2.1.6 Opera and stage musicals

The music, lyrics and dialogue to opera and stage musicals are usually set out in one or more of the following forms:

The sections in the LilyPond documentation which cover the topics needed to create scores in the styles commonly found in opera and musicals are indicated in the References below. This is followed by sections covering those techniques which are peculiar to typesetting opera and musical scores.


References for opera and stage musicals

See also

Musical Glossary: Frenched score, Frenched staves, transposing instrument.

Notation Reference: Creating footnotes, Grouping staves, Hiding staves, Instrument transpositions, Nested staff groups, Page layout, Separating systems, Transpose, Writing parts, Writing text.

Snippets: Vocal music.


Character names

Character names are usually shown to the left of the staff when the staff is dedicated to that character alone:

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \set Staff.vocalName = \markup \smallCaps Kaspar
      \set Staff.shortVocalName = \markup \smallCaps Kas.
      \relative c' {
        \clef "G_8"
        c4 c c c
        \break
        c4 c c c
      }
    }
    \new Staff {
      \set Staff.vocalName = \markup \smallCaps Melchior
      \set Staff.shortVocalName = \markup \smallCaps Mel
      \clef "bass"
      \relative c' {
        a4 a a a
        a4 a a a
      }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

When two or more characters share a staff the character’s name is usually printed above the staff at the start of every section applying to that character. This can be done with markup. Often a specific font is used for this purpose.

\clef "G_8"
c4^\markup \fontsize #1 \smallCaps Kaspar
c c c
\clef "bass"
a4^\markup \fontsize #1 \smallCaps Melchior
a a a
\clef "G_8"
c4^\markup \fontsize #1 \smallCaps Kaspar
c c c

[image of music]

Alternatively, if there are many character changes, it may be easier to set up “instrument” definitions for each character at the top level so that \instrumentSwitch can be used to indicate each change.

\addInstrumentDefinition #"kaspar"
  #`((instrumentTransposition . ,(ly:make-pitch -1 0 0))
     (shortInstrumentName . "Kas.")
     (clefGlyph . "clefs.G")
     (clefTransposition . -7)
     (middleCPosition . 1)
     (clefPosition . -2)
     (instrumentCueName . ,(markup #:fontsize 1 #:smallCaps "Kaspar"))
     (midiInstrument . "voice oohs"))

\addInstrumentDefinition #"melchior"
  #`((instrumentTransposition . ,(ly:make-pitch 0 0 0))
     (shortInstrumentName . "Mel.")
     (clefGlyph . "clefs.F")
     (clefTransposition . 0)
     (middleCPosition . 6)
     (clefPosition . 2)
     (instrumentCueName . ,(markup #:fontsize 1 #:smallCaps "Melchior"))
     (midiInstrument . "choir aahs"))

\relative c' {
  \instrumentSwitch "kaspar"
  c4 c c c
  \instrumentSwitch "melchior"
  a4 a a a
  \instrumentSwitch "kaspar"
  c4 c c c
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Instrument names, Scheme functions, Text, Text markup commands.

Extending LilyPond: Markup construction in Scheme.


Musical cues

Musical cues can be inserted in Vocal Scores, Vocal Books and Orchestral Parts to indicate what music in another part immediately precedes an entry. Also, cues are often inserted in the piano reduction in Vocal Scores to indicate what each orchestral instrument is playing. This aids the conductor when a full Conductors’ Score is not available.

The basic mechanism for inserting cues is fully explained in the main text, see Quoting other voices and Formatting cue notes. But when many cues have to be inserted, for example, as an aid to a conductor in a vocal score, the instrument name must be positioned carefully just before and close to the start of the cue notes. The following example shows how this is done.

flute = \relative c'' {
  s4 s4 e g
}
\addQuote "flute" { \flute }

pianoRH = \relative c'' {
  c4. g8
  % position name of cue-ing instrument just before the cue notes,
  % and above the staff
  \new CueVoice {
    \override InstrumentSwitch.self-alignment-X = #RIGHT
    \set instrumentCueName = "Flute"
  }
  \cueDuring "flute" #UP { g4 bes4 }
}
pianoLH = \relative c { c4 <c' e> e, <g c> }

\score {
  \new PianoStaff <<
    \new Staff {
      \pianoRH
    }
    \new Staff {
      \clef "bass"
      \pianoLH
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

If a transposing instrument is being quoted the instrument part should specify its key so the conversion of its cue notes will be done automatically. The example below shows this transposition for a B-flat clarinet. The notes in this example are low on the staff so DOWN is specified in \cueDuring (so the stems are down) and the instrument name is positioned below the staff. Note also that the piano right-hand voice is explicitly declared. This is because the cue notes in this example begin at the start of the first bar and this would otherwise cause the entire piano right-hand notes to be placed in a CueVoice context.

