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>-.

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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} >>

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

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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.


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'> }

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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.

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Notation Reference