staff.soloIIText = #"boy"
  \set Staff.aDueText = #"together"
  \partcombine
    \relative c'' {
      g4 g r r
      a2 g
    }
    \relative c'' {
      r4 r a( b)
      a2 g
    }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: a due, part.

Notation Reference: Writing parts.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.

Internals Reference: PartCombineMusic, Voice.

Known issues and warnings

\partcombine can only accept two voices.

When printPartCombineTexts is set, if the two voices play the same notes on and off, the part combiner may typeset a2 more than once in a measure.

\partcombine cannot be inside \times.

\partcombine cannot be inside \relative.

Internally, the \partcombine interprets both arguments as Voices and decides when the parts can be combined. When they have different durations they cannot be combined and are given the names one and two. Consequently, if the arguments switch to differently named Voice contexts, the events in those will be ignored. Likewise, partcombining isn’t designed to work with lyrics; when one of the voices is explicitly named in order to attach lyrics to it, the partcombining stops working.

\partcombine only observes onset times of notes. It cannot determine whether a previously started note is playing or not, leading to various problems.


Writing music in parallel

Music for multiple parts can be interleaved in input code. The function \parallelMusic accepts a list with the names of a number of variables to be created, and a musical expression. The content of alternate measures from the expression become the value of the respective variables, so you can use them afterwards to print the music.

Note: Bar checks | must be used, and the measures must be of the same length.

\parallelMusic #'(voiceA voiceB voiceC) {
  % Bar 1
  r8 g'16 c'' e'' g' c'' e'' r8 g'16 c'' e'' g' c'' e'' |
  r16 e'8.~   e'4            r16 e'8.~   e'4            |
  c'2                        c'2                        |

  % Bar 2
  r8 a'16 d'' f'' a' d'' f'' r8 a'16 d'' f'' a' d'' f'' |
  r16 d'8.~   d'4            r16 d'8.~   d'4            |
  c'2                        c'2                        |

}
\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff << \voiceA \\ \voiceB >>
  \new Staff { \clef bass \voiceC }
>>

[image of music]

Relative mode may be used. Note that the \relative command is not used inside \parallelMusic itself. The notes are relative to the preceding note in the voice, not to the previous note in the input – in other words, relative notes for voiceA ignore the notes in voiceB.

\parallelMusic #'(voiceA voiceB voiceC) {
  % Bar 1
  r8 g16 c e g, c e r8 g,16 c e g, c e  |
  r16 e8.~ e4       r16 e8.~  e4        |
  c2                c                   |

  % Bar 2
  r8 a,16 d f a, d f r8 a,16 d f a, d f |
  r16 d8.~  d4       r16 d8.~  d4       |
  c2                 c                  |

 }
\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff << \relative c'' \voiceA \\ \relative c' \voiceB >>
  \new Staff \relative c' { \clef bass \voiceC }
>>

[image of music]

This works quite well for piano music. This example maps four consecutive measures to four variables:

global = {
  \key g \major
  \time 2/4
}

\parallelMusic #'(voiceA voiceB voiceC voiceD) {
  % Bar 1
  a8    b     c   d     |
  d4          e         |
  c16 d e fis d e fis g |
  a4          a         |

  % Bar 2
  e8      fis  g     a   |
  fis4         g         |
  e16 fis g  a fis g a b |
  a4           a         |

  % Bar 3 ...
}

\score {
  \new PianoStaff <<
     \new Staff {
       \global
       <<
         \relative c'' \voiceA
         \\
         \relative c'  \voiceB
       >>
     }
     \new Staff {
       \global \clef bass
       <<
         \relative c \voiceC
         \\
         \relative c \voiceD
       >>
     }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Learning Manual: Organizing pieces with variables.

Snippets: Simultaneous notes.


1.6 Staff notation

[image of music]

This section explains how to influence the appearance of staves, how to print scores with more than one staff, and how to add tempo indications and cue notes to staves.


1.6.1 Displaying staves

This section describes the different methods of creating and grouping staves.


Instantiating new staves

Staves (singular: staff) are created with the \new or \context commands. For details, see Creating contexts.

The basic staff context is Staff:

\new Staff { c4 d e f }

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The DrumStaff context creates a five-line staff set up for a typical drum set. Each instrument is shown with a different symbol. The instruments are entered in drum mode following a \drummode command, with each instrument specified by name. For details, see Percussion staves.

\new DrumStaff {
  \drummode { cymc hh ss tomh }
}

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RhythmicStaff creates a single-line staff that only displays the rhythmic values of the input. Real durations are preserved. For details, see Showing melody rhythms.

\new RhythmicStaff { c4 d e f }

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TabStaff creates a tablature with six strings in standard guitar tuning. For details, see Default tablatures.

\new TabStaff { c4 d e f }

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There are two staff contexts specific for the notation of ancient music: MensuralStaff and VaticanaStaff. They are described in Pre-defined contexts.

The GregorianTranscriptionStaff context creates a staff to notate modern Gregorian chant. It does not show bar lines.

\new GregorianTranscriptionStaff { c4 d e f e d }

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New single staff contexts may be defined. For details, see Defining new contexts.

See also

Music Glossary: staff, staves.

Notation Reference: Creating contexts, Percussion staves, Showing melody rhythms, Default tablatures, Pre-defined contexts, Staff symbol, Gregorian chant contexts, Mensural contexts, Defining new contexts.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: Staff, DrumStaff, GregorianTranscriptionStaff, RhythmicStaff, TabStaff, MensuralStaff, VaticanaStaff, StaffSymbol.


Grouping staves

Various contexts exist to group single staves together in order to form multi-stave systems. Each grouping context sets the style of the system start delimiter and the behavior of bar lines.

If no context is specified, the default properties will be used: the group is started with a vertical line, and the bar lines are not connected.

<<
  \new Staff { c1 c }
  \new Staff { c1 c }
>>

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In the StaffGroup context, the group is started with a bracket and bar lines are drawn through all the staves.

\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff { c1 c }
  \new Staff { c1 c }
>>

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In a ChoirStaff, the group starts with a bracket, but bar lines are not connected.

\new ChoirStaff <<
  \new Staff { c1 c }
  \new Staff { c1 c }
>>

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In a GrandStaff, the group begins with a brace, and bar lines are connected between the staves.

\new GrandStaff <<
  \new Staff { c1 c }
  \new Staff { c1 c }
>>

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The PianoStaff is identical to a GrandStaff, except that it supports printing the instrument name directly. For details, see Instrument names.

\new PianoStaff <<
  \set PianoStaff.instrumentName = "Piano"
  \new Staff { c1 c }
  \new Staff { c1 c }
>>

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Each staff group context sets the property systemStartDelimiter to one of the following values: SystemStartBar, SystemStartBrace, or SystemStartBracket. A fourth delimiter, SystemStartSquare, is also available, but it must be explicitly specified.

New staff group contexts may be defined. For details, see Defining new contexts.

Selected Snippets

Use square bracket at the start of a staff group

The system start delimiter SystemStartSquare can be used by setting it explicitly in a StaffGroup or ChoirStaffGroup context.

\score {
  \new StaffGroup { << 
  \set StaffGroup.systemStartDelimiter = #'SystemStartSquare
    \new Staff { c'4 d' e' f' }
    \new Staff { c'4 d' e' f' }
  >> }
}

[image of music]

Display bracket with only one staff in a system

If there is only one staff in one of the staff types ChoirStaff or StaffGroup, the bracket and the starting bar line will not be displayed as standard behavior. This can be changed by overriding the relevant properties.

Note that in contexts such as PianoStaff and GrandStaff where the systems begin with a brace instead of a bracket, another property has to be set, as shown on the second system in the example.

\markup \left-column {
  \score {
    \new StaffGroup <<
      % Must be lower than the actual number of staff lines
      \override StaffGroup.SystemStartBracket #'collapse-height = #1
      \override Score.SystemStartBar #'collapse-height = #1
      \new Staff {
        c'1
      }
    >>
    \layout { }
  }
  \score {
    \new PianoStaff <<
      \override PianoStaff.SystemStartBrace #'collapse-height = #1
      \override Score.SystemStartBar #'collapse-height = #1
      \new Staff {
        c'1
      }
    >>
    \layout { }
  }
}

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Mensurstriche layout (bar lines between the staves)

The mensurstriche-layout where the bar lines do not show on the staves but between staves can be achieved with a StaffGroup instead of a ChoirStaff. The bar line on staves is blanked out by setting the transparent property.

global = {
  \override Staff.BarLine #'transparent = ##t
  s1 s
  % the final bar line is not interrupted
  \revert Staff.BarLine #'transparent
  \bar "|."
}
\new StaffGroup \relative c'' {
  <<
    \new Staff { << \global { c1 c } >> }
    \new Staff { << \global { c c } >> }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: brace, bracket, grand staff.

Notation Reference: Instrument names, Defining new contexts.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: Staff, StaffGroup, ChoirStaff, GrandStaff, PianoStaff, SystemStartBar, SystemStartBrace, SystemStartBracket, SystemStartSquare.


Nested staff groups

Staff-group contexts can be nested to arbitrary depths. In this case, each child context creates a new bracket adjacent to the bracket of its parent group.

\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff { c2 c | c2 c }
  \new StaffGroup <<
    \new Staff { g2 g | g2 g }
    \new StaffGroup \with {
      systemStartDelimiter = #'SystemStartSquare
    }
    <<
      \new Staff { e2 e | e2 e }
      \new Staff { c2 c | c2 c }
    >>
  >>
>>

[image of music]

New nested staff group contexts can be defined. For details, see Defining new contexts.

Selected Snippets

Nesting staves

The property systemStartDelimiterHierarchy can be used to make more complex nested staff groups. The command \set StaffGroup.systemStartDelimiterHierarchy takes an alphabetical list of the number of staves produced. Before each staff a system start delimiter can be given. It has to be enclosed in brackets and takes as much staves as the brackets enclose. Elements in the list can be omitted, but the first bracket takes always the complete number of staves. The possibilities are SystemStartBar, SystemStartBracket, SystemStartBrace, and SystemStartSquare.

\new StaffGroup
\relative c'' <<
  \set StaffGroup.systemStartDelimiterHierarchy
    = #'(SystemStartSquare (SystemStartBrace (SystemStartBracket a
                             (SystemStartSquare b)  ) c ) d)
  \new Staff { c1 }
  \new Staff { c1 }
  \new Staff { c1 }
  \new Staff { c1 }
  \new Staff { c1 }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Grouping staves, Instrument names, Defining new contexts.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: StaffGroup, ChoirStaff, SystemStartBar, SystemStartBrace, SystemStartBracket, SystemStartSquare.


1.6.2 Modifying single staves

This section explains how to change specific attributes of one staff: for example, modifying the number of staff lines or the staff size. Methods to start and stop staves and set ossia sections are also described.


Staff symbol

The lines of a staff belong to the StaffSymbol grob. StaffSymbol properties can be modified to change the appearance of a staff, but they must be modified before the staff is created.

The number of staff lines may be changed. The clef position and the position of middle C may need to be modified to fit the new staff. For an explanation, refer to the snippet section in Clef.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol #'line-count = #3
}
{ d4 d d d }

[image of music]

Staff line thickness can be modified. The thickness of ledger lines and stems are also affected, since they depend on staff line thickness.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol #'thickness = #3
}
{ e4 d c b }

[image of music]

Ledger line thickness can be set independently of staff line thickness. In the example the two numbers are factors multiplying the staff line thickness and the staff line spacing. The two contributions are added to give the ledger line thickness.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol #'ledger-line-thickness = #'(1 . 0.2)
}
{ e4 d c b }

[image of music]

The distance between staff lines can be changed. This setting affects the spacing of ledger lines as well.

\new Staff \with {
  \override StaffSymbol #'staff-space = #1.5
}
{ a4 b c d }

[image of music]

Further details about the properties of StaffSymbol can be found in staff-symbol-interface.

Modifications to staff properties in the middle of a score can be placed between \stopStaff and \startStaff:

c2 c
\stopStaff
\override Staff.StaffSymbol #'line-count = #2
\startStaff
b2 b
\stopStaff
\revert Staff.StaffSymbol #'line-count
\startStaff
a2 a

[image of music]

In general, \startStaff and \stopStaff can be used to stop or start a staff in the middle of a score.

c4 b a2
\stopStaff
b4 c d2
\startStaff
e4 d c2

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\startStaff, \stopStaff.

Selected Snippets

Making some staff lines thicker than the others

For pedagogical 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.

Known issues and warnings

When setting vertical staff line positions manually, bar lines are always centered on position 0, so the maximum distance between the outermost bar lines in either direction must be equal.


Ossia staves

Ossia staves can be set by creating a new simultaneous staff in the appropriate location:

\new Staff \relative c'' {
  c4 b d c
  <<
    { c4 b d c }
    \new Staff { e4 d f e }
  >>
  c4 b c2
}

[image of music]

However, the above example is not what is usually desired. To create ossia staves that are above the original staff, have no time signature or clef, and have a smaller font size, tweaks must be used. The Learning Manual describes a specific technique to achieve this goal, beginning with Nesting music expressions.

The following example uses the alignAboveContext property to align the ossia staff. This method is most appropriate when only a few ossia staves are needed.

\new Staff = main \relative c'' {
  c4 b d c
  <<
    { c4 b d c }

    \new Staff \with {
      \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
      alignAboveContext = #"main"
      fontSize = #-3
      \override StaffSymbol #'staff-space = #(magstep -3)
      \override StaffSymbol #'thickness = #(magstep -3)
      firstClef = ##f
    }
    { e4 d f e }
  >>
  c4 b c2
}

[image of music]

If many isolated ossia staves are needed, creating an empty Staff context with a specific context id may be more appropriate; the ossia staves may then be created by calling this context and using \startStaff and \stopStaff at the desired locations. The benefits of this method are more apparent if the piece is longer than the following example.

<<
  \new Staff = ossia \with {
    \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
    \override Clef #'transparent = ##t
    fontSize = #-3
    \override StaffSymbol #'staff-space = #(magstep -3)
    \override StaffSymbol #'thickness = #(magstep -3)
  }
  { \stopStaff s1*6 }

  \new Staff \relative c' {
    c4 b c2
    <<
      { e4 f e2 }
      \context Staff = ossia {
        \startStaff e4 g8 f e2 \stopStaff
      }
    >>
    g4 a g2 \break
    c4 b c2
    <<
      { g4 a g2 }
      \context Staff = ossia {
        \startStaff g4 e8 f g2 \stopStaff
      }
    >>
    e4 d c2
  }
>>

[image of music]

Using the \RemoveEmptyStaffContext command to create ossia staves may be used as an alternative. This method is most convenient when ossia staves occur immediately following a line break. In this case, spacer rests do not need to be used at all; only \startStaff and \stopStaff are necessary. For more information about \RemoveEmptyStaffContext, see Hiding staves.

<<
  \new Staff = ossia \with {
    \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
    \override Clef #'transparent = ##t
    fontSize = #-3
    \override StaffSymbol #'staff-space = #(magstep -3)
    \override StaffSymbol #'thickness = #(magstep -3)
  }
  \new Staff \relative c' {
    c4 b c2
    e4 f e2
    g4 a g2 \break
    <<
      { c4 b c2 }
      \context Staff = ossia {
        c4 e8 d c2 \stopStaff
      }
    >>
    g4 a g2
    e4 d c2
  }
>>

\layout {
  \context {
    \RemoveEmptyStaffContext
    \override VerticalAxisGroup #'remove-first = ##t
  }
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Vertically aligning ossias and lyrics

This snippet demonstrates the use of the context properties alignBelowContext and alignAboveContext to control the positioning of lyrics and ossias.

\paper {
  ragged-right = ##t
}

\relative c' <<
  \new Staff = "1" { c4 c s2 }
  \new Staff = "2" { c4 c s2 }
  \new Staff = "3" { c4 c s2 }
  { \skip 2
    <<
      \lyrics {
        \set alignBelowContext = #"1"
        lyrics4 below
      }
      \new Staff \with {
        alignAboveContext = #"3"
        fontSize = #-2
        \override StaffSymbol #'staff-space = #(magstep -2)
        \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
      } {
        \times 4/6 {
          \override TextScript #'padding = #3
          c8[^"ossia above" d e d e f]
        }
      }
    >>
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: ossia, staff, Frenched staff.

Learning Manual: Nesting music expressions, Size of objects, Length and thickness of objects.

Notation Reference: Hiding staves.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: StaffSymbol.


Hiding staves

Staff lines can be hidden by removing the Staff_symbol_engraver from the Staff context. As an alternative, \stopStaff may be used.

\new Staff \with {
  \remove "Staff_symbol_engraver"
}
\relative c''' { a8 f e16 d c b a2 }

[image of music]

Empty staves can be hidden by setting the \RemoveEmptyStaffContext command in the \layout block. In orchestral scores, this style is known as ‘Frenched Score’. By default, this command hides and removes all empty staves in a score except for those in the first system.

Note: A staff is considered empty when it contains only multi-measure rests, skips, spacer rests, or a combination of these elements.

\layout {
  \context {
    \RemoveEmptyStaffContext
  }
}

\relative c' <<
  \new Staff {
    e4 f g a \break
    b1 \break
    a4 b c2
  }
  \new Staff {
    c,4 d e f \break
    R1 \break
    f4 g c,2
  }
>>

[image of music]

\RemoveEmptyStaffContext can also be used to create ossia sections for a staff. For details, see Ossia staves.

The \AncientRemoveEmptyStaffContext command may be used to hide empty staves in ancient music contexts. Similarly, \RemoveEmptyRhythmicStaffContext may be used to hide empty RhythmicStaff contexts.

Predefined commands

\RemoveEmptyStaffContext, \AncientRemoveEmptyStaffContext, \RemoveEmptyRhythmicStaffContext.

Selected Snippets

Removing the first empty line

The first empty staff can also be removed from the score by setting the VerticalAxisGroup property remove-first. This can be done globally inside the \layout block, or locally inside the specific staff that should be removed. In the latter case, you have to specify the context (Staff applies only to the current staff) in front of the property.

The lower staff of the second staff group is not removed, because the setting applies only to the specific staff inside of which it is written.

\layout {
  \context { 
    \RemoveEmptyStaffContext 
    % To use the setting globally, uncomment the following line:
    % \override VerticalAxisGroup #'remove-first = ##t
  }
}
\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff \relative c' {
    e4 f g a \break
    c1
  }
  \new Staff {
    % To use the setting globally, comment this line,
    % uncomment the line in the \layout block above
    \override Staff.VerticalAxisGroup #'remove-first = ##t
    R1 \break
    R
  }
>>
\new StaffGroup <<
  \new Staff \relative c' {
    e4 f g a \break
    c1
  }
  \new Staff {
    R1 \break
    R
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: Frenched staff.

Notation Reference: Staff symbol, Ossia staves.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: ChordNames, FiguredBass, Lyrics, Staff, VerticalAxisGroup, Staff_symbol_engraver.

Known issues and warnings

Removing Staff_symbol_engraver also hides bar lines. If bar line visibility is forced, formatting errors may occur. In this case, use the following overrides instead of removing the engraver:

\override StaffSymbol #'stencil = ##f
\override NoteHead #'no-ledgers = ##t

1.6.3 Writing parts

This section explains how to insert tempo indications and instrument names into a score. Methods to quote other voices and format cue notes are also described.


Metronome marks

A basic metronome mark is simple to write:

\tempo 4 = 120
c2 d
e4. d8 c2

[image of music]

Tempo indications with text can be used instead:

\tempo "Allegretto"
c4 e d c
b4. a16 b c4 r4

[image of music]

Combining a metronome mark and text will automatically place the metronome mark within parentheses:

\tempo "Allegro" 4 = 160
g4 c d e
d4 b g2

[image of music]

In general, the text can be any markup object:

\tempo \markup { \italic Faster } 4 = 132
a8-. r8 b-. r gis-. r a-. r

[image of music]

A parenthesized metronome mark with no textual indication may be written by including an empty string in the input:

\tempo "" 8 = 96
d4 g e c

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Printing metronome and rehearsal marks below the staff

By default, metronome and rehearsal marks are printed above the staff. To place them below the staff simply set the direction property of MetronomeMark or RehearsalMark appropriately.

\layout { ragged-right = ##f }

{
  % Metronome marks below the staff 
  \override Score.MetronomeMark #'direction = #DOWN
  \tempo 8. = 120
  c''1

  % Rehearsal marks below the staff
  \override Score.RehearsalMark #'direction = #DOWN
  \mark \default
  c''1
}

[image of music]

Changing the tempo without a metronome mark

To change the tempo in MIDI output without printing anything, make the metronome mark invisible:

\score {
  \new Staff \relative c' {
    \tempo 4 = 160
    c4 e g b
    c4 b d c
    \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t
    \tempo 4 = 96
    d,4 fis a cis
    d4 cis e d
  }
  \layout { }
  \midi { }
}

[image of music]

Creating metronome marks in markup mode

New metronome marks can be created in markup mode, but they will not change the tempo in MIDI output.

\relative c' {
  \tempo \markup {
    \concat {
      (
      \smaller \general-align #Y #DOWN \note #"16." #1
      " = "
      \smaller \general-align #Y #DOWN \note #"8" #1
      )
    }
  }
  c1
  c4 c' c,2
}

[image of music]

For more details, see Formatting text.

See also

Music Glossary: metronome, metronomic indication, tempo indication, metronome mark.

Notation Reference: Formatting text, MIDI output.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: MetronomeMark.


Instrument names

Instrument names can be printed on the left side of staves in the Staff and PianoStaff contexts. The value of instrumentName is used for the first staff, and the value of shortInstrumentName is used for all succeeding staves.

\set Staff.instrumentName = "Violin "
\set Staff.shortInstrumentName = "Vln "
c4.. g'16 c4.. g'16
\break
c1

[image of music]

Markup mode can be used to create more complicated instrument names:

\set Staff.instrumentName = \markup {
  \column { "Clarinetti"
            \line { "in B" \smaller \flat } } }
c4 c,16 d e f g2

[image of music]

When two or more staff contexts are grouped together, the instrument names and short instrument names are centered by default. To center multi-line instrument names, \center-column must be used:

<<
  \new Staff {
    \set Staff.instrumentName = "Flute"
    f2 g4 f
  }
  \new Staff {
    \set Staff.instrumentName = \markup \center-column {
      Clarinet
      \line { "in B" \smaller \flat }
    }
    c4 b c2
  }
>>

[image of music]

However, if the instrument names are longer, the instrument names in a staff group may not be centered unless the indent and short-indent settings are increased. For details about these settings, see Horizontal dimensions.

\layout {
  indent = 3.0\cm
  short-indent = 1.5\cm
}

\relative c'' <<
  \new Staff {
    \set Staff.instrumentName = "Alto Flute in G"
    \set Staff.shortInstrumentName = "Fl."
    f2 g4 f \break
    g4 f g2
  }
  \new Staff {
    \set Staff.instrumentName = "Clarinet"
    \set Staff.shortInstrumentName = "Clar."
    c,4 b c2 \break
    c2 b4 c
  }
>>

[image of music]

To add instrument names to other contexts (such as GrandStaff, ChoirStaff, or StaffGroup), Instrument_name_engraver must be added to that context. For details, see Modifying context plug-ins.

Instrument names may be changed in the middle of a piece:

\set Staff.instrumentName = "First"
\set Staff.shortInstrumentName = "one"
c1 c c c \break
c1 c c c \break
\set Staff.instrumentName = "Second"
\set Staff.shortInstrumentName = "two"
c1 c c c \break
c1 c c c \break

[image of music]

If an instrument switch is needed, \addInstrumentDefinition may be used in combination with \instrumentSwitch to create a detailed list of the necessary changes for the switch. The \addInstrumentDefinition command has two arguments: an identifying string, and an association list of context properties and values to be used for the instrument. It must be placed in the toplevel scope. \instrumentSwitch is used in the music expression to declare the instrument switch:

\addInstrumentDefinition #"contrabassoon"
  #`((instrumentTransposition . ,(ly:make-pitch -1 0 0))
     (shortInstrumentName . "Cbsn.")
     (clefGlyph . "clefs.F")
     (middleCPosition . 6)
     (clefPosition . 2)
     (instrumentCueName . ,(make-bold-markup "cbsn."))
     (midiInstrument . "bassoon"))

\new Staff \with {
  instrumentName = "Bassoon"
}
\relative c' {
  \clef tenor
  \compressFullBarRests
  c2 g'
  R1*16
  \instrumentSwitch "contrabassoon"
  c,,2 g \break
  c,1 ~ | c1
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Horizontal dimensions, Modifying context plug-ins.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: InstrumentName, PianoStaff, Staff.


Quoting other voices

It is very common for one voice to double some of the music from another voice. For example, the first and second violins may play the same notes during a passage of music. In LilyPond this is accomplished by letting one voice quote the other voice without having to re-enter it.

Before a part can be quoted, the \addQuote command must be used to initialize the quoted fragment. This command must be used in the toplevel scope. The first argument is an identifying string, and the second is a music expression:

flute = \relative c'' {
  a4 gis g gis
}
\addQuote "flute" { \flute }

The \quoteDuring command is used to indicate the point where the quotation begins. It is followed by two arguments: the name of the quoted voice, as defined with \addQuote, and a music expression that indicates the duration of the quote, usually spacer rests or multi-measure rests. The corresponding music from the quoted voice is inserted into the music expression:

flute = \relative c'' {
  a4 gis g gis
}
\addQuote "flute" { \flute }

\relative c' {
  c4 cis \quoteDuring #"flute" { s2 }
}

[image of music]

If the music expression used for \quoteDuring contains anything but a spacer rest or multi-measure rest, a polyphonic situation is created, which is often not desirable:

flute = \relative c'' {
  a4 gis g gis
}
\addQuote "flute" { \flute }

\relative c' {
  c4 cis \quoteDuring #"flute" { c4 b }
}

[image of music]

Quotations recognize instrument transposition settings for both the source and target instruments if the \transposition command is used. For details about \transposition, see Instrument transpositions.

clarinet = \relative c'' {
  \transposition bes
  a4 gis g gis
}
\addQuote "clarinet" { \clarinet }

\relative c' {
  c4 cis \quoteDuring #"clarinet" { s2 }
}

[image of music]

It is possible to tag quotations with unique names in order to process them in different ways. For details about this procedure, see Using tags.

Selected Snippets

Quoting another voice with transposition

Quotations take into account the transposition of both source and target. In this example, all instruments play sounding middle C; the target is an instrument in F. The target part may be transposed using \transpose. In this case, all the pitches (including the quoted ones) are transposed.

\addQuote clarinet {
  \transposition bes
  \repeat unfold 8 { d'16 d' d'8 }
}

\addQuote sax {
  \transposition es'
  \repeat unfold 16 { a8 }
}

quoteTest = {
  % french horn
  \transposition f
  g'4
  << \quoteDuring #"clarinet" { \skip 4 } s4^"clar." >>
  << \quoteDuring #"sax" { \skip 4 } s4^"sax." >>
  g'4
}

{
  \set Staff.instrumentName =
    \markup {
      \center-column { Horn \line { in F } }
    }
  \quoteTest
  \transpose c' d' << \quoteTest s4_"up a tone" >>
}

[image of music]

Quoting another voice

The quotedEventTypes property determines the music event types that are quoted. The default value is (note-event rest-event), which means that only notes and rests of the quoted voice appear in the \quoteDuring expression. In the following example, a 16th rest is not quoted since rest-event is not in quotedEventTypes.

quoteMe = \relative c' {
  fis4 r16 a8.-> b4\ff c
}
\addQuote quoteMe \quoteMe

original = \relative c'' {
  c8 d s2
  \once \override NoteColumn #'ignore-collision = ##t
  es8 gis8
}

<<
  \new Staff {
    \set Staff.instrumentName = #"quoteMe"
    \quoteMe
  }
  \new Staff {
    \set Staff.instrumentName = #"orig"
    \original
  }
  \new Staff \relative c'' <<
    \set Staff.instrumentName = #"orig+quote"
    \set Staff.quotedEventTypes =
      #'(note-event articulation-event)
    \original
    \new Voice {
      s4
      \set fontSize = #-4
      \override Stem #'length-fraction = #(magstep -4)
      \quoteDuring #"quoteMe" { \skip 2. }
    }
  >>
>>

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Instrument transpositions, Using tags.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: QuoteMusic, Voice.

Known issues and warnings

Only the contents of the first Voice occurring in an \addQuote command will be considered for quotation, so music cannot contain \new and \context Voice statements that would switch to a different Voice.

Quoting grace notes is broken and can even cause LilyPond to crash.

Quoting nested triplets may result in poor notation.

In earlier versions of LilyPond (pre 2.11), addQuote was written entirely in lower-case letters: \addquote.


Formatting cue notes

The previous section explains how to create quotations. The \cueDuring command is a more specialized form of \quoteDuring, being particularly useful for inserting cue notes into a part. The syntax is as follows:

\cueDuring #partname #voice music

This command copies the corresponding measures from partname into a CueVoice context. The CueVoice is created implicitly, and occurs simultaneously with music, which creates a polyphonic situation. The voice argument determines whether the cue notes should be notated as a first or second voice; UP corresponds to the first voice, and DOWN corresponds to the second.

oboe = \relative c'' {
  r2 r8 d16 f e g f a
  g8 g16 g g2.
}
\addQuote "oboe" { \oboe }

\new Voice \relative c'' {
  \cueDuring #"oboe" #UP { R1 }
  g2 c,
}

[image of music]

In the above example, the Voice context had to be explicitly declared, or else the entire music expression would belong to the CueVoice context.

The name of the cued instrument can be printed by setting the instrumentCueName property in the CueVoice context.

oboe = \relative c''' {
  g4 r8 e16 f e4 d
}
\addQuote "oboe" { \oboe }

\new Staff \relative c'' <<
  \new CueVoice \with {
    instrumentCueName = "ob."
  }
  \new Voice {
    \cueDuring #"oboe" #UP { R1 }
    g4. b8 d2
  }
>>

[image of music]

In addition to printing the name of the cued instrument, when cue notes end, the name of the original instrument should be printed, and any other changes introduced by the cued part should be undone. This can be accomplished by using \addInstrumentDefinition and \instrumentSwitch. For an example and explanation, see Instrument names.

The \killCues command removes cue notes from a music expression. This can be useful if cue notes need to be removed from a part but may be restored at a later time.

flute = \relative c''' {
  r2 cis2 r2 dis2
}
\addQuote "flute" { \flute }

\new Voice \relative c'' {
  \killCues {
    \cueDuring #"flute" #UP { R1 }
    g4. b8 d2
  }
}

[image of music]

The \transposedCueDuring command is useful for adding instrumental cues from a completely different register. The syntax is similar to \cueDuring, but it requires one extra argument to specify the transposition of the cued instrument. For more information about transposition, see Instrument transpositions.

piccolo = \relative c''' {
  \clef "treble^8"
  R1
  c8 c c e g2
  a4 g g2
}
\addQuote "piccolo" { \piccolo }

cbassoon = \relative c, {
  \clef "bass_8"
  c4 r g r
  \transposedCueDuring #"piccolo" #UP c,, { R1 }
  c4 r g r
}

<<
  \new Staff = "piccolo" \piccolo
  \new Staff = "cbassoon" \cbassoon
>>

[image of music]

It is possible to tag cued parts with unique names in order to process them in different ways. For details about this procedure, see Using tags.

See also

Notation Reference: Instrument transpositions, Instrument names, Using tags.

Snippets: Staff notation.

Internals Reference: CueVoice, Voice.

Known issues and warnings

Collisions can occur with rests, when using \cueDuring, between Voice and CueVoice contexts.


1.7 Editorial annotations

[image of music]

This section discusses the various ways to change the appearance of notes and add analysis or educational emphasis.


1.7.1 Inside the staff

This section discusses how to add emphasis to elements that are inside the staff.


Selecting notation font size

The font size of notation elements may be altered. It does not change the size of variable symbols, such as beams or slurs.

Note: For font sizes of text, see Selecting font and font size.

\huge
c4.-> d8---3
\large
c4.-> d8---3
\normalsize
c4.-> d8---3
\small
c4.-> d8---3
\tiny
c4.-> d8---3
\teeny
c4.-> d8---3

[image of music]

Internally, this sets the fontSize property. This in turn causes the font-size property to be set in all layout objects. The value of font-size is a number indicating the size relative to the standard size for the current staff height. Each step up is an increase of approximately 12% of the font size. Six steps is exactly a factor of two. The Scheme function magstep converts a font-size number to a scaling factor. The font-size property can also be set directly, so that only certain layout objects are affected.

\set fontSize = #3
c4.-> d8---3
\override NoteHead #'font-size = #-4
c4.-> d8---3
\override Script #'font-size = #2
c4.-> d8---3
\override Stem #'font-size = #-5
c4.-> d8---3

[image of music]

Font size changes are achieved by scaling the design size that is closest to the desired size. The standard font size (for font-size = #0) depends on the standard staff height. For a 20pt staff, a 10pt font is selected.

The font-size property can only be set on layout objects that use fonts. These are the ones supporting the font-interface layout interface.

Predefined commands

\teeny, \tiny, \small, \normalsize, \large, \huge.

See also

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: font-interface.


Fingering instructions

Fingering instructions can be entered using note-digit:

c4-1 d-2 f-4 e-3

[image of music]

Markup texts may be used for finger changes.

c4-1 d-2 f-4 c^\markup { \finger "2 - 3" }

[image of music]

A thumb-script can be added (e.g., in cello music) to indicate that a note should be played with the thumb.

<a_\thumb a'-3>2 <b_\thumb b'-3>

[image of music]

Fingerings for chords can also be added to individual notes of the chord by adding them after the pitches.

<c-1 e-2 g-3 b-5>2 <d-1 f-2 a-3 c-5>

[image of music]

Fingering instructions may be manually placed above or below the staff, see Direction and placement.

Selected Snippets

Controlling the placement of chord fingerings

The placement of fingering numbers can be controlled precisely.

\relative c' {
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(left)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(down)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(down right up)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(up)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(left)
  <c-1>2
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(down)
  <e-3>2
}

[image of music]

Allowing fingerings to be printed inside the staff

By default, vertically oriented fingerings are positioned outside the staff. However, this behavior can be canceled.

\relative c' {
  <c-1 e-2 g-3 b-5>2
  \once \override Fingering #'staff-padding = #'()
  <c-1 e-2 g-3 b-5>2
}

[image of music]

Avoiding collisions of chord fingering with beams

Fingerings and string numbers applied to individual notes will automatically avoid beams, but this is not true by default for fingerings and string numbers applied to the individual notes of chords. The following example shows how this default behavior can be overridden:

\relative c' {
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(up)
  \set stringNumberOrientations = #'(up)
  \set strokeFingerOrientations = #'(up)
  
  % Default behavior
  r8
  <f c'-5>8
  <f c'\5>8
  <f c'-\rightHandFinger #2 >8
  
  % Corrected to avoid collisions
  r8
  \override Fingering #'add-stem-support = ##t
  <f c'-5>8
  \override StringNumber #'add-stem-support = ##t
  <f c'\5>8
  \override StrokeFinger #'add-stem-support = ##t
  <f c'-\rightHandFinger #2 >8
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Direction and placement

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: FingeringEvent, fingering-event, Fingering_engraver, New_fingering_engraver, Fingering.


Hidden notes

Hidden (or invisible or transparent) notes can be useful in preparing theory or composition exercises.

c4 d
\hideNotes
e4 f
\unHideNotes
g a
\hideNotes
b
\unHideNotes
c

[image of music]

Notation objects which are attached to invisible notes are still visible.

c4( d)
\hideNotes
e4(\p f)--

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\hideNotes, \unHideNotes

See also

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: Note_spacing_engraver, NoteSpacing.


Coloring objects

Individual objects may be assigned colors. Valid color names are listed in the List of colors.

