Vocal music

These snippets illustrate the Notation Reference, section Vocal music.


Adding ambitus per voice

Ambitus can be added per voice. In this case, the ambitus must be moved manually to prevent collisions.

\new Staff <<
  \new Voice \with {
    \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  } \relative c'' {
    \override Ambitus #'X-offset = #2.0
    \voiceOne
    c4 a d e
    f1
  }
  \new Voice \with {
    \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  } \relative c' {
    \voiceTwo
    es4 f g as
    b1
  }
>>

[image of music]


Adjusting lyrics vertical spacing

This snippet shows how to bring the lyrics line closer to the staff.

% Default layout:
<<
  \new Staff \new Voice = melody \relative c' {
    c4 d e f
    g4 f e d
    c1
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto melody { aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa }

% Reducing the minimum space below the staff and above the lyrics:
  \new Staff \with {
    \override VerticalAxisGroup #'minimum-Y-extent = #'(-1 . 4)
  }
  \new Voice = melody \relative c' {
    c4 d e f
    g4 f e d
    c1
  }
  \new Lyrics \with {
    \override VerticalAxisGroup #'minimum-Y-extent = #'(-1.2 . 1)
  }
  \lyricsto melody { aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa }
>>

[image of music]


Ambitus with multiple voices

Adding the Ambitus_engraver to the Staff context creates a single ambitus per staff, even in the case of staves with multiple voices.

\new Staff \with {
  \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  }
<<
  \new Voice \relative c'' {
    \voiceOne
    c4 a d e
    f1
  }
  \new Voice \relative c' {
    \voiceTwo
    es4 f g as
    b1
  }
>>

[image of music]


Ambitus

Ambitus indicate pitch ranges for voices.

Accidentals only show up if they are not part of the key signature. AmbitusNoteHead grobs also have ledger lines.

\layout {
  \context {
    \Voice
    \consists "Ambitus_engraver"
  }
}

<<
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' {
      \time 2/4
      c4 f'
    }
  }
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' {
      \time  2/4
      \key d \major
      cis4 as'
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]


Changing stanza fonts

Fonts can be changed independently for each stanza, including the font used for printing the stanza number.

\new Voice {
  \time 3/4
  g2 e4
  a2 f4
  g2.
}
\addlyrics {
  \set stanza = #"1. "
  Hi, my name is Bert.
}
\addlyrics {
  \override StanzaNumber #'font-name = #"DejaVu"
  \set stanza = #"2. "
  \override LyricText #'font-family = #'typewriter
  Oh, ché -- ri, je t'aime
}

[image of music]


Chant or psalms notation

This form of notation is used for the chant of the Psalms, where verses aren’t always the same length.

stemOn = { \revert Staff.Stem #'transparent }
stemOff = { \override Staff.Stem #'transparent = ##t }

\score {
  \new Staff \with { \remove "Time_signature_engraver" }
  {
    \key g \minor
    \cadenzaOn
    \stemOff a'\breve bes'4 g'4
    \stemOn a'2 \bar "||"
    \stemOff a'\breve g'4 a'4
    \stemOn f'2 \bar "||"
    \stemOff a'\breve^\markup { \italic flexe }
    \stemOn g'2 \bar "||"
  }
}

[image of music]


Formatting lyrics syllables

To format individual syllables in lyrics, use \markup { .... } on these lyrics.

% Tip taken from http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/lilypond-user/2007-12/msg00215.html
\header {
  title = "Markup can be used inside lyrics!"
}

mel = \relative c'' { c4 c c c }
lyr = \lyricmode {
  Lyrics \markup { \italic "can" } \markup {\with-color #red "contain" }
  \markup {\fontsize #8 \bold "Markup!" }
}

<<
  \context Voice = melody \mel
  \context Lyrics \lyricsto melody \lyr
>>

[image of music]


How to put ties between syllables in lyrics

This can be achieved by separating those syllables by tildes.

\lyrics {
  wa~o~a 
}

[image of music]


Lyrics alignment

Horizontal alignment for lyrics cam be set by overriding the self-alignment-X property of the LyricText object. #-1 is left, #0 is center and #1 is right; however, you can use #LEFT, #CENTER and #RIGHT as well.

