2.1.1 Common notation for vocal music

This section discusses issues common to most types of vocal music.


References for vocal music

This section indicates where to find details of notation issues that may arise in any type of vocal music.

Vedi anche

Music Glossary: ambitus.

Learning Manual: Setting simple songs.

Notation Reference: Text markup introduction, Ambitus, Score layouts for choral.

Snippets: Vocal music.


Entering lyrics

Lyrics are entered in a special input mode, which can be introduced by the keyword \lyricmode, or by using \addlyrics or \lyricsto. In this special input mode, the input d is not parsed as the pitch D, but rather as a one-letter syllable of text. In other words, syllables are entered like notes but with pitches replaced by text.

For example:

\lyricmode { Three4 blind mice,2 three4 blind mice2 }

There are two main methods for specifying the horizontal placement of the syllables, either by specifying the duration of each syllable explicitly, as in the example above, or by leaving the lyrics to be aligned automatically to a melody or other voice of music, using \addlyrics or \lyricsto. The former method is described below in Manual syllable durations. The latter method is described in Automatic syllable durations.

A word or syllable of lyrics begins with an alphabetic character (plus some other characters, see below) and is terminated by any white space or a digit. Later characters in the syllable can be any character that is not a digit or white space.

Because any character that is not a digit or white space is regarded as part of the syllable, a word is valid even if it ends with }, which often leads to the following mistake:

\lyricmode { lah lah lah}

In this example, the } is included in the final syllable, so the opening brace is not balanced and the input file will probably not compile. Instead, braces should always be surrounded with white space:

\lyricmode { lah lah lah }

Similarly, in lyric mode, a period will be included in the alphabetic sequence that it follows. As a consequence, spaces must be inserted around the period in \override commands. Do not write

\override Score.LyricText #'font-shape = #'italic

but instead use

\override Score . LyricText #'font-shape = #'italic

Punctuation, lyrics with accented characters, characters from non-English languages, or special characters (such as the heart symbol or slanted quotes), may simply be inserted directly into the input file, providing it is saved with UTF-8 encoding. For more information, see Special characters.

\relative c'' { d8 c16 a bes8 f e' d c4 }
\addlyrics { „Schad’ um das schö -- ne grü -- ne Band, }

[image of music]

Normal quotes may be used in lyrics, but they have to be preceded with a backslash character and the whole syllable has to be enclosed between additional quotes. For example,

\relative c' { \time 3/4 e4 e4. e8 d4 e d c2. }
\addlyrics { "\"I" am so lone -- "ly,\"" said she }

[image of music]

The full definition of a word start in lyrics mode is somewhat more complex. A word in lyrics mode is one that begins with an alphabetic character, _, ?, !, :, ', the control characters ^A through ^F, ^Q through ^W, ^Y, ^^, any 8-bit character with an ASCII code over 127, or a two-character combination of a backslash followed by one of `, ', ", or ^.

Great control over the appearance of lyrics comes from using \markup inside the lyrics themselves. For explanation of many options, see Formatting text.

Frammenti di codice selezionati

Formatting lyrics syllables

Markup mode may be used to format individual syllables in lyrics.

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

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

[image of music]

Vedi anche

Learning Manual: Songs.

Notation Reference: Automatic syllable durations, Fonts, Formatting text, Input modes, Manual syllable durations, Special characters.

Internals Reference: LyricText.

Snippets: Text.


Aligning lyrics to a melody

Lyrics are printed by interpreting them in the context called Lyrics, see Contexts explained.

\new Lyrics \lyricmode { … }

Lyrics can be aligned with melodies in two main ways:

Vedi anche

Learning Manual: Aligning lyrics to a melody.

Notation Reference: Contexts explained, Automatic syllable durations, Stanzas, Manual syllable durations, Dialogue over music, Manual syllable durations.

Internals Reference: Lyrics.


Automatic syllable durations

Lyrics can be automatically aligned to the notes of a melody in three ways:

In all three methods hyphens can be drawn between the syllables of a word and extender lines can be drawn beyond the end of a word. For details, see Extenders and hyphens.

