3.2.3 Creating footnotes

Footnotes may be used in many different situations. In all cases, a ‘footnote mark’ is placed as a reference in text or music, and the corresponding ‘footnote text’ appears at the bottom of the same page.

Footnotes within music expressions and footnotes in stand-alone text outside music expressions are created in different ways.


Footnotes in music expressions

Music footnotes overview

Footnotes in music expressions fall into two categories:

Event-based footnotes

are attached to a particular event. Examples for such events are single notes, notes inside a chord, articulations (like beams, slurs, fingering indications, accents, dynamics) and lyrics.

Time-based footnotes

are bound to a particular point of time in a musical context. Some commands like \time and \clef don’t actually use events for creating objects like time signatures and clefs. Neither does a chord create an event of its own: its stem or flag is created at the end of a time step (nominally through one of the note events inside). A time-based footnote allows annotating such layout objects without referring to an event.

The full form of a footnote command for both Event- and Time-based footnotes is

[direction] \footnote [mark] offset [grob-name] footnote music

The elements are:

direction

If (and only if) the \footnote is being applied to a post-event or articulation, it must be preceded with a direction indicator (-, _, ^) in order to attach music (with a footnote mark) to the preceding note or rest.

mark

is a markup or string specifying the footnote mark which is used for marking both the reference point and the footnote itself at the bottom of the page. It may be omitted (or equivalently replaced with \default) in which case a number in sequence will be generated automatically. Such numerical sequences restart on each page containing a footnote.

offset

is a number pair such as ‘#(2 . 1)’ specifying the X and Y offsets in units of staff-spaces from the boundary of the object where the mark should be placed. Positive values of the offsets are taken from the right/top edge, negative values from the left/bottom edge and zero implies the mark is centered on the edge.

grob-name

specifies a type of grob to mark (like ‘#'Flag’). If it is given, a grob of that type associated with the referenced music will be used as the reference point. It can be omitted (or replaced with \default) if the footnote mark is to be attached to the directly created grob in music.

footnote

is the markup or string specifying the footnote text to use at the bottom of the page.

music

is the music event or chord constituent or post-event that is being annotated. While it cannot be omitted, it can be replaced by \default in which case the footnote is not attached to a music expression in particular, but rather to a moment of time. It is mandatory in this case to use the grob-name argument for selecting an affected grob type, like ‘#'TimeSignature’.

Event-based footnotes

The simplest form of event-based footnotes is just

\footnote offset footnote music

This kind of footnote is attached to a layout object directly caused by the event corresponding to music.

\book {
  \header { tagline = ##f }
  \relative c'' {
    \footnote #'(-1 . 3) "A note" a4
    a4
    \footnote #'(2 . 2) "A rest" r4
    a4
  }
}

[image of music]

If the footnote is to be attached to a post-event or articulation the \footnote command must be preceded by a direction indicator, -, _, ^, and followed by the post-event or articulation to be annotated as the music argument. In this form the \footnote can be considered to be simply a copy of its last argument with a footnote mark attached to it.

\book {
  \header { tagline = ##f }
  \relative c'' {
    a4_\footnote #'(0 . -1) "A slur forced down" (
    b8^\footnote #'(1 . 0.5) "A manual beam forced up" [
    b8 ]
    c4 )
    c-\footnote #'(1 . 1) "Tenuto" --
  }
}

[image of music]

Custom marks can be used as alternatives to numerical marks, and the annotation line joining the marked object to the mark can be suppressed:

\book {
  \header { tagline = ##f }
  \relative c' {
    \footnote "*" #'(0.5 . -2) \markup { \italic "* The first note" }
    a'4 b8
    \footnote \markup { \super "$" } #'(0.5 . 1)
      \markup { \super "$" \italic " The second note" }
    e c4
    \once \override Score.FootnoteItem #'annotation-line = ##f
    b-\footnote \markup \tiny "+" #'(0.1 . 0.1)
      \markup { \super "+" \italic " Editorial" } \p
  }
}

[image of music]

More examples of custom marks are shown in Footnotes in stand-alone text.

Marking an entire chord in this manner is not possible since a chord does not produce an event separate from that of its chord constituents, but the constituents themselves can be marked.

