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


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