\override NoteHead #'color = #red
c4 c
\override NoteHead #'color = #(x11-color 'LimeGreen)
d
\override Stem #'color = #blue
e

[image of music]

The full range of colors defined for X11 can be accessed by using the Scheme function x11-color. The function takes one argument; this can be a symbol in the form ’FooBar or a string in the form "FooBar". The first form is quicker to write and is more efficient. However, using the second form it is possible to access X11 colors by the multi-word form of its name.

If x11-color cannot make sense of the parameter then the color returned defaults to black.

\override Staff.StaffSymbol #'color = #(x11-color 'SlateBlue2)
\set Staff.instrumentName = \markup {
  \with-color #(x11-color 'navy) "Clarinet"
}

gis8 a
\override Beam #'color = #(x11-color "medium turquoise")
gis a
\override Accidental #'color = #(x11-color 'DarkRed)
gis a
\override NoteHead #'color = #(x11-color "LimeGreen")
gis a
% this is deliberate nonsense; note that the stems remain black
\override Stem #'color = #(x11-color 'Boggle)
b2 cis

[image of music]

Exact RGB colors can be specified using the Scheme function rgb-color.

\override Staff.StaffSymbol #'color = #(x11-color 'SlateBlue2)
\set Staff.instrumentName = \markup {
  \with-color #(x11-color 'navy) "Clarinet"
}

\override Stem #'color = #(rgb-color 0 0 0)
gis8 a
\override Stem #'color = #(rgb-color 1 1 1)
gis8 a
\override Stem #'color = #(rgb-color 0 0 0.5)
gis4 a

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: List of colors, The \tweak command.

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Known issues and warnings

An X11 color is not necessarily exactly the same shade as a similarly named normal color.

Not all X11 colors are distinguishable in a web browser, i.e., a web browser might not display a difference between 'LimeGreen and 'ForestGreen. For web use normal colors are recommended (i.e., #blue, #green, #red).

Notes in a chord cannot be colored with \override; use \tweak instead, see The \tweak command.


Parentheses

Objects may be parenthesized by prefixing \parenthesize to the music event. When prefixed to a chord, it parenthesizes every note. Individual notes inside a chord may also be parenthesized.

c2 \parenthesize d
c2 \parenthesize <c e g>
c2 <c \parenthesize e g>

[image of music]

Non-note objects may be parenthesized as well.

c2-\parenthesize -. d
c2 \parenthesize r

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: Parenthesis_engraver, ParenthesesItem, parentheses-interface.

Known issues and warnings

Parenthesizing a chord prints parentheses around each individual note, instead of a single large parenthesis around the entire chord.


Stems

Whenever a note is found, a Stem object is created automatically. For whole notes and rests, they are also created but made invisible.

Predefined commands

\stemUp, \stemDown, \stemNeutral.

Selected Snippets

Default direction of stems on the center line of the staff

The default direction of stems on the center line of the staff is set by the Stem property neutral-direction.

\relative c'' {
  a4 b c b
  \override Stem #'neutral-direction = #up
  a4 b c b
  \override Stem #'neutral-direction = #down
  a4 b c b
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Direction and placement.

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: Stem_engraver, Stem, stem-interface.


1.7.2 Outside the staff

This section discusses how to add emphasis to elements in the staff from outside of the staff.


Balloon help

Elements of notation can be marked and named with the help of a square balloon. The primary purpose of this feature is to explain notation.

\new Voice \with { \consists "Balloon_engraver" }
{
  \balloonGrobText #'Stem #'(3 . 4) \markup { "I'm a Stem" }
  a8
  \balloonGrobText #'Rest #'(-4 . -4) \markup { "I'm a rest" }
  r
  <c, g'-\balloonText #'(-2 . -2) \markup { "I'm a note head" } c>2.
}

[image of music]

There are two music functions, balloonGrobText and balloonText; the former is used like \once \override to attach text to any grob, and the latter is used like \tweak, typically within chords, to attach text to an individual note.

Balloon text normally influences note spacing, but this can be altered:

\new Voice \with { \consists "Balloon_engraver" }
{
  \balloonLengthOff
  \balloonGrobText #'Stem #'(3 . 4) \markup { "I'm a Stem" }
  a8
  \balloonGrobText #'Rest #'(-4 . -4) \markup { "I'm a rest" }
  r
  \balloonLengthOn
  <c, g'-\balloonText #'(-2 . -2) \markup { "I'm a note head" } c>2.
}

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\balloonLengthOn, \balloonLengthOff

See also

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: Balloon_engraver, BalloonTextItem, balloon-interface.


Grid lines

Vertical lines can be drawn between staves synchronized with the notes.

The Grid_point_engraver must be used to create the end points of the lines, while the Grid_line_span_engraver must be used to actually draw the lines. By default this centers grid lines horizontally below and to the left side of each note head. Grid lines extend from the middle lines of each staff. The gridInterval must specify the duration between the grid lines.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Staff
    \consists "Grid_point_engraver"
    gridInterval = #(ly:make-moment 1 4)
  }
  \context {
    \Score
    \consists "Grid_line_span_engraver"
  }
}

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff <<
    \new Staff \relative c'' {
      \stemUp
      c4. d8 e8 f g4
    }
    \new Staff \relative c {
      \clef bass
      \stemDown
      c4 g' f e
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Grid lines: changing their appearance

The appearance of grid lines can be changed by overriding some of their properties.

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff <<
    \new Staff {
      \relative c'' {
        \stemUp
        c'4. d8 e8 f g4
      }
    }
    \new Staff {
      \relative c {
        % this moves them up one staff space from the default position
        \override Score.GridLine #'extra-offset = #'(0.0 . 1.0)
        \stemDown
        \clef bass
        \once \override Score.GridLine #'thickness = #5.0
        c4
        \once \override Score.GridLine #'thickness = #1.0
        g'4
        \once \override Score.GridLine #'thickness = #3.0
        f4
        \once \override Score.GridLine #'thickness = #5.0
        e4
      }
    }
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Staff
      % set up grids
      \consists "Grid_point_engraver"
      % set the grid interval to one quarter note
      gridInterval = #(ly:make-moment 1 4)
    }
    \context {
      \Score
      \consists "Grid_line_span_engraver"
      % this moves them to the right half a staff space
      \override NoteColumn #'X-offset = #-0.5
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: Grid_line_span_engraver, Grid_point_engraver, GridLine, GridPoint, grid-line-interface, grid-point-interface.


Analysis brackets

Brackets are used in musical analysis to indicate structure in musical pieces. Simple horizontal brackets are supported.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    \consists "Horizontal_bracket_engraver"
  }
}
\relative c'' {
  c2\startGroup
  d\stopGroup
}

[image of music]

Analysis brackets may be nested.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    \consists "Horizontal_bracket_engraver"
  }
}
\relative c'' {
  c4\startGroup\startGroup
  d4\stopGroup
  e4\startGroup
  d4\stopGroup\stopGroup
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Editorial annotations.

Internals Reference: Horizontal_bracket_engraver, HorizontalBracket, horizontal-bracket-interface, Staff.


1.8 Text

[image of music]

This section explains how to include text (with various formatting) in music scores.

Some text elements that are not dealt with here are discussed in other specific sections: Vocal music, Titles and headers.

Note: To write accented and special text (such as characters from other languages), simply insert the characters directly into the LilyPond file. The file must be saved as UTF-8. For more information, see Text encoding.


1.8.1 Writing text

This section introduces different ways of adding text to a score.


Text scripts

Simple “quoted text” indications may be added to a score, as demonstrated in the following example. Such indications may be manually placed above or below the staff, using the syntax described in Direction and placement.

d8^"pizz." e f g a4-"scherz." f

[image of music]

This syntax is actually a shorthand; more complex text formatting may be added to a note by explicitly using a \markup block, as described in Formatting text.

d8^\markup { \italic pizz. } e f g
a4_\markup { \tiny scherz. \bold molto } f

[image of music]

By default, text indications do not influence the note spacing. However, their widths can be taken into account: in the following example, the first text string does not affect spacing, whereas the second one does.

d8^"pizz." e f g
\textLengthOn
a4_"scherzando" f

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\textLengthOn, \textLengthOff

See also

Notation Reference: Formatting text, Direction and placement.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.

Known issues and warnings

Checking to make sure that text scripts and lyrics are within the margins is a relatively large computational task. To speed up processing, LilyPond does not perform such calculations by default; to enable it, use

\override Score.PaperColumn #'keep-inside-line = ##t

Text spanners

Some performance indications, e.g., rallentando or accelerando, are written as text and are extended over multiple notes with dotted lines. Such objects, called “spanners”, may be created from one note to another using the following syntax:

\override TextSpanner #'(bound-details left text) = "rit."
b1\startTextSpan
e,\stopTextSpan

[image of music]

The string to be printed is set through object properties. By default it is printed in italic characters, but different formatting can be obtained using \markup blocks, as described in Formatting text.

\override TextSpanner #'(bound-details left text) =
  \markup { \upright "rit." }
b1\startTextSpan c
e,\stopTextSpan

[image of music]

The line style, as well as the text string, can be defined as an object property. This syntax is described in Line styles.

Predefined commands

\textSpannerUp, \textSpannerDown, \textSpannerNeutral

See also

Notation Reference: Line styles, Dynamics.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextSpanner.


Text marks

Various text elements may be added to a score using the syntax described in Rehearsal marks:

c4
\mark "Allegro"
c c c

[image of music]

This syntax makes it possible to put any text on a bar line; more complex text formatting may be added using a \markup block, as described in Formatting text:

<c e>1
\mark \markup { \italic { colla parte } }
<d f>2 <e g>
<c f aes>1

[image of music]

This syntax also allows to print special signs, like coda, segno or fermata, by specifying the appropriate symbol name as explained in Music notation inside markup:

<f bes>2 <d aes'>
\mark \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts.ufermata" }
<e g>1

[image of music]

Such objects are only typeset above the top staff of the score; depending on whether they are specified at the end or the middle of a bar, they can be placed above the bar line or between notes. When specified at a line break, the mark will be printed at the beginning of the next line.

\mark "Allegro"
c1 c
\mark "assai" \break
c  c

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Printing marks at the end of a line or a score

Marks can be printed at the end of the current line, instead of the beginning of the following line. This is particularly useful when a mark has to be added at the end of a score – when there is no next line.

In such cases, the right end of the mark has to be aligned with the final bar line, as demonstrated on the second line of this example.

\relative c'' {  
  \override Score.RehearsalMark #'break-visibility = #begin-of-line-invisible
  g2 c
  d,2 a'
  \mark \default
  \break
  g2 b,
  c1 \bar "||"
  \override Score.RehearsalMark #'self-alignment-X = #RIGHT  
  \mark "D.C. al Fine"
}

[image of music]

Aligning marks with various notation objects

If specified, text marks may be aligned with notation objects other than bar lines. These objects include ambitus, breathing-sign, clef, custos, staff-bar, left-edge, key-cancellation, key-signature, and time-signature.

In such cases, text marks will be horizontally centered above the object. However this can be changed, as demonstrated on the second line of this example (in a score with multiple staves, this setting should be done for all the staves).

\relative c' {
  e1
  
  % the RehearsalMark will be centered above the Clef
  \override Score.RehearsalMark #'break-align-symbols = #'(clef)
  \key a \major
  \clef treble
  \mark "↓"
  e1
  
  % the RehearsalMark will be centered above the TimeSignature
  \override Score.RehearsalMark #'break-align-symbols = #'(time-signature)
  \key a \major
  \clef treble
  \time 3/4
  \mark "↓"
  e2.
  
  % the RehearsalMark will be centered above the KeySignature
  \override Score.RehearsalMark #'break-align-symbols = #'(key-signature)
  \key a \major
  \clef treble
  \time 4/4
  \mark "↓"
  e1

  \break
  e1
  
  % the RehearsalMark will be aligned with the left edge of the KeySignature
  \once \override Score.KeySignature #'break-align-anchor-alignment = #LEFT
  \mark "↓"
  \key a \major
  e1
  
  % the RehearsalMark will be aligned with the right edge of the KeySignature
  \once \override Score.KeySignature #'break-align-anchor-alignment = #RIGHT
  \key a \major
  \mark "↓"
  e1
  
  % the RehearsalMark will be aligned with the left edge of the KeySignature
  % and then shifted right by one unit.
  \once \override Score.KeySignature #'break-align-anchor = #1
  \key a \major
  \mark "↓"
  e1
}

[image of music]

Printing marks on every staff

Although text marks are normally only printed above the topmost staff, they may also be printed on every staff.

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff { c''1 \mark "molto" c'' }
    \new Staff { c'1 \mark "molto" c' }
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Score
      \remove "Mark_engraver"
      \remove "Staff_collecting_engraver"
    }
    \context {
      \Staff
      \consists "Mark_engraver"
      \consists "Staff_collecting_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Rehearsal marks, Formatting text, Music notation inside markup, The Feta font.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: RehearsalMark.

Known issues and warnings

If a mark is entered at the end of the last bar of the score (where there is no next line), then the mark will not be printed at all.


Separate text

A \markup block can exist by itself, outside of any any \score block, as a “top-level expression”. This syntax is described in File structure.

\markup {
  Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...
}

[image of music]

This allows printing text separately from the music, which is particularly useful when the input file contains several music pieces, as described in Multiple scores in a book.

\score {
  c'1
}
\markup {
  Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...
}
\score {
  c'1
}

[image of music]

Separate text blocks can be spread over multiple pages, making it possible to print text documents or books entirely within LilyPond. This feature, and the specific syntax it requires, are described in Multi-page markup.

Predefined commands

\markup, \markuplines

See also

Notation Reference: Formatting text, File structure, Multiple scores in a book, Multi-page markup.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.


1.8.2 Formatting text

This section presents basic and advanced text formatting, using the \markup mode specific syntax.


Text markup introduction

A \markup block is used to typeset text with an extensible syntax called “markup mode”.

The markup syntax is similar to LilyPond’s usual syntax: a \markup expression is enclosed in curly braces { … }. A single word is regarded as a minimal expression, and therefore does not need to be enclosed with braces.

Unlike simple “quoted text” indications, \markup blocks may contain nested expressions or markup commands, entered using the backslash \ character. Such commands only affect the first following expression.

e1-\markup intenso
a2^\markup { poco \italic più forte  }
c e1
d2_\markup { \italic "string. assai" }
e
b1^\markup { \bold { molto \italic  agitato } }
c

[image of music]

A \markup block may also contain quoted text strings. Such strings are treated as minimal text expressions, and therefore any markup command or special character (such as \ and #) will be printed verbatim without affecting the formatting of the text. Double quotation marks themselves may be printed by preceding them with backslashes.

d1^"\italic markup..."
d_\markup { \italic "... prints \"italic\" letters!" }
d d

[image of music]

To be treated as a distinct expression, a list of words needs to be enclosed with double quotes or preceded by a command. The way markup expressions are defined affects how these expressions will be stacked, centered and aligned; in the following example, the second \markup expression is treated the same as the first one:

c1^\markup { \center-column { a bbb c } }
c1^\markup { \center-column { a { bbb c } } }
c1^\markup { \center-column { a \line { bbb c } } }
c1^\markup { \center-column { a "bbb c" } }

[image of music]

Markups can be stored in variables. Such variables may be directly attached to notes:

allegro = \markup { \bold \large Allegro }

{
  d''8.^\allegro
  d'16 d'4 r2
}

[image of music]

An exhaustive list of \markup-specific commands can be found in Text markup commands.

See also

Notation Reference: Text markup commands.

Snippets: Text.

Installed files: ‘scm/markup.scm’.

Known issues and warnings

Syntax errors for markup mode can be confusing.


Selecting font and font size

Basic font switching is supported in markup mode:

d1^\markup {
  \bold { Più mosso }
  \italic { non troppo \underline Vivo }
}
r2 r4 r8
d,_\markup { \italic quasi \smallCaps Tromba }
f1 d2 r

[image of music]

The size of the characters can also be altered in different ways:

The following example demonstrates these three methods:

f1_\markup {
  \tiny espressivo
  \large e
  \normalsize intenso
}
a^\markup {
  \fontsize #5 Sinfonia
  \fontsize #2 da
  \fontsize #3 camera
}
bes^\markup { (con
  \larger grande
  \smaller emozione
  \magnify #0.6 { e sentimento } )
}
d c2 r8 c bes a g1

[image of music]

Text may be printed as subscript or superscript. By default these are printed in a smaller size, but a normal size can be used as well:

\markup {
  \column {
    \line { 1 \super st movement }
    \line { 1 \normal-size-super st movement
      \sub { (part two) }  }
  }
}

[image of music]

The markup mode provides an easy way to select alternate font families. The default serif font, of roman type, is automatically selected unless specified otherwise; on the last line of the following example, there is no difference between the first and the second word.

\markup {
  \column {
    \line { Act \number 1 }
    \line { \sans { Scene I. } }
    \line { \typewriter { Verona. An open place. } }
    \line { Enter \roman Valentine and Proteus. }
  }
}

[image of music]

Some of these font families, used for specific items such as numbers or dynamics, do not provide all characters, as mentioned in New dynamic marks and Manual repeat marks.

When used inside a word, some font-switching or formatting commands may produce an unwanted blank space. This can easily be solved by concatenating the text elements together:

\markup {
  \column {
    \line {
      \concat { 1 \super st }
      movement
    }
    \line {
      \concat { \dynamic p , }
      \italic { con dolce espressione }
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

An exhaustive list of font switching, and custom font usage commands can be found in Font.

Defining custom font sets is also possible, as explained in Fonts.

Predefined commands

\teeny, \tiny, \small, \normalsize, \large, \huge, \smaller, \larger.

See also

Notation Reference: Font, New dynamic marks, Manual repeat marks, Fonts.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.

Installed files: ‘scm/define-markup-commands.scm’.


Text alignment

This subsection discusses how to place text in markup mode. Markup objects can also be moved as a whole, using the syntax described in Moving objects.

Markup objects may be aligned in different ways. By default, a text indication is aligned on its left edge: in the following example, there is no difference between the first and the second markup.

d1-\markup { poco }
f
d-\markup { \left-align poco }
f
d-\markup { \center-align { poco } }
f
d-\markup { \right-align poco }

[image of music]

Horizontal alignment may be fine-tuned using a numeric value:

a1-\markup { \halign #-1 poco }
e'
a,-\markup { \halign #0 poco }
e'
a,-\markup { \halign #0.5 poco }
e'
a,-\markup { \halign #2 poco }

[image of music]

Some objects may have alignment procedures of their own, and therefore are not affected by these commands. It is possible to move such markup objects as a whole, as shown for instance in Text marks.

Vertical alignment is a bit more complex. As stated above, markup objects can be moved as a whole; however, it is also possible to move specific elements inside a markup block. In this case, the element to be moved needs to be preceded with an anchor point, that can be another markup element or an invisible object. The following example demonstrates these two possibilities; the last markup in this example has no anchor point, and therefore is not moved.

d2^\markup {
  Acte I
  \raise #2 { Scène 1 }
}
a'
g_\markup {
  \null
  \lower #4 \bold { Très modéré }
}
a
d,^\markup {
  \raise #4 \italic { Une forêt. }
}
a'4 a g2 a

[image of music]

Some commands can affect both the horizontal and vertical alignment of text objects in markup mode. Any object affected by these commands must be preceded with an anchor point:

d2^\markup {
  Acte I
  \translate #'(-1 . 2) "Scène 1"
}
a'
g_\markup {
  \null
  \general-align #Y #3.2 \bold "Très modéré"
}
a
d,^\markup {
  \null
  \translate-scaled #'(-1 . 2) \teeny "Une forêt."
}
a'4 a g2 a

[image of music]

A markup object may include several lines of text. In the following example, each element or expression is placed on its own line, either left-aligned or centered:

\markup {
  \column {
    a
    "b c"
    \line { d e f }
  }
  \hspace #10
  \center-column {
    a
    "b c"
    \line { d e f }
  }
}

[image of music]

Similarly, a list of elements or expressions may be spread to fill the entire horizontal line width (if there is only one element, it will be centered on the page). These expressions can, in turn, include multi-line text or any other markup expression:

\markup {
  \fill-line {
    \line { William S. Gilbert }
    \center-column {
      \huge \smallCaps "The Mikado"
      or
      \smallCaps "The Town of Titipu"
    }
    \line { Sir Arthur Sullivan }
  }
}
\markup {
  \fill-line { 1885 }
}

[image of music]

Long text indications can also be automatically wrapped accordingly to the given line width. These will be either left-aligned or justified, as shown in the following example.

\markup {
  \column {
    \line  \smallCaps { La vida breve }
    \line \bold { Acto I }
    \wordwrap \italic {
      (La escena representa el corral de una casa de
      gitanos en el Albaicín de Granada. Al fondo una
      puerta por la que se ve el negro interior de
      una Fragua, iluminado por los rojos resplandores
      del fuego.)
    }
    \hspace #0

    \line \bold { Acto II }
    \override #'(line-width . 50)
    \justify \italic {
      (Calle de Granada. Fachada de la casa de Carmela
      y su hermano Manuel con grandes ventanas abiertas
      a través de las que se ve el patio
      donde se celebra una alegre fiesta)
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

An exhaustive list of text alignment commands can be found in Align.

See also

Learning Manual: Moving objects.

Notation Reference: Align, Text marks.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.

Installed files: ‘scm/define-markup-commands.scm’.


Graphic notation inside markup

Various graphic objects may be added to a score, using markup commands.

Some markup commands allow decoration of text elements with graphics, as demonstrated in the following example.

\markup \fill-line {
  \center-column {
    \circle Jack
    \box "in the box"
    \null
    \line {
      Erik Satie
      \hspace #3
      \bracket "1866 - 1925"
    }
    \null
    \rounded-box \bold Prelude
  }
}

[image of music]

Some commands may require an increase in the padding around the text; this is achieved with some markup commands exhaustively described in Align.

\markup \fill-line {
  \center-column {
    \box "Charles Ives (1874 - 1954)"
    \null
    \box \pad-markup #2 "THE UNANSWERED QUESTION"
    \box \pad-x #8 "A Cosmic Landscape"
    \null
  }
}
\markup \column {
  \line {
    \hspace #10
    \box \pad-to-box #'(-5 . 20) #'(0 . 5)
      \bold "Largo to Presto"
  }
  \pad-around #3
      "String quartet keeps very even time,
Flute quartet keeps very uneven time."
}

[image of music]

Other graphic elements or symbols may be printed without requiring any text. As with any markup expression, such objects can be combined.

\markup {
  \combine
    \draw-circle #4 #0.4 ##f
    \filled-box #'(-4 . 4) #'(-0.5 . 0.5) #1
  \hspace #5

  \center-column {
    \triangle ##t
    \combine
      \draw-line #'(0 . 4)
      \arrow-head #Y #DOWN ##f
  }
}

[image of music]

Advanced graphic features include the ability to include external image files converted to the Encapsulated PostScript format (eps), or to directly embed graphics into the input file, using native PostScript code. In such a case, it may be useful to explicitely specify the size of the drawing, as demonstrated below:

c1^\markup {
  \combine
    \epsfile #X #10 #"./context-example.eps"
    \with-dimensions #'(0 . 6) #'(0 . 10)
    \postscript #"
      -2 3 translate
      2.7 2 scale
      newpath
      2 -1 moveto
      4 -2 4 1 1 arct
      4 2 3 3 1 arct
      0 4 0 3 1 arct
      0 0 1 -1 1 arct
      closepath
      stroke"
  }
c

[image of music]

An exhaustive list of graphics-specific commands can be found in Graphic.

See also

Notation Reference: Graphic, Editorial annotations.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.

Installed files: ‘scm/define-markup-commands.scm’, ‘scm/stencil.scm’.


Music notation inside markup

Various musical notation elements may be added to a score, inside a markup object.

Notes and accidentals can be entered using markup commands:

a2 a^\markup {
  \note #"4" #1
  =
  \note-by-number #1 #1 #1.5
}
b1_\markup {
  \natural \semiflat \flat
  \sesquiflat \doubleflat
}
\glissando
a1_\markup {
  \natural \semisharp \sharp
  \sesquisharp \doublesharp
}
\glissando b

[image of music]

Other notation objects may also be printed in markup mode:

g1 bes
ees-\markup {
  \finger 4
  \tied-lyric #"~"
  \finger 1
}
fis_\markup { \dynamic rf }
bes^\markup {
  \beam #8 #0.1 #0.5
}
cis
d-\markup {
  \markalphabet #8
  \markletter #8
}

[image of music]

More generally, any available musical symbol may be included separately in a markup object, as demonstrated below; an exhaustive list of these symbols and their names can be found in The Feta font.

c2
c'^\markup { \musicglyph #"eight" }
c,4
c,8._\markup { \musicglyph #"clefs.G_change" }
c16
c2^\markup { \musicglyph #"timesig.neomensural94" }

[image of music]

Another way of printing non-text glyphs is described in Fonts explained.

The markup mode also supports diagrams for specific instruments:

c1^\markup {
  \fret-diagram-terse #"x;x;o;2;3;2;"
}
c^\markup {
  \harp-pedal #"^-v|--ov^"
}
c
c^\markup {
  \combine
    \musicglyph #"accordion.accDiscant"
    \combine
      \raise #0.5 \musicglyph #"accordion.accDot"
      \raise #1.5 \musicglyph #"accordion.accDot"
}

[image of music]

Such diagrams are documented in Instrument Specific Markup.

A whole score can even be nested inside a markup object. In such a case, the nested \score block must contain a \layout block, as demonstrated here:

c4 d^\markup {
  \score {
    \relative { c4 d e f }
    \layout { }
  }
}
e f |
c d e f

[image of music]

An exhaustive list of music notation related commands can be found in Music.

See also

Notation Reference: Music, The Feta font, Fonts explained.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.

Installed files: ‘scm/define-markup-commands.scm’, ‘scm/fret-diagrams.scm’, ‘scm/harp-pedals.scm’.


Multi-page markup

Although standard markup objects are not breakable, a specific syntax makes it possible to enter lines of text that can spread over multiple pages:

\markuplines {
  \justified-lines {
    A very long text of justified lines.
    ...
  }
  \wordwrap-lines {
    Another very long paragraph.
    ...
  }
  ...
}

[image of music]

This syntax accepts a list of markups, that can be

An exhaustive list of markup list commands can be found in Text markup list commands.

See also

Notation Reference: Text markup list commands, New markup list command definition.

Snippets: Text.

Internals Reference: TextScript.

Installed files: ‘scm/define-markup-commands.scm’.

Predefined commands

\markuplines


1.8.3 Fonts

This section presents the way fonts are handled, and how they may be changed in scores.


Fonts explained

Fonts are handled through several libraries. FontConfig is used to detect available fonts on the system; the selected fonts are rendered using Pango.

Music notation fonts can be described as a set of specific glyphs, ordered in several families. The following syntax allows various LilyPond feta non-text fonts to be used directly in markup mode:

a1^\markup {
  \vcenter {
    \override #'(font-encoding . fetaBraces)
    \lookup #"brace120"
    \override #'(font-encoding . fetaNumber)
    \column { 1 3 }
    \override #'(font-encoding . fetaDynamic)
    sf
    \override #'(font-encoding . fetaMusic)
    \lookup #"noteheads.s0petrucci"
  }
}

[image of music]

A simpler, but more limited syntax is also described in Music notation inside markup.

Three families of text fonts are made available: the roman (serif) font, that defaults to New Century Schoolbook, the sans font and the monospaced typewriter font – these last two families are determined by the Pango installation.

Each family may include different shapes and series. The following example demonstrates the ability to select alternate families, shapes, series and sizes:

  \override Score.RehearsalMark #'font-family = #'typewriter
  \mark \markup "Ouverture"
  \key d \major
  \override  Voice.TextScript #'font-shape = #'italic
  \override  Voice.TextScript #'font-series = #'bold
  d'2.^\markup "Allegro"
  r4

[image of music]

A similar syntax may be used in markup mode, however in this case it is preferable to use the simpler syntax explained in Selecting font and font size:

\markup {
  \column {
    \line {
      \override #'(font-shape . italic)
      \override #'(font-size . 4)
      Idomeneo,
    }
    \line {
      \override #'(font-family . typewriter)
      {
        \override #'(font-series . bold)
        re
        di
      }
      \override #'(font-family . sans)
      Creta
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Although it is easy to switch between preconfigured fonts, it is also possible to use other fonts, as explained in the following sections: Single entry fonts and Entire document fonts.

See also

Notation Reference: The Feta font, Music notation inside markup, Selecting font and font size, Font.


Single entry fonts

Any font that is installed on the operating system and recognized by FontConfig may be used in a score, using the following syntax:

\override Staff.TimeSignature #'font-name = #"Charter"
\override Staff.TimeSignature #'font-size = #2
\time 3/4

c1_\markup {
  \override #'(font-name . "Vera Bold")
    { Vera Bold }
}

[image of music]

The following command displays a list of all available fonts on the operating system:

lilypond -dshow-available-fonts x

The last argument of the command can be anything, but has to be present.

See also

Notation Reference: Fonts explained, Entire document fonts.

Snippets: Text.

Installed files: ‘lily/font-config-scheme.cc’.


Entire document fonts

It is possible to change the fonts to be used as the default fonts in the roman, sans and typewriter font families by specifying them, in that order, as shown in the example below. For an explanation of fonts, see Fonts explained.

\paper  {
  myStaffSize = #20
  #(define fonts
    (make-pango-font-tree "Times New Roman"
                          "Nimbus Sans"
                          "Luxi Mono"
                           (/ myStaffSize 20)))
}

\relative c'{
  c1-\markup {
    roman,
    \sans sans,
    \typewriter typewriter. }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Fonts explained, Single entry fonts, Selecting font and font size, Font.


2. Specialist notation

This chapter explains how to create musical notation for specific types of instrument or in specific styles.


2.1 Vocal music

This section explains how to typeset vocal music, and make sure that the lyrics will be aligned with the notes of their melody.


2.1.1 Common notation for vocal music

This section discusses issues related to vocal music in general, and to some particular styles of vocal music.


References for vocal music and lyrics

Various issues may arise when engraving vocal music. Some of these are discussed in this section, while others are explained elsewhere:


Opera

TBC


Song books

TBC

Selected Snippets

Simple lead sheet

When put together, chord names, a melody, and lyrics form a lead sheet:

<<
  \chords { c2 g:sus4 f e }
  \relative c'' {
    a4 e c8 e r4
    b2 c4( d)
  }
  \addlyrics { One day this shall be free __ }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Chord notation.


Spoken music

Such effects as ‘parlato’ or ‘Sprechgesang’ require perfomers to speak without pitch but still with rhythm; these are notated by cross note heads, as demonstrated in Special note heads.


Chants

TBC


Ancient vocal music

TBC

See also

Notation Reference: Ancient notation.


2.1.2 Entering lyrics


Lyrics explained

Since LilyPond input files are text, there is at least one issue to consider when working with vocal music: song texts must be interpreted as text, not notes. For example, the input d should be interpreted as a one letter syllable, not the note D. Therefore, a special lyric mode has to be used, either explicitely or using some abbreviated methods.

Lyrics are entered in a special input mode, which can be introduced by the keyword \lyricmode, or by using \addlyrics or \lyricsto. In this mode you can enter lyrics, with punctuation and accents, and the input d is not parsed as a pitch, but rather as a one letter syllable. Syllables are entered like notes, but with pitches replaced by text. For example,

\lyricmode { Twin-4 kle4 twin- kle litt- le star2 }

There are two main methods to specify the horizontal placement of the syllables, either by specifying the duration of each syllable explicitly, like in the example above, or by automatically aligning the lyrics to a melody or other voice of music, using \addlyrics or \lyricsto.

A word or syllable of lyrics begins with an alphabetic character, and ends with any space or digit. The following characters can be any character that is not a digit or white space.

Any character that is not a digit or white space will be regarded as part of the syllable; one important consequence of this is that a word can end with }, which often leads to the following mistake:

\lyricmode { lah- lah}

In this example, the } is included in the final syllable, so the opening brace is not balanced and the input file will probably not compile.

Similarly, a period which follows an alphabetic sequence is included in the resulting string. As a consequence, spaces must be inserted around property commands: do not write

\override Score.LyricText #'font-shape = #'italic

but instead use

\override Score . LyricText #'font-shape = #'italic

In order to assign more than one syllable to a single note, you can surround them with quotes or use a _ character, to get spaces between syllables, or use tilde symbol (~) to get a lyric tie.

\time 3/4
\relative c' { c2 e4 g2 e4 }
\addlyrics { gran- de_a- mi- go }
\addlyrics { pu- "ro y ho-" nes- to }
\addlyrics { pu- ro~y~ho- nes- to }

[image of music]

The lyric tie is implemented with the Unicode character U+203F; therefore a font that includes this glyph (such as DejaVuLGC) has to be used. More explanations about text and non-text fonts can be found in Fonts.

To enter lyrics with characters from non-English languages, or with accented and special characters (such as the heart symbol or slanted quotes), simply insert the characters directly into the input file and save it with UTF-8 encoding. See Text encoding, for more info.

\relative c' { e4 f e d e f e2 }
\addlyrics { He said: “Let my peo ple go”. }

[image of music]

To use normal quotes in lyrics, add a backslash before the quotes. For example,

\relative c' { \time 3/4 e4 e4. e8 d4 e d c2. }
\addlyrics { "\"I" am so lone- "ly\"" said she }

[image of music]

The full definition of a word start in Lyrics mode is somewhat more complex.

A word in Lyrics mode begins with: an alphabetic character, _, ?, !, :, ', the control characters ^A through ^F, ^Q through ^W, ^Y, ^^, any 8-bit character with ASCII code over 127, or a two-character combination of a backslash followed by one of `, ', ", or ^.

To define variables containing lyrics, the function lyricmode must be used.

verseOne = \lyricmode { Joy to the world the Lord is come }
\score {
  <<
    \new Voice = "one" \relative c'' {
      \autoBeamOff
      \time 2/4
      c4 b8. a16 g4. f8 e4 d c2
    }
    \addlyrics { \verseOne }
  >>
}

See also

Notation Reference: Fonts.

Internals Reference: LyricText, LyricSpace.


Setting simple songs

The easiest way to add lyrics to a melody is to append

\addlyrics { the lyrics }

to a melody. Here is an example,

\time 3/4
\relative c' { c2 e4 g2. }
\addlyrics { play the game }

[image of music]

More stanzas can be added by adding more \addlyrics sections

\time 3/4
\relative c' { c2 e4 g2. }
\addlyrics { play the game }
\addlyrics { speel het spel }
\addlyrics { joue le jeu }

[image of music]

The command \addlyrics cannot handle polyphony settings. For these cases you should use \lyricsto and \lyricmode, as will be introduced in Lyrics explained.


Working with lyrics and variables

To define variables containing lyrics, the function \lyricmode must be used. You do not have to enter durations though, if you add \addlyrics or \lyricsto when invoking your variable.

verseOne = \lyricmode { Joy to the world the Lord is come }
\score {
 <<
   \new Voice = "one" \relative c'' {
     \autoBeamOff
     \time 2/4
     c4 b8. a16 g4. f8 e4 d c2
   }
   \addlyrics { \verseOne }
 >>
}

For different or more complex orderings, the best way is to setup the hierarchy of staves and lyrics first, e.g.,

\new ChoirStaff <<
  \new Voice = "soprano" { music }
  \new Lyrics = "sopranoLyrics" { s1 }
  \new Lyrics = "tenorLyrics" { s1 }
  \new Voice = "tenor" { music }
>>

and then combine the appropriate melodies and lyric lines

\context Lyrics = sopranoLyrics \lyricsto "soprano"
the lyrics

The final input would resemble

<<\new ChoirStaff << setup the music >>
 \lyricsto "soprano" etc
 \lyricsto "alto" etc
etc
>>

See also

Internals Reference: LyricCombineMusic, Lyrics.


2.1.3 Aligning lyrics to a melody

Aligning of text with melodies can be made automatically, but if you specify the durations of the syllables it can also be made manually. Lyrics aligning and typesetting are prepared with the help of skips, hyphens and extender lines.

Lyrics are printed by interpreting them in the context called Lyrics.

