Chords

These snippets illustrate the Notation Reference, section Chord notation.


Adding a figured bass above or below the notes

When writing a figured bass, here’s a way to specify if you want your figures to be placed above or below the bass notes, by defining the BassFigureAlignmentPositioning #'direction property (exclusively in a Staff context). Choices are #UP (or #1), #CENTER (or #0) and #DOWN (or #-1).

As you can see here, this property can be changed as many times as you wish. Use \once \override if you don’t want the tweak to apply to the whole score.

bass = { \clef bass g4 b, c d e d8 c d2}
continuo = \figuremode {
         < _ >4 < 6 >8   
   \once \override Staff.BassFigureAlignmentPositioning #'direction = #CENTER
         <5/>  < _ >4 
   \override Staff.BassFigureAlignmentPositioning #'direction = #UP
         < _+ > < 6 >
   \set Staff.useBassFigureExtenders = ##t
   \override Staff.BassFigureAlignmentPositioning #'direction = #DOWN
         < 4 >4. < 4 >8 < _+ >4
       } 
\score {
    << \new Staff = bassStaff \bass 
    \context Staff = bassStaff \continuo >>
}

[image of music]


Adding bar lines to ChordNames context

To add bar line indications in the ChordNames context, add the Bar_engraver.

\new ChordNames \with {
  \override BarLine #'bar-size = #4
  \consists "Bar_engraver"
}
\chordmode {
  f1:maj7 f:7 bes:7 
}

[image of music]


Avoiding collisions with chord fingerings

Fingerings and string numbers applied to individual notes will automatically avoid beams and stems, but this is not true by default for fingerings and string numbers applied to the individual notes of chords. The following example shows how this default behavior can be overridden.

\relative c' {
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(up)
  \set stringNumberOrientations = #'(up)
  \set strokeFingerOrientations = #'(up)
  
  % Default behavior
  r8
  <f c'-5>8
  <f c'\5>8
  <f c'-\rightHandFinger #2 >8
  
  % Corrected to avoid collisions
  r8
  \override Fingering #'add-stem-support = ##t
  <f c'-5>8
  \override StringNumber #'add-stem-support = ##t
  <f c'\5>8
  \override StrokeFinger #'add-stem-support = ##t
  <f c'-\rightHandFinger #2 >8
}

[image of music]


Changing chord separator

The separator between different parts of a chord name can be set to any markup.

\chords {
  c:7sus4
  \set chordNameSeparator
    = \markup { \typewriter | }
  c:7sus4
}

[image of music]


Changing the chord names to German or semi-German notation

The english naming of chords (default) can be changed to german (\germanChords replaces B and Bes to H and B) or semi-german (\semiGermanChords replaces B and Bes to H and Bb).

music = \chordmode {
  c1/c cis/cis
  b/b bis/bis bes/bes
} 

%% The following is only here to print the names of the
%% chords styles; it can be removed if you do not need to
%% print them.

\layout {
  \context {\ChordNames \consists Instrument_name_engraver }
}

<<
  \new ChordNames {
    \set ChordNames.instrumentName = #"default"
    \music
  }
  \new ChordNames {
    \set ChordNames.instrumentName = #"german"
    \germanChords \music }
  \new ChordNames {
    \set ChordNames.instrumentName = #"semi-german"
    \semiGermanChords \music }
  \context Voice { \music }
>>

[image of music]


Changing the positions of figured bass alterations

Accidentals and plus signs can appear before or after the numbers, depending on the figuredBassAlterationDirection and figuredBassPlusDirection properties.

\figures {
  <6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
  \set figuredBassAlterationDirection = #RIGHT
  <6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
  \set figuredBassPlusDirection = #RIGHT
  <6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
  \set figuredBassAlterationDirection = #LEFT
  <6\+> <5+> <6 4-> r
}

[image of music]


Chord name exceptions

The property chordNameExceptions can be used to store a list of special notations for specific chords.

% modify maj9 and 6(add9)
% Exception music is chords with markups
chExceptionMusic = {
  <c e g b d'>1-\markup { \super "maj9" }
  <c e g a d'>1-\markup { \super "6(add9)" }
}

% Convert music to list and prepend to existing exceptions.
chExceptions = #( append
  ( sequential-music-to-chord-exceptions chExceptionMusic #t)
  ignatzekExceptions)

theMusic = \chordmode {
  g1:maj9 g1:6.9
  \set chordNameExceptions = #chExceptions
  g1:maj9 g1:6.9
}

\layout {
  ragged-right = ##t 
}

<< \context ChordNames \theMusic
   \context Voice \theMusic
>>  

[image of music]


chord name major7

The layout of the major 7 can be tuned with majorSevenSymbol.

\chords {
  c:7+
  \set majorSevenSymbol = \markup { j7 }
  c:7+
}

[image of music]


Clusters

Clusters are a device to denote that a complete range of notes is to be played.

\layout {
  ragged-right = ##t 
}

fragment = \relative c' {
  c4 f <e d'>4
  <g a>8 <e a> a4 c2 <d b>4
  e2 c
}

<<
  \new Staff \fragment
  \new Staff \makeClusters \fragment
>>

[image of music]


Controlling the placement of chord fingerings

The placement of fingering numbers can be controlled precisely.