\layout { ragged-right = ##f }
\relative c'' {
  c1
  c1
  c1
}
\addlyrics {
  \once \override LyricText #'self-alignment-X = #LEFT
  "This is left-aligned"
  \once \override LyricText #'self-alignment-X = #CENTER
  "This is centered" 
  \once \override LyricText #'self-alignment-X = #1
  "This is right-aligned"
}

[image of music]


Marking notes of spoken parts with a cross on the stem

This example shows how to put crosses on stems. Mark the beginning of a spoken section with the \speakOn keyword, and end it with the \speakOff keyword.

speakOn = {
  \override Stem #'stencil = #(lambda (grob)
    (let* ((x-parent (ly:grob-parent grob X))
           (is-rest? (ly:grob? (ly:grob-object x-parent 'rest))))
      (if is-rest?
        empty-stencil
        (ly:stencil-combine-at-edge
          (ly:stem::print grob)
          Y
          (- (ly:grob-property grob 'direction))
          (grob-interpret-markup grob
            (markup #:hspace -1.025 #:fontsize -4
              #:musicglyph "noteheads.s2cross"))
          -2.3 0))))
}

speakOff = {
  \revert Stem #'stencil
}

\score {
  \new Staff {
    \relative c'' {
      a4 b a c
      \speakOn
      g4 f r g
      b4 r d e
      \speakOff
      c4 a g f
    }
  }
}

[image of music]


Piano template with melody and lyrics

Here is a typical song format: one staff with the melody and lyrics, with piano accompaniment underneath.

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

text = \lyricmode {
  Aaa Bee Cee Dee
}

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

lower = \relative c {
  \clef bass
  \key c \major
  \time 4/4
  
  a2 c  
}

\score {
  <<
    \new Voice = "mel" { \autoBeamOff \melody }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto mel \text    
    \new PianoStaff <<
      \new Staff = "upper" \upper
      \new Staff = "lower" \lower
    >>
  >>
  \layout {
    \context { \RemoveEmptyStaffContext }
  }
  \midi { }
}

[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 lyrics

This small template demonstrates a simple melody with lyrics. Cut and paste, add notes, then words for the lyrics. This example turns off automatic beaming, which is common for vocal parts. To use automatic beaming, change or comment out the relevant line.

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

text = \lyricmode {
  Aaa Bee Cee Dee
}

\score{
  <<
    \new Voice = "one" {
      \autoBeamOff
      \melody
    }
    \new Lyrics \lyricsto "one" \text
  >>
  \layout { }
  \midi { }
}

[image of music]


Skips in lyric mode (2)

Although s skips cannot be used in \lyricmode (it is taken to be a literal "s", not a space), double quotes ("") or underscores (_) are available.So for example:

<<
  \relative c'' { a4 b c d }
  \new Lyrics \lyricmode { a4 "" _ gap }
>>

[image of music]


Skips in lyric mode

The s syntax for skips is only available in note mode and chord mode. In other situations, for example, when entering lyrics, using the \skip command is recommended.

<<
  \relative { a'1 a }
  \new Lyrics \lyricmode { \skip 1 bla1 }
>>

[image of music]


Vertically aligning ossias and lyrics

This snippet demonstrates the use of the context properties alignBelowContext and alignAboveContext to control the positioning of lyrics and ossias.

\paper {
  ragged-right = ##t
}

\relative c' <<
  \new Staff = "1" { c4 c s2 }
  \new Staff = "2" { c4 c s2 }
  \new Staff = "3" { c4 c s2 }
  { \skip 2
    <<
      \lyrics {
        \set alignBelowContext = #"1"
        lyrics4 below
      }
      \new Staff \with {
        alignAboveContext = #"3"
        fontSize = #-2
        \override StaffSymbol #'staff-space = #(magstep -2)
        \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
      } {
        \times 4/6 {
          \override TextScript #'padding = #3
          c8[^"ossia above" d e d e f]
        }
      }
    >>
  }
>>