\new Lyrics \lyricmode …

There are two main methods to specify the horizontal placement of the syllables:


Automatic syllable durations

The lyrics can be aligned under a given melody automatically. This is achieved by combining the melody and the lyrics with the \lyricsto expression

\new Lyrics \lyricsto name

This aligns the lyrics to the notes of the Voice context called name, which must already exist. Therefore normally the Voice is specified first, and then the lyrics are specified with \lyricsto. The command \lyricsto switches to \lyricmode mode automatically, so the \lyricmode keyword may be omitted.

The following example uses different commands for entering lyrics.

<<
  \new Voice = "one" \relative c'' {
    \autoBeamOff
    \time 2/4
    c4 b8. a16 g4. f8 e4 d c2
  }

% not recommended: left aligns syllables
  \new Lyrics \lyricmode { Joy4 to8. the16 world!4. the8 Lord4 is come.2 }

% wrong: durations needed
  \new Lyrics \lyricmode { Joy to the earth! the Sa -- viour reigns. }

%correct
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "one" { No more let sins and sor -- rows grow. }
>>

[image of music]

The second stanza is not properly aligned because the durations were not specified. A solution for that would be to use \lyricsto.

The \addlyrics command is actually just a convenient way to write a more complicated LilyPond structure that sets up the lyrics.

{ MUSIC }
\addlyrics { LYRICS }

is the same as

\new Voice = "blah" { music }
\new Lyrics \lyricsto "blah" { LYRICS }

Manual syllable durations

Lyrics can also be entered without \addlyrics or \lyricsto. In this case, syllables are entered like notes – but with pitches replaced by text – and the duration of each syllable must be entered explicitly. For example:

play2 the4 game2.
sink2 or4 swim2.

The alignment to a melody can be specified with the associatedVoice property,

\set associatedVoice = #"lala"

The value of the property (here: "lala") should be the name of a Voice context. Without this setting, extender lines will not be formatted properly.

Here is an example demonstrating manual lyric durations,

<< \new Voice = "melody" {
    \time 3/4
    c2 e4 g2.
 }
 \new Lyrics \lyricmode {
   \set associatedVoice = #"melody"
   play2 the4 game2.
 } >>

[image of music]

See also

Internals Reference: Lyrics.


Multiple syllables to one note

In order to assign more than one syllable to a single note, you can surround them with quotes or use a _ character, to get spaces between syllables, or use tilde symbol (~) to get a lyric tie1.

\time 3/4
\relative c' { c2 e4 g2 e4 }
\addlyrics { gran- de_a- mi- go }
\addlyrics { pu- "ro y ho-" nes- to }
\addlyrics { pu- ro~y~ho- nes- to }

[image of music]

See also

Internals Reference: LyricCombineMusic.


Multiple notes to one syllable

Sometimes, particularly in Medieval music, several notes are to be sung on one single syllable; such vocalises are called melismas, or melismata.

You can define melismata entirely in the lyrics, by entering _ for every extra note that has to be added to the melisma.

Additionaly, you can make an extender line to be typeset to indicate the melisma in the score, writing a double underscore next to the first syllable of the melisma. This example shows the three elements that are used for this purpose (all of them surrounded by spaces): double hyphens to separate syllables in a word, underscores to add notes to a melisma, and a double underscore to put an extender line.

{ \set melismaBusyProperties = #'()
 c d( e) f f( e) e e  }
\addlyrics
 { Ky -- _ _ ri __ _ _ _  e }

[image of music]

In this case, you can also have ties and slurs in the melody if you set melismaBusyProperties, as is done in the example above.

However, the \lyricsto command can also detect melismata automatically: it only puts one syllable under a tied or slurred group of notes. If you want to force an unslurred group of notes to be a melisma, insert \melisma after the first note of the group, and \melismaEnd after the last one, e.g.,

<<
  \new Voice = "lala" {
    \time 3/4
    f4 g8
    \melisma
    f e f
    \melismaEnd
    e2
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "lala" {
    la di __ daah
  }
>>

[image of music]

In addition, notes are considered a melisma if they are manually beamed, and automatic beaming (see Setting automatic beam behavior) is switched off.

A complete example of a SATB score setup is in section Vocal ensembles.

Predefined commands

\melisma, \melismaEnd

See also

Known issues and warnings

Melismata are not detected automatically, and extender lines must be inserted by hand.


Skipping notes

Making a lyric line run slower than the melody can be achieved by inserting \skips into the lyrics. For every \skip, the text will be delayed another note. The \skip command must be followed by a valid duration, but this is ignored when \skip is used in lyrics.

For example,

\relative c' { c c g' }
\addlyrics {
  twin -- \skip 4
  kle
}

[image of music]


Extenders and hyphens

In the last syllable of a word, melismata are sometimes indicated with a long horizontal line starting in the melisma syllable, and ending in the next one. Such a line is called an extender line, and it is entered as ‘ __ ’ (note the spaces before and after the two underscore characters).

Note: Melismata are indicated in the score with extender lines, which are entered as one double underscore; but short melismata can also be entered by skipping individual notes, which are entered as single underscore characters; these do not make an extender line to be typeset by default.

Centered hyphens are entered as ‘ -- ’ between syllables of a same word (note the spaces before and after the two hyphen characters). The hyphen will be centered between the syllables, and its length will be adjusted depending on the space between the syllables.

In tightly engraved music, hyphens can be removed. Whether this happens can be controlled with the minimum-distance (minimum distance between two syllables) and the minimum-length (threshold below which hyphens are removed).

See also

Internals Reference: LyricExtender, LyricHyphen


Lyrics and repeats

TBC


2.1.4 Specific uses of lyrics

Often, different stanzas of one song are put to one melody in slightly differing ways. Such variations can still be captured with \lyricsto.


Divisi lyrics

You can display alternate (or divisi) lyrics by naming voice contexts and attaching lyrics to those specific contexts.

\score{ <<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    \relative c' {
      c4
      <<
        { \voiceOne c8 e }
        \new Voice = "splitpart" { \voiceTwo c4 }
      >>
      \oneVoice c4 c | c
    }
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" { we shall not o- ver- come }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "splitpart" { will }
>> }

[image of music]

You can use this trick to display different lyrics for a repeated section.

\score{ <<
  \new Voice = "melody" \relative c' {
    c2 e | g e | c1 |
    \new Voice = "verse" \repeat volta 2 {c4 d e f | g1 | }
    a2 b | c1}
  \new Lyrics = "mainlyrics" \lyricsto melody \lyricmode {
    do mi sol mi do
    la si do }
  \context Lyrics = "mainlyrics" \lyricsto verse \lyricmode {
   do re mi fa sol }
  \new Lyrics = "repeatlyrics" \lyricsto verse \lyricmode {
   dodo rere mimi fafa solsol }
>>
}

[image of music]


Lyrics independent of notes

In some complex vocal music, it may be desirable to place lyrics completely independently of notes. Music defined inside lyricrhythm disappears into the Devnull context, but the rhythms can still be used to place the lyrics.

voice = {
  c''2
  \tag #'music { c''2 }
  \tag #'lyricrhythm { c''4. c''8 }
  d''1
}

lyr = \lyricmode { I like my cat! }

<<
  \new Staff \keepWithTag #'music \voice
  \new Devnull="nowhere" \keepWithTag #'lyricrhythm \voice
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "nowhere" \lyr
  \new Staff { c'8 c' c' c' c' c' c' c'
  c' c' c' c' c' c' c' c' }
>>

[image of music]

This method is recommended only if the music in the Devnull context does not contain melismata. Melismata are defined by the Voice context. Connecting lyrics to a Devnull context makes the voice/lyrics links to get lost, and so does the info on melismata. Therefore, if you link lyrics to a Devnull context, the implicit melismata get ignored.


Spacing out syllables

To increase the spacing between lyrics, set the minimum-distance property of LyricSpace.

{
  c c c c
  \override Lyrics.LyricSpace #'minimum-distance = #1.0
  c c c c
}
\addlyrics {
  longtext longtext longtext longtext
  longtext longtext longtext longtext
}

[image of music]

To make this change for all lyrics in the score, set the property in the layout.

\score {
  \relative c' {
  c c c c
  c c c c
  }
  \addlyrics {
  longtext longtext longtext longtext
  longtext longtext longtext longtext
  }
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Lyrics
      \override LyricSpace #'minimum-distance = #1.0
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Checking to make sure that text scripts and lyrics are within the margins is a relatively large computational task. To speed up processing, LilyPond does not perform such calculations by default; to enable it, use

\override Score.PaperColumn #'keep-inside-line = ##t

To make lyrics avoid bar lines as well, use

\layout {
  \context {
    \Lyrics
      \consists "Bar_engraver"
      \consists "Separating_line_group_engraver"
      \override BarLine #'transparent = ##t
  }
}

Centering lyrics between staves

TBC


2.1.5 Stanzas


Adding stanza numbers

Stanza numbers can be added by setting stanza, e.g.,

\new Voice {
  \time 3/4 g2 e4 a2 f4 g2.
} \addlyrics {
  \set stanza = "1. "
  Hi, my name is Bert.
} \addlyrics {
  \set stanza = "2. "
  Oh, ché -- ri, je t'aime
}

[image of music]

These numbers are put just before the start of the first syllable.


Adding dynamics marks to stanzas

Stanzas differing in loudness may be indicated by putting a dynamics mark before each stanza. In LilyPond, everything coming in front of a stanza goes into the StanzaNumber object; dynamics marks are no different. For technical reasons, you have to set the stanza outside \lyricmode:

text = {
  \set stanza = \markup { \dynamic "ff" "1. " }
  \lyricmode {
    Big bang
  }
}

<<
  \new Voice = "tune" {
    \time 3/4
    g'4 c'2
  }
\new Lyrics \lyricsto "tune" \text
>>

[image of music]


Adding singers’ names to stanzas

Names of singers can also be added. They are printed at the start of the line, just like instrument names. They are created by setting vocalName. A short version may be entered as shortVocalName.

\new Voice {
  \time 3/4 g2 e4 a2 f4 g2.
} \addlyrics {
  \set vocalName = "Bert "
  Hi, my name is Bert.
} \addlyrics {
  \set vocalName = "Ernie "
  Oh, ché -- ri, je t'aime
}

[image of music]


Stanzas with different rhythms

Ignoring melismata

One possibility is that the text has a melisma in one stanza, but multiple syllables in another one. One solution is to make the faster voice ignore the melisma. This is done by setting ignoreMelismata in the Lyrics context.

<<
  \relative c' \new Voice = "lahlah" {
    \set Staff.autoBeaming = ##f
    c4
    \slurDotted
    f8.[( g16])
    a4
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "lahlah" {
    more slow -- ly
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "lahlah" {
    go
    \set ignoreMelismata = ##t
    fas -- ter
    \unset ignoreMelismata
    still
  }
>>

[image of music]

Switching to an alternative melody

More complex variations in text underlay are possible. It is possible to switch the melody for a line of lyrics during the text. This is done by setting the associatedVoice property. In the example

[image of music]

the text for the first stanza is set to a melody called ‘lahlah’,

\new Lyrics \lyricsto "lahlah" {
  Ju -- ras -- sic Park
}

The second stanza initially is set to the lahlah context, but for the syllable ‘ran’, it switches to a different melody. This is achieved with

\set associatedVoice = alternative

Here, alternative is the name of the Voice context containing the triplet.

This command must be one syllable too early, before ‘Ty’ in this case. In other words, changing the associatedVoice happens one step later than expected. This is for technical reasons, and it is not a bug.

\new Lyrics \lyricsto "lahlah" {
  \set associatedVoice = alternative % applies to "ran"
  Ty --
  ran --
  no --
  \set associatedVoice = lahlah % applies to "rus"
  sau -- rus Rex
}

The underlay is switched back to the starting situation by assigning lahlah to associatedVoice.


Printing stanzas at the end

Sometimes it is appropriate to have one stanza set to the music, and the rest added in verse form at the end of the piece. This can be accomplished by adding the extra verses into a \markup section outside of the main score block. Notice that there are two different ways to force linebreaks when using \markup.

melody = \relative c' {
e d c d | e e e e |
d d e d | c1 |
}

text = \lyricmode {
\set stanza = "1." Ma- ry had a lit- tle lamb,
its fleece was white as snow.
}

\score{ <<
  \new Voice = "one" { \melody }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "one" \text
>>
  \layout { }
}
\markup { \column{
  \line{ Verse 2. }
  \line{ All the children laughed and played }
  \line{ To see a lamb at school. }
  }
}
\markup{
  \wordwrap-string #"
  Verse 3.

  Mary took it home again,

  It was against the rule."
}

[image of music]


Printing stanzas at the end in multiple columns

When a piece of music has many verses, they are often printed in multiple columns across the page. An outdented verse number often introduces each verse. The following example shows how to produce such output in LilyPond.

melody = \relative c' {
  c c c c | d d d d
}

text = \lyricmode {
  \set stanza = "1." This is verse one.
  It has two lines.
}

\score{ <<
    \new Voice = "one" { \melody }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "one" \text
   >>
  \layout { }
}

\markup {
  \fill-line {
    \hspace #0.1 % moves the column off the left margin;
        % can be removed if space on the page is tight
     \column {
      \line { \bold "2."
        \column {
          "This is verse two."
          "It has two lines."
        }
      }
      \hspace #0.1 % adds vertical spacing between verses
      \line { \bold "3."
        \column {
          "This is verse three."
          "It has two lines."
        }
      }
    }
    \hspace #0.1  % adds horizontal spacing between columns;
        % if they are still too close, add more " " pairs
        % until the result looks good
     \column {
      \line { \bold "4."
        \column {
          "This is verse four."
          "It has two lines."
        }
      }
      \hspace #0.1 % adds vertical spacing between verses
      \line { \bold "5."
        \column {
          "This is verse five."
          "It has two lines."
        }
      }
    }
  \hspace #0.1 % gives some extra space on the right margin;
      % can be removed if page space is tight
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Internals Reference: LyricText, StanzaNumber.


2.2 Keyboard and other multi-staff instruments

[image of music]

This section discusses several aspects of music notation that are unique to keyboard instruments and other instruments notated on many staves, such as harps and vibraphones. For the purposes of this section this entire group of multi-staff instruments is called “keyboards” for short, even though some of them do not have a keyboard.


2.2.1 Common notation for keyboards

This section discusses notation issues that may arise for most many-stringed instruments.


References for keyboards

Keyboard instruments are usually notated with Piano staves. These are two or more normal staves coupled with a brace. The same notation is also used for other keyed instruments. Organ music is normally written with two staves inside a PianoStaff group and third, normal staff for the pedals.

The staves in keyboard music are largely independent, but sometimes voices can cross between the two staves. This section discusses notation techniques particular to keyboard music.

Several common issues in keyboard music are covered elsewhere:

See also

Learning Manual: Real music example, Other uses for tweaks.

Notation Reference: Grouping staves, Instrument names, Collision resolution, Writing music in parallel, Fingering instructions, List of articulations, Grid lines, Ties, Arpeggio, Tremolo repeats.

Internals Reference: PianoStaff.

Snippets: Keyboards.

Known issues and warnings

Dynamics are not automatically centered, but workarounds do exist. One option is the ‘piano centered dynamics’ template under Piano templates; another option is to increase the staff-padding of dynamics as discussed in objects Moving objects.


Changing staff manually

Voices can be switched between staves manually, using the command

\change Staff = staffname

The string staffname is the name of the staff. It switches the current voice from its current staff to the staff called staffname. Typical values for staffname are "up" and "down", or "RH" and "LH".

Cross-staff notes are beamed automatically:

\new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff = "up" {
    <e' c'>8
    \change Staff = "down"
    g8 fis g
    \change Staff = "up"
    <g'' c''>8
    \change Staff = "down"
    e8 dis e
    \change Staff = "up"
  }
  \new Staff = "down" {
    \clef bass
    % keep staff alive
    s1
  }
>>

[image of music]

If the beaming needs to be tweaked, make any changes to the stem directions first. The beam positions are then measured from the center of the staff that is closest to the beam. For a simple example of beam tweaking, see notation Fixing overlapping notation.

See also

Learning Manual: Fixing overlapping notation.

Notation Reference: Stems, Automatic beams.

Snippets: Keyboards.

Internals Reference: Beam, ContextChange.


Changing staff automatically

Voices can be made to switch automatically between the top and the bottom staff. The syntax for this is

\autochange …music

This will create two staves inside the current staff group (usually a PianoStaff), called "up" and "down". The lower staff will be in the bass clef by default. The autochanger switches on the basis of the pitch (middle C is the turning point), and it looks ahead skipping over rests to switch in advance.

\new PianoStaff {
  \autochange {
    g4 a b c'
    d'4 r a g
  }
}

[image of music]

A \relative section that is outside of \autochange has no effect on the pitches of the music, so if necessary, put \relative inside \autochange.

If additional control is needed over the individual staves, they can be created manually with the names "up" and "down". The \autochange command will then switch its voice between the existing staves. For example, this is necessary to place a key signature in the lower staff:

\new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff = "up" {
    \new Voice = "melOne" {
      \key g \major
      \autochange \relative c' {
        g8 b a c b d c e
        d8 r fis, g a2
      }
    }
  }
  \new Staff = "down" {
    \key g \major
    \clef bass
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Changing staff manually.

Snippets: Keyboards.

Internals Reference: AutoChangeMusic.

Known issues and warnings

The staff switches may not end up in optimal places. For high quality output, staff switches should be specified manually.

Chords will not be split across the staves; they will be assigned to a staff based on the first note named in the chord construct.


Staff-change lines

Whenever a voice switches to another staff, a line connecting the notes can be printed automatically:

\new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff = "one" {
    \showStaffSwitch
    c1
    \change Staff = "two"
    b2 a
  }
  \new Staff = "two" {
    \clef bass
    s1*2
  }
>>

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\showStaffSwitch, \hideStaffSwitch.

See also

Snippets: Keyboards.

Internals Reference: Note_head_line_engraver, VoiceFollower.


Cross-staff stems

Chords that cross staves may be produced:

\new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' {
      f8 e4 d8 d f e4
    }
  }
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' {
      << {
        \clef bass
        % stems may overlap the other staff
        \override Stem #'cross-staff = ##t
        % extend the stems to reach other other staff
        \override Stem #'length = #12
        % do not print extra flags
        \override Stem #'flag-style = #'no-flag
        % prevent beaming as needed
        a8 g4 f8 f bes\noBeam g4
      }
      \\
      {
        f,2 bes4 c
      } >>
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Indicating cross-staff chords with arpeggio bracket

An arpeggio bracket can indicate that notes on two different staves are to be played with the same hand. In order to do this, the PianoStaff must be set to accept cross-staff arpeggios and the arpeggios must be set to the bracket shape in the PianoStaff context.

(Debussy, Les collines d’Anacapri, m. 65)

\paper { ragged-right = ##t }

\new PianoStaff <<
  \set PianoStaff.connectArpeggios = ##t
  \override PianoStaff.Arpeggio #'stencil = #ly:arpeggio::brew-chord-bracket
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' {
      \key b \major
      \time 6/8
      b8-.(\arpeggio fis'-.\> cis-. e-. gis-. b-.)\!\fermata^\laissezVibrer
      \bar "||"
    }
  }
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' {
      \clef bass
      \key b \major
      <<
        {
          <a e cis>2.\arpeggio
        }
        \\
        {
          <a, e a,>2.
        }
      >>
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Keyboards.

Internals Reference: Stem.


2.2.2 Piano

This section discusses notation issues that relate most directly to the piano.


Piano pedals

Pianos generally have three pedals that alter the way sound is produced: sustain, sostenuto (sos.), and una corda (U.C.). Sustain pedals are also found on vibraphones and celestas.

c4\sustainOn d e g
<c, f a>1\sustainOff
c4\sostenutoOn e g c,
<bes d f>1\sostenutoOff
c4\unaCorda d e g
<d fis a>1\treCorde

[image of music]

There are three styles of pedal indications: text, bracket, and mixed. The sustain pedal and the una corda pedal use the text style by default while the sostenuto pedal uses mixed by default.

c4\sustainOn g c2\sustainOff
\set Staff.pedalSustainStyle = #'mixed
c4\sustainOn g c d
d\sustainOff\sustainOn g, c2\sustainOff
\set Staff.pedalSustainStyle = #'bracket
c4\sustainOn g c d
d\sustainOff\sustainOn g, c2
\bar "|."

[image of music]

The placement of the pedal commands matches the physical movement of the sustain pedal during piano performance. Pedalling to the final bar line is indicated by omitting the final pedal up command.

See also

Notation Reference: Ties.

Snippets: Keyboards.

Internals Reference: SustainPedal, SustainPedalLineSpanner, SustainEvent, SostenutoPedal, SostenutoPedalLineSpanner, SostenutoEvent, UnaCordaPedal, UnaCordaPedalLineSpanner, UnaCordaEvent, PianoPedalBracket, Piano_pedal_engraver.


2.2.3 Accordion

This section discusses notation that is unique to the accordion.


Discant symbols

Accordions are often built with more than one set of reeds that may be in unison with, an octave above, or an octave below the written pitch. Each accordion maker has different names for the shifts that select the various reed combinations, such as oboe, musette, or bandonium, so a system of symbols has come into use to simplify the performance instructions.

Selected Snippets

Accordion-discant symbols

Accordion discant-specific symbols are added using \markup. The vertical placement of the symbols can be tweaked by changing the \raise arguments.

discant = \markup {
  \musicglyph #"accordion.accDiscant"
}
dot = \markup {
  \musicglyph #"accordion.accDot"
}

\layout { ragged-right = ##t }

% 16 voets register
accBasson = ^\markup {
  \combine
  \discant
  \raise #0.5 \dot
}

% een korig 8 en 16 voets register
accBandon = ^\markup {
  \combine
    \discant
    \combine
      \raise #0.5 \dot
      \raise #1.5 \dot
}

accVCello = ^\markup {
  \combine
    \discant
    \combine
      \raise #0.5 \dot
      \combine
        \raise #1.5 \dot
        \translate #'(1 . 0) \raise #1.5 \dot
}

% 4-8-16 voets register
accHarmon = ^\markup {
  \combine
    \discant
    \combine
      \raise #0.5 \dot
      \combine
        \raise #1.5 \dot
        \raise #2.5 \dot
}

accTrombon = ^\markup {
  \combine
    \discant
    \combine
      \raise #0.5 \dot
      \combine
        \raise #1.5 \dot
        \combine
          \translate #'(1 . 0) \raise #1.5 \dot
          \translate #'(-1 . 0) \raise #1.5 \dot
}

% eenkorig 4 en 16 voets register
accOrgan = ^\markup {
  \combine
    \discant
    \combine
      \raise #0.5 \dot
      \raise #2.5 \dot
}

accMaster = ^\markup {
  \combine
    \discant
    \combine
      \raise #0.5 \dot
      \combine
        \raise #1.5 \dot
        \combine
          \translate #'(1 . 0) \raise #1.5 \dot
          \combine
            \translate #'(-1 . 0) \raise #1.5 \dot
            \raise #2.5 \dot
}

accAccord = ^\markup {
  \combine
    \discant
    \combine
      \raise #1.5 \dot
      \combine
        \translate #'(1 . 0) \raise #1.5 \dot
        \combine
          \translate #'(-1 . 0) \raise #1.5 \dot
          \raise #2.5 \dot
}

accMusette = ^\markup {
  \combine
    \discant
    \combine
      \raise #1.5 \dot
      \combine
        \translate #'(1 . 0) \raise #1.5 \dot
        \translate #'(-1 . 0) \raise #1.5 \dot
}

accCeleste = ^\markup {
  \combine
    \discant
    \combine
      \raise #1.5 \dot
      \translate #'(-1 . 0) \raise #1.5 \dot
}

accOboe = ^\markup {
  \combine
    \discant
    \combine
      \raise #1.5 \dot
      \raise #2.5 \dot
}

accClarin = ^\markup {
  \combine
    \discant
    \raise #1.5 \dot
}

accPiccolo = ^\markup {
    \combine
       \discant 
       \raise #2.5 \dot
}

accViolin = ^\markup {
  \combine
    \discant
    \combine
      \raise #1.5 \dot
      \combine
        \translate #'(1 . 0) \raise #1.5 \dot
        \raise #2.5 \dot
}

\relative c'' {
  c4 d\accBasson e f
  c4 d\accBandon e f
  c4 d\accVCello e f
  c4 d\accHarmon e f
  c4 d\accTrombon e f
  \break
  c4 d\accOrgan e f
  c4 d\accMaster e f
  c4 d\accAccord e f
  c4 d\accMusette e f
  c4 d\accCeleste e f
  \break
  c4 d\accOboe e f
  c4 d\accClarin e f
  c4 d\accPiccolo e f
  c4 d\accViolin e f
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Keyboards.


2.2.4 Harp

TBC


2.3 Unfretted string instruments

[image of music]

This section provides information and references which are helpful when writing for unfretted string instruments, principally orchestral strings.


2.3.1 Common notation for unfretted strings

There is little specialist notation for unfretted string instruments. The music is notated on a single staff, and usually only a single voice is required. Two voices might be required for some double-stopped or divisi passages.


References for unfretted strings

Most of the notation which is useful for orchestral strings and other bowed instruments is covered elsewhere:

See also

Learning Manual: String quartet.

Notation Reference: Text scripts, Fingering instructions, Chorded notes, Arpeggio.

Snippets: Unfretted strings.


Bowing indications

Bowing indications are created as articulations, which are described in Articulations and ornamentations.

The bowing commands, \upbow and \downbow, are used with slurs as follows:

c4(\downbow d) e(\upbow f)

[image of music]

and the following example shows three ways in which an open A string on a violin might be indicated:

a4 \open
a^\markup { \teeny "II" }
a2^\markup { \small "sul A" }

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\downbow, \upbow, \open.

See also

Notation Reference: Articulations and ornamentations, Slurs.


Harmonics

Natural harmonics

Natural harmonics can be notated in several ways. A diamond-shaped note head generally means to touch the string where you would stop the note if it were not a diamond.

Note: Harmonics must be defined inside a chord construct even if there is only a single note.

Dotted harmonics indicated with \harmonic do not show the dots. The context property harmonicDots should be set if dots are required.

<d\harmonic>4 <e\harmonic>2.
\set harmonicDots = ##t
<d\harmonic>4 <e\harmonic>2.

[image of music]

Alternatively a normal note head is shown at the pitch to be sounded together with a small circle to indicate it should be played as a harmonic:

d2^\flageolet d_\flageolet

[image of music]

A smaller circle may be created, see the snippet list in References for unfretted strings.

Artificial harmonics

Artificial harmonics are notated with two notes, one with a normal note head indicating the stopped position and one with an open diamond note head to indicate the harmonic position.

<e a\harmonic>2  <c g'\harmonic>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: harmonics.

Notation Reference: Special note heads, References for unfretted strings.


Snap (Bartók) pizzicato

Selected Snippets

Snap-pizzicato markup ("Bartok pizzicato")

A snap-pizzicato (also known as "Bartok pizzicato") is a "strong pizzicato where the string is plucked vertically by snapping and rebounds off the fingerboard of the instrument" (Wikipedia). It is denoted by a cicle with a vertical line going from the center upwards outside the circle. While Lilypond does not have a pre-defined command to created this markup, it is easy to create a definition and place it directly into the lilypond file.

#(define-markup-command (snappizz layout props) ()
  (interpret-markup layout props
    (markup #:stencil
      (ly:stencil-translate-axis
        (ly:stencil-add
          (make-circle-stencil 0.7 0.1 #f)
          (ly:make-stencil
            (list 'draw-line 0.1 0 0.1 0 1)
            '(-0.1 . 0.1) '(0.1 . 1)))
        0.7 X))))

snapPizzicato = \markup \snappizz

% now it can be used as \snappizzicato after the note/chord
% Note that a direction (-, ^ or _) is required.
\relative c' {
  c4^\snapPizzicato
  % This does NOT work:
  %<c e g>\snapPizzicato
  <c' e g>-\snapPizzicato
  <c' e g>^\snapPizzicato
  <c, e g>_\snapPizzicato
}

[image of music]


2.4 Fretted string instruments

[image of music]

This section discusses several aspects of music notation that are unique to fretted string instruments.


2.4.1 Common notation for fretted strings

This section discusses common notation that is unique to fretted string instruments.


References for fretted strings

Music for fretted string instruments is normally notated on a single staff, either in traditional music notation or in tablature. Sometimes the two types are combined, and it is especially common in popular music to use chord diagrams above a staff of traditional notation. The guitar and the banjo are transposing instruments, sounding an octave lower than written. Scores for these instruments should use the "treble_8" clef. Some other elements pertinent to fretted string instruments are covered elsewhere:

See also

Notation Reference: Fingering instructions, Ties, Collision resolution, Instrument names, Writing music in parallel, Arpeggio, List of articulations, Clef.


String number indications

The string on which a note should be played may be indicated by appending \number to a note inside a chord construct <>.

Note: String numbers must be defined inside a chord construct even if there is only a single note.

\clef "treble_8"
<c\5>4 <e\4> <g\3>2
<c,\5 e\4 g\3>1

[image of music]

When fingerings and string indications are used together, their placement is controlled by the order in which the two items appear in the code:

\clef "treble_8"
<g\3-0>2
<g-0\3>

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Controlling the placement of chord fingerings

The placement of fingering numbers can be controlled precisely.

\relative c' {
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(left)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(down)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(down right up)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(up)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(left)
  <c-1>2
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(down)
  <e-3>2
}

[image of music]

Allowing fingerings to be printed inside the staff

By default, vertically oriented fingerings are positioned outside the staff. However, this behavior can be canceled.

\relative c' {
  <c-1 e-2 g-3 b-5>2
  \once \override Fingering #'staff-padding = #'()
  <c-1 e-2 g-3 b-5>2
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Fingering instructions.

Snippets: Fretted strings.

Internals Reference: StringNumber, Fingering.


Default tablatures

Tablature notation is used for notating music for plucked string instruments. Pitches are not denoted with note heads, but by numbers indicating on which string and fret a note must be played. LilyPond offers limited support for tablature.

The string number associated with a note is given as a backslash followed by a number. By default, string 1 is the highest, and the tuning defaults to the standard guitar tuning (with 6 strings). The notes are printed as tablature, by using TabStaff and TabVoice contexts

\new TabStaff {
  a,4\5 c'\2 a\3 e'\1
  e\4 c'\2 a\3 e'\1
}

[image of music]

When no string is specified for a note, the note is assigned to the highest string that can generate the note with a fret number greater than or equal to the value of minimumFret. The default value for minimumFret is 0.

\new StaffGroup <<
   \new Staff \relative c {
     \clef "treble_8"
     c16 d e f g4
     c,16 d e f g4
   }
   \new TabStaff \relative c {
     c16 d e f g4
     \set TabStaff.minimumFret = #5
     c,16 d e f g4
   }
>>

[image of music]

Harmonic indications and slides can be added to tablature notation.

\new TabStaff {
  \new TabVoice {
    <c g'\harmonic> d\2\glissando e\2
  }
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Stem and beam behavior in tablature

The direction of stems is controlled the same way in tablature as in traditional notation. Beams can be made horizontal, as shown in this example.

\new TabStaff {
  \relative c {
    g16 b d g b d g b
    \stemDown
    \override Beam #'damping = #+inf.0
    g,,16 b d g b d g b
  }
}

[image of music]

Polyphony in tablature

Polyphony is created the same way in a TabStaff as in a regular staff.

upper = \relative c' {
  \time 12/8
  \key e \minor
  \voiceOne
  r4. r8 e, fis g16 b g e e' b c b a g fis e
}

lower = \relative c {
  \key e \minor
  \voiceTwo
  r16 e d c b a g4 fis8 e fis g a b c
}

\score {
  <<
    \new StaffGroup = "tab with traditional" <<
      \new Staff = "guitar traditional" <<
        \clef "treble_8"
        \context Voice = "upper" \upper
        \context Voice = "lower" \lower
      >>
      \new TabStaff = "guitar tab" <<
        \context TabVoice = "upper" \upper
        \context TabVoice = "lower" \lower
      >>
    >>
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Stems.

Snippets: Fretted strings.

Internals Reference: TabNoteHead, TabStaff, TabVoice, Beam.

Known issues and warnings

Chords are not handled in a special way, and hence the automatic string selector may easily select the same string for two notes in a chord.

In order to handle \partcombine, a TabStaff must use specially-created voices:

melodia = \partcombine { e4 g g g }{ e4 e e e }
<<
  \new TabStaff <<
    \new TabVoice = "one" s1
    \new TabVoice = "two" s1
    \new TabVoice = "shared" s1
    \new TabVoice = "solo" s1
    { \melodia }
  >>
>>

[image of music]

Guitar special effects are limited to harmonics and slides.


Custom tablatures

LilyPond tabulature automatically calculates the fret for a note based on the string to which the note is assigned. In order to do this, the tuning of the strings must be specified. The tuning of the strings is given in the StringTunings property.

LilyPond comes with predefined string tunings for banjo, mandolin, guitar and bass guitar. Lilypond automatically sets the correct transposition for predefined tunings. The following example is for bass guitar, which sounds an octave lower than written.

<<
  \new Staff {
    \clef "bass_8"
    \relative c, {
      c4 d e f
    }
  }
  \new TabStaff {
    \set TabStaff.stringTunings = #bass-tuning
    \relative c, {
      c4 d e f
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

The default string tuning is guitar-tuning, which is the standard EADGBE tuning. Some other predefined tunings are guitar-open-g-tuning, mandolin-tuning and banjo-open-g-tuning. The predefined string tunings are found in scm/output-lib.scm.

A string tuning is a Scheme list of string pitches, one for each string, ordered by string number from 1 to N, where string 1 is at the top of the tablature staff and string N is at the bottom. This ordinarily results in ordering from highest pitch to lowest pitch, but some instruments (e.g. ukulele) do not have strings ordered by pitch.

A string pitch in a string tuning list is the pitch difference of the open string from middle C measured in semitones. The string pitch must be an integer. Lilypond calculates the actual pitch of the string by adding the string tuning pitch to the actual pitch for middle C.

LilyPond automatically calculates the number of strings in the TabStaff as the number of elements in stringTunings.

Any desired string tuning can be created. For example, we can define a string tuning for a four-string instrument with pitches of a'', d'', g', and c':

mynotes = {
    c'4 e' g' c'' |
    e'' g'' b'' c'''
}

<<
  \new Staff {
    \clef treble
    \mynotes
  }
  \new TabStaff {
    \set TabStaff.stringTunings = #'(21 14 7 0)
    \mynotes
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Installed Files: ‘scm/output-lib.scm’.

Snippets: Fretted strings.

Internals Reference: Tab_note_heads_engraver.


Fret diagram markups

Fret diagrams can be added to music as a markup to the desired note. The markup contains information about the desired fret diagram. There are three different fret-diagram markup interfaces: standard, terse, and verbose. The three interfaces produce equivalent markups, but have varying amounts of information in the markup string. Details about the markup interfaces are found at Text markup commands.

