### 1.1.3 Displaying pitches

This section discusses how to alter the output of pitches.

#### Clef

Without any explicit command, the default clef for LilyPond is the treble (or G) clef.

c2 c


However, the clef can be changed by using the \clef command and an appropriate clef name. Middle C is shown in each of the following examples.

\clef treble
c2 c
\clef alto
c2 c
\clef tenor
c2 c
\clef bass
c2 c


For the full range of possible clef names see Clef styles.

Specialized clefs, such as those used in Ancient music, are described in Mensural clefs and Gregorian clefs. Music that requires tablature clefs is discussed in Default tablatures and Custom tablatures.

For mixing clefs when using cue notes, see the \cueClef and \cueDuringWithClef commands in Formatting cue notes.

By adding _8 or ^8 to the clef name, the clef is transposed one octave down or up respectively, and _15 and ^15 transpose by two octaves. Other integers can be used if required. Clef names containing non-alphabetic characters must be enclosed in quotes

\clef treble
c2 c
\clef "treble_8"
c2 c
\clef "bass^15"
c2 c
\clef "alto_2"
c2 c
\clef "G_8"
c2 c
\clef "F^5"
c2 c


Optional octavation can be obtained by enclosing the numeric argument in parentheses or brackets:

\clef "treble_(8)"
c2 c
\clef "bass^[15]"
c2 c


The pitches are displayed as if the numeric argument were given without parentheses/brackets.

By default, a clef change taking place at a line break will cause the new clef symbol to be printed at the end of the previous line, as a warning clef, as well as the beginning of the next. This warning clef can be suppressed.

\clef treble { c2 c } \break
\clef bass { c2 c } \break
\clef alto
\set Staff.explicitClefVisibility = #end-of-line-invisible
{ c2 c } \break
\unset Staff.explicitClefVisibility
\clef bass { c2 c } \break


By default, a clef that has previously been printed will not be re-printed if the same \clef command is issued again and will be ignored. The the command \set Staff.forceClef = ##t changes this behaviour.

  \clef treble
c1
\clef treble
c1
\set Staff.forceClef = ##t
c1
\clef treble
c1


When there is a manual clef change, the glyph of the changed clef will be smaller than normal. This behaviour can be overridden.

  \clef "treble"
c1
\clef "bass"
c1
\clef "treble"
c1
\override Staff.Clef.full-size-change = ##t
\clef "bass"
c1
\clef "treble"
c1
\revert Staff.Clef.full-size-change
\clef "bass"
c1
\clef "treble"
c1


#### Selected Snippets

Tweaking clef properties

Changing the Clef glyph, its position, or the ottavation does not change the position of subsequent notes on the staff. To get key signatures on their correct staff lines middleCClefPosition must also be specified, with positive or negative values moving middle C up or down respectively, relative to the staff’s center line.

For example, \clef "treble_8" is equivalent to setting the clefGlyph, clefPosition (the vertical position of the clef itself on the staff), middleCPosition and clefTransposition. Note that when any of these properties (except middleCPosition) are changed a new clef symbol is printed.

The following examples show the possibilities when setting these properties manually. On the first line, the manual changes preserve the standard relative positioning of clefs and notes, whereas on the second line, they do not.

{
% The default treble clef
\key f \major
c'1
% The standard bass clef
\set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.F"
\set Staff.clefPosition = #2
\set Staff.middleCPosition = #6
\set Staff.middleCClefPosition = #6
\key g \major
c'1
% The baritone clef
\set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.C"
\set Staff.clefPosition = #4
\set Staff.middleCPosition = #4
\set Staff.middleCClefPosition = #4
\key f \major
c'1
% The standard choral tenor clef
\set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.G"
\set Staff.clefPosition = #-2
\set Staff.clefTransposition = #-7
\set Staff.middleCPosition = #1
\set Staff.middleCClefPosition = #1
\key f \major
c'1
% A non-standard clef
\set Staff.clefPosition = #0
\set Staff.clefTransposition = #0
\set Staff.middleCPosition = #-4
\set Staff.middleCClefPosition = #-4
\key g \major
c'1 \break

% The following clef changes do not preserve
% the normal relationship between notes, key signatures
% and clefs:

\set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.F"
\set Staff.clefPosition = #2
c'1
\set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.G"
c'1
\set Staff.clefGlyph = #"clefs.C"
c'1
\set Staff.clefTransposition = #7
c'1
\set Staff.clefTransposition = #0
\set Staff.clefPosition = #0
c'1

\set Staff.middleCPosition = #0
c'1
}


Notation Reference: Mensural clefs, Gregorian clefs, Default tablatures, Custom tablatures, Formatting cue notes.