\relative c' {
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(left)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(down)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(down right up)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(up)
  <c-1 e-3 a-5>4
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(left)
  <c-1>2
  \set fingeringOrientations = #'(down)
  <e-3>2
}

[image of music]


Displaying complex chords

Here is a way to display a chord where the same note is played twice with different accidentals.

fixA = {
  \once \override Stem #'length = #9
  \once \override Accidental #'extra-offset = #'(0.3 . 0)
}
fixB = {
  \once \override NoteHead #'extra-offset = #'(1.7 . 0)
  \once \override Stem #'rotation = #'(45 0 0)
  \once \override Stem #'extra-offset = #'(-0.2 . -0.2)
  \once \override Stem #'flag-style = #'no-flag
  \once \override Accidental #'extra-offset = #'(3.1 . 0)
}

\relative c' {
  << { \fixA <b d!>8 } \\ { \voiceThree \fixB dis } >> s
}

[image of music]


Manually break figured bass extenders for only some numbers

Figured bass often uses extenders to indicate continuation of the corresponding step. However, in this case lilypond is in greedy-mode and uses extenders whenever possible. To break individual extenders, one can simply use a modifier \! to a number, which breaks any extender attributed to that number right before the number.

bassfigures = \figuremode { 
  \set useBassFigureExtenders = ##t
  <6 4>4 <6 4\!> <6 4\!> <6 4\!> |  <6\! 4\!>  <6 4> <6 4\!> <6 4>
}

<<
  \new Staff \relative c'' { c1 c1 }
  \new FiguredBass \bassfigures
>>


[image of music]


Showing chords at changes

Chord names can be displayed only at the start of lines and when the chord changes.

harmonies = \chordmode {
  c1:m c:m \break c:m c:m d
}
<<
  \new ChordNames {
    \set chordChanges = ##t
    \harmonies
  }
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' { \harmonies }
  }
>>

[image of music]


Simple lead sheet

When put together, chord names, a melody, and lyrics form a lead sheet:

<<
  \chords { c2 g:sus4 f e }
  \relative c'' {
    a4 e c8 e r4
    b2 c4( d)
  }
  \addlyrics { One day this shall be free __ }
>>

[image of music]


Single staff template with notes, lyrics, and chords

This template allows the preparation of a song with melody, words, and chords.

melody = \relative c' {
  \clef treble
  \key c \major
  \time 4/4
  
  a4 b c d
}

text = \lyricmode {
  Aaa Bee Cee Dee
}

harmonies = \chordmode {
  a2 c
}

\score {
  <<
    \new ChordNames {
      \set chordChanges = ##t
      \harmonies
    }
    \new Voice = "one" { \autoBeamOff \melody }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "one" \text
  >>
  \layout { }
  \midi { }
}

[image of music]


Single staff template with notes, lyrics, chords and frets

Here is a simple lead sheet template with melody, lyrics, chords and fret diagrams.

% Define the fret diagrams to be used
cFretDiagram = \markup {
  \fret-diagram #"6-x;5-3-3;4-2-2;3-o;2-1-1;1-o;"
}

gFretDiagram = \markup {
  \fret-diagram #"6-3-2;5-2-1;4-o;3-o;2-o;1-3-3;"
}

verseI = \lyricmode {
  \set stanza = #"1."
  This is the first verse
}

verseII = \lyricmode {
  \set stanza = #"2."
  This is the second verse.
}

theChords = \new ChordNames {
  \chordmode {
    % insert the chords for chordnames here
    c2 g4 c
  }
}

staffMelody = \new Staff  {
 \context Voice = "voiceMelody" {
   \key c \major
   \clef treble
   \relative c' {
     % Type notes and fret diagram markups here
     c4^\cFretDiagram d8 e f4^\gFretDiagram g^\cFretDiagram
     \bar "|."
   }
 }
}

\score {
  <<
    \theChords
    \staffMelody
    \new Lyrics = "lyricsI" \lyricmode {
      \lyricsto "voiceMelody" \verseI
    }
    \new Lyrics = "lyricsII" \lyricmode {
      \lyricsto "voiceMelody" \verseII
    }
  >>
  \layout { }
  \midi { }
}

[image of music]


Single staff template with notes and chords

Want to prepare a lead sheet with a melody and chords? Look no further!

melody = \relative c' {
  \clef treble
  \key c \major
  \time 4/4
  
  f4 e8[ c] d4 g
  a2 ~ a
}

harmonies = \chordmode {
  c4:m f:min7 g:maj c:aug
  d2:dim b:sus
}

\score {
  <<
    \new ChordNames {
      \set chordChanges = ##t
      \harmonies
    }
    \new Staff \melody
  >>  
  \layout{ }
  \midi { }
}

[image of music]


Volta under chords

By adding the Volta_engraver to the relevant staff, volte can be put under chords.

\score {
  <<
    \chords {
      c1
      c1
    }
    \new Staff \with {
      \consists "Volta_engraver"
    }
    {
      \repeat volta 2 { c'1 }
      \alternative { c' }
    }
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Score
      \remove "Volta_engraver"
    }
  }
}

[image of music]


Snippets List