[image of music]


Vertically centered common lyrics

In a vocal piece where there are several (two,four or more) lines of lyrics, and common lyrics for all voices at some point, these common lyrics may be vertically centered regardingly, as shown in the following example:

\include "english.ly"
leftbrace = \markup { \override #'(font-encoding . fetaBraces) \lookup #"brace240" }
rightbrace = \markup { \rotate #180 \leftbrace }

dropLyrics =
{
    \override LyricText #'extra-offset = #'(0 . -5)
    \override LyricHyphen #'extra-offset = #'(0 . -5)
    \override LyricExtender #'extra-offset = #'(0 . -5)
}

raiseLyrics =
{
    \revert LyricText #'extra-offset
    \revert LyricHyphen #'extra-offset
    \revert LyricExtender #'extra-offset
}

skipFour = \repeat unfold 4 { \skip 8 }

lyricsA = \lyricmode { The first verse has \dropLyrics the com -- mon
__ words \raiseLyrics used in all four. }
lyricsB = \lyricmode { In stan -- za two, \skipFour al -- so ap -- pear. }
lyricsC = \lyricmode { By the third verse, \skipFour are get -- ting dull. }
lyricsD = \lyricmode { Last stan -- za, and \skipFour get used once more. }

melody = \relative c' { c4 d e f g f e8( e f) d4 c e d c }

\score
{
        <<
                \new Voice = m \melody
                \new Lyrics \lyricsto m \lyricsA
                \new Lyrics \lyricsto m \lyricsB
                \new Lyrics \lyricsto m \lyricsC
                \new Lyrics \lyricsto m \lyricsD
        >>
}

[image of music]


Vocal ensemble template with automatic piano reduction

This template adds an automatic piano reduction to the standard SATB vocal score demonstrated in "Vocal ensemble template". This demonstrates one of the strengths of LilyPond – you can use a music definition more than once. If any changes are made to the vocal notes (say, tenorMusic), then the changes will also apply to the piano reduction.

global = {
  \key c \major
  \time 4/4
}

sopMusic = \relative c'' {
  c4 c c8[( b)] c4
}
sopWords = \lyricmode {
  hi hi hi hi
}

altoMusic = \relative c' {
  e4 f d e
}
altoWords =\lyricmode {
  ha ha ha ha
}

tenorMusic = \relative c' {
  g4 a f g
}
tenorWords = \lyricmode {
  hu hu hu hu
}

bassMusic = \relative c {
  c4 c g c
}
bassWords = \lyricmode {
  ho ho ho ho
}

\score {
  <<
    \new ChoirStaff <<
      \new Lyrics = sopranos { s1 }
      \new Staff = women <<
        \new Voice = sopranos { \voiceOne << \global \sopMusic >> }
        \new Voice = altos { \voiceTwo << \global \altoMusic >> }
      >>
      \new Lyrics = altos { s1 }
      \new Lyrics = tenors { s1 }
      \new Staff = men <<
        \clef bass
        \new Voice = tenors { \voiceOne <<\global \tenorMusic >> }
        \new Voice = basses { \voiceTwo <<\global \bassMusic >> }
      >>
      \new Lyrics = basses { s1 }
      \context Lyrics = sopranos \lyricsto sopranos \sopWords
      \context Lyrics = altos \lyricsto altos \altoWords
      \context Lyrics = tenors \lyricsto tenors \tenorWords
      \context Lyrics = basses \lyricsto basses \bassWords
    >>
    \new PianoStaff <<
      \new Staff <<
        \set Staff.printPartCombineTexts = ##f
        \partcombine
        << \global \sopMusic >>
        << \global \altoMusic >>
      >>
      \new Staff <<
        \clef bass
        \set Staff.printPartCombineTexts = ##f
        \partcombine
        << \global \tenorMusic >>
        << \global \bassMusic >>
      >>
    >>
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      % a little smaller so lyrics
      % can be closer to the staff
      \Staff
      \override VerticalAxisGroup #'minimum-Y-extent = #'(-3 . 3)
    }
  }
}

[image of music]