The standard fret diagram markup string indicates the string number and the fret number for each dot to be placed on the string. In addition, open and unplayed (muted) strings can be indicated.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       c1 d:m
     }
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    < c e g c' e' > 1 ^\markup
      \fret-diagram #"6-x;5-3;4-2;3-o;2-1;1-o;"
    < d a d' f'> ^\markup
      \fret-diagram #"6-x;5-x;4-o;3-2;2-3;1-1;"
  }
>>

[image of music]

Barre indications can be added to the diagram from the fret-diagram markup string.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       f1 g
     }
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    < f, c f a c' f'>1 ^\markup
      \fret-diagram #"c:6-1-1;6-1;5-3;4-3;3-2;2-1;1-1;"
    < g, d g b d' g'> ^\markup
      \fret-diagram #"c:6-1-3;6-3;5-5;4-5;3-4;2-3;1-3;"
  }
>>

[image of music]

The size of the fret diagram, and the number of frets in the diagram can be changed in the fret-diagram markup string.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       f1 g
     }
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    < f, c f a c' f'>1 ^\markup
      \fret-diagram #"s:1.5;c:6-1-1;6-1;5-3;4-3;3-2;2-1;1-1;"
    < g, b, d g b g'> ^\markup
      \fret-diagram #"h:6;6-3;5-2;4-o;3-o;2-o;1-3;"
  }
>>

[image of music]

The number of strings in a fret diagram can be changed to accomodate different instruments such as banjos and ukeleles with the fret-diagram markup string.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       a1
     }
  }
  \context Staff {
        %% A chord for ukelele
    a'1 ^\markup \fret-diagram #"w:4;4-2-2;3-1-1;2-o;1-o;"
  }
>>

[image of music]

Fingering indications can be added, and the location of fingering labels can be controlled by the fret-diagram markup string.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       c1 d:m
     }
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    < c e g c' e' > 1 ^\markup
      \fret-diagram #"f:1;6-x;5-3-3;4-2-2;3-o;2-1-1;1-o;"
    < d a d' f'> ^\markup
      \fret-diagram #"f:2;6-x;5-x;4-o;3-2-2;2-3-3;1-1-1;"
  }
>>

[image of music]

Dot radius and dot position can be controlled with the fret-diagram markup string.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       c1 d:m
     }
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    < c e g c' e' > 1 ^\markup
      \fret-diagram #"d:0.35;6-x;5-3;4-2;3-o;2-1;1-o;"
    < d a d' f'> ^\markup
      \fret-diagram #"p:0.2;6-x;5-x;4-o;3-2;2-3;1-1;"
  }
>>

[image of music]

The fret-diagram-terse markup string omits string numbers; the string number is implied by the presence of semicolons. There is one semicolon for each string in the diagram. The first semicolon corresponds to the highest string number and the last semicolon corresponds to the first string. Mute strings, open strings, and fret numbers can be indicated.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       c1 d:m
     }
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    < c e g c' e' > 1 ^\markup
      \fret-diagram-terse #"x;3;2;o;1;o;"
    < d a d' f'> ^\markup
      \fret-diagram-terse #"x;x;o;2;3;1;"
  }
>>

[image of music]

Barre indicators can be included in the fret-diagram-terse markup string.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       f1 g
     }
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    < f, c f a c' f'>1 ^\markup
      \fret-diagram-terse #"1-(;3;3;2;1;1-);"
    < g, d g b d' g'> ^\markup
      \fret-diagram-terse #"3-(;5;5;4;3;3-);"
  }
>>

[image of music]

Fingering indications can be included in the fret-diagram-terse markup string.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       c1 d:m
     }
  }
  \context Staff {
    \override Voice.TextScript
      #'(fret-diagram-details finger-code) = #'below-string
    \clef "treble_8"
    < c e g c' e' > 1 ^\markup
      \fret-diagram-terse #"x;3-3;2-2;o;1-1;o;"
    < d a d' f'> ^\markup
      \fret-diagram-terse #"x;x;o;2-2;3-3;1-1;"
  }
>>

[image of music]

Other fret diagram properties must be adjusted using \override when using the fret-diagram-terse markup.

The fret-diagram-verbose markup string is in the format of a Scheme list. Each element of the list indicates an item to be placed on the fret diagram.

<<  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       c1 d:m
     }
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    < c e g c' e' > 1 ^\markup
      \fret-diagram-verbose #'(
        (mute 6)
        (place-fret 5 3)
        (place-fret 4 2)
        (open 3)
        (place-fret 2 1)
        (open 1)
      )
    < d a d' f'> ^\markup
      \fret-diagram-verbose #'(
        (mute 6)
        (mute 5)
        (open 4)
        (place-fret 3 2)
        (place-fret 2 3)
        (place-fret 1 1)
      )
  }
>>

[image of music]

Fingering indications and barres can be included in a fret-diagram-verbose markup string.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       f1 g
     }
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    \override Voice.TextScript
      #'(fret-diagram-details finger-code) = #'below-string

    < f, c f a c' f'>1 ^\markup
      \fret-diagram-verbose #'(
        (place-fret 6 1)
        (place-fret 5 3)
        (place-fret 4 3)
        (place-fret 3 2)
        (place-fret 2 1)
        (place-fret 1 1)
        (barre 6 1 1)
      )
    < g, b, d g b g'> ^\markup
      \fret-diagram-verbose #'(
        (place-fret 6 3 2)
        (place-fret 5 2 1)
        (open 4)
        (open 3)
        (open 2)
        (place-fret 1 3 3)
      )
  }
>>

[image of music]

All other fret diagram properties must be adjusted using \override when using the fret-diagram-verbose markup.

The graphical layout of a fret diagram can be customized according to user preference through the properties of the fret-diagram-interface. Details are found at fret-diagram-interface. For a fret diagram markup, the interface properties belong to Voice.TextScript.

Selected Snippets

Customizing markup fret diagrams

Fret diagram properties can be set through 'fret-diagram-details. For markup fret diagrams, overrides can be applied to the Voice.TextScript object or directly to the markup.

<<
  \chords { c1 c c d }
  
  \new Voice = "mel" {
    \textLengthOn
    % Set global properties of fret diagram
    \override TextScript #'size = #'1.2
    \override TextScript
      #'(fret-diagram-details finger-code) = #'in-dot
    \override TextScript
      #'(fret-diagram-details dot-color) = #'white

    %% C major for guitar, no barre, using defaults
       % terse style
    c'1^\markup { \fret-diagram-terse #"x;3-3;2-2;o;1-1;o;" }

    %% C major for guitar, barred on third fret
       % verbose style
       % size 1.0
       % roman fret label, finger labels below string, straight barre
    c'1^\markup {
      % standard size
      \override #'(size . 1.0) {
        \override #'(fret-diagram-details . (
                     (number-type . roman-lower)
                     (finger-code . in-dot)
                     (barre-type . straight))) {
          \fret-diagram-verbose #'((mute 6)
                                   (place-fret 5 3 1)
                                   (place-fret 4 5 2)
                                   (place-fret 3 5 3)
                                   (place-fret 2 5 4)
                                   (place-fret 1 3 1)
                                   (barre 5 1 3))
        }
      }
    }

    %% C major for guitar, barred on third fret
       % verbose style
       % landscape orientation, arabic numbers, M for mute string
       % no barre, fret label down or left, small mute label font
    c'1^\markup {
      \override #'(fret-diagram-details . (
                   (finger-code . below-string)
                   (number-type . arabic)
                   (label-dir . -1)
                   (mute-string . "M")
                   (orientation . landscape)
                   (barre-type . none)
                   (xo-font-magnification . 0.4)
                   (xo-padding . 0.3))) {
        \fret-diagram-verbose #'((mute 6)
                                 (place-fret 5 3 1)
                                 (place-fret 4 5 2)
                                 (place-fret 3 5 3)
                                 (place-fret 2 5 4)
                                 (place-fret 1 3 1)
                                 (barre 5 1 3))
      }
    }

    %% simple D chord
       % terse style
       % larger dots, centered dots, fewer frets
       % label below string
    d'1^\markup {
      \override #'(fret-diagram-details . (
                   (finger-code . below-string)
                   (dot-radius . 0.35)
                   (dot-position . 0.5)
                   (fret-count . 3))) {
        \fret-diagram-terse #"x;x;o;2-1;3-2;2-3;"
      }
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Text markup commands.

Snippets: Fretted strings.

Internals Reference: fret-diagram-interface.


Predefined fret diagrams

Fret diagrams can be displayed using the FretBoards context. By default, the FretBoards context will display fret diagrams that are stored in a lookup table:

\include "predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly"
\context FretBoards {
  \chordmode {
    c1 d
  }
}

[image of music]

The default predefined fret diagrams are contained in the file predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly. Fret diagrams are stored based on the pitches of a chord and the value of stringTunings that is currently in use. predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly contains predefined fret diagrams only for guitar-tuning. Predefined fret diagrams can be added for other instruments or other tunings by following the examples found in predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly.

Chord pitches can be entered either as simultaneous music or using chord mode (see Chord mode overview).

\include "predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly"
\context FretBoards {
  \chordmode {c1}
  <c' e' g'>1
}

[image of music]

It is common that both chord names and fret diagrams are displayed together. This is achieved by putting a ChordNames context in parallel with a FretBoards context and giving both contexts the same music.

\include "predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly"
mychords = \chordmode{
  c1 f g
}

<<
  \context ChordNames {
    \mychords
  }
  \context FretBoards {
    \mychords
  }
>>

[image of music]

Predefined fret diagrams are transposable, as long as a diagram for the transposed chord is stored in the fret diagram table.

\include "predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly"
mychords = \chordmode{
  c1 f g
}

mychordlist = {
  \mychords
  \transpose c e { \mychords}
}
<<
  \context ChordNames {
    \mychordlist
  }
  \context FretBoards {
    \mychordlist
  }
>>

[image of music]

The predefined fret diagram table contains seven chords (major, minor, augmented, diminished, dominant seventh, major seventh, minor seventh) for each of 17 keys. A complete list of the predefined fret diagrams is shown in Predefined fretboard diagrams. If there is no entry in the table for a chord, the FretBoards engraver will calculate a fret-diagram using the automatic fret diagram functionality described in Automatic fret diagrams.

\include "predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly"
mychords = \chordmode{
  c1 c:9
}

<<
  \context ChordNames {
    \mychords
  }
  \context FretBoards {
    \mychords
  }
>>

[image of music]

Fret diagrams can be added to the fret diagram table. To add a diagram, you must specify the chord for the diagram, the tuning to be used, and the fret-diagram-terse definition string for the diagram.

\include "predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly"

\storePredefinedDiagram \chordmode {c:9}
                        #guitar-tuning
                        #"x;3-2;2-1;3-3;3-4;x;"

mychords = \chordmode{
  c1 c:9
}

<<
  \context ChordNames {
    \mychords
  }
  \context FretBoards {
    \mychords
  }
>>

[image of music]

Different fret diagrams for the same chord name can be stored using different octaves of pitches.

\include "predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly"

\storePredefinedDiagram \chordmode {c'}
                        #guitar-tuning
                        #(offset-fret 2 (chord-shape 'bes))

mychords = \chordmode{
  c1 c'
}

<<
  \context ChordNames {
    \mychords
  }
  \context FretBoards {
    \mychords
  }
>>

[image of music]

In addition to fret diagrams, LilyPond stores an internal list of chord shapes. The chord shapes are fret diagrams that can be shifted along the neck to different posistions to provide different chords. Chord shapes can be added to the internal list and then used to define predefined fret diagrams.

\include "predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly"

% add a new chord shape

\addChordShape #'powerf #"1-1;3-3;3-4;x;x;x;"

% add some new chords based on the power chord shape

\storePredefinedDiagram \chordmode {f'}
                        #guitar-tuning
                        #(chord-shape 'powerf)
\storePredefinedDiagram \chordmode {g'}
                        #guitar-tuning
                        #(offset-fret 2 (chord-shape 'powerf))

mychords = \chordmode{
  f1 f' g g'
}

<<
  \context ChordNames {
    \mychords
  }
  \context FretBoards {
    \mychords
  }
>>

[image of music]

The graphical layout of a fret diagram can be customized according to user preference through the properties of the fret-diagram-interface. Details are found at fret-diagram-interface. For a predefined fret diagram, the interface properties belong to FretBoards.FretBoard.

Selected Snippets

Customizing fretboard fret diagrams

Fret diagram properties can be set through 'fret-diagram-details. For FretBoard fret diagrams, overrides are applied to the FretBoards.FretBoard object. Like Voice, FretBoards is a bottom level context, therefore can be omitted in property overrides.

\include "predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly"
\storePredefinedDiagram \chordmode { c' }
                        #guitar-tuning
                        #"x;1-1-(;3-2;3-3;3-4;1-1-);"
<<
  \new ChordNames {
    \chordmode { c1 c c d }
  }
  \new FretBoards {
    % Set global properties of fret diagram
    \override FretBoards.FretBoard #'size = #'1.2
    \override FretBoard
      #'(fret-diagram-details finger-code) = #'in-dot
    \override FretBoard
      #'(fret-diagram-details dot-color) = #'white
    \chordmode {
      c
      \once \override FretBoard #'size = #'1.0
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details barre-type) = #'straight
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details dot-color) = #'black
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details finger-code) = #'below-string
      c'
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details barre-type) = #'none
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details number-type) = #'arabic
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details orientation) = #'landscape
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details mute-string) = #"M"
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details label-dir) = #LEFT
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details dot-color) = #'black
      c'
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details finger-code) = #'below-string
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details dot-radius) = #0.35
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details dot-position) = #0.5
      \once \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details fret-count) = #3
      d
    }
  }
  \new Voice {
    c'1 c' c' d'
  }
>>

[image of music]

Defining predefined fretboards for other instruments

Predefined fret diagrams can be added for new instruments in addition to the standards used for guitar. This file shows how this is done by defining a new string-tuning and a few predefined fretboards for the Venezuelan cuatro.

This file also shows how fingerings can be included in the chords used as reference points for the chord lookup, and displayed in the fret diagram and the TabStaff, but not the music.

These fretboards are not transposable because they contain string information. This is planned to be corrected in the future.

% add FretBoards for the Cuatro
%   Note: This section could be put into a separate file
%      predefined-cuatro-fretboards.ly
%      and \included into each of your compositions

cuatroTuning = #'(11 18 14 9)

dSix = { <a\4 b\1 d\3 fis\2> }
dMajor = { <a\4 d\1 d\3 fis \2> }
aMajSeven = { <a\4 cis\1 e\3 g\2> }
dMajSeven = { <a\4 c\1 d\3 fis\2> }
gMajor = { <b\4 b\1 d\3 g\2> }

\storePredefinedDiagram \dSix
                        #cuatroTuning
                        #"o;o;o;o;"
\storePredefinedDiagram \dMajor
                        #cuatroTuning
                        #"o;o;o;3-3;"
\storePredefinedDiagram \aMajSeven
                        #cuatroTuning
                        #"o;2-2;1-1;2-3;"
\storePredefinedDiagram \dMajSeven
                        #cuatroTuning
                        #"o;o;o;1-1;"
\storePredefinedDiagram \gMajor
                        #cuatroTuning
                        #"2-2;o;1-1;o;"

% end of potential include file /predefined-cuatro-fretboards.ly


#(set-global-staff-size 16)

primerosNames = \chordmode {
  d:6 d a:maj7 d:maj7 
  g
}
primeros = {
  \dSix \dMajor \aMajSeven \dMajSeven
  \gMajor
}

\score {
  <<
    \new ChordNames {
      \set chordChanges = ##t
      \primerosNames
    }

    \new Staff {
      \new Voice \with {
        \remove "New_fingering_engraver"
      } 
      \relative c'' {
        \primeros
      }
    }

    \new FretBoards {
      \set stringTunings = #cuatroTuning
      \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details string-count) = #'4
      \override FretBoard
        #'(fret-diagram-details finger-code) = #'in-dot
      \primeros
    }

    \new TabStaff \relative c'' {
      \set TabStaff.stringTunings = #cuatroTuning
      \primeros
    }
    
  >>

  \layout { 
    \context {
      \Score
      \override SpacingSpanner
        #'base-shortest-duration = #(ly:make-moment 1 16)
    }
  }
  \midi { }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Custom tablatures, Automatic fret diagrams, Chord mode overview, Predefined fretboard diagrams.

Installed Files: ‘ly/predefined-guitar-fretboards.ly’, ‘ly/predefined-guitar-ninth-fretboards.ly’.

Snippets: Fretted strings.

Internals Reference: fret-diagram-interface.


Automatic fret diagrams

Fret diagrams can be automatically created from entered notes using the FretBoards context. If no predefined diagram is available for the entered notes in the active stringTunings, this context calculates strings and frets that can be used to play the notes.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       f1 g
     }
  }
  \context FretBoards {
    < f, c f a c' f'>1
    < g,\6 b, d g b g'>
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    < f, c f a c' f'>1
    < g, b, d g b' g'>
  }
>>

[image of music]

As no predefined diagrams are loaded by default, automatic calculation of fret diagrams is the default behavior. Once default diagrams are loaded, automatic calculation can be enabled and disabled with predefined commands:

\storePredefinedDiagram <c e g c' e'>
                        #guitar-tuning
                        #"x;3-1-(;5-2;5-3;5-4;3-1-1);"
<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       c1 c c
     }
  }
  \context FretBoards {
    <c e g c' e'>1
    \predefinedFretboardsOff
    <c e g c' e'>
    \predefinedFretboardsOn
    <c e g c' e'>
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    <c e g c' e'>1
    <c e g c' e'>
    <c e g c' e'>
  }
>>

[image of music]

Sometimes the fretboard calculator will be unable to find an accceptable diagram. This can often be remedied by manually assigning a note to a string. In many cases, only one note need be manually placed on a string; the rest of the notes will then be placed appropriately by the FretBoards context.

Fingerings can be added to FretBoard fret diagrams.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       c1 d:m
     }
  }
  \context FretBoards {
    < c-3 e-2 g c'-1 e' > 1
    < d a-2 d'-3 f'-1>
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    < c e g c' e' > 1
    < d a d' f'>
  }
>>

[image of music]

The minimum fret to be used in calculating strings and frets for the FretBoard context can be set with the minimumFret property.

<<
  \context ChordNames {
     \chordmode {
       d1:m d:m
     }
  }
  \context FretBoards {
    < d a d' f'>
    \set FretBoards.minimumFret = #5
    < d a d' f'>
  }
  \context Staff {
    \clef "treble_8"
    < d a d' f'>
    < d a d' f'>
  }
>>

[image of music]

The strings and frets for the FretBoards context depend on the stringTunings property, which has the same meaning as in the TabStaff context. See Custom tablatures for information on the stringTunings property.

The graphical layout of a fret diagram can be customized according to user preference through the properties of the fret-diagram-interface. Details are found at fret-diagram-interface. For a FretBoards fret diagram, the interface properties belong to FretBoards.FretBoard.

Predefined commands

\predefinedFretboardsOff, \predefinedFretboardsOn.

See also

Notation Reference: Custom tablatures.

Snippets: Fretted strings.

Internals Reference: fret-diagram-interface.


Right-hand fingerings

Right-hand fingerings p-i-m-a must be entered within a chord construct <> for them to be printed in the score, even when applied to a single note.

Note: There must be a hyphen after the note and a space before the closing >.

\clef "treble_8"
<c-\rightHandFinger #1 >4
<e-\rightHandFinger #2 >
<g-\rightHandFinger #3 >
<c-\rightHandFinger #4 >
<c,-\rightHandFinger #1 e-\rightHandFinger #2
  g-\rightHandFinger #3 c-\rightHandFinger #4 >1

[image of music]

For convenience, you can abbreviate \rightHandFinger to something short, for example RH,

#(define RH rightHandFinger)

Selected Snippets

Placement of right-hand fingerings

It is possible to exercise greater control over the placement of right-hand fingerings by setting a specific property, as demonstrated in the following example.

#(define RH rightHandFinger)

\relative c {
  \clef "treble_8"
  
  \set strokeFingerOrientations = #'(up down)
  <c-\RH #1 e-\RH #2 g-\RH #3 c-\RH #4 >4
  
  \set strokeFingerOrientations = #'(up right down)
  <c-\RH #1 e-\RH #2 g-\RH #3 c-\RH #4 >4
  
  \set strokeFingerOrientations = #'(left)
  <c-\RH #1 e-\RH #2 g-\RH #3 c-\RH #4 >2
}

[image of music]

Fingerings, string indications, and right-hand fingerings

This example combines left-hand fingering, string indications, and right-hand fingering.

#(define RH rightHandFinger)

\relative c {
  \clef "treble_8"
  <c-3\5-\RH #1 >4
  <e-2\4-\RH #2 >4
  <g-0\3-\RH #3 >4
  <c-1\2-\RH #4 >4
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Fretted strings.

Internals Reference: StrokeFinger.


2.4.2 Guitar

Most of the notational issues associated with guitar music are covered sufficiently in the general fretted strings section, but there are a few more worth covering here. Occasionally users want to create songbook-type documents having only lyrics with chord indications above them. Since Lilypond is a music typesetter, it is not recommended for documents that have no music notation in them. A better alternative is a word processor, text editor, or, for experienced users, a typesetter like GuitarTeX.


Indicating position and barring

This example demonstrates how to include guitar position and barring indications.

\clef "treble_8"
b16 d g b e
\textSpannerDown
\override TextSpanner #'(bound-details left text) = #"XII "
  g16\startTextSpan
  b16 e g e b g\stopTextSpan
e16 b g d

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Text spanners.

Snippets: Fretted strings, Expressive marks.


Indicating harmonics and dampened notes

Special note heads can be used to indicate dampened notes or harmonics. Harmonics are normally further explained with a text markup.

\relative c' {
  \clef "treble_8"
  \override Staff.NoteHead #'style = #'cross
  g8 a b c b4
  \override Staff.NoteHead #'style = #'harmonic-mixed
  d^\markup { \italic { \fontsize #-2 { "harm. 12" }}} <g b>1
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Fretted strings.

Notation Reference: Special note heads, Note head styles.


2.4.3 Banjo


Banjo tablatures

LilyPond has basic support for the five-string banjo. When making tablatures for five-string banjo, use the banjo tablature format function to get correct fret numbers for the fifth string:

\new TabStaff <<
  \set TabStaff.tablatureFormat = #fret-number-tablature-format-banjo
  \set TabStaff.stringTunings = #banjo-open-g-tuning
  {
    \stemDown
    g8 d' g'\5 a b g e d' |
    g4 d''8\5 b' a'\2 g'\5 e'\2 d' |
    g4
  }
>>

[image of music]

A number of common tunings for banjo are predefined in LilyPond: banjo-c-tuning (gCGBD), banjo-modal-tuning (gDGCD), banjo-open-d-tuning (aDF#AD) and banjo-open-dm-tuning (aDFAD).

These tunings may be converted to four-string banjo tunings using the four-string-banjo function:

\set TabStaff.stringTunings = #(four-string-banjo banjo-c-tuning)

See also

Snippets: Fretted strings.

The file ‘scm/output-lib.scm’ contains predefined banjo tunings.


2.5 Percussion


2.5.1 Common notation for percussion

Rhythmic music is primarily used for percussion and drum notation, but it can also be used to show the rhythms of melodies.


References for percussion

TODO add more.

See also

Notation Reference: Showing melody rhythms, Instantiating new staves. Percussion in MIDI.

Snippets: Percussion.


Basic percussion notation

Percussion notes may be entered in \drummode mode, which is similar to the standard mode for entering notes. The simplest way to enter percussion notes is to use the \drums command, which creates the correct context and entry mode for percussion:

\drums {
  hihat4 hh bassdrum bd
}

[image of music]

This is shorthand for:

\new DrumStaff {
  \drummode {
    hihat4 hh bassdrum bd
  }
}

[image of music]

Each piece of percussion has a full name and an abbreviated name, and both can be used in input files. The full list of percussion note names may be found in Percussion notes.

Note that the normal notation of pitches (such as cis4) in a DrumStaff context will cause an error message. Percussion clefs are added automatically to a DrumStaff contex, but other clefs may also be used.

There are a few issues concerning MIDI support for percussion instruments; for details please see Percussion in MIDI.

See also

Notation Reference: Percussion in MIDI, Percussion notes.

File: ‘ly/drumpitch-init.ly

Snippets: Percussion.


Drum rolls

Drum rolls are indicated with three slashes across the stem. For quarter notes or longer the three slashes are shown explicitly, eighth notes are shown with two slashes (the beam being the third), and drum rolls shorter than eighths have one stem slash to supplement the beams. This is achieved with the tremolo notation, :32, as described in Tremolo repeats. Here is an example of some snare rolls:

\drums {
  \time 2/4
  sn16 sn8 sn16 sn8 sn8:32 ~
  sn8 sn8 sn4:32 ~
  sn4 sn8 sn16 sn16
  sn4 r4
}

[image of music]

Sticking can be indicated by placing ^"R" or ^"L" after the note. The staff-padding property may be overridden to achieve a pleasing baseline.

\drums {
  \repeat unfold 2 {
    sn16 ^"L" sn^"R" sn^"L" sn^"L" sn^"R" sn^"L"  sn^"R" sn^"R"
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Percussion.


Pitched percussion

Certain pitched percussion instruments (e.g. xylophone, vibraphone, and timpani) are written using normal staves. This is covered in other sections of the manual.

See also

Notation Reference: Percussion in MIDI.

Snippets: Percussion.


Percussion staves

A percussion part for more than one instrument typically uses a multiline staff where each position in the staff refers to one piece of percussion. To typeset the music, the notes must be interpreted in DrumStaff and DrumVoice context.

up = \drummode {
  crashcymbal4 hihat8 halfopenhihat hh hh hh openhihat
}
down = \drummode {
  bassdrum4 snare8 bd r bd sn4
}
\new DrumStaff <<
  \new DrumVoice { \voiceOne \up }
  \new DrumVoice { \voiceTwo \down }
>>

[image of music]

The above example shows verbose polyphonic notation. The short polyphonic notation, described in I'm hearing Voices, can also be used if the voices are instantiated by hand first. For example,

\new DrumStaff <<
  \new DrumVoice = "1" { s1*2 }
  \new DrumVoice = "2" { s1*2 }
  \drummode {
    bd4 sn4 bd4 sn4
    << {
      \repeat unfold 16 hh16
    } \\ {
      bd4 sn4 bd4 sn4
    } >>
  }
>>

[image of music]

There are also other layout possibilities. To use these, set the property drumStyleTable in context DrumVoice. The following variables have been predefined:

drums-style

This is the default. It typesets a typical drum kit on a five-line staff:

[image of music]

The drum scheme supports six different toms. When there are fewer toms, simply select the toms that produce the desired result. For example, to get toms on the three middle lines you use tommh, tomml, and tomfh.

timbales-style

This typesets timbales on a two line staff:

[image of music]

congas-style

This typesets congas on a two line staff:

[image of music]

bongos-style

This typesets bongos on a two line staff:

[image of music]

percussion-style

To typeset all kinds of simple percussion on one line staves:

[image of music]


Custom percussion staves

If you do not like any of the predefined lists you can define your own list at the top of your file.

#(define mydrums '(
         (bassdrum     default   #f         -1)
         (snare        default   #f         0)
         (hihat        cross     #f         1)
         (pedalhihat   xcircle   "stopped"  2)
         (lowtom       diamond   #f         3)))
up = \drummode { hh8 hh hh hh hhp4 hhp }
down = \drummode { bd4 sn bd toml8 toml }

\new DrumStaff <<
  \set DrumStaff.drumStyleTable = #(alist->hash-table mydrums)
  \new DrumVoice { \voiceOne \up }
  \new DrumVoice { \voiceTwo \down }
>>

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

FIXME: MOVE ALL THESE TO LSR! -gp

Here are some examples:

Two Woodblocks, entered with wbh (high woodblock) and wbl (low woodblock)

% These lines define the position of the woodblocks in the stave;
% if you like, you can change it or you can use special note heads
% for the woodblocks.
#(define mydrums '((hiwoodblock default #t  3)
                   (lowoodblock default #t -2)))

woodstaff = {
  % This defines a staff with only two lines.
  % It also defines the positions of the two lines.
  \override Staff.StaffSymbol #'line-positions = #'(-2 3)

  % This is neccessary; if not entered, the barline would be too short!
  \override Staff.BarLine #'bar-size = #3
}

\new DrumStaff {
  \set DrumStaff.drumStyleTable = #(alist->hash-table mydrums)

  % with this you load your new drum style table
  \woodstaff

  \drummode {
    \time 2/4
    wbl8 wbl16 wbl wbh8-> wbl |
    wbl8 wbl16 wbh-> ~ wbh wbl16 r8 |
  }
}

[image of music]

Note that in this special case the length of the barline must altered with \override Staff.BarLine #'bar-size #number. Otherwise it would be too short. And you have also to define the positions of the two stafflines. For more information about these delicate things have a look at Staff symbol.

A tambourine, entered with ‘tamb’:

#(define mydrums '((tambourine default #t 0)))

tambustaff = {
  \override Staff.StaffSymbol #'line-positions = #'( 0 )
  \override Staff.BarLine #'bar-size = #3
  \set DrumStaff.instrumentName = "Tambourine"
}

\new DrumStaff {
  \tambustaff
  \set DrumStaff.drumStyleTable = #(alist->hash-table mydrums)

  \drummode {
    \time 6/8
    tamb8. tamb16 tamb8 tamb tamb tamb |
    tamb4. tamb8 tamb tamb |
    % the trick with the scaled duration and the shorter rest
    % is neccessary for the correct ending of the trill-span!
    tamb2.*5/6 \startTrillSpan s8 \stopTrillSpan |
  }
}

[image of music]

Music for Tam-Tam (entered with ‘tt’):

#(define mydrums '((tamtam default #t 0)))

tamtamstaff = {
  \override Staff.StaffSymbol #'line-positions = #'( 0 )
  \override Staff.BarLine #'bar-size = #3
  \set DrumStaff.instrumentName = "Tamtam"
}

\new DrumStaff {
  \tamtamstaff
  \set DrumStaff.drumStyleTable = #(alist->hash-table mydrums)

  \drummode {
    tt 1 \pp \laissezVibrer
  }
}

[image of music]

Two different bells, entered with ‘cb’ (cowbell) and ‘rb’ (ridebell)

#(define mydrums '((ridebell default #t  3)
                   (cowbell  default #t -2)))

bellstaff = {
  \override DrumStaff.StaffSymbol #'line-positions = #'(-2 3)
  \set DrumStaff.drumStyleTable = #(alist->hash-table mydrums)
  \override Staff.BarLine #'bar-size = #3
  \set DrumStaff.instrumentName = "Different Bells"
}

\new DrumStaff {
  \bellstaff
  \drummode {
    \time 2/4
    rb8 rb cb cb16 rb-> ~ |
    rb16 rb8 rb16 cb8 cb |
  }
}

[image of music]

Here an short example by maestro Stravinsky (from ‘L’histoire du Soldat’)

#(define mydrums '((bassdrum   default #t  4)
                   (snare      default #t -4)
                   (tambourine default #t  0)))

global = {
  \time 3/8 s4.
  \time 2/4 s2*2
  \time 3/8 s4.
  \time 2/4 s2
}

drumsA = {
  \context DrumVoice <<
    { \global }
    { \drummode {
        \autoBeamOff
        \stemDown sn8 \stemUp tamb s8 |
        sn4 \stemDown sn4 |
        \stemUp tamb8 \stemDown sn8 \stemUp sn16 \stemDown sn \stemUp sn8 |
        \stemDown sn8 \stemUp tamb s8 |
        \stemUp sn4 s8 \stemUp tamb
      }
    }
  >>
}

drumsB = {
  \drummode {
    s4 bd8 s2*2 s4 bd8 s4 bd8 s8
  }
}

\layout {
  indent = #40
}

\score {
  \new StaffGroup <<
    \new DrumStaff {
      \set DrumStaff.instrumentName = \markup {
        \column {
          "Tambourine"
          "et"
          "caisse claire s. timbre"
        }
      }
      \set DrumStaff.drumStyleTable = #(alist->hash-table mydrums)
      \drumsA
    }

   \new DrumStaff {
     \set DrumStaff.instrumentName = "Grosse Caisse"
     \set DrumStaff.drumStyleTable = #(alist->hash-table mydrums)
     \drumsB }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Percussion.

Internals Reference: DrumStaff, DrumVoice.


Ghost notes

Ghost notes for drums and percussion may be created using the \parenthesize command detailed in Parentheses. However, the default \drummode does not include the Parenthesis_engraver plugin which allows this.

\new DrumStaff \with {
  \consists "Parenthesis_engraver"
}
<<
  \context DrumVoice  = "1" { s1 }
  \context DrumVoice  = "2" { s1 }
  \drummode {
    <<
      {
        hh8[ hh] <hh sn> hh16
        < \parenthesize sn > hh
        < \parenthesize sn > hh8 <hh sn> hh
      } \\
      {
        bd4 r4 bd8 bd r8 bd
      }
    >>
  }
>>

[image of music]

Also note that you must add chords (< > brackets) around each \parenthesize statement.

See also

Snippets: Percussion.


2.6 Wind instruments

[image of music]

This section includes some elements of music notation that arise when writing for winds.


2.6.1 Common notation for wind instruments

This section discusses some issues common to most wind instruments.


References for wind instruments

Many notation issues for wind instruments pertain to breathing and tonguing:

There are also other aspects of musical notation that can apply to wind instruments:

Selected Snippets

Changing \flageolet mark size

To make the \flageolet circle smaller use the following Scheme function.

smallFlageolet = #(let ((m (make-music 'ArticulationEvent
                          'articulation-type "flageolet")))
       (set! (ly:music-property m 'tweaks)
             (acons 'font-size -3
                    (ly:music-property m 'tweaks)))
       m)

\layout { ragged-right = ##f }

\relative c'' {
  d4^\flageolet_\markup { default size } d_\flageolet
  c4^\smallFlageolet_\markup { smaller } c_\smallFlageolet
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Breath marks, Slurs, Articulations and ornamentations, List of articulations, Tremolo repeats, Instrument transpositions, Glissando, Grace notes, Falls and doits, Special note heads,

Snippets: Winds


Fingerings

All wind instruments other than the trombone require the use of several fingers to produce each pitch.

TBC


2.6.2 Bagpipes

This section includes extra information for writing for bagpipes.


Bagpipe definitions

LilyPond contains special definitions for music for the Scottish highland bagpipe; to use them, add

\include "bagpipe.ly"

at the top of your input file. This lets you add the special grace notes common to bagpipe music with short commands. For example, you could write \taor instead of

\grace { \small G32[ d G e] }

bagpipe.ly also contains pitch definitions for the bagpipe notes in the appropriate octaves, so you do not need to worry about \relative or \transpose.

\include "bagpipe.ly"
{ \grg G4 \grg a \grg b \grg c \grg d \grg e \grg f \grA g A }

[image of music]

Bagpipe music nominally uses the key of D Major (even though that isn’t really true). However, since that is the only key that can be used, the key signature is normally not written out. To set this up correctly, always start your music with \hideKeySignature. If you for some reason want to show the key signature, you can use \showKeySignature instead.

Some modern music use cross fingering on c and f to flatten those notes. This can be indicated by cflat or fflat. Similarly, the piobaireachd high g can be written gflat when it occurs in light music.

See also

Winds


Bagpipe example

This is what the well known tune Amazing Grace looks like in bagpipe notation.

\include "bagpipe.ly"
\layout {
  indent = 0.0\cm
  \context { \Score \remove "Bar_number_engraver" }
}

\header {
  title = "Amazing Grace"
  meter = "Hymn"
  arranger = "Trad. arr."
}

{
  \hideKeySignature
  \time 3/4
  \grg \partial 4 a8. d16
  \slurd d2 \grg f8[ e32 d16.]
  \grg f2 \grg f8 e
  \thrwd d2 \grg b4
  \grG a2 \grg a8. d16
  \slurd d2 \grg f8[ e32 d16.]
  \grg f2 \grg e8. f16
  \dblA A2 \grg A4
  \grg A2 f8. A16
  \grg A2 \hdblf f8[ e32 d16.]
  \grg f2 \grg f8 e
  \thrwd d2 \grg b4
  \grG a2 \grg a8. d16
  \slurd d2 \grg f8[ e32 d16.]
  \grg f2 e4
  \thrwd d2.
  \slurd d2
  \bar "|."
}

[image of music]

See also

Winds


2.7 Chord notation

[image of music]

Chords can be entered either as normal notes or in chord mode and displayed using a variety of traditional European chord naming conventions. Chord names and figured bass notation can also be displayed.


2.7.1 Chord mode

Chord mode is used to enter chords using an indicator of the chord structure, rather than the chord pitches.


Chord mode overview

Chords can be entered as simultaneous music, as discussed in Chorded notes.

Chords can also be entered in “chord mode”, which is an input mode that focuses on the structures of chords in traditional European music, rather than on specific pitches. This is convenient for those who are familiar with using chord names to describe chords. More information on different input modes can be found at Input modes.

