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.


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
          (make-circle-stencil 0.7 0.1 #f)
            (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' {
  % This does NOT work:
  %<c e g>\snapPizzicato
  <c' e g>-\snapPizzicato
  <c' e g>^\snapPizzicato
  <c, e g>_\snapPizzicato

[image of music]

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Notation Reference