Installed Files: ‘scm/parser-clef.scm’.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Clef_engraver, Clef, ClefModifier, clef-interface.

#### Known issues and warnings

Ottavation numbers attached to clefs are treated as separate grobs. So any \override done to the Clef will also need to be applied, as a separate \override, to the ClefModifier grob.

\new Staff \with {
\override Clef.color = #blue
\override ClefModifier.color = #red
}

\clef "treble_8" c4


#### Key signature

Note: New users are sometimes confused about accidentals and key signatures. In LilyPond, note names are the raw input; key signatures and clefs determine how this raw input is displayed. An unaltered note like c means ‘C natural’, regardless of the key signature or clef. For more information, see Accidentals and key signatures.

The key signature indicates the tonality in which a piece is played. It is denoted by a set of alterations (flats or sharps) at the start of the staff. The key signature may be altered:

\key pitch mode


Here, mode should be \major or \minor to get a key signature of pitch-major or pitch-minor, respectively. You may also use the standard mode names, also called church modes: \ionian, \dorian, \phrygian, \lydian, \mixolydian, \aeolian, and \locrian.

\key g \major
fis1
f
fis


Additional modes can be defined, by listing the alterations for each scale step when the mode starts on C.

freygish = #((0 . ,NATURAL) (1 . ,FLAT) (2 . ,NATURAL)
(3 . ,NATURAL) (4 . ,NATURAL) (5 . ,FLAT) (6 . ,FLAT))

\relative c' {
\key c \freygish c4 des e f
\bar "||" \key d \freygish d es fis g
}


Accidentals in the key signature may be printed in octaves other than their traditional positions, or in multiple octaves, by using the flat-positions and sharp-positions properties of KeySignature. Entries in these properties specify the range of staff-positions where accidentals will be printed. If a single position is specified in an entry, the accidentals are placed within the octave ending at that staff position.

\override Staff.KeySignature.flat-positions = #'((-5 . 5))
\override Staff.KeyCancellation.flat-positions = #'((-5 . 5))
\clef bass \key es \major es g bes d
\clef treble \bar "||" \key es \major es g bes d

\override Staff.KeySignature.sharp-positions = #'(2)
\bar "||" \key b \major b fis b2


#### Selected Snippets

Preventing natural signs from being printed when the key signature changes

When the key signature changes, natural signs are automatically printed to cancel any accidentals from previous key signatures. This may be prevented by setting to f the printKeyCancellation property in the Staff context.

\relative c' {
\key d \major
a4 b cis d
\key g \minor
a4 bes c d
\set Staff.printKeyCancellation = ##f
\key d \major
a4 b cis d
\key g \minor
a4 bes c d
}


The commonly used \key command sets the keyAlterations property, in the Staff context.

To create non-standard key signatures, set this property directly. The format of this command is a list:

 \set Staff.keyAlterations = #(((octave . step) . alter) ((octave . step) . alter) ...)  where, for each element in the list, octave specifies the octave (0 being the octave from middle C to the B above), step specifies the note within the octave (0 means C and 6 means B), and alter is ,SHARP ,FLAT ,DOUBLE-SHARP etc. (Note the leading comma.)

Alternatively, for each item in the list, using the more concise format (step . alter) specifies that the same alteration should hold in all octaves.

For microtonal scales where a “sharp” is not 100 cents, alter refers to the alteration as a proportion of a 200-cent whole tone.

Here is an example of a possible key signature for generating a whole-tone scale:

\relative c' {
\set Staff.keyAlterations = #((6 . ,FLAT)
(5 . ,FLAT)
(3 . ,SHARP))
c4 d e fis
aes4 bes c2
}


Music Glossary: church mode, scordatura.