clarinet = \relative c' {
  \transposition bes
  fis4 d d c
}
\addQuote "clarinet" { \clarinet }

pianoRH = \relative c'' {
  \transposition c'
  % position name of cue-ing instrument below the staff
  \new CueVoice {
    \override InstrumentSwitch.self-alignment-X = #RIGHT
    \override InstrumentSwitch.direction = #DOWN
    \set instrumentCueName = "Clar."
  }
  \cueDuring "clarinet" #DOWN { c4. g8 }
  g4 bes4
}
pianoLH = \relative c { c4 <c' e> e, <g c> }

\score {
  <<
    \new PianoStaff <<
      \new Staff {
        \new Voice {
          \pianoRH
        }
      }
      \new Staff {
        \clef "bass"
        \pianoLH
      }
    >>
  >>
}

[image of music]

From these two examples it is clear that inserting many cues in a Vocal Score would be tedious, and the notes of the piano part would become obscured. However, as the following snippet shows, it is possible to define a music function to reduce the amount of typing and to make the piano notes clearer.

Selected Snippets

Adding orchestral cues to a vocal score

This shows one approach to simplify adding many orchestral cues to the piano reduction in a vocal score. The music function \cueWhile takes four arguments: the music from which the cue is to be taken, as defined by \addQuote, the name to be inserted before the cue notes, then either #UP or #DOWN to specify either \voiceOne with the name above the staff or \voiceTwo with the name below the staff, and finally the piano music in parallel with which the cue notes are to appear. The name of the cued instrument is positioned to the left of the cued notes. Many passages can be cued, but they cannot overlap each other in time.

cueWhile =
#(define-music-function
   (parser location instrument name dir music)
   (string? string? ly:dir? ly:music?)
   #{
     \cueDuring $instrument #dir {
       \once \override TextScript.self-alignment-X = #RIGHT
       \once \override TextScript.direction = $dir
       <>-\markup { \tiny #name }
       $music
     }
   #})

flute = \relative c'' {
  \transposition c'
  s4 s4 e g
}
\addQuote "flute" { \flute }

clarinet = \relative c' {
  \transposition bes
  fis4 d d c
}
\addQuote "clarinet" { \clarinet }

singer = \relative c'' { c4. g8 g4 bes4 }
words = \lyricmode { here's the lyr -- ics }

pianoRH = \relative c'' {
  \transposition c'
  \cueWhile "clarinet" "Clar." #DOWN { c4. g8 }
  \cueWhile "flute" "Flute" #UP { g4 bes4 }
}
pianoLH = \relative c { c4 <c' e> e, <g c> }

\score {
  <<
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice = "singer" {
        \singer
      }
    }
    \new Lyrics {
      \lyricsto "singer"
      \words
    }
    \new PianoStaff <<
      \new Staff {
        \new Voice {
          \pianoRH
        }
      }
      \new Staff {
        \clef "bass"
        \pianoLH
      }
    >>
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Musical Glossary: cue-notes.

Notation Reference: Aligning objects, Direction and placement, Formatting cue notes, Quoting other voices, Using music functions.

Snippets: Vocal music.

Internals Reference: InstrumentSwitch, CueVoice.

Known issues and warnings

\cueDuring automatically inserts a CueVoice context and all cue notes are placed in that context. This means it is not possible to have two overlapping sequences of cue notes by this technique. Overlapping sequences could be entered by explicitly declaring separate CueVoice contexts and using \quoteDuring to extract and insert the cue notes.


Spoken music

Such effects as ‘parlato’ or ‘Sprechgesang’ require performers to speak without pitch but still with rhythm; these are notated by cross note heads, as demonstrated in Special note heads.


Dialogue over music

Dialogue over music is usually printed over the staves in an italic font, with the start of each phrase keyed in to a particular music moment.

For short interjections a simple markup suffices.

a4^\markup { \smallCaps { Alex - } \italic { He's gone } } a a a
a4 a a^\markup { \smallCaps { Bethan - } \italic Where? } a
a4 a a a

[image of music]

For longer phrases it may be necessary to expand the music to make the words fit neatly. There is no provision in LilyPond to do this fully automatically, and some manual intervention to layout the page will be necessary.

For long phrases or for passages with a lot of closely packed dialogue, using a Lyrics context will give better results. The Lyrics context should not be associated with a music Voice; instead each section of dialogue should be given an explicit duration. If there is a gap in the dialogue, the final word should be separated from the rest and the duration split between them so that the underlying music spaces out smoothly.

If the dialogue extends for more than one line it will be necessary to manually insert \breaks and adjust the placing of the dialogue to avoid running into the right margin. The final word of the last measure on a line should also be separated out, as above.

Here is an example illustrating how this might be done.

music = \relative c'' {
  \repeat unfold 3 { a4 a a a }
}

dialogue = \lyricmode {
  \markup {
    \fontsize #1 \upright \smallCaps Abe:
    "Say this over measures one and"
  }4*7
  "two"4 |
  \break
  "and this over measure"4*3
  "three"4 |
}

\score {
  <<
    \new Lyrics \with {
      \override LyricText.font-shape = #'italic
      \override LyricText.self-alignment-X = #LEFT
    }
    { \dialogue }
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice { \music }
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Manual syllable durations, Text.

Internal Reference: LyricText.


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