Vocal ensemble template with lyrics aligned below and above the staves

This template is basically the same as the simple "Vocal ensemble" template, with the exception that here all the lyrics lines are placed using alignAboveContext and alignBelowContext.

global = {
  \key c \major
  \time 4/4
}

sopMusic = \relative c'' {
  c4 c c8[( b)] c4
}
sopWords = \lyricmode {
  hi hi hi hi
}

altoMusic = \relative c' {
  e4 f d e
}
altoWords = \lyricmode {
  ha ha ha ha
}

tenorMusic = \relative c' {
  g4 a f g
}
tenorWords = \lyricmode {
  hu hu hu hu
}

bassMusic = \relative c {
  c4 c g c
}
bassWords = \lyricmode {
  ho ho ho ho
}

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff <<
    \new Staff = women <<
      \new Voice = "sopranos" { \voiceOne << \global \sopMusic >> }
      \new Voice = "altos" { \voiceTwo << \global \altoMusic >> }
    >>
    \new Lyrics \with { alignAboveContext = women } \lyricsto sopranos \sopWords
    \new Lyrics \with { alignBelowContext = women } \lyricsto altos \altoWords
    % we could remove the line about this with the line below, since we want
    % the alto lyrics to be below the alto Voice anyway.
    % \new Lyrics \lyricsto altos \altoWords
    
    \new Staff = men <<
      \clef bass
      \new Voice = "tenors" { \voiceOne << \global \tenorMusic >> }
      \new Voice = "basses" { \voiceTwo << \global \bassMusic >> }
    >>
    \new Lyrics \with { alignAboveContext = men } \lyricsto tenors \tenorWords
    \new Lyrics \with { alignBelowContext = men } \lyricsto basses \bassWords
    % again, we could replace the line above this with the line below.
    % \new Lyrics \lyricsto basses \bassWords
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      % a little smaller so lyrics
      % can be closer to the staff
      \Staff
      \override VerticalAxisGroup #'minimum-Y-extent = #'(-3 . 3)
    }
  }
}

[image of music]


Vocal ensemble template

Here is a standard four-part SATB vocal score. With larger ensembles, it is often useful to include a section which is included in all parts. For example, the time signature and key signature are almost always the same for all parts. Like in the "Hymn" template, the four voices are regrouped on only two staves.

global = {
  \key c \major
  \time 4/4
}

sopMusic = \relative c'' {
  c4 c c8[( b)] c4
}
sopWords = \lyricmode {
  hi hi hi hi
}

altoMusic = \relative c' {
  e4 f d e
}
altoWords = \lyricmode {
  ha ha ha ha
}

tenorMusic = \relative c' {
  g4 a f g
}
tenorWords = \lyricmode {
  hu hu hu hu
}

bassMusic = \relative c {
  c4 c g c
}
bassWords = \lyricmode {
  ho ho ho ho
}

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff <<
    \new Lyrics = sopranos { s1 }
    \new Staff = women <<
      \new Voice = "sopranos" {
        \voiceOne
        << \global \sopMusic >>
      }
      \new Voice = "altos" {
        \voiceTwo
        << \global \altoMusic >>
      }
    >>
    \new Lyrics = "altos" { s1 }
    \new Lyrics = "tenors" { s1 }
    \new Staff = men <<
      \clef bass
      \new Voice = "tenors" {
        \voiceOne
        << \global \tenorMusic >>
      }
      \new Voice = "basses" {
        \voiceTwo << \global \bassMusic >>
      }
    >>
    \new Lyrics = basses { s1 }    
    \context Lyrics = sopranos \lyricsto sopranos \sopWords
    \context Lyrics = altos \lyricsto altos \altoWords
    \context Lyrics = tenors \lyricsto tenors \tenorWords
    \context Lyrics = basses \lyricsto basses \bassWords
  >>  
  \layout {
    \context {
      % a little smaller so lyrics
      % can be closer to the staff
      \Staff
      \override VerticalAxisGroup #'minimum-Y-extent = #'(-3 . 3)
    }
  }
}

[image of music]


Snippets List