Learning Manual: Accidentals and key signatures.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: KeyChangeEvent, Key_engraver, Key_performer, KeyCancellation, KeySignature, key-signature-interface.

#### Ottava brackets

Ottava brackets introduce an extra transposition of an octave for the staff:

a2 b
\ottava #-2
a2 b
\ottava #-1
a2 b
\ottava #0
a2 b
\ottava #1
a2 b
\ottava #2
a2 b


#### Selected Snippets

Ottava text

Internally, \ottava sets the properties ottavation (for example, to 8va or 8vb) and middleCPosition. To override the text of the bracket, set ottavation after invoking \ottava.

{
\ottava #1
\set Staff.ottavation = #"8"
c''1
\ottava #0
c'1
\ottava #1
\set Staff.ottavation = #"Text"
c''1
}


Adding an ottava marking to a single voice

If you have more than one voice on the staff, setting octavation in one voice will transpose the position of notes in all voices for the duration of the ottava bracket. If the ottavation is only intended to apply to one voice, the middleCPosition and ottava bracket may be set explicitly. In this snippet, the bass clef usually has middleCPosition set to 6, six positions above the center line, so in the 8va portion middleCPosition is 7 positions (one octave) higher still.

{
\clef bass
<< { <g d'>1~ q2 <c' e'> }
\\
{
r2.
\set Staff.ottavation = #"8vb"
\once \override Staff.OttavaBracket.direction = #DOWN
\set Voice.middleCPosition = #(+ 6 7)
<b,,, b,,>4 ~ |
q2
\unset Staff.ottavation
\unset Voice.middleCPosition
<c e>2
}
>>
}


Modifying the Ottava spanner slope

It is possible to change the slope of the Ottava spanner.

\relative c'' {
\override Staff.OttavaBracket.stencil = #ly:line-spanner::print
\override Staff.OttavaBracket.bound-details =
#((left . ((Y . 0) ; Change the integer here
(attach-dir . ,LEFT)
(stencil-align-dir-y . ,CENTER)))
(right . ((Y . 5) ; Change the integer here
(attach-dir . ,RIGHT)
(text . ,(make-draw-dashed-line-markup (cons 0 -1.2))))))
\override Staff.OttavaBracket.left-bound-info =
#ly:line-spanner::calc-left-bound-info-and-text
\override Staff.OttavaBracket.right-bound-info =
#ly:line-spanner::calc-right-bound-info
\ottava #1
c1
c'''1
}


Music Glossary: octavation.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Ottava_spanner_engraver, OttavaBracket, ottava-bracket-interface.

#### Instrument transpositions

When typesetting scores that involve transposing instruments, some parts can be typeset in a different pitch than the concert pitch. In these cases, the key of the transposing instrument should be specified; otherwise the MIDI output and cues in other parts will produce incorrect pitches. For more information about quotations, see Quoting other voices.

\transposition pitch


The pitch to use for \transposition should correspond to the real sound heard when a c' written on the staff is played by the transposing instrument. This pitch is entered in absolute mode, so an instrument that produces a real sound which is one tone higher than the printed music should use \transposition d'. \transposition should only be used if the pitches are not being entered in concert pitch.

Here are a few notes for violin and B-flat clarinet where the parts have been entered using the notes and key as they appear in each part of the conductor’s score. The two instruments are playing in unison.

\new GrandStaff <<
\new Staff = "violin" {
\relative c'' {
\set Staff.instrumentName = #"Vln"
\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin"
% not strictly necessary, but a good reminder
\transposition c'

\key c \major
g4( c8) r c r c4
}
}
\new Staff = "clarinet" {
\relative c'' {
\set Staff.instrumentName = \markup { Cl (B\flat) }
\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"clarinet"
\transposition bes

\key d \major
a4( d8) r d r d4
}
}
>>


The \transposition may be changed during a piece. For example, a clarinetist may be required to switch from an A clarinet to a B-flat clarinet.

flute = \relative c'' {
\key f \major
\cueDuring #"clarinet" #DOWN {
R1 _\markup\tiny "clarinet"
c4 f e d
R1 _\markup\tiny "clarinet"
}
}
clarinet = \relative c'' {
\key aes \major
\transposition a
aes4 bes c des
R1^\markup { muta in B\flat }
\key g \major
\transposition bes
d2 g,
}
<<
\new Staff \with { instrumentName = #"Flute" }
\flute
\new Staff \with { instrumentName = #"Cl (A)" }
\clarinet
>>


Music Glossary: concert pitch, transposing instrument.

