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

[image of music]

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>

[image of music]

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
}

[image of music]

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

[image of music]

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.

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
    }
  }
  \layout { ragged-right = ##t }
}

[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.


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Notation Reference