5.4.2 Direction and placement

In typesetting music the direction and placement of many items is a matter of choice. For example, the stems of notes can be directed up or down; lyrics, dynamics, and other expressive marks may be placed above or below the staff; text may be aligned left, right or center; etc. Most of these choices may be left to be determined automatically by LilyPond, but in some cases it may be desirable to force a particular direction or placement.

Default actions

By default some directions are always up or always down (e.g. dynamics or fermata), while other things can alternate between up or down based on the stem direction (like slurs or accents).

Context layout order

Contexts are normally positioned in a system from top to bottom in the order in which they are encountered. Note, however, that a context will be created implicitly if a command is encountered when there is no suitable context available to contain it. When contexts are nested, the outer context will exclude inner contexts which are not included in its “accepts” list; excluded contexts will be repositioned below the outer context.

The default order in which contexts are laid out and the “accepts” list can be changed, see Aligning contexts.

Articulation direction indicators

When adding articulations to notes the direction indicator, ^ (meaning “up”), _ (meaning “down”) or - (meaning “use default direction”), can usually be omitted, in which case - is assumed. But a direction indicator is always required before

The direction property

The position or direction of many layout objects is controlled by the direction property.

The value of the direction property may be set to 1, meaning “up” or “above”, or to -1, meaning “down” or “below”. The symbols UP and DOWN may be used instead of 1 and -1 respectively. The default direction may be specified by setting direction to 0 or CENTER. Alternatively, in many cases predefined commands exist to specify the direction. These are all of the form

\xxxUp, xxxDown, xxxNeutral

where xxxNeutral means “use the default direction”. See Within-staff objects.

In a few cases, arpeggio being the only common example, the value of the direction property specifies whether the object is to be placed to the right or left of the parent object. In this case -1 or LEFT means “to the left” and 1 or RIGHT means “to the right”. 0 or CENTER means “use the default” direction, as before.


Other languages: espaƱol.

Notation Reference