Notation Reference: Quoting other voices, Transpose.

Snippets: Pitches.

#### Automatic accidentals

There are many different conventions on how to typeset accidentals. LilyPond provides a function to specify which accidental style to use. This function is called as follows:

\new Staff <<
\accidentalStyle voice
{ … }
>>


The accidental style applies to the current Staff by default (with the exception of the styles piano and piano-cautionary, which are explained below). Optionally, the function can take a second argument that determines in which scope the style should be changed. For example, to use the same style in all staves of the current StaffGroup, use:

\accidentalStyle StaffGroup.voice


The following accidental styles are supported. To demonstrate each style, we use the following example:

musicA = {
<<
\relative c' {
cis'8 fis, bes4 <a cis>8 f bis4 |
cis2. <c, g'>4 |
}
\\
\relative c' {
ais'2 cis, |
fis8 b a4 cis2 |
}
>>
}

musicB = {
\clef bass
\new Voice {
\voiceTwo \relative c' {
<fis, a cis>8[ <fis a cis>
\change Staff = up
cis' cis
\change Staff = down
<fis, a> <fis a>]
\showStaffSwitch
\change Staff = up
dis'4 |
\change Staff = down
<fis, a cis>4 gis <f a d>2 |
}
}
}

\new PianoStaff {
<<
\context Staff = "up" {
\accidentalStyle default
\musicA
}
\context Staff = "down" {
\accidentalStyle default
\musicB
}
>>
}


Note that the last lines of this example can be replaced by the following, as long as the same accidental style should be used in both staves.

\new PianoStaff {
<<
\context Staff = "up" {
%%% change the next line as desired:
\accidentalStyle Score.default
\musicA
}
\context Staff = "down" {
\musicB
}
>>
}

default

This is the default typesetting behavior. It corresponds to eighteenth-century common practice: accidentals are remembered to the end of the measure in which they occur and only in their own octave. Thus, in the example below, no natural signs are printed before the b in the second measure or the last c:

voice

The normal behavior is to remember the accidentals at Staff-level. In this style, however, accidentals are typeset individually for each voice. Apart from that, the rule is similar to default.

As a result, accidentals from one voice do not get canceled in other voices, which is often an unwanted result: in the following example, it is hard to determine whether the second a should be played natural or sharp. The voice option should therefore be used only if the voices are to be read solely by individual musicians. If the staff is to be used by one musician (e.g., a conductor or in a piano score) then modern or modern-cautionary should be used instead.

modern

This rule corresponds to the common practice in the twentieth century. It omits some extra natural signs, which were traditionally prefixed to a sharp following a double sharp, or a flat following a double flat. The modern rule prints the same accidentals as default, with two additions that serve to avoid ambiguity: after temporary accidentals, cancellation marks are printed also in the following measure (for notes in the same octave) and, in the same measure, for notes in other octaves. Hence the naturals before the b and the c in the second measure of the upper staff:

modern-cautionary

This rule is similar to modern, but the ‘extra’ accidentals (the ones not typeset by default) are typeset as cautionary accidentals. They are by default printed with parentheses, but they can also be printed in reduced size by defining the cautionary-style property of AccidentalSuggestion.

modern-voice

This rule is used for multivoice accidentals to be read both by musicians playing one voice and musicians playing all voices. Accidentals are typeset for each voice, but they are canceled across voices in the same Staff. Hence, the a in the last measure is canceled because the previous cancellation was in a different voice, and the d in the lower staff is canceled because of the accidental in a different voice in the previous measure:

modern-voice-cautionary

This rule is the same as modern-voice, but with the extra accidentals (the ones not typeset by voice) typeset as cautionaries. Even though all accidentals typeset by default are typeset with this rule, some of them are typeset as cautionaries.

piano

This rule reflects twentieth-century practice for piano notation. Its behavior is very similar to modern style, but here accidentals also get canceled across the staves in the same GrandStaff or PianoStaff, hence all the cancellations of the final notes.

