2.1.5 Choral

This section discusses notation issues that relate most directly to choral music. This includes anthems, part songs, oratorio, etc.


References for choral

Choral music is usually notated on two, three or four staves within a ChoirStaff group. Accompaniment, if required, is placed beneath in a PianoStaff group, which is usually reduced in size for rehearsal of a cappella choral works. The notes for each vocal part are placed in a Voice context, with each staff being given either a single vocal part (i.e., one Voice) or a pair of vocal parts (i.e., two Voices).

Words are placed in Lyrics contexts, either underneath each corresponding music staff, or one above and one below the music staff if this contains the music for two parts.

Several common topics in choral music are described fully elsewhere:

Predefined commands

\oneVoice, \voiceOne, \voiceTwo.

See also

Learning Manual: Four-part SATB vocal score, Vocal ensembles templates.

Notation Reference: Context layout order, Grouping staves, Shape note heads, Single-staff polyphony.

Snippets: Vocal music.

Internals Reference: ChoirStaff, Lyrics, PianoStaff.


Score layouts for choral

Choral music containing four staves, with or without piano accompaniment, is usually laid out with two systems per page. Depending on the page size, achieving this may require changes to several default settings. The following settings should be considered:

Dynamic markings by default are placed below the staff, but in choral music they are usually placed above the staff in order to avoid the lyrics. The predefined command \dynamicUp does this for the dynamic markings in a single Voice context. If there are many Voice contexts this predefined command would have to be placed in every one. Alternatively its expanded form can be used to place all dynamic markings in the entire score above their respective staves, as shown here:

\score {
  \new ChoirStaff <<
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice {
        \relative c'' { g4\f g g g }
      }
    }
    \new Staff {
      \new Voice {
        \relative c' { d4 d d\p d }
      }
    }
  >>
  \layout {
    \context {
      \Score
      \override DynamicText.direction = #UP
      \override DynamicLineSpanner.direction = #UP
    }
  }
}

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\dynamicUp, \dynamicDown, \dynamicNeutral.

See also

Notation Reference: Changing spacing, Displaying spacing, Fitting music onto fewer pages, Page layout, Score layout, Separating systems, Setting the staff size, Explicit breaks, Vertical spacing.

Internals Reference: VerticalAxisGroup, StaffGrouper.


Divided voices

Using arpeggioBracket to make divisi more visible

The arpeggioBracket can be used to indicate the division of voices where there are no stems to provide the information. This is often seen in choral music.

\include "english.ly"

\score {
  \relative c'' {
    \key a \major
    \time 2/2
    <<
      \new Voice = "upper"
      <<
        { \voiceOne \arpeggioBracket
          a2( b2
          <b d>1\arpeggio)
          <cs e>\arpeggio ~
          <cs e>4
        }
        \addlyrics { \lyricmode { A -- men. } }
      >>
      \new Voice = "lower"
      { \voiceTwo
        a1 ~
        a
        a ~
        a4 \bar "|."
      }
    >>
  }
  \layout { ragged-right = ##t }
}

[image of music]

See also

Notation Reference: Expressive marks as lines.


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