The Voice context containing the melody to which the lyrics are being aligned must not have “died”, or the lyrics after that point will be lost. This can happen if there are periods when that voice has nothing to do. For methods of keeping contexts alive, see Keeping contexts alive.

Using \lyricsto

Lyrics can be aligned under a melody automatically by specifying the named Voice context containing the melody with \lyricsto:

<<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    a4 a a a
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
    These are the words
  }
>>

[image of music]

This aligns the lyrics to the notes of the named Voice context, which must already exist. Therefore normally the Voice context is specified first, followed by the Lyrics context. The lyrics themselves follow the \lyricsto command. The \lyricsto command invokes lyric mode automatically, so the \lyricmode keyword may be omitted. By default, the lyrics are placed underneath the notes. For other placements, see Placing lyrics vertically.

Using \addlyrics

The \addlyrics command is just a convenient shortcut that can sometimes be used instead of having to set up the lyrics through a more complicated LilyPond structure.

{ MUSIC }
\addlyrics { LYRICS }

is the same as

\new Voice = "blah" { MUSIC }
\new Lyrics \lyricsto "blah" { LYRICS }

Here is an example,

{
  \time 3/4
  \relative c' { c2 e4 g2. }
  \addlyrics { play the game }
}

[image of music]

More stanzas can be added by adding more \addlyrics sections:

{
  \time 3/4
  \relative c' { c2 e4 g2. }
  \addlyrics { play the game }
  \addlyrics { speel het spel }
  \addlyrics { joue le jeu }
}

[image of music]

The command \addlyrics cannot handle polyphonic settings. For these cases one should use \lyricsto.

Using associatedVoice

The melody to which the lyrics are being aligned can be changed by setting the associatedVoice property,

\set associatedVoice = #"lala"

The value of the property (here: "lala") should be the name of a Voice context. For technical reasons, the \set command must be placed one syllable before the one to which the change in voice is to apply.

Here is an example demonstrating its use:

<<
  \new Staff <<
    \time 2/4
    \new Voice = "one" \relative c'' {
      \voiceOne
      c4 b8. a16 g4. r8 a4 ( b ) c2
    }
    \new Voice = "two" \relative c' {
      \voiceTwo
       s2 s4. f8 e8 d4. c2
    }
  >>
% takes durations and alignment from notes in "one" initially
% then switches to "two"
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "one" {
    No more let
    \set associatedVoice = "two"  % must be set one syllable early
    sins and sor -- rows grow.
  }
>>

[image of music]

Vedi anche

Notation Reference: Extenders and hyphens, Keeping contexts alive, Placing lyrics vertically.


Manual syllable durations

In some complex vocal music, it may be desirable to place lyrics completely independently of notes. In this case do not use \lyricsto or \addlyrics and do not set associatedVoice. Syllables are entered like notes – but with pitches replaced by text – and the duration of each syllable is entered explicitly after the syllable.

By default, syllables will be left-aligned to the corresponding musical moment. Hyphenated lines may be drawn between syllables as usual, but extender lines cannot be drawn when there is no associated voice.

Here are two examples:

<<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    \time 3/4
    c2 e4 g2 f
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricmode {
    play1 the4 game4
  }
>>

[image of music]

<<
  \new Staff {
    \relative c'' {
      c2 c2
      d1
    }
  }
  \new Lyrics {
    \lyricmode {
      I2 like4. my8 cat!1
    }
  }
  \new Staff {
    \relative c' {
      c8 c c c c c c c
      c8 c c c c c c c
    }
  }
>>

[image of music]

This technique is useful when writing dialogue over music, see Dialogue over music.

To center-align syllables on the notes at the corresponding musical moments, set associatedVoice to the name of the Voice context containing those notes. When associatedVoice is set, both double hyphens and double underscores can be used to draw hyphenated lines and extenders under melismata correctly.