This accidental style applies to the current GrandStaff or PianoStaff by default.

piano-cautionary

This is the same as piano but with the extra accidentals typeset as cautionaries.

neo-modern

This rule reproduces a common practice in contemporary music: accidentals are printed like with modern, but they are printed again if the same note appears later in the same measure – except if the note is immediately repeated.

neo-modern-cautionary

This rule is similar to neo-modern, but the extra accidentals are printed as cautionary accidentals.

neo-modern-voice

This rule is used for multivoice accidentals to be read both by musicians playing one voice and musicians playing all voices. Accidentals are typeset for each voice as with neo-modern, but they are canceled across voices in the same Staff.

neo-modern-voice-cautionary

This rule is similar to neo-modern-voice, but the extra accidentals are printed as cautionary accidentals.

dodecaphonic

This rule reflects a practice introduced by composers at the beginning of the 20th century, in an attempt to abolish the hierarchy between natural and non-natural notes. With this style, every note gets an accidental sign, including natural signs.

dodecaphonic-no-repeat

Like with the dodecaphonic accidental style every note gets an accidental sign by default, but accidentals are suppressed for pitches immediately repeated within the same staff.

dodecaphonic-first

Similar to the dodecaphonic accidental style every pitch gets an accidental sign, but only the first time it is encountered in a measure. Accidentals are only remembered for the actual octave but throughout voices.

teaching

This rule is intended for students, and makes it easy to create scale sheets with automatically created cautionary accidentals. Accidentals are printed like with modern, but cautionary accidentals are added for all sharp or flat tones specified by the key signature, except if the note is immediately repeated.

no-reset

This is the same as default but with accidentals lasting ‘forever’ and not only within the same measure:

forget

This is the opposite of no-reset: Accidentals are not remembered at all – and hence all accidentals are typeset relative to the key signature, regardless of what came before in the music.

Snippets: Pitches.

#### Known issues and warnings

Simultaneous notes are not considered in the automatic determination of accidentals; only previous notes and the key signature are considered. Forcing accidentals with ! or ? may be required when the same note name occurs simultaneously with different alterations, as in ‘<f! fis!>’.

Cautionary cancellation of accidentals is done by looking at previous measure. However, in the \alternative block following a \repeat volta N section, one would expect the cancellation being calculated using the previous played measure, not previous printed measure. In the following example, the natural c in the second alternative does not need a natural sign:

The following work-around can be used: define a function that locally changes the accidental style to forget:

forget = #(define-music-function (parser location music) (ly:music?) #{
\accidentalStyle forget
#music
\accidentalStyle modern
#})
{
\accidentalStyle modern
\time 2/4
\repeat volta 2 {
c'2
}
\alternative {
cis'
\forget c'
}
}


#### Ambitus

The term ambitus (pl. ambitus) denotes a range of pitches for a given voice in a part of music. It may also denote the pitch range that a musical instrument is capable of playing. Ambitus are printed on vocal parts so that performers can easily determine if it matches their capabilities.

Ambitus are denoted at the beginning of a piece near the initial clef. The range is graphically specified by two note heads that represent the lowest and highest pitches. Accidentals are only printed if they are not part of the key signature.

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

\relative c'' {
aes c e2
cis,1
}


#### Selected Snippets

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
}
>>


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
}
>>


Changing the ambitus gap

It is possible to change the default gap between the ambitus noteheads and the line joining them.

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

\new Staff {
\time 2/4
% Default setting
c'4 g''
}

\new Staff {
\time 2/4
\override AmbitusLine.gap = #0
c'4 g''
}

\new Staff {
\time 2/4
\override AmbitusLine.gap = #1
c'4 g''
}

\new Staff {
\time 2/4
\override AmbitusLine.gap = #1.5
c'4 g''
}


Music Glossary: ambitus.

Snippets: Pitches.

Internals Reference: Ambitus_engraver, Voice, Staff, Ambitus, AmbitusAccidental, AmbitusLine, AmbitusNoteHead, ambitus-interface.

#### Known issues and warnings

There is no collision handling in the case of multiple per-voice ambitus.

Other languages: deutsch, español, français, italiano, 日本語.