\chordmode { c1 g a g c }

[image of music]

Chords entered using chord mode are music elements, and can be transposed just like chords entered using simultaneous music.

Chord mode and note mode can be mixed in sequential music:

<c e g>2 <g b d>
\chordmode { c2 f }
<c e g>2 <g' b d>
\chordmode { f2 g }

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: chord.

Notation Reference: Chorded notes, Input modes.

Snippets: Chords

Known issues and warnings

When chord mode and note mode are mixed in sequential music, and chord mode comes first, the note mode will create a new Staff context.

\chordmode { c2 f }
<c e g>2 <g' b d>

[image of music]

To avoid this behavior, explicitly create the Staff context:

\new Staff {
  \chordmode { c2 f }
  <c e g>2  <g' b d>
}

[image of music]


Common chords

Major triads are entered by including the root and an optional duration:

\chordmode { c2 f4 g }

[image of music]

Minor, augmented, and diminished triads are entered by placing : and a quality modifier string after the duration:

\chordmode { c2:m f4:aug g:dim }

[image of music]

Seventh chords can be created:

\chordmode { c1:7 c:m7 c:maj7 c:dim7 c:aug7 }

[image of music]

The table belows shows the actions of the quality modifiers on triads and seventh chords. A more complete table of modifier usage is found at Common chord modifiers.

Modifier

Action

Example

None

The default action; produces a major triad.

[image of music]

m, m7

The minor chord. This modifier lowers the 3rd and (if present) the 7th step.

[image of music]

dim, dim7

The diminished chord. This modifier lowers the 3rd, 5th and (if present) the 7th step.

[image of music]

aug

The augmented chord. This modifier raises the 5th step.

[image of music]

maj, maj7

The major 7th chord. This modifier adds a raised 7th step. The 7 following maj is optional. Do NOT use this modifier to create a major triad.

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Common chord modifiers.

Snippets: Chords.


Extended and altered chords

Chord structures of arbitrary complexity can be created in chord mode. The modifier string can be used to extend a chord, add or remove chord steps, raise or lower chord steps, and add a bass note or create an inversion.

The first number following the : is taken to be the extent of the chord. The chord is constructed by sequentially adding thirds to the root until the specified number has been reached. If the extent is not a third (e.g., 6), thirds are added up to the highest third below the extent, and then the step of the extent is added. The largest possible value for the extent is 13. Any larger value is interpreted as 13.

\chordmode {
  c1:2 c:3 c:4 c:5
  c1:6 c:7 c:8 c:9
  c1:10 c:11 c:12 c:13
  c1:14
}

[image of music]

Note that both c:5 and c produce a C major triad.

Since an unaltered 11 does not sound good when combined with an unaltered 13, the 11 is removed from a :13 chord (unless it is added explicitly).

\chordmode {
  c1:13 c:13.11 c:m13
}

[image of music]

Individual steps can be added to a chord. Additions follow the extent and are prefixed by a dot (.).

\chordmode {
  c1:5.6 c:3.7.8 c:3.6.13
}

[image of music]

Added steps can be as high as desired.

\chordmode {
  c4:5.15 c:5.20 c:5.25 c:5.30
}

[image of music]

Added chord steps can be altered by suffixing a - or + sign to the number. To alter a step that is automatically included as part of the basic chord structure, add it as an altered step.

\chordmode {
  c1:7+ c:5+.3- c:3-.5-.7-
}

[image of music]

Following any steps to be added, a series of steps to be removed is introduced in a modifier string with a prefix of ^. If more than one step is to be removed, the steps to be removed are separated by . following the initial ^.

\chordmode {
  c1^3 c:7^5 c:9^3 c:9^3.5 c:13.11^3.7
}

[image of music]

The modifier sus can be added to the modifier string to create suspended chords. This removes the 3rd step from the chord. Append either 2 or 4 to add the 2nd or 4th step to the chord. sus is equivalent to ^3; sus4 is equivalent to .4^3.

\chordmode {
  c1:sus c:sus2 c:sus4 c:5.4^3
}

[image of music]

Inversions (putting a pitch other than the root on the bottom of the chord) and added bass notes can be specified by appending /pitch to the chord.

\chordmode {
  c1 c/g c/f
}

[image of music]

A bass note that is part of the chord can be added, instead of moved as part of an inversion, by using /+pitch.

\chordmode {
  c1 c/g c/+g
}

[image of music]

Chord modifiers that can be used to produce a variety of standard chords are shown in Common chord modifiers.

See also

Notation Reference: Common chord modifiers.

Snippets: Chords

Known issues and warnings

Each step can only be present in a chord once. The following simply produces the augmented chord, since 5+ is interpreted last.

\chordmode { c1:5.5-.5+ }

[image of music]

Only the second inversion can be created by adding a bass note. The first inversion requires changing the root of the chord.

\chordmode {
  c'1: c':/g e:6-3-^5 e:m6-^5
}

[image of music]


2.7.2 Displaying chords

Chords can be displayed by name, in addition to the standard display as notes on a staff.


Printing chord names

Chord names are printed in the ChordNames context:

\new ChordNames {
  \chordmode {
    c2 f4. g8
  }
}

[image of music]

Chords can be entered as simultaneous notes or through the use of chord mode. The displayed chord name will be the same, regardless of the mode of entry, unless there are inversions or added bass notes:

<<
  \new ChordNames {
    <c e g>2  <f bes c>
    <f c' e g>1
    \chordmode {
      c2 f:sus4 c1:/f
    }
  }
  {
    <c e g>2  <f bes c>
    <f, c' e g>1
    \chordmode {
      c2 f:sus4 c1:/f
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

\chords { ... } is a shortcut notation for \new ChordNames { \chordmode { ... } }.

\chords {
  c2 f4.:m g8:maj7
}

[image of music]

\new ChordNames {
  \chordmode {
    c2 f4.:m g8:maj7
  }
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

Showing chords at changes

Chord names can be displayed only at the start of lines and when the chord changes.

harmonies = \chordmode {
  c1:m c:m \break c:m c:m d
}
<<
  \new ChordNames {
    \set chordChanges = ##t
    \harmonies
  }
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' { \harmonies }
  }
>>

[image of music]

Simple lead sheet

When put together, chord names, a melody, and lyrics form a lead sheet:

<<
  \chords { c2 g:sus4 f e }
  \relative c'' {
    a4 e c8 e r4
    b2 c4( d)
  }
  \addlyrics { One day this shall be free __ }
>>

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: chord.

Notation Reference: Writing music in parallel.

Snippets: Chords.

Internals Reference: ChordNames, ChordName, Chord_name_engraver, Volta_engraver, Bar_engraver.

Known issues and warnings

Chords containing inversions or altered bass notes are not named properly if entered using simultaneous music.


Customizing chord names

There is no unique system for naming chords. Different musical traditions use different names for the same set of chords. There are also different symbols displayed for a given chord name. The names and symbols displayed for chord names are customizable.

The basic chord name layout is a system for Jazz music, proposed by Klaus Ignatzek (see Literature list). The chord naming system can be modified as described below. An alternate jazz chord system has been developed using these modifications. The Ignatzek and alternate Jazz notation are shown on the chart in Chord name chart.

In addition to the different naming systems, different note names are used for the root in different languages. The predefined variables \germanChords, \semiGermanChords, \italianChords and \frenchChords set these variables. The effect is demonstrated here:

[image of music]

If none of the existing settings give the desired output, the chord name display can be tuned through the following properties.

chordRootNamer

The chord name is usually printed as a letter for the root with an optional alteration. The transformation from pitch to letter is done by this function. Special note names (for example, the German ‘H’ for a B-chord) can be produced by storing a new function in this property.

majorSevenSymbol

This property contains the markup object used to follow the output of chordRootNamer to identify a major 7 chord. Predefined options are whiteTriangleMarkup and blackTriangleMarkup.

chordNoteNamer

When the chord name contains additional pitches other than the root (e.g., an added bass note), this function is used to print the additional pitch. By default the pitch is printed using chordRootNamer. The chordNoteNamer property can be set to a specialized function to change this behavior. For example, the bass note can be printed in lower case.

chordNameSeparator

Different parts of a chord name are normally separated by a slash. By setting chordNameSeparator, you can use any desired markup for a separator.

chordNameExceptions

This property is a list of pairs. The first item in each pair is a set of pitches used to identify the steps present in the chord. The second item is a markup that will follow the chordRootNamer output to create the chord name.

chordPrefixSpacer

The ‘m’ for minor chords is usually printed immediately to the right of the root of the chord. A spacer can be placed between the root and ‘m’ by setting chordPrefixSpacer. The spacer is not used when the root is altered.

Predefined commands

\whiteTriangleMarkup, \blackTriangleMarkup, \germanChords, \semiGermanChords, \italianChords, \frenchChords.

Selected Snippets

Chord name exceptions

The property chordNameExceptions can be used to store a list of special notations for specific chords.

% modify maj9 and 6(add9)
% Exception music is chords with markups
chExceptionMusic = {
  <c e g b d'>1-\markup { \super "maj9" }
  <c e g a d'>1-\markup { \super "6(add9)" }
}

% Convert music to list and prepend to existing exceptions.
chExceptions = #( append
  ( sequential-music-to-chord-exceptions chExceptionMusic #t)
  ignatzekExceptions)

theMusic = \chordmode {
  g1:maj9 g1:6.9
  \set chordNameExceptions = #chExceptions
  g1:maj9 g1:6.9
}

\layout {
  ragged-right = ##t 
}

<< \context ChordNames \theMusic
   \context Voice \theMusic
>>  

[image of music]

chord name major7

The layout of the major 7 can be tuned with majorSevenSymbol.

\chords {
  c:7+
  \set majorSevenSymbol = \markup { j7 }
  c:7+
}

[image of music]

Adding bar lines to ChordNames context

To add bar line indications in the ChordNames context, add the Bar_engraver.

\new ChordNames \with {
  \override BarLine #'bar-size = #4
  \consists "Bar_engraver"
}
\chordmode {
  f1:maj7 f:7 bes:7 
}

[image of music]

Volta under chords

By adding the Volta_engraver to the relevant staff, volte can be put under chords.

\score {
  <<
    \chords {
      c1
      c1
    }
    \new Staff \with {
      \consists "Volta_engraver"
    }
    {
      \repeat volta 2 { c'1 }
      \alternative { c' }
    }
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Score
      \remove "Volta_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Changing chord separator

The separator between different parts of a chord name can be set to any markup.

\chords {
  c:7sus4
  \set chordNameSeparator
    = \markup { \typewriter | }
  c:7sus4
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Chord name chart, Common chord modifiers.

Installed Files: ‘scm/chords-ignatzek.scm’, ‘scm/chord-entry.scm’, ‘ly/chord-modifier-init.ly’.

Snippets: Chords.

Known issues and warnings

Chord names are determined from both the pitches that are present in the chord and the information on the chord structure that may have been entered in \chordmode. If the simultaneous pitches method of entering chords is used, undesired names result from inversions or bass notes.

myChords = \relative c' {
  \chordmode { c1 c/g c/f }
  <c e g>1 <g c e> <f c' e g>
}
<<
  \new ChordNames { \myChords }
  \new Staff { \myChords }
>>

[image of music]


2.7.3 Figured bass

[image of music]

Figured bass notation can be displayed.


Introduction to figured bass

LilyPond has support for figured bass, also called thorough bass or basso continuo:

<<
  \new Voice { \clef bass dis4 c d ais g fis}
  \new FiguredBass {
    \figuremode {
      < 6 >4 < 7\+ >8 < 6+ [_!] >
      < 6 >4 <6 5 [3+] >
      < _ >4 < 6 5/>4
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

The support for figured bass consists of two parts: there is an input mode, introduced by \figuremode, that accepts entry of bass figures, and there is a context named FiguredBass that takes care of displaying BassFigure objects. Figured bass can also be displayed in Staff contexts.

\figures{ ... } is a shortcut notation for \new FiguredBass { \figuremode { ... } }.

Although the support for figured bass may superficially resemble chord support, it is much simpler. \figuremode mode simply stores the figures and the FiguredBass context prints them as entered. There is no conversion to pitches.

See also

Music Glossary: figured bass.

Snippets: Chords


Entering figured bass

\figuremode is used to switch the input mode to figure mode. More information on different input modes can be found at Input modes.

In figure mode, a group of bass figures is delimited by < and >. The duration is entered after the >.

\new FiguredBass {
  \figuremode {
    <6 4>2
  }
}

[image of music]

Accidentals (including naturals) can be added to figures:

\figures {
  <7! 6+ 4-> <5++> <3-->
}

[image of music]

Augmented and diminished steps can be indicated:

\figures {
  <6\+ 5/> <7/>
}

[image of music]

A backward slash through a figure (typically used for raised sixth steps) can be created:

\figures {
  <6> <6\\>
}

[image of music]

Vertical spaces and brackets can be be included in figures:

\figures {
  <[12 _!] 8 [6  4]>
}

[image of music]

Any text markup can be inserted as a figure:

\figures {
  <\markup { \tiny \number 6 \super (1) } 5>
}

[image of music]

Continuation lines can be used to indicate repeated figures:

<<
  {
    \clef bass
    e4 d c b,
    e4 d c b,
  }
  \figures {
    \bassFigureExtendersOn
    <6 4>4 <6 3> <7 3> <7 3>
    \bassFigureExtendersOff
    <6 4>4 <6 3> <7 3> <7 3>
  }
>>

[image of music]

In this case, the extender lines replace existing figures, unless the continuation lines have been explicitly terminated.

<<
  \figures {
    \bassFigureExtendersOn
    <6 4>4 <6 4> <6\! 4\!> <6 4>
  }
  {
    \clef bass
    d4 d c c
  }
>>

[image of music]

The table below summarizes the figure modifiers available.

Modifier

Purpose

Example

+, -, !

Accidentals

[image of music]

\+, /

Augmented and diminished steps

[image of music]

\\

Raised sixth step

[image of music]

\!

End of continuation line

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\bassFigureExtendersOn, \bassFigureExtendersOff.

Selected Snippets

Changing the positions of figured bass alterations

Accidentals and plus signs can appear before or after the numbers, depending on the figuredBassAlterationDirection and figuredBassPlusDirection properties.

\figures {
  <6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
  \set figuredBassAlterationDirection = #RIGHT
  <6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
  \set figuredBassPlusDirection = #RIGHT
  <6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
  \set figuredBassAlterationDirection = #LEFT
  <6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Chords.

Internals Reference: BassFigure, BassFigureAlignment, BassFigureLine, BassFigureBracket, BassFigureContinuation, FiguredBass.


Displaying figured bass

Figured bass can be displayed using the FiguredBass context, or in most staff contexts.

When displayed in a FiguredBass context, the vertical location of the figures is independent of the notes on the staff.

<<
  \relative c'' {
    c4 c'8 r8 c,4 c'
  }
  \new FiguredBass {
    \figuremode {
      <4>4 <10 6>8 s8
      <6 4>4 <6 4>
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

In the example above, the FiguredBass context must be explicitly instantiated to avoid creating a second (empty) staff.

Figured bass can also be added to Staff contexts directly. In this case, the vertical position of the figures is adjusted automatically.

<<
  \new Staff = myStaff
  \figuremode {
    <4>4 <10 6>8 s8
    <6 4>4 <6 4>
  }
  %% Put notes on same Staff as figures
  \context Staff = myStaff
  {
    \clef bass
    c4 c'8 r8 c4 c'
  }
>>

[image of music]

When added in a Staff context, figured bass can be displayed above or below the staff.

<<
  \new Staff = myStaff
  \figuremode {
    <4>4 <10 6>8 s8
    \bassFigureStaffAlignmentDown
    <6 4>4 <6 4>
  }
  %% Put notes on same Staff as figures
  \context Staff = myStaff
  {
    \clef bass
    c4 c'8 r8 c4 c'
  }
>>

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\bassFigureStaffAlignmentDown, \bassFigureStaffAlignmentUp, \bassFigureStaffAlignmentNeutral.

See also

Snippets: Chords.

Internals Reference: BassFigure, BassFigureAlignment, BassFigureLine, BassFigureBracket, BassFigureContinuation, FiguredBass.

Known issues and warnings

To ensure that continuation lines work properly, it is safest to use the same rhythm in the figure line as in the bass line.

<<
  {
    \clef bass
    \repeat unfold 4 { f16. g32 } f8. es16 d8 es
  }
  \figures {
    \bassFigureExtendersOn
    % The extenders are correct here, with the same rhythm as the bass
    \repeat unfold 4 { <6 4->16. <6 4->32 }
    <5>8. r16 <6>8 <6\! 5->
  }
>>
<<
  {
    \clef bass
    \repeat unfold 4 { f16. g32 } f8. es16 d8 es
  }
  \figures {
    \bassFigureExtendersOn
    % The extenders are incorrect here, even though the timing is the same
    <6 4->4 <6 4->4
    <5>8. r16 <6>8 <6\! 5->
  }
>>

[image of music]

When using extender lines, adjacent figures with the same number in a different figure location can cause the figure positions to invert.

<<
 { fis4 g g, e' }
  \figures {
    \bassFigureExtendersOn
    <6 5>4 <5\! 4> < 5 _!> <6>
  }
>>

[image of music]

To avoid this problem, simply turn on extenders after the figure that begins the extender line and turn them off at the end of the extender line.

<<
 { fis4 g g, e' }
  \figures {
    <6 5>4 <5 4>
    \bassFigureExtendersOn
    < 5 _!>4 <6>
    \bassFigureExtendersOff
  }
>>

[image of music]


2.8 Ancient notation

[image of music]

Support for ancient notation includes features for mensural notation and Gregorian chant notation. These features can be accessed either by modifying style properties of graphical objects such as note heads and rests, or by using one of the pre-defined contexts for mensural or Gregorian notation.

Many graphical objects, such as note heads and flags, accidentals, time signatures, and rests, provide a style property, which can be changed to emulate several different styles of ancient notation. See

Some notational concepts are introduced specifically for ancient notation,


2.8.1 Overview of the supported styles

Three styles are available for typesetting Gregorian chant:

Three styles emulate the appearance of late-medieval and renaissance manuscripts and prints of mensural music:

Baroque and Classical are not complete styles but differ from the default style only in some details: certain noteheads (Baroque) and the quarter rest (Classical).

Only the mensural style has alternatives for all aspects of the notation. Thus, there are no rests or flags in the Gregorian styles, since these signs are not used in plainchant notation, and the Petrucci style has no flags or accidentals of its own.

Each element of the notation can be changed independently of the others, so that one can use mensural flags, petrucci noteheads, classical rests and vaticana clefs in the same piece, if one wishes.


2.8.2 Ancient notation—common features


Pre-defined contexts

For Gregorian chant and mensural notation, there are pre-defined voice and staff contexts available, which set all the various notation signs to values suitable for these styles. If one is satisfied with these defaults, one can proceed directly with note entry without worrying about the details on how to customize a context. See one of the pre-defined contexts VaticanaVoice, VaticanaStaff, MensuralVoice, and MensuralStaff. See further


Ligatures

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.

\transpose c c' {
  \[ g c a f d' \]
  a g f
  \[ e f a g \]
}

[image of music]

Two other ligature styles are available: the Vaticana for Gregorian chant, and the Mensural for mensural music (only white mensural ligatures are supported for mensural music, and with certain limitations). 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, as explained in White mensural ligatures and Gregorian square neume ligatures.

See also

Known issues and warnings

Ligatures need special spacing that has not yet been implemented. As a result, there is too much space between ligatures most of the time, and line breaking often is unsatisfactory. Also, lyrics do not correctly align with ligatures.

Accidentals must not be printed within a ligature, but instead need to 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\[ ... note\].


Custodes

A custos (plural: custodes; Latin word for “guard”) is a symbol that appears at the end of a staff. It anticipates the pitch of the first note of the following line, thus helping the performer to manage line breaks during performance.

Custodes were frequently used in music notation until the seventeenth century. Nowadays, they have survived only in a few particular forms of musical notation such as contemporary editions of Gregorian chant like the Editio Vaticana. There are different custos glyphs used in different flavors of notational style.

For typesetting custodes, just put a Custos_engraver into the Staff context when declaring the \layout block, and change the style of the custos with an \override if desired, as shown in the following example:

[image of music]

The custos glyph is selected by the style property. The styles supported are vaticana, medicaea, hufnagel, and mensural. They are demonstrated in the following fragment

[image of music]

See also

Internals Reference: Custos.

Examples: Ancient notation.


Figured bass support

There is limited support for figured bass notation from the Baroque period; see Figured bass.


2.8.3 Typesetting mensural music


Mensural contexts

The predefined MensuralVoice and MensuralStaff contexts can be used to engrave a piece in mensural style. These contexts initialize all relevant context properties and grob properties to proper values, so you can immediately go ahead entering the chant, as the following excerpt demonstrates:

\score {
  <<
    \new MensuralVoice = "discantus" \transpose c c' {
      \override Score.BarNumber #'transparent = ##t {
        c'1\melisma bes a g\melismaEnd
        f\breve
        \[ f1\melisma a c'\breve d'\melismaEnd \]
        c'\longa
        c'\breve\melisma a1 g1\melismaEnd
        fis\longa^\signumcongruentiae
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "discantus" {
      San -- ctus, San -- ctus, San -- ctus
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

TODO: nothing here yet ...


Mensural clefs

The following table shows all mensural clefs that are supported via the \clef command. Some of the clefs use the same glyph, but differ only with respect to the line they are printed on. In such cases, a trailing number in the name is used to enumerate these clefs, numbered from the lowest to the highest line. Still, you can manually force a clef glyph to be typeset on an arbitrary line, as described in Clef. The note printed to the right side of each clef in the example column denotes the c' with respect to that clef.

Petrucci used C clefs with differently balanced left-side vertical beams, depending on which staff line it is printed.

Description

Supported Clefs

Example

mensural C clef

mensural-c1, mensural-c2,
mensural-c3, mensural-c4

[image of music]

mensural F clef

mensural-f

[image of music]

mensural G clef

mensural-g

[image of music]

neomensural C clef

neomensural-c1, neomensural-c2,
neomensural-c3, neomensural-c4

[image of music]

petrucci style C clefs, for use on different staff lines (the example shows the 2nd staff line C clef)

petrucci-c1, petrucci-c2,
petrucci-c3, petrucci-c4,
petrucci-c5

[image of music]

petrucci style F clef

petrucci-f

[image of music]

petrucci style G clef

petrucci-g

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: see Clef.

Known issues and warnings

The mensural g clef is mapped to the Petrucci g clef.


Mensural time signatures

There is limited support for mensuration signs (which are similar to, but not exactly the same as time signatures). The glyphs are hard-wired to particular time fractions. In other words, to get a particular mensuration sign with the \time n/m command, n and m have to be chosen according to the following table

[image of music]

Use the style property of grob TimeSignature to select ancient time signatures. Supported styles are neomensural and mensural. The above table uses the neomensural style. The following examples show the differences in style:

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Time signature, gives a general introduction to the use of time signatures.

Known issues and warnings

Ratios of note durations do not change with the time signature. For example, the ratio of 1 breve = 3 semibreves (tempus perfectum) must be made by hand, by setting

breveTP = #(ly:make-duration -1 0 3 2)
…
{ c\breveTP f1 }

This sets breveTP to 3/2 times 2 = 3 times a whole note.

The mensural68alt and neomensural68alt symbols (alternate symbols for 6/8) are not addressable with \time. Use \markup {\musicglyph #"timesig.mensural68alt" } instead.


Mensural note heads

For ancient notation, a note head style other than the default style may be chosen. This is accomplished by setting the style property of the NoteHead object to baroque, neomensural, mensural or petrucci.

The baroque style differs from the default style by:

The neomensural, mensural, and petrucci styles differ from the baroque style by:

The following example demonstrates the petrucci style:

\set Score.skipBars = ##t
\autoBeamOff
\override NoteHead #'style = #'petrucci
a'\maxima a'\longa a'\breve a'1 a'2 a'4 a'8 a'16 a'

[image of music]

See also

Note head styles gives an overview of all available note head styles.


Mensural flags

Use the flag-style property of grob Stem to select ancient flags. Besides the default flag style, only the mensural style is supported.

\override Stem #'flag-style = #'mensural
\override Stem #'thickness = #1.0
\override NoteHead #'style = #'mensural
\autoBeamOff
c'8 d'8 e'8 f'8 c'16 d'16 e'16 f'16 c'32 d'32 e'32 f'32 s8
c''8 d''8 e''8 f''8 c''16 d''16 e''16 f''16 c''32 d''32 e''32 f''32

[image of music]

Note that the innermost flare of each mensural flag always is vertically aligned with a staff line.

There is no particular flag style for neo-mensural or Petrucci notation. There are no flags in Gregorian chant notation.

See also

TODO: nothing here yet ...

Known issues and warnings

The attachment of ancient flags to stems is slightly off.

Vertically aligning each flag with a staff line assumes that stems always end either exactly on or exactly in the middle between two staff lines. This may not always be true when using advanced layout features of classical notation (which however are typically out of scope for mensural notation).


Mensural rests

Use the style property of grob Rest to select ancient rests. Supported styles are classical, neomensural, and mensural. classical differs from the default style only in that the quarter rest looks like a horizontally mirrored 8th rest. The mensural and the neomensural styles mimic the appearance of rests in manuscripts and prints up to the 16th century.

The following example demonstrates the mensural and neomensural styles:

\set Score.skipBars = ##t
\override Rest #'style = #'classical
r\longa^"classical" r\breve r1 r2 r4 r8 r16 s \break
\override Rest #'style = #'mensural
r\longa^"mensural" r\breve r1 r2 r4 r8 r16 s \break
\override Rest #'style = #'neomensural
r\longa^"neomensural" r\breve r1 r2 r4 r8 r16

[image of music]

There are no 32th and 64th rests specifically for the mensural or neo-mensural style. Instead, the rests from the default style will be taken.

See rests for a chart of all rests.

There are no rests in Gregorian chant notation; instead, it uses Divisiones.

See also

Notation Reference: Rests, gives a general introduction into the use of rests.


Mensural accidentals and key signatures

The mensural style provides a sharp and a flat sign different from the default style. If called for, the natural sign will be taken from the vaticana style.

[image of music]

The style for accidentals and key signatures is controlled by the glyph-name-alist property of the grobs Accidental and KeySignature, respectively; e.g.:

\override Staff.Accidental #'glyph-name-alist = #alteration-mensural-glyph-name-alist

See also

Notation Reference: Pitches, Accidentals, and Automatic accidentals give a general introduction of the use of accidentals. Key signature gives a general introduction of the use of key signatures.

Internals Reference: KeySignature.


Annotational accidentals (musica ficta)

In European music from before about 1600, singers were expected to chromatically alter notes at their own initiative according to certain rules. This is called musica ficta. In modern transcriptions, these accidentals are usually printed over the note.

Support for such suggested accidentals is included, and can be switched on by setting suggestAccidentals to true.

fis gis
\set suggestAccidentals = ##t
ais bis

[image of music]

This will treat every subsequent accidental as musica ficta until it is unset with \set suggestAccidentals = ##f. A more practical way is to use \once \set suggestAccidentals = ##t, which can even be defined as a convenient shorthand:

ficta = { \once \set suggestAccidentals = ##t }
\score { \relative c''
  \new MensuralVoice  {
	\once \set suggestAccidentals = ##t
  bes4 a2 g2 \ficta fis8 \ficta e! fis2 g1
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Internals Reference: Accidental_engraver engraver and the AccidentalSuggestion object.


White mensural ligatures

There is limited support for white mensural ligatures.

To engrave white mensural ligatures, in the layout block, replace the Ligature_bracket_engraver with the Mensural_ligature_engraver in the Voice context:

\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    \remove Ligature_bracket_engraver
    \consists Mensural_ligature_engraver
  }
}

There is no additional input language to describe the shape of a white mensural ligature. The shape is rather determined solely from the pitch and duration of the enclosed notes. While this approach may take a new user a while to get accustomed to, it has the great advantage that the full musical information of the ligature is known internally. This is not only required for correct MIDI output, but also allows for automatic transcription of the ligatures.

For example,

\score {
  \transpose c c' {
    \set Score.timing = ##f
    \set Score.defaultBarType = "empty"
    \override NoteHead #'style = #'neomensural
    \override Staff.TimeSignature #'style = #'neomensural
    \clef "petrucci-g"
    \[ c'\maxima g \]
    \[ d\longa c\breve f e d \]
    \[ c'\maxima d'\longa \]
    \[ e'1 a g\breve \]
  }
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Voice
      \remove Ligature_bracket_engraver
      \consists Mensural_ligature_engraver
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Without replacing Ligature_bracket_engraver with Mensural_ligature_engraver, the same music transcribes to the following

[image of music]

See also

TODO: nothing here yet ...

Known issues and warnings

Horizontal spacing is poor.


2.8.4 Typesetting Gregorian chant

When typesetting a piece in Gregorian chant notation, the Vaticana_ligature_engraver automatically selects the proper note heads, so there is no need to explicitly set the note head style. Still, the note head style can be set, e.g., to vaticana_punctum to produce punctum neumes. Similarly, the Mensural_ligature_engraver automatically assembles mensural ligatures. See Ligatures, for how ligature engravers work.


Gregorian chant contexts

The predefined VaticanaVoiceContext and VaticanaStaffContext can be used to engrave a piece of Gregorian chant in the style of the Editio Vaticana. These contexts initialize all relevant context properties and grob properties to proper values, so you can immediately go ahead entering the chant, as the following excerpt demonstrates:

\include "gregorian.ly"
\score {
  <<
    \new VaticanaVoice = "cantus" {
      \[ c'\melisma c' \flexa a \]
      \[ a \flexa \deminutum g\melismaEnd \]
      f \divisioMinima
      \[ f\melisma \pes a c' c' \pes d'\melismaEnd \]
      c' \divisioMinima \break
      \[ c'\melisma c' \flexa a \]
      \[ a \flexa \deminutum g\melismaEnd \] f \divisioMinima
    }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "cantus" {
      San- ctus, San- ctus, San- ctus
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

TODO: nothing here yet ...


Gregorian clefs

The following table shows all Gregorian clefs that are supported via the \clef command. Some of the clefs use the same glyph, but differ only with respect to the line they are printed on. In such cases, a trailing number in the name is used to enumerate these clefs, numbered from the lowest to the highest line. Still, you can manually force a clef glyph to be typeset on an arbitrary line, as described in Clef. The note printed to the right side of each clef in the example column denotes the c' with respect to that clef.

Description

Supported Clefs

Example

Editio Vaticana style do clef

vaticana-do1, vaticana-do2,
vaticana-do3

[image of music]

Editio Vaticana style fa clef

vaticana-fa1, vaticana-fa2

[image of music]

Editio Medicaea style do clef

medicaea-do1, medicaea-do2,
medicaea-do3

[image of music]

Editio Medicaea style fa clef

medicaea-fa1, medicaea-fa2

[image of music]

hufnagel style do clef

hufnagel-do1, hufnagel-do2,
hufnagel-do3

[image of music]

hufnagel style fa clef

hufnagel-fa1, hufnagel-fa2

[image of music]

hufnagel style combined do/fa clef

hufnagel-do-fa

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: see Clef.


Gregorian accidentals and key signatures

Accidentals for the three different Gregorian styles are available:

[image of music]

As shown, not all accidentals are supported by each style. When trying to access an unsupported accidental, LilyPond will switch to a different style.

The style for accidentals and key signatures is controlled by the glyph-name-alist property of the grobs Accidental and KeySignature, respectively; e.g.:

\override Staff.Accidental #'glyph-name-alist = #alteration-mensural-glyph-name-alist

See also

Notation Reference: Pitches, Accidentals, and Automatic accidentals give a general introduction of the use of accidentals. Key signature gives a general introduction of the use of key signatures.

Internals Reference: KeySignature.


Divisiones

A divisio (plural: divisiones; Latin word for ‘division’) is a staff context symbol that is used to indicate the phrase and section structure of Gregorian music. The musical meaning of divisio minima, divisio maior, and divisio maxima can be characterized as short, medium, and long pause, somewhat like the breathmarks from Breath marks. The finalis sign not only marks the end of a chant, but is also frequently used within a single antiphonal/responsorial chant to mark the end of each section.

To use divisiones, include the file ‘gregorian-init.ly’. It contains definitions that you can apply by just inserting \divisioMinima, \divisioMaior, \divisioMaxima, and \finalis at proper places in the input. Some editions use virgula or caesura instead of divisio minima. Therefore, ‘gregorian-init.ly’ also defines \virgula and \caesura

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\virgula, \caesura, \divisioMinima, \divisioMaior, \divisioMaxima, \finalis.


Gregorian articulation signs

In addition to the standard articulation signs described in section Articulations and ornamentations, articulation signs specifically designed for use with notation in Editio Vaticana style are provided.

\include "gregorian.ly"
\score {
  \new VaticanaVoice {
    \override TextScript #'font-family = #'typewriter
    \override TextScript #'font-shape = #'upright
    \override Script #'padding = #-0.1
    a\ictus_"ictus " \break
    a\circulus_"circulus " \break
    a\semicirculus_"semicirculus " \break
    a\accentus_"accentus " \break
    \[ a_"episema" \episemInitium \pes b \flexa a b \episemFinis \flexa a \]
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

TODO: nothing here yet ...

Known issues and warnings

Some articulations are vertically placed too closely to the corresponding note heads.

The episema line is not displayed in many cases. If it is displayed, the right end of the episema line is often too far to the right.


Augmentum dots (morae)

Augmentum dots, also called morae, are added with the music function \augmentum. Note that \augmentum is implemented as a unary music function rather than as head prefix. It applies to the immediately following music expression only. That is, \augmentum \virga c will have no visible effect. Instead, say \virga \augmentum c or \augmentum {\virga c}. Also note that you can say \augmentum {a g} as a shortcut for \augmentum a \augmentum g.

\include "gregorian.ly"
\score {
  \new VaticanaVoice {
    \[ \augmentum a \flexa \augmentum g \]
    \augmentum g
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Breath marks.

Internals Reference: BreathingSign.

Examples: Ancient notation.


Gregorian square neume ligatures

There is limited support for Gregorian square neumes notation (following the style of the Editio Vaticana). Core ligatures can already be typeset, but essential issues for serious typesetting are still lacking, such as (among others) horizontal alignment of multiple ligatures, lyrics alignment, and proper handling of accidentals.

The support for Gregorian neumes is enabled by \includeing "gregorian.ly" at the beginning of the file. This makes available a number of extra commands to produce the neume symbols used in plainchant notation.

Note heads can be modified and/or joined.

A note name without any qualifiers will produce a punctum. All other neumes, including the single-note neumes with a different shape such as the virga, are in principle considered as ligatures and should therefore be placed between \[...\].

Single-note neumes:

Ligatures

Unlike most other neumes notation systems, the typographical appearance of ligatures is not directly dictated by the input commands, but follows certain conventions dependent on musical meaning. For example, a three-note ligature with the musical shape low-high-low, such as \[ a \pes b \flexa g \], produces a Torculus consisting of three Punctum heads, while the shape high-low-high, such as \[ a \flexa g \pes b \], produces a Porrectus with a curved flexa shape and only a single Punctum head. There is no command to explicitly typeset the curved flexa shape; the decision of when to typeset a curved flexa shape is based on the musical input. The idea of this approach is to separate the musical aspects of the input from the notation style of the output. This way, the same input can be reused to typeset the same music in a different style of Gregorian chant notation.

Liquescent neumes

Another main category of notes in Gregorian chant is the so-called liquescent neumes. They are used under certain circumstances at the end of a syllable which ends in a ‘liquescent’ letter, i.e. the sounding consonants that can hold a tone (the nasals, l, r, v, j, and their diphtong equivalents). Thus, the liquescent neumes are never used alone (although some of them can be produced), and they always fall at the end of a ligature.