<<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    \time 3/4
    c2 e4 g f g
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricmode {
    \set associatedVoice = #"melody"
    play2 the4 game2. __
  }
>>

[image of music]

Vedi anche

Notation Reference: Dialogue over music.

Internals Reference: Lyrics, Voice.


Multiple syllables to one note

In order to assign more than one syllable to a single note with spaces between the syllables, you can surround the phrase with quotes or use a _ character. Alternatively, you can use the tilde symbol (~) to get a lyric tie.

{
  \relative c'' { \autoBeamOff
    r8 b c fis, fis c' b e, }
  \addlyrics { Che_in ques -- ta_e_in quel -- l'al -- tr'on -- da }
  \addlyrics { "Che in" ques -- "ta e in" quel -- l'al -- tr'on -- da }
  \addlyrics { Che~in ques -- ta~e~in quel -- l'al -- tr'on -- da }
}

[image of music]

Vedi anche

Internals Reference: LyricCombineMusic.


Multiple notes to one syllable

Sometimes, particularly in Medieval music, several notes are to be sung on one syllable; such vocalises are called melismata, or melismas. The syllable to a melisma is usually left-aligned with the first note of the melisma.

When a melisma occurs on a syllable other that the last one in a word, that syllable is usually joined to the following one with a hyphenated line. This is indicated by placing a double hyphen, --, immediately after the syllable.

Alternatively, when a melisma occurs on the last or only syllable in a word an extender line is usually drawn from the end of the syllable to the last note of the melisma. This is indicated by placing a double underscore, __, immediately after the word.

There are five ways in which melismata can be indicated:

It is possible to have ties, slurs and manual beams in the melody without their indicating melismata. To do this, set melismaBusyProperties:

<<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    \time 3/4
    \set melismaBusyProperties = #'()
    c4 d ( e )
    g8 [ f ] f4 ~ f
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
    Ky -- ri -- e e -- le -- i -- son
  }
>>

[image of music]

Other settings for melismaBusyProperties can be used to selectively include or exclude ties, slurs, and beams from the automatic detection of melismata; see melismaBusyProperties in Tunable context properties.

Alternatively, if all melismata indications are to be ignored, ignoreMelismata may be set true; see Stanzas with different rhythms.

If a melisma is required during a passage in which melismaBusyProperties is active, it may be indicated by placing a single underscore in the lyrics for each note which should be included in the melisma:

<<
  \new Voice = "melody" {
    \time 3/4
    \set melismaBusyProperties = #'()
    c4 d ( e )
    g8 [ f ] ~ f4 ~ f
  }
  \new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
    Ky -- ri -- _ e __ _ _ _
  }
>>

[image of music]

Comandi predefiniti

\autoBeamOff, \autoBeamOn, \melisma, \melismaEnd.

Vedi anche

Musical Glossary: melisma.

Learning Manual: Aligning lyrics to a melody.

Notation Reference: Aligning lyrics to a melody, Automatic syllable durations, Setting automatic beam behavior, Stanzas with different rhythms.

Internals Reference: Tunable context properties.

Problemi noti e avvertimenti

Extender lines under melismata are not created automatically; they must be inserted manually with a double underscore.


Extenders and hyphens

In the last syllable of a word, melismata are sometimes indicated with a long horizontal line starting in the melisma syllable, and ending in the next one. Such a line is called an extender line, and it is entered as ‘ __ ’ (note the spaces before and after the two underscore characters).

Nota: Melismata are indicated in the score with extender lines, which are entered as one double underscore; but short melismata can also be entered by skipping individual notes, which are entered as single underscore characters; these do not make an extender line to be typeset by default.

Centered hyphens are entered as ‘ -- ’ between syllables of a same word (note the spaces before and after the two hyphen characters). The hyphen will be centered between the syllables, and its length will be adjusted depending on the space between the syllables.

In tightly engraved music, hyphens can be removed. Whether this happens can be controlled with the minimum-distance (minimum distance between two syllables) and the minimum-length (threshold below which hyphens are removed) properties of LyricHyphen.

Vedi anche

Internals Reference: LyricExtender, LyricHyphen.


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