If the layout object being footmarked is indirectly caused by an event (like an Accidental or Stem caused by a NoteHead), an additional symbol argument, the grob-name, is required before the footnote text:

\book {
  \header { tagline = ##f }
  \relative c'' {
    % footnotes may be added to chord constituents
    < \footnote #'(-1 . -3) #'Accidental "Another flat" aes
      c
      \footnote #'(-1 . 0.5) #'Accidental "A flat" ees
    >2
    \footnote #'(-1 . 2) #'Stem "A stem" ees2
  }
}

[image of music]

Note: When footnotes are attached to several musical elements at the same musical moment, the footnotes are numbered from the higher to the lower elements as they appear in the printed output, not in the order in which they are written in the input stream.

Time-based footnotes

Layout objects like clefs and key change signatures are mostly caused as a consequence of changed properties rather than actual events. Others, like bar lines and bar numbers, are a direct consequence of timing. For this reason, footnotes on such objects have to be based on their musical timing. Time-based footnotes are also preferable when marking features like stems and beams on chords: while such per-chord features are nominally assigned to one event inside the chord, relying on a particular choice would be imprudent.

A time-based footnote is written in the same manner as an event-based footnote, except that \default is used in place of music indicating an event. The layout object in question should always be explicitly specified for time-based footnotes to avoid getting marks on unexpected objects.

\book {
  \header { tagline = ##f }
  \relative c'' {
    r1 |
    \footnote #'(-0.5 . -1) #'TimeSignature "Meter change" \default
    \time 3/4
    \footnote #'(1 . -1) #'Stem "Chord stem" \default
    <c e g>4 q q
    \footnote #'(-0.5 . 1) #'BarLine "Bar line" \default
    q q
    \footnote #'(0.5 . -1) #'KeySignature "Key change" \default
    \key c\minor
    q
  }
}

[image of music]


Footnotes in stand-alone text

These are for use in markup outside of music expressions. They do not have a line drawn to their point of reference: their marks simply follow the referenced markup. Marks can be inserted automatically, in which case they are numerical. Alternatively, custom marks can be provided manually.

Footnotes to stand-alone text with automatic and custom marks are created in different ways.

Footnotes in stand-alone text with automatic marks

The syntax of a footnote in stand-alone text with automatic marks is

\markup { ... \auto-footnote text footnote ... }

The elements are:

text

is the markup or string to be marked.

footnote

is the markup or string specifying the footnote text to use at the bottom of the page.

For example:

\book {
  \header { tagline = ##f }
  \markup {
    "A simple"
    \auto-footnote "tune" \italic " By me"
    "is shown below.  It is a"
    \auto-footnote "recent" \italic " Aug 2012"
    "composition."
  }
  \relative c' {
    a'4 b8 e c4 d
  }
}

[image of music]

Footnotes in stand-alone text with custom marks

The syntax of a footnote in stand-alone text with custom marks is

\markup { ... \footnote mark footnote ... }

The elements are:

mark

is a markup or string specifying the footnote mark which is used for marking the reference point. Note that this mark is not inserted automatically before the footnote itself.

footnote

is the markup or string specifying the footnote text to use at the bottom of the page, preceded by the mark.

Any easy-to-type character such as * or + may be used as a mark, as shown in Footnotes in music expressions. Alteratively, ASCII aliases may be used (see ASCII aliases):

\book {
  \paper { #(include-special-characters) }
  \header { tagline = ##f }
  \markup {
    "A simple tune"
    \footnote "*" \italic "* By me"
    "is shown below.  It is a recent"
    \footnote \super &dagger; \concat {
      \super &dagger; \italic " Aug 2012"
    }
    "composition."
  }
  \relative c' {
    a'4 b8 e c4 d
  }
}

[image of music]

Unicode character codes may also be used to specify marks (see Unicode):

\book {
  \header { tagline = ##f }
  \markup {
    "A simple tune"
    \footnote \super \char##x00a7 \concat {
      \super \char##x00a7 \italic " By me"
    }
    "is shown below.  It is a recent"
    \footnote \super \char##x00b6 \concat {
      \super \char##x00b6 \italic " Aug 2012"
    }
    "composition."
  }
  \relative c' {
    a'4 b8 e c4 d
  }
}

[image of music]

See also

Learning Manual: Objects and interfaces.

Notation Reference: ASCII aliases, Balloon help, List of special characters, Text marks, Text scripts, Unicode.

Internals Reference: FootnoteEvent, FootnoteItem, FootnoteSpanner, Footnote_engraver.

Known issues and warnings

Multiple footnotes for the same page can only be stacked, one on top of the other; they cannot be printed on the same line.

Footnotes cannot be attached to MultiMeasureRests or automatic beams and footnote marks may collide with staves, \markup objects, other footnote marks and annotation lines.


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