Liquescent neumes are represented graphically in two different, more or less interchangeable ways: with a smaller note or by ‘twisting’ the main note upwards or downwards. The first is produced by making a regular pes or flexa and modifying the shape of the second note: \[ a \pes \deminutum b \] , the second by modifying the shape of a single-note neume with \auctus and one of the direction markers \descendens or \ascendens, e.g. \[ \auctus \descendens a \] .

Special signs

A third category of signs is made up of a small number of signs with a special meaning (which, incidentally, in most cases is only vaguely known): the quilisma, the oriscus, and the strophicus. These are all produced by prefixing a note name with the corresponding modifier, \quilisma, \oriscus, or \stropha.

Virtually, within the ligature delimiters \[ and \], any number of heads may be accumulated to form a single ligature, and head prefixes like \pes, \flexa, \virga, \inclinatum, etc. may be mixed in as desired. The use of the set of rules that underlies the construction of the ligatures in the above table is accordingly extrapolated. This way, infinitely many different ligatures can be created.

Note that the use of these signs in the music itself follows certain rules, which are not checked by Lilypond. E.g., the quilisma is always the middle note of an ascending ligature, and usually falls on a half-tone step, but it is perfectly possible to make a single-note quilisma.

The following table shows a limited, but still representative pool of Gregorian ligatures, together with the code fragments that produce the ligatures. The table is based on the extended neumes table of the 2nd volume of the Antiphonale Romanum (Liber Hymnarius), published 1983 by the monks of Solesmes. The first column gives the name of the ligature, with the main form in boldface and the liquescent forms in italics. The third column shows the code fragment that produces this ligature, using g, a, and b as example pitches.

Single-note neums

Basic and Liquescent forms

Output

Lilypond
code

Punctum

[image of music]

\[ b \]

[image of music]

\[ \cavum b \]

[image of music]

\[ \linea b \]

Punctum Auctum Ascendens

[image of music]

\[ \auctum \ascendens b \]

Punctum Auctum Descendens

[image of music]

\[ \auctum \descendens b \]

Punctum inclinatum

[image of music]

\[ \inclinatum b \]

Punctum Inclinatum Auctum

[image of music]

\[ \inclinatum \auctum b \]

Punctum Inclinatum Parvum

[image of music]

\[ \inclinatum \deminutum b \]

Virga

[image of music]

Two-note ligatures

Clivis vel Flexa

[image of music]

\[ b \flexa g \]

Clivis Aucta Descendens

[image of music]

\[ b \flexa \auctum \descendens g \]

Clivis Aucta Ascendens

[image of music]

\[ b \flexa \auctum \ascendens g \]

Cephalicus

[image of music]

\[ b \flexa \deminutum g \]

Podatus/Pes

[image of music]

\[ g \pes b \]

Pes Auctus Descendens

[image of music]

\[ g \pes \auctum \descendens b \]

Pes Auctus Ascendens

[image of music]

\[ g \pes \auctum \ascendens b \]

Epiphonus

[image of music]

\[ g \pes \deminutum b \]

Pes Initio Debilis

[image of music]

\[ \deminutum g \pes b \]

Pes Auctus Descendens Initio Debilis

[image of music]

\[ \deminutum g \pes \auctum \descendens b \]

Multi-note ligatures

Torculus

[image of music]

\[ a \pes b \flexa g \]

Torculus Auctus Descendens

[image of music]

\[ a \pes b \flexa \auctum \descendens g \]

Torculus Deminutus

[image of music]

\[ a \pes b \flexa \deminutum g \]

Torculus Initio Debilis

[image of music]

\[ \deminutum a \pes b \flexa g \]

Torculus Auctus Descendens Initio Debilis

[image of music]

\[ \deminutum a \pes b \flexa \auctum \descendens g \]

Torculus Deminutus Initio Debilis

[image of music]

\[ \deminutum a \pes b \flexa \deminutum g \]

Porrectus

[image of music]

\[ a \flexa g \pes b \]

Porrectus Auctus Descendens

[image of music]

\[ a \flexa g \pes \auctum \descendens b \]

Porrectus Deminutus

[image of music]

\[ a \flexa g \pes \deminutum b \]

Climacus

[image of music]

\[ \virga b \inclinatum a \inclinatum g \]

Climacus Auctus

[image of music]

\[ \virga b \inclinatum a \inclinatum \auctum g \]

Climacus Deminutus

[image of music]

\[ \virga b \inclinatum a \inclinatum \deminutum g \]

Scandicus

[image of music]

\[ g \pes a \virga b \]

Scandicus Auctus Descendens

[image of music]

\[ g \pes a \pes \auctum \descendens b \]

Scandicus Deminutus

[image of music]

\[ g \pes a \pes \deminutum b \]

Special Signs

Quilisma

[image of music]

\[ g \pes \quilisma a \pes b \]

Quilisma Pes Auctus Descendens

[image of music]

\[ \quilisma g \pes \auctum \descendens b \]

Oriscus

[image of music]

\[ \oriscus b \]

Pes Quassus

[image of music]

\[ \oriscus g \pes \virga b \]

Pes Quassus Auctus Descendens

[image of music]

\[ \oriscus g \pes \auctum \descendens b \]

Salicus

[image of music]

\[ g \oriscus a \pes \virga b \]

Salicus Auctus Descendens

[image of music]

\[ g \oriscus a \pes \auctum \descendens b \]

(Apo)stropha

[image of music]

\[ \stropha b \]

Stropha Aucta

[image of music]

\[ \stropha \auctum b \]

Bistropha

[image of music]

\[ \stropha b \stropha b \]

Tristropha

[image of music]

\[ \stropha b \stropha b \stropha b \]

Trigonus

[image of music]

\[ \stropha b \stropha b \stropha a \]

Predefined commands

The following head prefixes are supported

\virga, \stropha, \inclinatum, \auctum, \descendens, \ascendens, \oriscus, \quilisma, \deminutum, \cavum, \linea.

Head prefixes can be accumulated, though restrictions apply. For example, either \descendens or \ascendens can be applied to a head, but not both to the same head.

Two adjacent heads can be tied together with the \pes and \flexa infix commands for a rising and falling line of melody, respectively.

Use the unary music function \augmentum to add augmentum dots.

See also

TODO: nothing here yet ...

Known issues and warnings

When an \augmentum dot appears at the end of the last staff within a ligature, it is sometimes vertically placed wrong. As a workaround, add an additional skip note (e.g. s8) as last note of the staff.

\augmentum should be implemented as a head prefix rather than a unary music function, such that \augmentum can be intermixed with head prefixes in arbitrary order.


2.8.5 Working with ancient music—scenarios and solutions

Working with ancient music frequently involves particular tasks which differ considerably from the modern notation for which Lilypond is designed. In the rest of this section, a number of typical scenarios are outlined, with suggestions of solutions. These involve:


Incipits

TBC

See also


Mensurstriche layout

Mensurstriche (‘mensuration lines’) is the accepted term for bar lines that are drawn between the staves of a system but not through the staves themselves. It is a common way to preserve the rhythmic appearance of the original, i.e. not having to break syncopated notes at bar lines, while still providing the orientation aids that bar lines give.

The mensurstriche-layout where the bar lines do not show on the staves but between staves can be achieved with a StaffGroup instead of a ChoirStaff. The bar line on staves is blanked out by setting the transparent property.

global = {
  \override Staff.BarLine #'transparent = ##t
  s1 s
  % the final bar line is not interrupted
  \revert Staff.BarLine #'transparent
  \bar "|."
}
\new StaffGroup \relative c'' {
  <<
    \new Staff { << \global { c1 c } >> }
    \new Staff { << \global { c c } >> }
  >>
}

[image of music]

TBC

See also


Transcribing Gregorian chant

TBC

See also


Ancient and modern from one source

TBC

See also


Editorial markings

TBC

See also


2.9 World music

The purpose of this section is to highlight musical notation issues that are relevant to traditions outside the Western tradition.


2.9.1 Arabic music

This section highlights issues that are relevant to notating Arabic music.


References for Arabic music

Arabic music so far has been mainly an oral tradition. When music is transcribed, it is usually in a sketch format, on which performers are expected to improvise significantly. Increasingly, Western notation, with a few variations, is adopted in order to communicate and preserve Arabic music.

Some elements of Western musical notation such as the transcription of chords or independent parts, are not required to typeset the more traditional Arabic pieces. There are however some different issues, such as the need to indicate medium intervals that are somewhere between a semi-tone and a tone, in addition to the minor and major intervals that are used in Western music. There is also the need to group and indicate a large number of different maqams (modes) that are part of Arabic music.

In general, Arabic music notation does not attempt to precisely indicate microtonal elements that are present in musical practice.

Several issues that are relevant to Arabic music are covered elsewhere:

See also

Notation Reference: Note names in other languages, Key signature, Manual beams.

Snippets: World music.


Arabic note names

The more traditional Arabic note names can be quite long and are not suitable for the purpose of music writing, so they are not used. English note names are not very familiar in Arabic music education, so Italian or Solfege note names (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si) are used instead. Modifiers (accidentals) can also be used, as discussed in Note names in other languages.

For example, this is how the Arabic rast scale can be notated:

\include "arabic.ly"
\relative do' {
  do re misb fa sol la sisb do sisb la sol fa misb re do
}

[image of music]

The symbol for semi-flat does not match the symbol which is used in Arabic notation. The \dwn symbol defined in arabic.ly may be used preceding a flat symbol as a work around if it is important to use the specific Arabic semi-flat symbol. The appearance of the semi-flat symbol in the key signature cannot be altered by using this method.

\include "arabic.ly"
\relative do' {
  \set Staff.extraNatural = ##f
  dod dob dosd \dwn dob dobsb dodsd do do
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Note names in other languages.

Snippets: World music.


Arabic key signatures

In addition to the minor and major key signatures, the following key signatures are defined in arabic.ly: bayati, rast, sikah, iraq, and kurd. These key signatures define a small number of maqam groups rather than the large number of maqams that are in common use.

In general, a maqam uses the key signature of its group, or a neighbouring group, and varying accidentals are marked throughout the music.

For example to indicate the key signature of a maqam muhayer piece:

\key re \bayati

Here re is the default pitch of the muhayer maqam, and bayati is the name of the base maqam in the group.

While the key signature indicates the group, it is common for the title to indicate the more specific maqam, so in this example, the name of maqam muhayer should appear in the title.

Other maqams in the same bayati group, as shown in the table below: (bayati, hussaini, saba, and ushaq) can be indicated in the same way. These are all variations of the base and most common maqam in the group, which is bayati. They usually differ from the base maqam in their upper tetrachords, or certain flow details that don’t change their fundamental nature, as siblings.

The other maqam in the same group (Nawa) is related to bayati by modulation which is indicated in the table in parenthesis for those maqams that are modulations of their base maqam. Arabic maqams admit of only limited modulations, due to the nature of Arabic musical instruments. Nawa can be indicated as follows:

\key sol \bayati

In Arabic music, the same term such as bayati that is used to indicate a maqam group, is also a maqam which is usually the most important in the group, and can also be thought of as a base maqam.

Here is one suggested grouping that maps the more common maqams to key signatures:

maqam group

key

finalis

Other maqmas in group (finalis)

ajam

major

sib

jaharka (fa)

bayati

bayati

re

hussaini, muhayer, saba, ushaq, nawa (sol)

hijaz

kurd

re

shahnaz, shad arban (sol), hijazkar (do)

iraq

iraq

sisb

-

kurd

kurd

re

hijazkar kurd (do)

nahawand

minor

do

busalik (re), farah faza (sol)

nakriz

minor

do

nawa athar, hisar (re)

rast

rast

do

mahur, yakah (sol)

sikah

sikah

misb

huzam

Selected Snippets

Non-traditional key signatures

The commonly used \key command sets the keySignature property, in the Staff context.

To create non-standard key signatures, set this property directly. The format of this command is a list:

\set Staff.keySignature = #`(((octave . step) . alter) ((octave . step) . alter) ...) where, for each element in the list, octave specifies the octave (0 being the octave from middle C to the B above), step specifies the note within the octave (0 means C and 6 means B), and alter is ,SHARP ,FLAT ,DOUBLE-SHARP etc. (Note the leading comma.)

Alternatively, for each item in the list, using the more concise format (step . alter) specifies that the same alteration should hold in all octaves.

Here is an example of a possible key signature for generating a whole-tone scale:

\relative c' {
  \set Staff.keySignature = #`(((0 . 3) . ,SHARP)
                               ((0 . 5) . ,FLAT)
                               ((0 . 6) . ,FLAT))
  c4 d e fis
  aes4 bes c2
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Key signature.

Learning Manual: Accidentals and key signatures.

Internals Reference: KeySignature.

Snippets: World music, Pitches.


Arabic time signatures

Some Arabic and Turkish music classical forms such as Semai use unusual time signatures such as 10/8. This may lead to an automatic grouping of notes that is quite different from existing typeset music, where notes may not be grouped on the beat, but in a manner that is difficult to match by adjusting automatic beaming. You can override this by switching off automatic beaming and beaming the notes manually. Where matching existing typeset music is not an issue, you may still want to adjust the beaming behaviour and/or use compound time signatures.

Selected Snippets

Compound time signatures

Odd 20th century time signatures (such as "5/8") can often be played as compound time signatures (e.g. "3/8 + 2/8"), which combine two or more inequal metrics. LilyPond can make such music quite easy to read and play, by explicitly printing the compound time signatures and adapting the automatic beaming behavior. (Graphic measure grouping indications can also be added; see the appropriate snippet in this database.)

#(define (compound-time one two num)
  (markup #:override '(baseline-skip . 0) #:number
   (#:line ((#:column (one num)) #:vcenter "+" (#:column (two num))))
  ))

\relative {  
  \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = #ly:text-interface::print
  \override Staff.TimeSignature #'text = #(compound-time "2" "3" "8")
  \time 5/8
  #(override-auto-beam-setting '(end 1 8 5 8) 1 4)
  c8 d e fis gis
  c8 fis, gis e d
  c8 d e4 gis8
}

[image of music]

Arabic improvisation

For improvisations or taqasim which are temporarily free, the time signature can be omitted and \cadenzaOn can be used. Adjusting the accidental style might be required, since the absence of bar lines will cause the accidental to be marked only once. Here is an example of what could be the start of a hijaz improvisation:

\include "arabic.ly"

\relative sol' {
  \key re \kurd
  #(set-accidental-style 'forget)
  \cadenzaOn
  sol4 sol sol sol fad mib sol1 fad8 mib re4. r8 mib1 fad sol
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Manual beams, Automatic beams, Unmetered music, Automatic accidentals, Setting automatic beam behavior, Time signature.

Snippets: World music.


Arabic music example

Here is a template that also uses the start of a Turkish Semai that is familiar in Arabic music education in order to illustrate some of the peculiarities of Arabic music notation, such as medium intervals and unusual modes that are discussed in this section.

\include "arabic.ly"
\score {
  \relative re' {
    \set Staff.extraNatural = ##f
    \set Staff.autoBeaming = ##f
    \key re \bayati
    \time 10/8

    re4 re'8 re16 [misb re do] sisb [la sisb do] re4 r8
    re16 [misb do re] sisb [do] la [sisb sol8] la [sisb] do [re] misb
    fa4 fa16 [misb] misb8. [re16] re8 [misb] re  [do] sisb
    do4 sisb8 misb16 [re do sisb] la [do sisb la] la4 r8
  }
  \header {
    title = "Semai Muhayer"
    composer = "Jamil Bek"
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: World music


Further reading

  1. The music of the Arabs by Habib Hassan Touma [Amadeus Press, 1996], contains a discussion of maqams and their method of groupings.

    There are also various web sites that explain maqams and some provide audio examples such as :

    There are some variations in the details of how maqams are grouped, despite agreement on the criteria of grouping maqams that are related through common lower tetra chords, or through modulation.

  2. There is not a complete consistency, sometimes even in the same text on how key signatures for particular maqams should be specified. It is common, however, to use a key signature per group, rather than a different key signature for each different maqam.

    Oud methods by the following authors, contain examples of mainly Turkish and Arabic compositions.

    • Charbel Rouhana
    • George Farah
    • Ibrahim Ali Darwish Al-masri

3. General input and output

This section deals with general LilyPond input and output issues, rather than specific notation.


3.1 Input structure

The main format of input for LilyPond are text files. By convention, these files end with .ly.


3.1.1 Structure of a score

A \score block must contain a single music expression delimited by curly brackets:

\score {
...
}

Note: There must be only one outer music expression in a score block, and it must be surrounded by curly brackets.

This single music expression may be of any size, and may contain other music expressions to any complexity. All of these examples are music expressions:

{ c'4 c' c' c' }
{
  { c'4 c' c' c'}
  { d'4 d' d' d'}
}

[image of music]

<<
  \new Staff { c'4 c' c' c' }
  \new Staff { d'4 d' d' d' }
>>

[image of music]

{
  \new GrandStaff <<
    \new StaffGroup <<
      \new Staff { \flute }
      \new Staff { \oboe }
    >>
    \new StaffGroup <<
      \new Staff { \violinI }
      \new Staff { \violinII }
    >>
  >>
}

Comments are one exception to this general rule. (For others see File structure.) Both single-line comments and comments delimited by %{ .. %} may be placed anywhere within an input file. They may be placed inside or outside a \score block, and inside or outside the single music expression within a \score block.

See also

Learning Manual:

Working on input files, Music expressions explained, Score is a (single) compound musical expression.


3.1.2 Multiple scores in a book

A document may contain multiple pieces of music and text. Examples of these are an etude book, or an orchestral part with multiple movements. Each movement is entered with a \score block,

\score {
  ..music..
}

and texts are entered with a \markup block,

\markup {
  ..text..
}

All the movements and texts which appear in the same .ly file will normally be typeset in the form of a single output file.

\score {
  ..
}
\markup {
  ..
}
\score {
  ..
}

However, if you want multiple output files from the same .ly file, then you can add multiple \book blocks, where each such \book block will result in a separate output. If you do not specify any \book block in the file, LilyPond will implicitly treat the full file as a single \book block, see File structure. One important exception is within lilypond-book documents, where you explicitly have to add a \book block, otherwise only the first \score or \markup will appear in the output.

The header for each piece of music can be put inside the \score block. The piece name from the header will be printed before each movement. The title for the entire book can be put inside the \book, but if it is not present, the \header which is at the top of the file is inserted.

\header {
  title = "Eight miniatures"
  composer = "Igor Stravinsky"
}
\score {
  …
  \header { piece = "Romanze" }
}
\markup {
   ..text of second verse..
}
\markup {
   ..text of third verse..
}
\score {
  …
  \header { piece = "Menuetto" }
}

Pieces of music may be grouped into book parts using \bookpart blocks. Book parts are separated by a page break, and can start with a title, like the book itself, by specifying a \header block.

\bookpart {
  \header {
    title = "Book title"
    subtitle = "First part"
  }
  \score { … }
  …
}
\bookpart {
  \header {
    subtitle = "Second part"
  }
  \score { … }
  …
}

3.1.3 File structure

A .ly file may contain any number of toplevel expressions, where a toplevel expression is one of the following:

The following example shows three things that may be entered at toplevel

\layout {
  % Don't justify the output
  ragged-right = ##t
}

\header {
   title = "Do-re-mi"
}

{ c'4 d' e2 }

At any point in a file, any of the following lexical instructions can be entered:

See also

Learning Manual: How LilyPond input files work.


3.2 Titles and headers

Almost all printed music includes a title and the composer’s name; some pieces include a lot more information.


3.2.1 Creating titles

Titles are created for each \score block, as well as for the full input file (or \book block) and book parts (created by \bookpart blocks).

The contents of the titles are taken from the \header blocks. The header block for a book supports the following

dedication

The dedicatee of the music, centered at the top of the first page.

title

The title of the music, centered just below the dedication.

subtitle

Subtitle, centered below the title.

subsubtitle

Subsubtitle, centered below the subtitle.

poet

Name of the poet, flush-left below the subsubtitle.

instrument

Name of the instrument, centered below the subsubtitle. Also centered at the top of pages (other than the first page).

composer

Name of the composer, flush-right below the subsubtitle.

meter

Meter string, flush-left below the poet.

arranger

Name of the arranger, flush-right below the composer.

piece

Name of the piece, flush-left below the meter.

opus

Name of the opus, flush-right below the arranger.

breakbefore

This forces the title to start on a new page (set to ##t or ##f).

copyright

Copyright notice, centered at the bottom of the first page. To insert the copyright symbol, see Text encoding.

tagline

Centered at the bottom of the last page.

Here is a demonstration of the fields available. Note that you may use any Formatting text, commands in the header.

\paper {
  line-width = 9.0\cm
  paper-height = 10.0\cm
}

\book {
  \header {
    dedication = "dedicated to me"
    title = \markup \center-column { "Title first line" "Title second line,
longer" }
    subtitle = "the subtitle,"
    subsubtitle = #(string-append "subsubtitle LilyPond version "
(lilypond-version))
    poet = "Poet"
    composer =  \markup \center-column { "composer" \small "(1847-1973)" }
    texttranslator = "Text Translator"
    meter = \markup { \teeny "m" \tiny "e" \normalsize "t" \large "e" \huge
"r" }
    arranger = \markup { \fontsize #8.5 "a" \fontsize #2.5 "r" \fontsize
#-2.5 "r" \fontsize #-5.3 "a" \fontsize #7.5 "nger" }
    instrument = \markup \bold \italic "instrument"
    piece = "Piece"
  }

  \score {
    { c'1 }
    \header {
      piece = "piece1"
      opus = "opus1"
    }
  }
  \markup {
      and now...
  }
  \score {
    { c'1 }
    \header {
      piece = "piece2"
      opus = "opus2"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

As demonstrated before, you can use multiple \header blocks. When same fields appear in different blocks, the latter is used. Here is a short example.

\header {
  composer = "Composer"
}
\header {
  piece = "Piece"
}
\score {
  \new Staff { c'4 }
  \header {
    piece = "New piece"  % overwrite previous one
  }
}

If you define the \header inside the \score block, then normally only the piece and opus headers will be printed. Note that the music expression must come before the \header.

\score {
  { c'4 }
  \header {
    title = "title"  % not printed
    piece = "piece"
    opus = "opus"
  }
}

[image of music]

You may change this behavior (and print all the headers when defining \header inside \score) by using

\paper{
  print-all-headers = ##t
}

The default footer is empty, except for the first page, where the copyright field from \header is inserted, and the last page, where tagline from \header is added. The default tagline is “Music engraving by LilyPond (version)”.2

Headers may be completely removed by setting them to false.

\header {
  tagline = ##f
  composer = ##f
}

3.2.2 Custom titles

A more advanced option is to change the definitions of the following variables in the \paper block. The init file ‘../ly/titling-init.ly’ lists the default layout.

bookTitleMarkup

This is the title added at the top of the entire output document. Typically, it has the composer and the title of the piece

scoreTitleMarkup

This is the title put over a \score block. Typically, it has the name of the movement (piece field).

oddHeaderMarkup

This is the page header for odd-numbered pages.

evenHeaderMarkup

This is the page header for even-numbered pages. If unspecified, the odd header is used instead.

By default, headers are defined such that the page number is on the outside edge, and the instrument is centered.

oddFooterMarkup

This is the page footer for odd-numbered pages.

evenFooterMarkup

This is the page footer for even-numbered pages. If unspecified, the odd header is used instead.

By default, the footer has the copyright notice on the first, and the tagline on the last page.

The following definition will put the title flush left, and the composer flush right on a single line.

\paper {
  bookTitleMarkup = \markup {
   \fill-line {
     \fromproperty #'header:title
     \fromproperty #'header:composer
   }
  }
}

3.2.3 Reference to page numbers

A particular place of a score can be marked using the \label command, either at top-level or inside music. This label can then be referred to in a markup, to get the number of the page where the marked point is placed, using the \page-ref markup command.

\header { tagline = ##f }
\book {
  \label #'firstScore
  \score {
    {
      c'1
      \pageBreak \mark A \label #'markA
      c'
    }
  }

  \markup { The first score begins on page \page-ref #'firstScore "0" "?" }
  \markup { Mark A is on page \page-ref #'markA "0" "?" }
}

[image of music]

The \page-ref markup command takes three arguments:

  1. the label, a scheme symbol, eg. #'firstScore;
  2. a markup that will be used as a gauge to estimate the dimensions of the markup;
  3. a markup that will be used in place of the page number if the label is not known;

The reason why a gauge is needed is that, at the time markups are interpreted, the page breaking has not yet occurred, so the page numbers are not yet known. To work around this issue, the actual markup interpretation is delayed to a later time; however, the dimensions of the markup have to be known before, so a gauge is used to decide these dimensions. If the book has between 10 and 99 pages, it may be "00", ie. a two digit number.

Predefined commands

\label \page-ref


3.2.4 Table of contents

A table of contents is included using the \markuplines \table-of-contents command. The elements which should appear in the table of contents are entered with the \tocItem command, which may be used either at top-level, or inside a music expression.

\markuplines \table-of-contents
\pageBreak

\tocItem \markup "First score"
\score {
  {
    c'  % ...
    \tocItem \markup "Some particular point in the first score"
    d'  % ...
  }
}

\tocItem \markup "Second score"
\score {
  {
    e' % ...
  }
}

The markups which are used to format the table of contents are defined in the \paper block. The default ones are tocTitleMarkup, for formatting the title of the table, and tocItemMarkup, for formatting the toc elements, composed of the element title and page number. These variables may be changed by the user:

\paper {
  %% Translate the toc title into French:
  tocTitleMarkup = \markup \huge \column {
    \fill-line { \null "Table des matières" \null }
    \hspace #1
  }
  %% use larger font size
  tocItemMarkup = \markup \large \fill-line {
    \fromproperty #'toc:text \fromproperty #'toc:page
  }
}

Note how the toc element text and page number are referred to in the tocItemMarkup definition.

New commands and markups may also be defined to build more elaborated table of contents:

In the following example, a new style is defined for entering act names in the table of contents of an opera:

\paper {
  tocActMarkup = \markup \large \column {
    \hspace #1
    \fill-line { \null \italic \fromproperty #'toc:text \null }
    \hspace #1
  }
}

tocAct =
#(define-music-function (parser location text) (markup?)
   (add-toc-item! 'tocActMarkup text))

[image of music]

See also

Init files: ‘../ly/toc-init.ly’.

Predefined commands

\table-of-contents \tocItem


3.3 Working with input files


3.3.1 Including LilyPond files

A large project may be split up into separate files. To refer to another file, use

\include "otherfile.ly"

The line \include "otherfile.ly" is equivalent to pasting the contents of ‘otherfile.ly’ into the current file at the place where the \include appears. For example, in a large project you might write separate files for each instrument part and create a “full score” file which brings together the individual instrument files. Normally the included file will define a number of variables which then become available for use in the full score file. Tagged sections can be marked in included files to assist in making them usable in different places in a score, see Different editions from one source.

Files in the current working directory may be referenced by specifying just the file name after the \include command. Files in other locations may be included by giving either a full path reference or a relative path reference (but use the UNIX forward slash, /, rather than the DOS/Windows back slash, \, as the directory separator.) For example, if ‘stuff.ly’ is located one directory higher than the current working directory, use

\include "../stuff.ly"

or if the included orchestral parts files are all located in a subdirectory called ‘parts’ within the current directory, use

\include "parts/VI.ly"
\include "parts/VII.ly"
... etc

Files which are to be included can also contain \include statements of their own. These second-level \include statements are not interpreted until they have been brought into the main file, so the file names they specify must all be relative to the directory containing the main file, not the directory containing the included file.

Files can also be included from a directory in a search path specified as an option when invoking LilyPond from the command line. The included files are then specified using just their file name. For example, to compile ‘main.ly’ which includes files located in a subdirectory called ‘parts’ by this method, cd to the directory containing ‘main.ly’ and enter

lilypond --include=parts main.ly

and in main.ly write

\include "VI.ly"
\include "VII.ly"
... etc

Files which are to be included in many scores may be placed in the LilyPond directory ‘../ly’. (The location of this directory is installation-dependent - see of information Other sources of information). These files can then be included simply by naming them on an \include statement. This is how the language-dependent files like ‘english.ly’ are included.

LilyPond includes a number of files by default when you start the program. These includes are not apparent to the user, but the files may be identified by running lilypond --verbose from the command line. This will display a list of paths and files that LilyPond uses, along with much other information. Alternatively, the more important of these files are discussed in sources of information Other sources of information. These files may be edited, but changes to them will be lost on installing a new version of LilyPond.

Some simple examples of using \include are shown in Scores and parts.

See also

Learning Manual: Other sources of information, Scores and parts.

Known issues and warnings

If an included file is given a name which is the same as one in LilyPond’s installation files, LilyPond’s file from the installation files takes precedence.


3.3.2 Different editions from one source

Several mechanisms are available to facilitate the generation of different versions of a score from the same music source. Variables are perhaps most useful for combining lengthy sections of music and/or annotation in various ways, while tags are more useful for selecting one from several alternative shorter sections of music. Whichever method is used, separating the notation from the structure of the score will make it easier to change the structure while leaving the notation untouched.


Using variables

If sections of the music are defined in variables they can be reused in different parts of the score, see pieces with variables Organizing pieces with variables. For example, an a cappella vocal score frequently includes a piano reduction of the parts for rehearsal purposes which is identical to the vocal music, so the music need be entered only once. Music from two variables may be combined on one staff, see Automatic part combining. Here is an example:

sopranoMusic = \relative c'' { a4 b c b8( a)}
altoMusic = \relative g' { e4 e e f }
tenorMusic = \relative c' { c4 b e d8( c) }
bassMusic = \relative c' { a4 gis a d, }
allLyrics = \lyricmode {King of glo -- ry }
<<
  \new Staff = "Soprano" \sopranoMusic
  \new Lyrics \allLyrics
  \new Staff = "Alto" \altoMusic
  \new Lyrics \allLyrics
  \new Staff = "Tenor" {
    \clef "treble_8"
    \tenorMusic
  }
  \new Lyrics \allLyrics
  \new Staff = "Bass" {
    \clef "bass"
    \bassMusic
  }
  \new Lyrics \allLyrics
  \new PianoStaff <<
    \new Staff = "RH" {
      \set Staff.printPartCombineTexts = ##f
      \partcombine
      \sopranoMusic
      \altoMusic
    }
    \new Staff = "LH" {
      \set Staff.printPartCombineTexts = ##f
      \clef "bass"
      \partcombine
      \tenorMusic
      \bassMusic
    }
  >>
>>

[image of music]

Separate scores showing just the vocal parts or just the piano part can be produced by changing just the structural statements, leaving the musical notation unchanged.

For lengthy scores, the variable definitions may be placed in separate files which are then included, see Including LilyPond files.


Using tags

The \tag #'partA command marks a music expression with the name partA. Expressions tagged in this way can be selected or filtered out by name later, using either \keepWithTag #'name or \removeWithTag #'name. The result of applying these filters to tagged music is as follows:

Filter

Result

Tagged music preceded by \keepWithTag #'name

Untagged music and music tagged with name is included; music tagged with any other tag name is excluded.

Tagged music preceded by \removeWithTag #'name

Untagged music and music tagged with any tag name other than name is included; music tagged with name is excluded.

Tagged music not preceded by either \keepWithTag or \removeWithTag

All tagged and untagged music is included.

The arguments of the \tag, \keepWithTag and \removeWithTag commands should be a symbol (such as #'score or #'part), followed by a music expression.

In the following example, we see two versions of a piece of music, one showing trills with the usual notation, and one with trills explicitly expanded:

music = \relative g' {
  g8. c32 d
  \tag #'trills {d8.\trill }
  \tag #'expand {\repeat unfold 3 {e32 d} }
  c32 d
 }

\score {
  \keepWithTag #'trills \music
}
\score {
  \keepWithTag #'expand \music
}

[image of music]

Alternatively, it is sometimes easier to exclude sections of music:

music = \relative g' {
  g8. c32 d
  \tag #'trills {d8.\trill }
  \tag #'expand {\repeat unfold 3 {e32 d} }
  c32 d
 }

\score {
  \removeWithTag #'expand
  \music
}
\score {
  \removeWithTag #'trills
  \music
}

[image of music]

Tagged filtering can be applied to articulations, texts, etc. by prepending

-\tag #'your-tag

to an articulation. For example, this would define a note with a conditional fingering indication and a note with a conditional annotation:

c1-\tag #'finger ^4
c1-\tag #'warn ^"Watch!"

Multiple tags may be placed on expressions with multiple \tag entries:

music = \relative c'' {
  \tag #'a \tag #'both { a a a a }
  \tag #'b \tag #'both { b b b b }
}
<<
\keepWithTag #'a \music
\keepWithTag #'b \music
\keepWithTag #'both \music
>>

[image of music]

Multiple \removeWithTag filters may be applied to a single music expression to remove several differently named tagged sections:

music = \relative c'' {
\tag #'A { a a a a }
\tag #'B { b b b b }
\tag #'C { c c c c }
\tag #'D { d d d d }
}
{
\removeWithTag #'B
\removeWithTag #'C
\music
}

[image of music]

Two or more \keepWithTag filters applied to a single music expression will cause all tagged sections to be removed, as the first filter will remove all tagged sections except the one named, and the second filter will remove even that tagged section.

See also

Learning Manual: Organizing pieces with variables.

Notation Reference: Automatic part combining, Including LilyPond files.


3.3.3 Text encoding

LilyPond uses the character repertoire defined by the Unicode consortium and ISO/IEC 10646. This defines a unique name and code point for the character sets used in virtually all modern languages and many others too. Unicode can be implemented using several different encodings. LilyPond uses the UTF-8 encoding (UTF stands for Unicode Transformation Format) which represents all common Latin characters in one byte, and represents other characters using a variable length format of up to four bytes.

The actual appearance of the characters is determined by the glyphs defined in the particular fonts available - a font defines the mapping of a subset of the Unicode code points to glyphs. LilyPond uses the Pango library to layout and render multi-lingual texts.

Lilypond does not perform any input-encoding conversions. This means that any text, be it title, lyric text, or musical instruction containing non-ASCII characters, must be encoded in UTF-8. The easiest way to enter such text is by using a Unicode-aware editor and saving the file with UTF-8 encoding. Most popular modern editors have UTF-8 support, for example, vim, Emacs, jEdit, and GEdit do. All MS Windows systems later than NT use Unicode as their native character encoding, so even Notepad can edit and save a file in UTF-8 format. A more functional alternative for Windows is BabelPad.

If a LilyPond input file containing a non-ASCII character is not saved in UTF-8 format the error message

FT_Get_Glyph_Name () error: invalid argument

will be generated.

Here is an example showing Cyrillic, Hebrew and Portuguese text:

[image of music]

To enter a single character for which the Unicode escape sequence is known but which is not available in the editor being used, use \char ##xhhhh within a \markup block, where hhhh is the hexadecimal code for the character required. For example, \char ##x03BE enters the Unicode U+03BE character, which has the Unicode name “Greek Small Letter Xi”. Any Unicode hexadecimal code may be substituted, and if all special characters are entered in this format it is not necessary to save the input file in UTF-8 format. Of course, a font containing all such encoded characters must be installed and available to LilyPond.

The following example shows UTF-8 coded characters being used in four places – in a rehearsal mark, as articulation text, in lyrics and as stand-alone text below the score:

\score {
  \relative c'' {
    c1 \mark \markup { \char ##x03EE }
    c1_\markup { \tiny { \char ##x03B1 " to " \char ##x03C9 } }
  }
  \addlyrics { O \markup { \concat{ Ph \char ##x0153 be! } } }
}
\markup { "Copyright 2008" \char ##x00A9 }

[image of music]

To enter the copyright sign in the copyright notice use:

\header {
  copyright = \markup { \char ##x00A9 "2008" }
}

3.3.4 Displaying LilyPond notation

Displaying a music expression in LilyPond notation can be done using the music function \displayLilyMusic. For example,

{
  \displayLilyMusic \transpose c a, { c e g a bes }
}

will display

{ a, cis e fis g }

By default, LilyPond will print these messages to the console along with all the other messages. To split up these messages and save the results of \display{STUFF}, redirect the output to a file.

lilypond file.ly >display.txt

3.4 Controlling output


3.4.1 Extracting fragments of music

It is possible to quote small fragments of a large score directly from the output. This can be compared to clipping a piece of a paper score with scissors.

This is done by defining the measures that need to be cut out separately. For example, including the following definition

\layout {
  clip-regions
  = #(list
      (cons
       (make-rhythmic-location 5 1 2)
       (make-rhythmic-location 7 3 4)))
}

will extract a fragment starting halfway the fifth measure, ending in the seventh measure. The meaning of 5 1 2 is: after a 1/2 note in measure 5, and 7 3 4 after 3 quarter notes in measure 7.

More clip regions can be defined by adding more pairs of rhythmic-locations to the list.

In order to use this feature, LilyPond must be invoked with -dclip-systems. The clips are output as EPS files, and are converted to PDF and PNG if these formats are switched on as well.

For more information on output formats, see Invoking lilypond.


3.4.2 Skipping corrected music

When entering or copying music, usually only the music near the end (where you are adding notes) is interesting to view and correct. To speed up this correction process, it is possible to skip typesetting of all but the last few measures. This is achieved by putting

showLastLength = R1*5
\score { ... }

in your source file. This will render only the last 5 measures (assuming 4/4 time signature) of every \score in the input file. For longer pieces, rendering only a small part is often an order of magnitude quicker than rendering it completely. When working on the beginning of a score you have already typeset (e.g. to add a new part), the showFirstLength property may be useful as well.

Skipping parts of a score can be controlled in a more fine-grained fashion with the property Score.skipTypesetting. When it is set, no typesetting is performed at all.

This property is also used to control output to the MIDI file. Note that it skips all events, including tempo and instrument changes. You have been warned.

\relative c'' {
  c8 d
  \set Score.skipTypesetting = ##t
  e e e e e e e e
  \set Score.skipTypesetting = ##f
  c d b bes a g c2 }

[image of music]

In polyphonic music, Score.skipTypesetting will affect all voices and staves, saving even more time.


3.5 MIDI output

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a standard for connecting and controlling digital instruments. A MIDI file is a series of notes in a number of tracks. It is not an actual sound file; you need special software to translate between the series of notes and actual sounds.

Pieces of music can be converted to MIDI files, so you can listen to what was entered. This is convenient for checking the music; octaves that are off or accidentals that were mistyped stand out very much when listening to the MIDI output.

The midi output allocates a channel for each staff, and one for global settings. Therefore the midi file should not have more than 15 staves (or 14 if you do not use drums). Other staves will remain silent.


3.5.1 Creating MIDI files

To create a MIDI output file from a LilyPond input file, add a \midi block to a score, for example,

\score {
  ...music...
  \midi { }
}

If there is a \midi block in a \score with no \layout block, only MIDI output will be produced. When notation is needed too, a \layout block must be also be present.

\score {
  ...music...
  \midi { }
  \layout { }
}

Pitches, rhythms, ties, dynamics, and tempo changes are interpreted and translated correctly to the MIDI output. Dynamic marks, crescendi and decrescendi translate into MIDI volume levels. Dynamic marks translate to a fixed fraction of the available MIDI volume range. Crescendi and decrescendi make the volume vary linearly between their two extremes. The effect of dynamic markings on the MIDI output can be removed completely, see MIDI block.

The initial tempo and later tempo changes can be specified with the \tempo command within the music notation. These are reflected in tempo changes in the MIDI output. This command will normally result in the metronome mark being printed, but this can be suppressed, see Metronome marks. An alternative way of specifying the inital or overall MIDI tempo is described below, see MIDI block.


Instrument names

The MIDI instrument to be used is specified by setting the Staff.midiInstrument property to the instrument name. The name should be chosen from the list in MIDI instruments.

\new Staff {
  \set Staff.midiInstrument = "glockenspiel"
  ...notes...
}
\new Staff \with {midiInstrument = "cello"} {
  ...notes...
}

If the selected instrument does not exactly match an instrument from the list of MIDI instruments, the Grand Piano ("acoustic grand") instrument is used.

Selected Snippets

Changing MIDI output to one channel per voice

When outputting MIDI, the default behavior is for each staff to represent one MIDI channel, with all the voices on a staff amalgamated. This minimizes the risk of running out of MIDI channels, since there are only 16 available per track.

However, by moving the Staff_performer to the Voice context, each voice on a staff can have its own MIDI channel, as is demonstrated by the following example: despite being on the same staff, two MIDI channels are created, each with a different midiInstrument.

\score {
  \new Staff <<
    \new Voice \relative c''' {
      \set midiInstrument = #"flute"
      \voiceOne
      \key g \major
      \time 2/2
      r2 g-"Flute" ~
      g fis ~
      fis4 g8 fis e2 ~
      e4 d8 cis d2
    }
    \new Voice \relative c'' {
      \set midiInstrument = #"clarinet"
      \voiceTwo
      b1-"Clarinet"
      a2. b8 a
      g2. fis8 e
      fis2 r
    }
  >>
  \layout { }
  \midi {
    \context {
      \Staff
      \remove "Staff_performer"
    }
    \context {
      \Voice
      \consists "Staff_performer"      
    }
    \context {
      \Score
      tempoWholesPerMinute = #(ly:make-moment 72 2)
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Known issues and warnings

Changes in the MIDI volume take place only on starting a note, so crescendi and decrescendi cannot affect the volume of a single note.

Not all midi players correctly handle tempo changes in the midi output. Players that are known to work include MS Windows Media Player and timidity.


3.5.2 MIDI block

A \midi block must appear within a score block if MIDI output is required. It is analogous to the layout block, but somewhat simpler. Often, the \midi block is left empty, but it can contain context rearrangements, new context definitions or code to set the values of properties. For example, the following will set the initial tempo exported to a MIDI file without causing a tempo indication to be printed:

\score {
  ...music...
  \midi {
    \context {
      \Score
      tempoWholesPerMinute = #(ly:make-moment 72 4)
    }
  }
}

In this example the tempo is set to 72 quarter note beats per minute. This kind of tempo specification cannot take a dotted note length as an argument. If one is required, break the dotted note into smaller units. For example, a tempo of 90 dotted quarter notes per minute can be specified as 270 eighth notes per minute:

tempoWholesPerMinute = #(ly:make-moment 270 8)

Context definitions follow precisely the same syntax as those within a \layout block. Translation modules for sound are called performers. The contexts for MIDI output are defined in ‘../ly/performer-init.ly’, see Other sources of information. For example, to remove the effect of dynamics from the MIDI output, insert the following lines in the \midi{ } block.

\midi {
  ...
  \context {
    \Voice
    \remove "Dynamic_performer"
  }
}

MIDI output is created only when a \midi block is included within a score block defined with a \score command. If it is placed within an explicitly instantiated score context (i.e. within a \new Score block) the file will fail. To solve this, enclose the \new Score and the \midi commands in a \score block.

\score {
  \new Score { …notes… }
  \midi { }
}

3.5.3 What goes into the MIDI output?


Supported in MIDI

The following items of notation are reflected in the MIDI output:


Unsupported in MIDI

The following items of notation have no effect on the MIDI output:


3.5.4 Repeats in MIDI

With a few minor additions, all types of repeats can be represented in the MIDI output. This is achieved by applying the \unfoldRepeats music function. This function changes all repeats to unfold repeats.

\unfoldRepeats {
  \repeat tremolo 8 {c'32 e' }
  \repeat percent 2 { c''8 d'' }
  \repeat volta 2 {c'4 d' e' f'}
  \alternative {
    { g' a' a' g' }
    {f' e' d' c' }
  }
}
\bar "|."

[image of music]

When creating a score file using \unfoldRepeats for MIDI, it is necessary to make two \score blocks: one for MIDI (with unfolded repeats) and one for notation (with volta, tremolo, and percent repeats). For example,

\score {
  ..music..
  \layout { .. }
}
\score {
  \unfoldRepeats ..music..
  \midi { .. }
}

3.5.5 Controlling MIDI dynamics

MIDI dynamics are implemented by the Dynamic_performer which lives by default in the Voice context. It is possible to control the overall MIDI volume, the relative volume of dynamic markings and the relative volume of different instruments.


Dynamic marks

Dynamic marks are translated to a fixed fraction of the available MIDI volume range. The default fractions range from 0.25 for ppppp to 0.95 for fffff. The set of dynamic marks and the associated fractions can be seen in ‘../scm/midi.scm’, see Other sources of information. This set of fractions may be changed or extended by providing a function which takes a dynamic mark as its argument and returns the required fraction, and setting Score.dynamicAbsoluteVolumeFunction to this function.

For example, if a rinforzando dynamic marking, \rfz, is required, this will not by default have any effect on the MIDI volume, as this dynamic marking is not included in the default set. Similarly, if a new dynamic marking has been defined with make-dynamic-script that too will not be included in the default set. The following example shows how the MIDI volume for such dynamic markings might be added. The Scheme function sets the fraction to 0.9 if a dynamic mark of rfz is found, or calls the default function otherwise.

#(define (myDynamics dynamic)
    (if (equal? dynamic "rfz")
      0.9
      (default-dynamic-absolute-volume dynamic)))

\score {
  \new Staff {
    \set Staff.midiInstrument = "cello"
    \set Score.dynamicAbsoluteVolumeFunction = #myDynamics
    \new Voice {
       \relative c'' {
         a\pp b c-\rfz
       }
    }
  }
  \layout {}
  \midi {}
}

[image of music]

Alternatively, if the whole table of fractions needs to be redefined, it would be better to use the default-dynamic-absolute-volume procedure in ‘../scm/midi.scm’ and the associated table as a model. The final example in this section shows how this might be done.


Overall MIDI volume

The minimum and maximum overall volume of MIDI dynamic markings is controlled by setting the properties midiMinimumVolume and midiMaximumVolume at the Score level. These properties have an effect only on dynamic marks, so if they are to apply from the start of the score a dynamic mark must be placed there. The fraction corresponding to each dynamic mark is modified with this formula

midiMinimumVolume + (midiMaximumVolume - midiMinimumVolume) * fraction

In the following example the dynamic range of the overall MIDI volume is limited to the range 0.2 - 0.5.

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \key g \major
      \time 2/2
      \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"flute"
      \new Voice \relative c''' {
        r2 g\mp g fis ~
        fis4 g8 fis e2 ~
        e4 d8 cis d2
      }
    }
    \new Staff {
      \key g \major
      \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"clarinet"
      \new Voice \relative c'' {
        b1\p a2. b8 a
        g2. fis8 e
        fis2 r
      }
    }
  >>
  \layout { }
  \midi {
    \context {
      \Score
      tempoWholesPerMinute = #(ly:make-moment 72 2)
      midiMinimumVolume = #0.2
      midiMaximumVolume = #0.5
    }
  }
}

[image of music]


Equalizing different instruments (i)

If the minimum and maximum MIDI volume properties are set in the Staff context the relative volumes of the MIDI instruments can be controlled. This gives a basic instrument equalizer, which can enhance the quality of the MIDI output remarkably.

In this example the volume of the clarinet is reduced relative to the volume of the flute. There must be a dynamic mark on the first note of each instrument for this to work correctly.

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \key g \major
      \time 2/2
      \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"flute"
      \set Staff.midiMinimumVolume = #0.7
      \set Staff.midiMaximumVolume = #0.9
      \new Voice \relative c''' {
        r2 g\mp g fis ~
        fis4 g8 fis e2 ~
        e4 d8 cis d2
      }
    }
    \new Staff {
      \key g \major
      \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"clarinet"
      \set Staff.midiMinimumVolume = #0.3
      \set Staff.midiMaximumVolume = #0.6
      \new Voice \relative c'' {
        b1\p a2. b8 a
        g2. fis8 e
        fis2 r
      }
    }
  >>
  \layout { }
  \midi {
    \context {
      \Score
      tempoWholesPerMinute = #(ly:make-moment 72 2)
    }
  }
}

[image of music]


Equalizing different instruments (ii)

If the MIDI minimum and maximum volume properties are not set LilyPond will, by default, apply a small degree of equalization to a few instruments. The instruments and the equalization applied are shown in the table instrument-equalizer-alist in ‘../scm/midi.scm’.

This basic default equalizer can be replaced by setting instrumentEqualizer in the Score context to a new Scheme procedure which accepts a MIDI instrument name as its only argument and returns a pair of fractions giving the minimum and maximum volumes to be applied to that instrument. This replacement is done in the same way as shown for resetting the dynamicAbsoluteVolumeFunction at the start of this section. The default equalizer, default-instrument-equalizer, in ‘../scm/midi.scm’ shows how such a procedure might be written.

The following example sets the relative flute and clarinet volumes to the same values as the previous example.

#(define my-instrument-equalizer-alist '())

#(set! my-instrument-equalizer-alist
  (append
    '(
      ("flute" . (0.7 . 0.9))
      ("clarinet" . (0.3 . 0.6)))
    my-instrument-equalizer-alist))

#(define (my-instrument-equalizer s)
  (let ((entry (assoc s my-instrument-equalizer-alist)))
    (if entry
      (cdr entry))))

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \key g \major
      \time 2/2
      \set Score.instrumentEqualizer = #my-instrument-equalizer
      \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"flute"
      \new Voice \relative c''' {
        r2 g\mp g fis ~
        fis4 g8 fis e2 ~
        e4 d8 cis d2
      }
    }
    \new Staff {
      \key g \major
      \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"clarinet"
      \new Voice \relative c'' {
        b1\p a2. b8 a
        g2. fis8 e
        fis2 r
      }
    }
  >>
  \layout { }
  \midi {
    \context {
      \Score
      tempoWholesPerMinute = #(ly:make-moment 72 2)
    }
  }
}

[image of music]


3.5.6 Percussion in MIDI

Percussion instruments are generally notated in a DrumStaff context and when notated in this way they are outputted correctly to MIDI channel 10, but some pitched percussion instruments, like the xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, timpani, etc., are treated like “normal” instruments and music for these instruments should be entered in a normal Staff context, not a DrumStaff context, to obtain the correct MIDI output.

Some non-pitched percussion sounds included in the general MIDI standard, like melodic tom, taiko drum, synth drum, etc., cannot be reached via MIDI channel 10, so the notation for such instruments should also be entered in a normal Staff context, using suitable normal pitches.

Many percussion instruments are not included in the general MIDI standard, e.g. castanets. The easiest, although unsatisfactory, method of producing some MIDI output when writing for such instruments is to substitute the nearest sound from the standard set.

Known issues and warnings

Because the general MIDI standard does not contain rim shots, the sidestick is used for this purpose instead.


4. Spacing issues

The global paper layout is determined by three factors: the page layout, the line breaks, and the spacing. These all influence each other. The choice of spacing determines how densely each system of music is set. This influences where line breaks are chosen, and thus ultimately, how many pages a piece of music takes.

Globally speaking, this procedure happens in four steps: first, flexible distances (‘springs’) are chosen, based on durations. All possible line breaking combinations are tried, and a ‘badness’ score is calculated for each. Then the height of each possible system is estimated. Finally, a page breaking and line breaking combination is chosen so that neither the horizontal nor the vertical spacing is too cramped or stretched.

Settings which influence layout may be placed in two blocks. The \paper {...} block is placed outside any \score {...} blocks and contains settings that relate to the entire document. The \layout {...} block is placed within a \score {...} block and contains settings for that particular score. If you have only one \score {...} block the two have the same effect. In general the commands shown in this chapter can be placed in either.


4.1 Paper and pages

This section deals with the boundaries that define the area within which music can be printed.


4.1.1 Paper size

Two functions are available for changing the paper size: set-default-paper-size and set-paper-size. set-default-paper-size must be placed in the toplevel scope, and set-paper-size must be placed in a \paper block:

#(set-default-paper-size "a4")
\paper {
  #(set-paper-size "a4")
}

set-default-paper-size sets the size of all pages, whereas set-paper-size only sets the size of the pages that the \paper block applies to. For example, if the \paper block is at the top of the file, then it will apply the paper size to all pages. If the \paper block is inside a \book, then the paper size will only apply to that book.

Common paper sizes are available, including a4, letter, legal, and 11x17 (also known as tabloid). Many more paper sizes are supported by default. For details, see ‘scm/paper.scm’, and search for the definition of paper-alist.

Note: The default paper size is a4.

Extra sizes may be added by editing the definition of paper-alist in the initialization file ‘scm/paper.scm’, however they will be overridden on a subsequent install.

If the symbol 'landscape is supplied as an argument to set-default-paper-size, pages will be rotated by 90 degrees, and wider line widths will be set accordingly.

#(set-default-paper-size "a6" 'landscape)

Setting the paper size will adjust a number of \paper variables, such as margins. To use a particular paper size with altered \paper variables, set the paper size before setting the variables.

See also

Installed Files: ‘scm/paper.scm’.

Snippets: Spacing.


4.1.2 Page formatting

Margins, headers, and footers and other layout variables are automatically set according to the paper size.

This section lists and describes a number of paper variables that may be altered.


Vertical dimensions

These variables are used to set different vertical dimensions on a page:

after-title-space

The amount of space between the title and the first system. Default: 5\mm.

before-title-space

Amount of space between the last system of the previous piece and the title of the next. Default: 10\mm.

between-system-padding

The minimum amount of white space that will always be present between the bottom-most symbol of one system, and the top-most of the next system. Default: 4\mm.

Increasing this will put systems whose bounding boxes almost touch farther apart.

between-system-space

The distance between systems. It is the ideal distance between the center of the bottom staff of one system and the center of the top staff of the next system. Default: 20\mm.

Increasing this value will provide a more even appearance of the page at the cost of using more vertical space.

between-title-space

Amount of space between consecutive titles (e.g., the title of the book and the title of a piece). Default: 2\mm.

bottom-margin

The margin between footer and bottom of the page. Default: 6\mm.

foot-separation

Distance between the bottom-most music system and the page footer. Default: 4\mm.

head-separation

Distance between the top-most music system and the page header. Default: 4\mm.

page-top-space

Distance from the top of the printable area to the center of the first staff. This only works for staves that are vertically small. Big staves are set with the top of their bounding box aligned to the top of the printable area. Default: 12\mm.

paper-height

The height of the page. Default: the height of the current paper size. For details, see Paper size.

top-margin

The margin between header and top of the page. Default: 5\mm.

Selected Snippets

The header and footer are created by the functions make-footer and make-header, defined in \paper. The default implementations are in ly/paper-defaults.ly and ly/titling-init.ly.

The page layout itself is done by two functions in the \paper block, page-music-height and page-make-stencil. The former tells the line-breaking algorithm how much space can be spent on a page, the latter creates the actual page given the system to put on it.

You can define paper block values in Scheme. In that case mm, in, pt, and cm are variables defined in paper-defaults.ly with values in millimeters. That is why the value 2 cm must be multiplied in the example

\paper {
 #(define bottom-margin (* 2 cm))
}

Example:

\paper{
  paper-width = 2\cm
  top-margin = 3\cm
  bottom-margin = 3\cm
  ragged-last-bottom = ##t
}

This second example centers page numbers at the bottom of every page.

\paper {
  print-page-number = ##t
  print-first-page-number = ##t
  oddHeaderMarkup = \markup \fill-line { " " }
  evenHeaderMarkup = \markup \fill-line { " " }
  oddFooterMarkup = \markup { \fill-line {
     \bold \fontsize #3 \on-the-fly #print-page-number-check-first
     \fromproperty #'page:page-number-string } }
  evenFooterMarkup = \markup { \fill-line {
     \bold \fontsize #3 \on-the-fly #print-page-number-check-first
     \fromproperty #'page:page-number-string } }
}

You can also define these values in Scheme. In that case mm, in, pt, and cm are variables defined in ‘paper-defaults.ly’ with values in millimeters. That is why the value must be multiplied in the example

\paper {
  #(define bottom-margin (* 2 cm))
}

The header and footer are created by the functions make-footer and make-header, defined in \paper. The default implementations are in ‘ly/paper-defaults.ly’ and ‘ly/titling-init.ly’.

The page layout itself is done by two functions in the \paper block, page-music-height and page-make-stencil. The former tells the line-breaking algorithm how much space can be spent on a page, the latter creates the actual page given the system to put on it.

See also

Notation Reference: Vertical spacing between systems.

Snippets: Spacing.


Horizontal dimensions

Note: If paper-width is manually set, line-width, left-margin, indent, and short-indent may have to be adjusted as well.

There are a few variables that determine the horizontal dimensions on a page:

horizontal-shift

The amount that all systems (including titles and system separators) are shifted to the right. Default: 0.0.

indent

The level of indentation for the first system in a score. Default: paper-width divided by 14, as determined by set-default-paper-size or set-paper-size.

left-margin

The margin between the left edge of the page and the beginning of each system. Default: 10\mm, as determined by set-default-paper-size or set-paper-size.

line-width

The width of music systems. Default: paper-width minus 20\mm, as determined by set-default-paper-size or set-paper-size.

paper-width

The width of the page. Default: the width of the current paper size. For details, see Paper size.

short-indent

The level of indentation for all systems in a score besides the first system. Default: 0, as determined by set-default-paper-size or set-paper-size.

See also

Snippets: Spacing.

Known issues and warnings

The option right-margin is defined but doesn’t set the right margin yet. The value for the right margin has to be defined by adjusting the values of left-margin and line-width.


Other layout variables

These variables can be used to adjust page layout in general.

auto-first-page-number

The page breaking algorithm is affected by the first page number being odd or even. If set to true, the page breaking algorithm will decide whether to start with an odd or even number. This will result in the first page number remaining as is or being increased by one. Default: ##f.

blank-last-page-force

The penalty for ending the score on an odd-numbered page. Default: 0.

blank-page-force

The penalty for having a blank page in the middle of a score. This is not used by ly:optimal-breaking since it will never consider blank pages in the middle of a score. Default: 5.

first-page-number

The value of the page number on the first page. Default: #1.

page-breaking-between-system-padding

Tricks the page breaker into thinking that between-system-padding is set to something different than it really is. For example, if this variable is set to something substantially larger than between-system-padding, then the page-breaker will put fewer systems on each page. Default: unset.

page-count

The number of pages to be used for a score. Default: unset.

page-limit-inter-system-space

If set to true, limits space between systems on a page with a lot of space left. Default: ##f. For details, see Vertical spacing between systems.

page-limit-inter-system-space-factor

The factor used by page-limit-inter-system-space. Default: 1.4. For details, see Vertical spacing between systems.

page-spacing-weight

The relative importance of page (vertical) spacing and line (horizontal) spacing. High values will make page spacing more important. Default: #10.

print-all-headers

If set to true, this will print all headers for each \score in the output. Normally only the piece and opus header variables are printed. Default: ##f.

print-first-page-number

If set to true, a page number is printed on the first page. Default: ##f.

print-page-number

If set to false, page numbers are not printed. Default: ##t.

ragged-bottom

If set to true, systems will not spread vertically across the page. This does not affect the last page. Default: ##f.

This should be set to true for pieces that have only two or three systems per page, for example orchestral scores.

ragged-last

If set to true, the last system in the score will not fill the line width. Instead the last system ends at its natural horizontal length. Default: ##f.

ragged-last-bottom

If set to false, systems will spread vertically across the last page. Default: ##t.

Pieces that amply fill two pages or more should have this set to true.

It also affects the last page of book parts, ie parts of a book created with \bookpart blocks.

ragged-right

If set to true, systems will not fill the line width. Instead, systems end at their natural horizontal length. Default: ##f.

If the score has only one system, the default value is ##t.

system-separator-markup

A markup object that is inserted between systems. This is often used for orchestral scores. Default: unset.

The markup command \slashSeparator is provided as a sensible default, for example

[image of music]

system-count

The number of systems to be used for a score. Default: unset.

See also

Snippets: Spacing.

Known issues and warnings

The default page header puts the page number and the instrument field from the \header block on a line.

The titles (from the \header{} section) are treated as a system, so ragged-bottom and ragged-last-bottom will add space between the titles and the first system of the score.


4.2 Music layout


4.2.1 Setting the staff size

The default staff size is set to 20 points. This may be changed in two ways:

To set the staff size globally for all scores in a file (or in a book block, to be precise), use set-global-staff-size.

#(set-global-staff-size 14)

This sets the global default size to 14pt staff height and scales all fonts accordingly.

To set the staff size individually for each score, use

\score{
  ...
  \layout{
  #(layout-set-staff-size 15)
  }
}

The Feta font provides musical symbols at eight different sizes. Each font is tuned for a different staff size: at a smaller size the font becomes heavier, to match the relatively heavier staff lines. The recommended font sizes are listed in the following table:

font name

staff height (pt)

staff height (mm)

use

feta11

11.22

3.9

pocket scores

feta13

12.60

4.4

feta14

14.14

5.0

feta16

15.87

5.6

feta18

17.82

6.3

song books

feta20

20

7.0

standard parts

feta23

22.45

7.9

feta26

25.2

8.9

These fonts are available in any sizes. The context property fontSize and the layout property staff-space (in StaffSymbol) can be used to tune the size for individual staves. The sizes of individual staves are relative to the global size.

See also

Notation Reference: Selecting notation font size.

Snippets: Spacing.

Known issues and warnings

layout-set-staff-size does not change the distance between the staff lines.


4.2.2 Score layout

While \paper contains settings that relate to the page formatting of the whole document, \layout contains settings for score-specific layout.

\layout {
  indent = 2.0\cm
  \context { \Staff
    \override VerticalAxisGroup #'minimum-Y-extent = #'(-6 . 6)
  }
  \context { \Voice
    \override TextScript #'padding = #1.0
    \override Glissando #'thickness = #3
  }
}

See also

Notation Reference: Changing context default settings.

Snippets: Spacing.


4.3 Breaks


4.3.1 Line breaking

Line breaks are normally determined automatically. They are chosen so that lines look neither cramped nor loose, and consecutive lines have similar density. Occasionally you might want to override the automatic breaks; you can do this by specifying \break. This will force a line break at this point. However, line breaks can only occur at the end of ‘complete’ bars, i.e., where there are no notes or tuplets left ‘hanging’ over the bar line. If you want to have a line break where there is no bar line, you can force an invisible bar line by entering \bar "", although again there must be no notes left hanging over in any of the staves at this point, or it will be ignored.

The opposite command, \noBreak, forbids a line break at the bar line where it is inserted.

The most basic settings influencing line spacing are indent and line-width. They are set in the \layout block. They control the indentation of the first line of music, and the lengths of the lines.

If ragged-right is set to true in the \layout block, then systems end at their natural horizontal length, instead of being spread horizontally to fill the whole line. This is useful for short fragments, and for checking how tight the natural spacing is.

The option ragged-last is similar to ragged-right, but affects only the last line of the piece.

\layout {
indent = #0
line-width = #150
ragged-last = ##t
}

For line breaks at regular intervals use \break separated by skips and repeated with \repeat. For example, this would cause the following 28 measures (assuming 4/4 time) to be broken every 4 measures, and only there:

<< \repeat unfold 7 {
         s1 \noBreak s1 \noBreak
         s1 \noBreak s1 \break }
   the real music
>>

A linebreaking configuration can be saved as a .ly file automatically. This allows vertical alignments to be stretched to fit pages in a second formatting run. This is fairly new and complicated. More details are available in Spacing.

Predefined commands

\break, \noBreak.

See also

Internals Reference: LineBreakEvent.

Snippets: Spacing.

Known issues and warnings

Line breaks can only occur if there is a ‘proper’ bar line. A note which is hanging over a bar line is not proper, such as

c4 c2 << c2 {s4 \break } >>  % this does nothing
c2 c4 |           % a break here would work
c4 c2 c4 ~ \break % as does this break
c4 c2 c4

[image of music]

This can be avoided by removing the Forbid_line_break_engraver. Note that manually forced line breaks have to be added in parallel with the music.

\new Voice \with {
  \remove Forbid_line_break_engraver
} {
  c4 c2 << c2 {s4 \break } >>  % now the break is allowed
  c2 c4
}

[image of music]

Similarly, line breaks are normally forbidden when beams cross bar lines. This behavior can be changed by setting \override Beam #'breakable = ##t.


4.3.2 Page breaking

The default page breaking may be overridden by inserting \pageBreak or \noPageBreak commands. These commands are analogous to \break and \noBreak. They should be inserted at a bar line. These commands force and forbid a page-break from happening. Of course, the \pageBreak command also forces a line break.

The \pageBreak and \noPageBreak commands may also be inserted at top-level, between scores and top-level markups.

There are also analogous settings to ragged-right and ragged-last which have the same effect on vertical spacing: ragged-bottom and ragged-last-bottom. If set to ##t the systems on all pages or just the last page respectively will not be justified vertically.

For more details see Vertical spacing.

Page breaks are computed by the page-breaking function. LilyPond provides three algorithms for computing page breaks, ly:optimal-breaking, ly:page-turn-breaking and ly:minimal-breaking. The default is ly:optimal-breaking, but the value can be changed in the \paper block:

\paper{
  #(define page-breaking ly:page-turn-breaking)
}

The old page breaking algorithm is called optimal-page-breaks. If you are having trouble with the new page breakers, you can enable the old one as a workaround.

When a book has many scores and pages, the page breaking problem may be difficult to solve, requiring large processing time and memory. To ease the page breaking process, \bookpart blocks are used to divide the book into several parts: the page breaking occurs separately on each part. Different page breaking functions may also be used in different book parts.

\bookpart {
  \header {
    subtitle = "Preface"
  }
  \paper {
     %% In a part consisting mostly of text,
     %% ly:minimal-breaking may be prefered
     #(define page-breaking ly:minimal-breaking)
  }
  \markup { … }
  …
}
\bookpart {
  %% In this part, consisting of music, the default optimal
  %% page breaking function is used.
  \header {
    subtitle = "First movement"
  }
  \score { … }
  …
}

Predefined commands

\pageBreak, \noPageBreak.

See also

Snippets: Spacing.


4.3.3 Optimal page breaking

The ly:optimal-breaking function is LilyPond’s default method of determining page breaks. It attempts to find a page breaking that minimizes cramping and stretching, both horizontally and vertically. Unlike ly:page-turn-breaking, it has no concept of page turns.

See also

Snippets: Spacing.


4.3.4 Optimal page turning

Often it is necessary to find a page breaking configuration so that there is a rest at the end of every second page. This way, the musician can turn the page without having to miss notes. The ly:page-turn-breaking function attempts to find a page breaking minimizing cramping and stretching, but with the additional restriction that it is only allowed to introduce page turns in specified places.

There are two steps to using this page breaking function. First, you must enable it in the \paper block, as explained in Page breaking. Then you must tell the function where you would like to allow page breaks.

There are two ways to achieve the second step. First, you can specify each potential page turn manually, by inserting \allowPageTurn into your input file at the appropriate places.

If this is too tedious, you can add a Page_turn_engraver to a Staff or Voice context. The Page_turn_engraver will scan the context for sections without notes (note that it does not scan for rests; it scans for the absence of notes. This is so that single-staff polyphony with rests in one of the parts does not throw off the Page_turn_engraver). When it finds a sufficiently long section without notes, the Page_turn_engraver will insert an \allowPageTurn at the final bar line in that section, unless there is a ‘special’ bar line (such as a double bar), in which case the \allowPageTurn will be inserted at the final ‘special’ bar line in the section.

The Page_turn_engraver reads the context property minimumPageTurnLength to determine how long a note-free section must be before a page turn is considered. The default value for minimumPageTurnLength is #(ly:make-moment 1 1). If you want to disable page turns, you can set it to something very large.

\new Staff \with { \consists "Page_turn_engraver" }
{
  a4 b c d |
  R1 | % a page turn will be allowed here
  a4 b c d |
  \set Staff.minimumPageTurnLength = #(ly:make-moment 5 2)
  R1 | % a page turn will not be allowed here
  a4 b r2 |
  R1*2 | % a page turn will be allowed here
  a1
}

The Page_turn_engraver detects volta repeats. It will only allow a page turn during the repeat if there is enough time at the beginning and end of the repeat to turn the page back. The Page_turn_engraver can also disable page turns if the repeat is very short. If you set the context property minimumRepeatLengthForPageTurn then the Page_turn_engraver will only allow turns in repeats whose duration is longer than this value.

The page turning commands, \pageTurn, \noPageTurn and \allowPageTurn, may also be used at top-level, between scores and top-level markups.

Predefined commands

\pageTurn, \noPageTurn, \allowPageTurn.

See also

Snippets: Spacing.

Known issues and warnings

There should only be one Page_turn_engraver in a score. If there is more than one, they will interfere with each other.


4.3.5 Minimal page breaking

The ly:minimal-breaking function performs minimal computations to calculate the page breaking: it fills a page with as many systems as possible before moving to the next one. Thus, it may be preferred for scores with many pages, where the other page breaking functions could be too slow or memory demanding, or a lot of texts. It is enabled using:

\paper {
  #(define page-breaking ly:minimal-breaking)
}

See also

Snippets: Spacing.


4.3.6 Explicit breaks

Lily sometimes rejects explicit \break and \pageBreak commands. There are two commands to override this behavior:

\override NonMusicalPaperColumn #'line-break-permission = ##f
\override NonMusicalPaperColumn #'page-break-permission = ##f

When line-break-permission is overridden to false, Lily will insert line breaks at explicit \break commands and nowhere else. When page-break-permission is overridden to false, Lily will insert page breaks at explicit \pageBreak commands and nowhere else.

\paper {
  indent = #0
  ragged-right = ##t
  ragged-bottom = ##t
}

\score {
  \new Score \with {
    \override NonMusicalPaperColumn #'line-break-permission = ##f
    \override NonMusicalPaperColumn #'page-break-permission = ##f
  } {
    \new Staff {
      \repeat unfold 2 { c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 } \break
      \repeat unfold 4 { c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 } \break
      \repeat unfold 6 { c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 } \break
      \repeat unfold 8 { c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 } \pageBreak
      \repeat unfold 8 { c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 } \break
      \repeat unfold 6 { c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 } \break
      \repeat unfold 4 { c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 } \break
      \repeat unfold 2 { c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 }
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Spacing.


4.3.7 Using an extra voice for breaks

Line- and page-breaking information usually appears within note entry directly.

\new Score {
  \new Staff {
    \repeat unfold 2 { c'4 c'4 c'4 c'4 }
    \break
    \repeat unfold 3 { c'4 c'4 c'4 c'4 }
  }
}

This makes \break and \pageBreak commands easy to enter but mixes music entry with information that specifies how music should lay out on the page. You can keep music entry and line- and page-breaking information in two separate places by introducing an extra voice to contain the breaks. This extra voice contains only skips together with \break, pageBreak and other breaking layout information.

\new Score {
  \new Staff <<
     \new Voice {
        s1 * 2 \break
        s1 * 3 \break
        s1 * 6 \break
        s1 * 5 \break
     }
     \new Voice {
        \repeat unfold 2 { c'4 c'4 c'4 c'4 }
        \repeat unfold 3 { c'4 c'4 c'4 c'4 }
        \repeat unfold 6 { c'4 c'4 c'4 c'4 }
        \repeat unfold 5 { c'4 c'4 c'4 c'4 }
     }
  >>
}

[image of music]

This pattern becomes especially helpful when overriding line-break-system-details and the other useful but long properties of NonMusicalPaperColumnGrob, as explained in Vertical spacing.

\new Score {
  \new Staff <<
     \new Voice {

        \overrideProperty "Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn"
        #'line-break-system-details #'((Y-offset . 0))
        s1 * 2 \break

        \overrideProperty "Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn"
        #'line-break-system-details #'((Y-offset . 35))
        s1 * 3 \break

        \overrideProperty "Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn"
        #'line-break-system-details #'((Y-offset . 70))
        s1 * 6 \break

        \overrideProperty "Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn"
        #'line-break-system-details #'((Y-offset . 105))
        s1 * 5 \break
     }
     \new Voice {
        \repeat unfold 2 { c'4 c'4 c'4 c'4 }
        \repeat unfold 3 { c'4 c'4 c'4 c'4 }
        \repeat unfold 6 { c'4 c'4 c'4 c'4 }
        \repeat unfold 5 { c'4 c'4 c'4 c'4 }
     }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Vertical spacing.

Snippets: Spacing.


4.4 Vertical spacing

Vertical spacing is controlled by three things: the amount of space available (i.e., paper size and margins), the amount of space between systems, and the amount of space between staves inside a system.


4.4.1 Vertical spacing inside a system

The height of each system is determined automatically. To prevent staves from bumping into each other, some minimum distances are set. By changing these, you can put staves closer together. This reduces the amount of space each system requires, and may result in having more systems per page.

Normally staves are stacked vertically. To make staves maintain a distance, their vertical size is padded. This is done with the property minimum-Y-extent. When applied to a VerticalAxisGroup, it controls the size of a horizontal line, such as a staff or a line of lyrics. minimum-Y-extent takes a pair of numbers, so if you want to make it smaller than its default #'(-4 . 4) then you could set

\override Staff.VerticalAxisGroup #'minimum-Y-extent = #'(-3 . 3)

This sets the vertical size of the current staff to 3 staff spaces on either side of the center staff line. The value (-3 . 3) is interpreted as an interval, where the center line is the 0, so the first number is generally negative. The numbers need not match; for example, the staff can be made larger at the bottom by setting it to (-6 . 4).

After page breaks are determined, the vertical spacing within each system is reevaluated in order to fill the page more evenly; if a page has space left over, systems are stretched in order to fill that space. The amount of stretching can be configured though the max-stretch property of the VerticalAlignment grob. By default, max-stretch is set to zero, disabling stretching. To enable stretching, a sane value for max-stretch is ly:align-interface::calc-max-stretch.

In some situations, you may want to stretch most of a system while leaving some parts fixed. For example, if a piano part occurs in the middle of an orchestral score, you may want to leave the piano staves close to each other while stretching the rest of the score. The keep-fixed-while-stretching property of VerticalAxisGroup can be used to achieve this. When set to ##t, this property keeps its staff (or line of lyrics) from moving relative to the one directly above it. In the example above, you would override keep-fixed-while-stretching to ##t in the second piano staff:

#(set-default-paper-size "a6")
#(set-global-staff-size 14.0)

\book {
\paper {
  ragged-last-bottom = ##f
}

\new Score \with
{
  \override VerticalAlignment #'max-stretch = #ly:align-interface::calc-max-stretch
}
{
\new GrandStaff
<<
  \new StaffGroup
  <<
    \new Staff {c' d' e' f'}
    \new Staff {c' d' e' f'}
    \new Staff {c' d' e' f'}
  >>

  \new PianoStaff
  <<
    \new Staff {c' d' e' f'}
    \new Staff \with {
      \override VerticalAxisGroup #'keep-fixed-while-stretching = ##t
    }
    {c' d' e' f'}
  >>

  \new StaffGroup
  <<
    \new Staff {c' d' e' f'}
    \new Staff {c' d' e' f'}
  >>
>>
}
}

[image of music]

Vertical alignment of staves is handled by the VerticalAlignment object. The context parameters specifying the vertical extent are described in connection with the Axis_group_engraver.

See also

Snippets: Spacing.

Internals Reference: VerticalAlignment, Axis_group_engraver.


4.4.2 Vertical spacing between systems

Space between systems are controlled by four \paper variables,

\paper {
  between-system-space = 1.5\cm
  between-system-padding = #1
  ragged-bottom=##f
  ragged-last-bottom=##f
}

When only a couple of flat systems are placed on a page, the resulting vertical spacing may be non-elegant: one system at the top of the page, and the other at the bottom, with a huge gap between them. To avoid this situation, the space added between the systems can be limited. This feature is activated by setting to #t the page-limit-inter-system-space variable in the \paper block. The paper variable page-limit-inter-system-space-factor determines how much the space can be increased: for instance, the value 1.3 means that the space can be 30% larger than what it would be on a ragged-bottom page.

In the following example, if the inter system space were not limited, the second system of page 1 would be placed at the page bottom. By activating the space limitation, the second system is placed closer to the first one. By setting page-limit-inter-system-space-factor to 1, the spacing would the same as on a ragged-bottom page, like the last one.

#(set-default-paper-size "a6")
\book {
  \paper {
    page-limit-inter-system-space = ##t
    page-limit-inter-system-space-factor = 1.3

    oddFooterMarkup = \markup "page bottom"
    evenFooterMarkup = \markup "page bottom"
    oddHeaderMarkup = \markup \fill-line {
      "page top" \fromproperty #'page:page-number-string }
    evenHeaderMarkup = \markup \fill-line {
      "page top" \fromproperty #'page:page-number-string }
  }
  \new Staff << \repeat unfold 4 { g'4 g' g' g' \break }
                { s1*2 \pageBreak } >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Spacing.


4.4.3 Explicit staff and system positioning

One way to understand the VerticalAxisGroup and \paper settings explained in the previous two sections is as a collection of different settings that primarily concern the amount of vertical padding different staves and systems running down the page.

It is possible to approach vertical spacing in a different way using NonMusicalPaperColumn #'line-break-system-details. Where VerticalAxisGroup and \paper settings specify vertical padding, NonMusicalPaperColumn #'line-break-system-details specifies exact vertical positions on the page.

NonMusicalPaperColumn #'line-break-system-details accepts an associative list of five different settings:

Grob overrides, including the overrides for NonMusicalPaperColumn below, can occur in any of three different places in an input file:

When we override NonMusicalPaperColumn, we use the usual \override command in \context blocks and in the \with block. On the other hand, when we override NonMusicalPaperColumn in the middle of note entry, use the special \overrideProperty command. Here are some example NonMusicalPaperColumn overrides with the special \overrideProperty command:

\overrideProperty NonMusicalPaperColumn
  #'line-break-system-details #'((X-offset . 20))

\overrideProperty NonMusicalPaperColumn
  #'line-break-system-details #'((Y-offset . 40))

\overrideProperty NonMusicalPaperColumn
  #'line-break-system-details #'((X-offset . 20) (Y-offset . 40))

\override NonMusicalPaperColumn
  #'line-break-system-details #'((alignment-offsets . (0 -15)))

\override NonMusicalPaperColumn
  #'line-break-system-details #'((X-offset . 20) (Y-offset . 40)
                                 (alignment-offsets . (0 -15)))

To understand how each of these different settings work, we begin by looking at an example that includes no overrides at all.

[image of music]

This score isolates line- and page-breaking information in a dedicated voice. This technique of creating a breaks voice will help keep layout separate from music entry as our example becomes more complicated. See Using an extra voice for breaks.

Explicit \breaks evenly divide the music into six measures per line. Vertical spacing results from LilyPond’s defaults. To set the vertical startpoint of each system explicitly, we can set the Y-offset pair in the line-break-system-details attribute of the NonMusicalPaperColumn grob:

[image of music]

Note that line-break-system-details takes an associative list of potentially many values, but that we set only one value here. Note, too, that the Y-offset property here determines the exact vertical position on the page at which each new system will render.

Now that we have set the vertical startpoint of each system explicitly, we can also set the vertical startpoint of each staff within each system manually. We do this using the alignment-offsets subproperty of line-break-system-details.

[image of music]

Note that here we assign two different values to the line-break-system-details attribute of the NonMusicalPaperColumn grob. Though the line-break-system-details attribute alist accepts many additional spacing parameters (including, for example, a corresponding X-offset pair), we need only set the Y-offset and alignment-offsets pairs to control the vertical startpoint of every system and every staff. Finally, note that alignment-offsets specifies the vertical positioning of staves but not of staff groups.

[image of music]

Some points to consider:

See also

Snippets: Spacing.


4.4.4 Two-pass vertical spacing

Note: Two-pass vertical spacing is deprecated and will be removed in a future version of LilyPond. Systems are now stretched automatically in a single pass. See Vertical spacing inside a system.

In order to automatically stretch systems so that they should fill the space left on a page, a two-pass technique can be used:

  1. In the first pass, the amount of vertical space used to increase the height of each system is computed and dumped to a file.
  2. In the second pass, spacing inside the systems are stretched according to the data in the page layout file.

The ragged-bottom property adds space between systems, while the two-pass technique adds space between staves inside a system.

To allow this behavior, a tweak-key variable has to be set in each score \layout block, and the tweaks included in each score music, using the \scoreTweak music function.

%% include the generated page layout file:
\includePageLayoutFile

\score {
  \new StaffGroup <<
    \new Staff <<
      %% Include this score tweaks:
      \scoreTweak "scoreA"
      { \clef french c''1 \break c''1 }
    >>
    \new Staff { \clef soprano g'1 g'1 }
    \new Staff { \clef mezzosoprano e'1 e'1 }
    \new Staff { \clef alto g1 g1 }
    \new Staff { \clef bass c1 c1 }
  >>
  \header {
    piece = "Score with tweaks"
  }
  %% Define how to name the tweaks for this score:
  \layout { #(define tweak-key "scoreA") }
}

For the first pass, the dump-tweaks option should be set to generate the page layout file.

lilypond -dbackend=null -d dump-tweaks <file>.ly
lilypond <file>.ly

See also

Snippets: Spacing.


4.4.5 Vertical collision avoidance

Intuitively, there are some objects in musical notation that belong to the staff and there are other objects that should be placed outside the staff. Objects belonging outside the staff include things such as rehearsal marks, text and dynamic markings (from now on, these will be called outside-staff objects). LilyPond’s rule for the vertical placement of outside-staff objects is to place them as close to the staff as possible but not so close that they collide with another object.

LilyPond uses the outside-staff-priority property to determine whether a grob is an outside-staff object: if outside-staff-priority is a number, the grob is an outside-staff object. In addition, outside-staff-priority tells LilyPond in which order the objects should be placed.

First, LilyPond places all the objects that do not belong outside the staff. Then it sorts the outside-staff objects according to their outside-staff-priority (in increasing order). One by one, LilyPond takes the outside-staff objects and places them so that they do not collide with any objects that have already been placed. That is, if two outside-staff grobs are competing for the same space, the one with the lower outside-staff-priority will be placed closer to the staff.

c4_"Text"\pp
r2.
\once \override TextScript #'outside-staff-priority = #1
c4_"Text"\pp % this time the text will be closer to the staff
r2.
% by setting outside-staff-priority to a non-number,
% we disable the automatic collision avoidance
\once \override TextScript #'outside-staff-priority = ##f
\once \override DynamicLineSpanner #'outside-staff-priority = ##f
c4_"Text"\pp % now they will collide

[image of music]

The vertical padding between an outside-staff object and the previously-positioned grobs can be controlled with outside-staff-padding.

\once \override TextScript #'outside-staff-padding = #0
a'^"This text is placed very close to the note"
\once \override TextScript #'outside-staff-padding = #3
c^"This text is padded away from the previous text"
c^"This text is placed close to the previous text"

[image of music]

TODO: this example doesn’t work any more ?

By default, outside-staff objects are placed without regard to their horizontal distance from the previously-positioned grobs. This can lead to situations in which objects are placed very close to each other horizontally. Setting outside-staff-horizontal-padding causes an object to be offset vertically so that such a situation doesn’t occur.

% the markup is too close to the following note
c2^"Text"
c''2
% setting outside-staff-horizontal-padding fixes this
R1
\once \override TextScript #'outside-staff-horizontal-padding = #1
c,,2^"Text"
c''2

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Spacing.


4.5 Horizontal spacing


4.5.1 Horizontal spacing overview

The spacing engine translates differences in durations into stretchable distances (‘springs’) of differing lengths. Longer durations get more space, shorter durations get less. The shortest durations get a fixed amount of space (which is controlled by shortest-duration-space in the SpacingSpanner object). The longer the duration, the more space it gets: doubling a duration adds a fixed amount (this amount is controlled by spacing-increment) of space to the note.

For example, the following piece contains lots of half, quarter, and 8th notes; the eighth note is followed by 1 note head width (NHW). The quarter note is followed by 2 NHW, the half by 3 NHW, etc.

c2 c4. c8 c4. c8 c4. c8 c8
c8 c4 c4 c4

[image of music]

Normally, spacing-increment is set to 1.2 staff space, which is approximately the width of a note head, and shortest-duration-space is set to 2.0, meaning that the shortest note gets 2.4 staff space (2.0 times the spacing-increment) of horizontal space. This space is counted from the left edge of the symbol, so the shortest notes are generally followed by one NHW of space.

If one would follow the above procedure exactly, then adding a single 32nd note to a score that uses 8th and 16th notes, would widen up the entire score a lot. The shortest note is no longer a 16th, but a 32nd, thus adding 1 NHW to every note. To prevent this, the shortest duration for spacing is not the shortest note in the score, but rather the one which occurs most frequently.

The most common shortest duration is determined as follows: in every measure, the shortest duration is determined. The most common shortest duration is taken as the basis for the spacing, with the stipulation that this shortest duration should always be equal to or shorter than an 8th note. The shortest duration is printed when you run lilypond with the --verbose option.

These durations may also be customized. If you set the common-shortest-duration in SpacingSpanner, then this sets the base duration for spacing. The maximum duration for this base (normally an 8th), is set through base-shortest-duration.

Notes that are even shorter than the common shortest note are followed by a space that is proportional to their duration relative to the common shortest note. So if we were to add only a few 16th notes to the example above, they would be followed by half a NHW:

c2 c4. c8 c4. c16[ c] c4. c8 c8 c8 c4 c4 c4

[image of music]

In the introduction (see Engraving), it was explained that stem directions influence spacing. This is controlled with the stem-spacing-correction property in the NoteSpacing, object. These are generated for every Voice context. The StaffSpacing object (generated in Staff context) contains the same property for controlling the stem/bar line spacing. The following example shows these corrections, once with default settings, and once with exaggerated corrections:

[image of music]

Proportional notation is supported; see Proportional notation.

See also

Snippets: Spacing.

Internals Reference: SpacingSpanner, NoteSpacing, StaffSpacing, SeparationItem.

Known issues and warnings

There is no convenient mechanism to manually override spacing. The following work-around may be used to insert extra space into a score.

 \once \override Score.SeparationItem #'padding = #1

No work-around exists for decreasing the amount of space.


4.5.2 New spacing area

New sections with different spacing parameters can be started with newSpacingSection. This is useful when there are sections with a different notions of long and short notes.

In the following example, the time signature change introduces a new section, and hence the 16ths notes are spaced wider.

\time 2/4
c4 c8 c
c8 c c4 c16[ c c8] c4
\newSpacingSection
\time 4/16
c16[ c c8]

[image of music]

The \newSpacingSection command creates a new SpacingSpanner object, and hence new \overrides may be used in that location.

See also

Snippets: Spacing.

Internals Reference: SpacingSpanner.


4.5.3 Changing horizontal spacing

Horizontal spacing may be altered with the base-shortest-duration property. Here we compare the same music; once without altering the property, and then altered. Larger values of ly:make-moment will produce smaller music. Note that ly:make-moment constructs a duration, so 1 4 is a longer duration than 1 16.

\score {
  \relative c'' {
    g4 e e2 | f4 d d2 | c4 d e f | g4 g g2 |
    g4 e e2 | f4 d d2 | c4 e g g | c,1 |
    d4 d d d | d4 e f2 | e4 e e e | e4 f g2 |
    g4 e e2 | f4 d d2 | c4 e g g | c,1 |
  }
}

[image of music]

\score {
  \relative c'' {
    g4 e e2 | f4 d d2 | c4 d e f | g4 g g2 |
    g4 e e2 | f4 d d2 | c4 e g g | c,1 |
    d4 d d d | d4 e f2 | e4 e e e | e4 f g2 |
    g4 e e2 | f4 d d2 | c4 e g g | c,1 |
  }
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Score
      \override SpacingSpanner
                #'base-shortest-duration = #(ly:make-moment 1 16)
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Selected Snippets

By default, spacing in tuplets depends on various non-duration factors (such as accidentals, clef changes, etc). To disregard such symbols and force uniform equal-duration spacing, use Score.SpacingSpanner #'uniform-stretching. This property can only be changed at the beginning of a score,

\new Score \with {
  \override SpacingSpanner #'uniform-stretching = ##t
} <<
  \new Staff{
    \times 4/5 {
      c8 c8 c8 c8 c8
    }
    c8 c8 c8 c8
  }
  \new Staff{
    c8 c8 c8 c8
    \times 4/5 {
      c8 c8 c8 c8 c8
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

When strict-note-spacing is set, notes are spaced without regard for clefs, bar lines, and grace notes,

\override Score.SpacingSpanner #'strict-note-spacing = ##t
\new Staff { c8[ c \clef alto c \grace { c16[ c] } c8 c c]  c32[ c32] }

[image of music]

See also

Snippets: Spacing.


4.5.4 Line length

The most basic settings influencing the spacing are indent and line-width. They are set in the \layout block. They control the indentation of the first line of music, and the lengths of the lines.

If ragged-right is set to true in the \layout block, then systems ends at their natural horizontal length, instead of being spread horizontally to fill the whole line. This is useful for short fragments, and for checking how tight the natural spacing is.

The option ragged-last is similar to ragged-right, but only affects the last line of the piece. No restrictions are put on that line. The result is similar to formatting text paragraphs. In a paragraph, the last line simply takes its natural horizontal length.

\layout {
  indent = #0
  line-width = #150
  ragged-last = ##t
}

See also

Snippets: Spacing.


4.5.5 Proportional notation

LilyPond supports proportional notation, a type of horizontal spacing in which each note consumes an amount of horizontal space exactly equivalent to its rhythmic duration. This type of proportional spacing is comparable to horizontal spacing on top of graph paper. Some late 20th- and early 21st-century scores use proportional notation to clarify complex rhythmic relationships or to facilitate the placement of timelines or other graphics directly in the score.

LilyPond supports five different settings for proportional notation, which may be used together or alone:

In the examples that follow, we explore these five different proportional notation settings and examine how these settings interact.

We start with the following one-measure example, which uses classical spacing with ragged-right turned on.

\new Score <<
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    c'2
    c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    \times 4/5 {
      c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

Notice that the half note which begins the measure takes up far less than half of the horizontal space of the measure. Likewise, the sixteenth notes and sixteenth-note quintuplets (or twentieth notes) which end the measure together take up far more than half the horizontal space of the measure.

In classical engraving, this spacing may be exactly what we want because we can borrow horizontal space from the half note and conserve horizontal space across the measure as a whole.

On the other hand, if we want to insert a measured timeline or other graphic above or below our score, we need proportional notation. We turn proportional notation on with the proportionalNotationDuration setting.

\new Score \with {
  proportionalNotationDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1 20)
} <<
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    c'2
    c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    \times 4/5 {
      c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

The half note at the beginning of the measure and the faster notes in the second half of the measure now occupy equal amounts of horizontal space. We could place a measured timeline or graphic above or below this example.

The proportionalNotationDuration setting is a context setting that lives in Score. Recall that context settings appear in one of three locations in our input file – in a \with block, in a \context block, or directly in music entry preceded by the \set command. As with all context settings, users can pick which of the three different locations they would like to set proportionalNotationDuration.

The proportionalNotationDuration setting takes a single argument, which is the reference duration against which all music will be spaced. The LilyPond Scheme function make-moment takes two arguments – a numerator and denominator which together express some fraction of a whole note. The call #(ly:make-moment 1 20) therefore produces a reference duration of a twentieth note. The values #(ly:make-moment 1 16), #(ly:make-moment 1 8), and #(ly:make-moment 3 97) are all possible as well.

How do we select the right reference duration to pass to proportionalNotationDuration? Usually by a process of trial and error, beginning with a duration close to the fastest (or smallest) duration in the piece. Smaller reference durations space music loosely; larger reference durations space music tightly.

\new Score \with {
  proportionalNotationDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1 8)
} <<
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    c'2
    c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    \times 4/5 {
      c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    }
  }
>>

\new Score \with {
  proportionalNotationDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1 16)
} <<
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    c'2
    c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    \times 4/5 {
      c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    }
  }
>>

\new Score \with {
  proportionalNotationDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1 32)
} <<
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    c'2
    c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    \times 4/5 {
      c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

Note that too large a reference duration – such as the eighth note, above – spaces music too tightly and can cause note head collisions. Note also that proportional notation in general takes up more horizontal space that does classical spacing. Proportional spacing provides rhythmic clarity at the expense of horizontal space.

Next we examine how to optimally space overlapping tuplets.

We start by examining what happens to our original example, with classical spacing, when we add a second staff with a different type of tuplet.

\new Score <<
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    c'2
    c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    \times 4/5 {
      c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    }
  }
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    \times 8/9 {
      c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

The spacing is bad because the evenly notes of the bottom staff do not stretch uniformly. Classical engraving includes very few complex triplets and so classical engraving rules can generate this type of result. Setting proportionalNotationDuration remedies this situation considerably.

\new Score \with {
  proportionalNotationDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1 20)
} <<
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    c'2
    c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    \times 4/5 {
      c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    }
  }
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    \times 8/9 {
      c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

But if we look very carefully we can see that notes of the second half of the 9-tuplet space ever so slightly more widely than do the notes of the first half of the 9-tuplet. To ensure uniform stretching, we turn on uniform-stretching, which is a property of SpacingSpanner.

\new Score \with {
  proportionalNotationDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1 20)
  \override SpacingSpanner #'uniform-stretching = ##t
} <<
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    c'2
    c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    \times 4/5 {
      c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16 c'16
    }
  }
  \new RhythmicStaff {
    \times 8/9 {
      c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8 c'8
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

Our two-staff example now spaces exactly, our rhythmic relationships are visually clear, and we can include a measured timeline or graphic if we want.

Note that the LilyPond’s proportional notation package expects that all proportional scores set the SpacingSpanner’s ’uniform-stretching attribute to ##t. Setting proportionalNotationDuration without also setting the SpacingSpanner’s ’uniform-stretching attribute to ##t will, for example, cause Skips to consume an incorrect amount of horizontal space.

The SpacingSpanner is an abstract grob that lives in the Score context. As with our settings of proportionalNotationDuration, overrides to the SpacingSpanner can occur in any of three different places in our input file – in the Score \with block, in a Score \context block, or in note entry directly.

There is by default only one SpacingSpanner per Score. This means that, by default, uniform-stretching is either turned on for the entire score or turned off for the entire score. We can, however, override this behavior and turn on different spacing features at different places in the score. We do this with the command \newSpacingSection. See New spacing area, for more info.

Next we examine the effects of the Separating_line_group_engraver and see why proportional scores frequently remove this engraver. The following example shows that there is a small amount of “preferatory” space just before the first note in each system.

\paper {
  indent = #0
}

\new Staff {
  c'1
  \break
  c'1
}

[image of music]

The amount of this preferatory space is the same whether after a time signature, a key signature or a clef. Separating_line_group_engraver is responsible for this space. Removing Separating_line_group_engraver reduces this space to zero.

\paper {
  indent = #0
}

\new Staff \with {
  \remove Separating_line_group_engraver
} {
  c'1
  \break
  c'1
}

[image of music]

Nonmusical elements like time signatures, key signatures, clefs and accidentals are problematic in proportional notation. None of these elements has rhythmic duration. But all of these elements consume horizontal space. Different proportional scores approach these problems differently.

It may be possible to avoid spacing problems with key signatures simply by not having any. This is a valid option since most proportional scores are contemporary music. The same may be true of time signatures, especially for those scores that include a measured timeline or other graphic. But these scores are exceptional and most proportional scores include at least some time signatures. Clefs and accidentals are even more essential.

So what strategies exist for spacing nonmusical elements in a proportional context? One good option is the strict-note-spacing property of SpacingSpanner. Compare the two scores below:

\new Staff {
  \set Score.proportionalNotationDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1 16)
  c''8
  c''8
  c''8
  \clef alto
  d'8
  d'2
}

\new Staff {
  \set Score.proportionalNotationDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1 16)
  \override Score.SpacingSpanner #'strict-note-spacing = ##t
  c''8
  c''8
  c''8
  \clef alto
  d'8
  d'2
}

[image of music]

Both scores are proportional, but the spacing in the first score is too loose because of the clef change. The spacing of the second score remains strict, however, because strict-note-spacing is turned on. Turning on strict-note-spacing causes the width of time signatures, key signatures, clefs and accidentals to play no part in the spacing algorithm.

In addition to the settings given here, there are other settings that frequently appear in proportional scores. These include:

These settings space grace notes strictly, extend tuplet brackets to mark both rhythmic start- and stop-points, and allow spanning elements to break across systems and pages. See the respective parts of the manual for these related settings.

See also

Notation Reference: New spacing area.

Snippets: Spacing.


4.6 Fitting music onto fewer pages

Sometimes you can end up with one or two staves on a second (or third, or fourth...) page. This is annoying, especially if you look at previous pages and it looks like there is plenty of room left on those.

When investigating layout issues, annotate-spacing is an invaluable tool. This command prints the values of various layout spacing variables; for more details see the following section, Displaying spacing.


4.6.1 Displaying spacing

To graphically display the dimensions of vertical layout variables that may be altered for page formatting, set annotate-spacing in the \paper block:

#(set-default-paper-size "a6" 'landscape)
\book {
  \score { { c4 } }
  \paper { annotate-spacing = ##t }
}

[image of music]

All layout dimensions are displayed in staff spaces, regardless of the units specified in the \paper or \layout block. For example, paper-height has a value of 59.75 staff spaces, using the default staff size of 20 points, which is equivalent to 148 millimeters, the height of a6 paper in landscape orientation. The pairs (a,b) are intervals, where a is the lower edge and b the upper edge of the interval.

See also

Snippets: Spacing.


4.6.2 Changing spacing

The output of annotate-spacing reveals vertical dimensions in great detail. For details about modifying margins and other layout variables, see Page formatting.

Other than margins, there are a few other options to save space:

See also

Notation Reference: Page formatting, Changing horizontal spacing.

Snippets: Spacing.


5. Changing defaults

The purpose of LilyPond’s design is to provide the finest quality output by default. Nevertheless, it may happen that you need to change this default layout. The layout is controlled through a large number of ‘knobs and switches’ collectively called ‘properties’. A tutorial introduction to accessing and modifying these properties can be found in the Learning Manual, see Tweaking output. This should be read first. This chapter covers similar ground, but in a style more appropriate to a reference manual.

The definitive description of the controls available for tuning can be found in a separate document: the Internals Reference. That manual lists all the variables, functions and options available in LilyPond. It is written as a HTML document, which is available on-line, and is also included with the LilyPond documentation package.

Internally, LilyPond uses Scheme (a LISP dialect) to provide infrastructure. Overriding layout decisions in effect accesses the program internals, which requires Scheme input. Scheme elements are introduced in a .ly file with the hash mark #.3


5.1 Interpretation contexts

This section describes what contexts are, and how to modify them.

See also

Learning Manual: Contexts and engravers.

Installed files: ‘ly/engraver-init.ly’, ‘ly/performer-init.ly’.

Snippets: Contexts and engravers.

Internals Reference: Contexts, Engravers and Performers.


5.1.1 Contexts explained

Contexts are arranged hierarchically:


Score - the master of all contexts

This is the top level notation context. No other context can contain a Score context. By default the Score context handles the administration of time signatures and makes sure that items such as clefs, time signatures, and key-signatures are aligned across staves.

A Score context is instantiated implicitly when a \score {…} or \layout {…} block is processed, or explicitly when a \new Score command is executed.


Top-level contexts - staff containers

StaffGroup

Groups staves while adding a bracket on the left side, grouping the staves together. The bar lines of the contained staves are connected vertically. StaffGroup only consists of a collection of staves, with a bracket in front and spanning bar lines.

ChoirStaff

Identical to StaffGroup except that the bar lines of the contained staves are not connected vertically.

GrandStaff

A group of staves, with a brace on the left side, grouping the staves together. The bar lines of the contained staves are connected vertically.

PianoStaff

Just like GrandStaff, but with support for instrument names to the left of each system.


Intermediate-level contexts - staves

Staff

Handles clefs, bar lines, keys, accidentals. It can contain Voice contexts.

RhythmicStaff

Like Staff but for printing rhythms. Pitches are ignored; the notes are printed on one line.

TabStaff

Context for generating tablature. By default lays the music expression out as a guitar tablature, printed on six lines.

DrumStaff

Handles typesetting for percussion. Can contain DrumVoice

VaticanaStaff

Same as Staff, except that it is designed for typesetting a piece in gregorian style.

MensuralStaff

Same as Staff, except that it is designed for typesetting a piece in mensural style.


Bottom-level contexts - voices

Voice-level contexts initialise certain properties and start appropriate engravers. Being bottom-level contexts, they cannot contain other contexts.

Voice

Corresponds to a voice on a staff. This context handles the conversion of dynamic signs, stems, beams, super- and sub-scripts, slurs, ties, and rests. You have to instantiate this explicitly if you require multiple voices on the same staff.

VaticanaVoice

Same as Voice, except that it is designed for typesetting a piece in gregorian style.

MensuralVoice

Same as Voice, with modifications for typesetting a piece in mensural style.

Lyrics

Corresponds to a voice with lyrics. Handles the printing of a single line of lyrics.

DrumVoice

The voice context used in a percussion staff.

FiguredBass

The context in which BassFigure objects are created from input entered in \figuremode mode.

TabVoice

The voice context used within a TabStaff context. Usually left to be created implicitly.

ChordNames

Typesets chord names.


5.1.2 Creating contexts

For scores with only one voice and one staff, contexts are created automatically. For more complex scores, it is necessary to create them by hand. There are three commands that do this.


5.1.3 Modifying context plug-ins

Notation contexts (like Score and Staff) not only store properties, they also contain plug-ins called ‘engravers’ that create notation elements. For example, the Voice context contains a Note_head_engraver and the Staff context contains a Key_signature_engraver.

For a full a description of each plug-in, see Engravers and Performers. Every context described in Contexts lists the engravers used for that context.

It can be useful to shuffle around these plug-ins. This is done by starting a new context with \new or \context, and modifying it,

\new context \with {
  \consists …
  \consists …
  \remove …
  \remove …
  etc.
}
{
  ..music..
}

where the … should be the name of an engraver. Here is a simple example which removes Time_signature_engraver and Clef_engraver from a Staff context,

<<
  \new Staff {
    f2 g
  }
  \new Staff \with {
     \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
     \remove "Clef_engraver"
  } {
    f2 g2
  }
>>

[image of music]

In the second staff there are no time signature or clef symbols. This is a rather crude method of making objects disappear since it will affect the entire staff. This method also influences the spacing, which may or may not be desirable. More sophisticated methods of blanking objects are shown in Visibility and color of objects.

The next example shows a practical application. Bar lines and time signatures are normally synchronized across the score. This is done by the Timing_translator and Default_bar_line_engraver. This plug-in keeps an administration of time signature, location within the measure, etc. By moving these engraver from Score to Staff context, we can have a score where each staff has its own time signature.

\new Score \with {
  \remove "Timing_translator"
  \remove "Default_bar_line_engraver"
} <<
  \new Staff \with {
    \consists "Timing_translator"
    \consists "Default_bar_line_engraver"
  } {
      \time 3/4
      c4 c c c c c
  }
  \new Staff \with {
    \consists "Timing_translator"
    \consists "Default_bar_line_engraver"
  } {
       \time 2/4
       c4 c c c c c
  }
>>

[image of music]

Known issues and warnings

Usually the order in which the engravers are specified does not matter, but in a few special cases the order is important, for example where one engraver writes a property and another reads it, or where one engraver creates a grob and another must process it. The order in which the engravers are specified is the order in which they are called to carry out their processing.

The following orderings are important: the Bar_engraver must normally be first, and the New_fingering_engraver must come before the Script_column_engraver. There may be others with ordering dependencies.


5.1.4 Changing context default settings

The context settings which are to be used by default in Score, Staff and Voice contexts may be specified in a \layout block, as illustrated in the following example. The \layout block should be placed within the \score block to which it is to apply, but outside any music.

Note that the \set command itself and the context must be omitted when the context default values are specified in this way:

\score {
  \relative c'' {
    a4^"Really small, thicker stems, no time signature" a a a
    a a a a
  }
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Staff
      fontSize = #-4
      \override Stem #'thickness = #4.0
      \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

In this example, the \Staff command specifies that the subsequent specifications are to be applied to all staves within this score block.

Modifications can be made to the Score context or all Voice contexts in a similar way.

Known issues and warnings

It is not possible to collect context changes in a variable and apply them to a \context definition by referring to that variable.

The \RemoveEmptyStaffContext will overwrite your current \Staff settings. If you wish to change the defaults for a staff which uses \RemoveEmptyStaffContext, you must do so after calling \RemoveEmptyStaffContext, ie

\layout {
  \context {
    \RemoveEmptyStaffContext

    \override Stem #'thickness = #4.0
  }
}

5.1.5 Defining new contexts

Specific contexts, like Staff and Voice, are made of simple building blocks. It is possible to create new types of contexts with different combinations of engraver plug-ins.

The next example shows how to build a different type of Voice context from scratch. It will be similar to Voice, but only prints centered slash note heads. It can be used to indicate improvisation in jazz pieces,

[image of music]

These settings are defined within a \context block inside a \layout block,

\layout {
  \context {
    …
  }
}

In the following discussion, the example input shown should go in place of the … in the previous fragment.

First it is necessary to define a name for the new context:

\name ImproVoice

Since it is similar to the Voice, we want commands that work on (existing) Voices to remain working. This is achieved by giving the new context an alias Voice,

\alias Voice

The context will print notes and instructive texts, so we need to add the engravers which provide this functionality,

\consists Note_heads_engraver
\consists Text_engraver

but we only need this on the center line,

\consists Pitch_squash_engraver
squashedPosition = #0

The Pitch_squash_engraver modifies note heads (created by Note_heads_engraver) and sets their vertical position to the value of squashedPosition, in this case 0, the center line.

The notes look like a slash, and have no stem,

\override NoteHead #'style = #'slash
\override Stem #'transparent = ##t

All these plug-ins have to cooperate, and this is achieved with a special plug-in, which must be marked with the keyword \type. This should always be Engraver_group.

\type "Engraver_group"

Put together, we get

\context {
  \name ImproVoice
  \type "Engraver_group"
  \consists "Note_heads_engraver"
  \consists "Text_engraver"
  \consists Pitch_squash_engraver
  squashedPosition = #0
  \override NoteHead #'style = #'slash
  \override Stem #'transparent = ##t
  \alias Voice
}

Contexts form hierarchies. We want to hang the ImproVoice under Staff, just like normal Voices. Therefore, we modify the Staff definition with the \accepts command,

\context {
  \Staff
  \accepts ImproVoice
}

The opposite of \accepts is \denies, which is sometimes needed when reusing existing context definitions.

Putting both into a \layout block, like

\layout {
  \context {
    \name ImproVoice
    …
  }
  \context {
    \Staff
    \accepts "ImproVoice"
  }
}

Then the output at the start of this subsection can be entered as

\relative c'' {
  a4 d8 bes8
  \new ImproVoice {
    c4^"ad lib" c
    c4 c^"undress"
    c c_"while playing :)"
  }
  a1
}

5.1.6 Aligning contexts

New contexts may be aligned above or below existing contexts. This could be useful in setting up a vocal staff ( Vocal ensembles) and in ossia,

[image of music]

Contexts like PianoStaff can contain other contexts nested within them. Contexts which are acceptable for nesting are defined by the “accepts” list of a context. Contexts which are not in this list are placed below the outer context in the printed score. For example, the PianoStaff context is defined by default to accept Staff and FiguredBass contexts within it, but not (for example) a Lyrics context. So in the following structure the lyrics are placed below the piano staff rather than between the two staves:

\new PianoStaff
<<
  \new Staff { e4 d c2 }
  \addlyrics { Three blind mice }
  \new Staff {
    \clef "bass"
    { c,1 }
  }
>>

[image of music]

The “accepts” list of a context can be modified to include additional nested contexts, so if we wanted the lyrics to appear between the two staves we could use:

\new PianoStaff \with { \accepts Lyrics }
<<
  \new Staff { e4 d c2 }
  \addlyrics { Three blind mice }
  \new Staff {
    \clef "bass"
    { c,1 }
  }
>>
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