4.4.2 Explicit staff and system positioning

One way to understand the flexible vertical spacing mechanisms explained above is as a collection of settings that control the amount of vertical padding between staves and systems.

It is possible to approach vertical spacing in a different way using NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details. While the flexible vertical spacing mechanisms specify vertical padding, NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details can specify exact vertical positions on the page.

NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details accepts an associative list of three different settings:

Grob overrides, including the overrides for NonMusicalPaperColumn below, can occur in any of three different places in an input file:

When we override NonMusicalPaperColumn, we use the usual \override command in \context blocks and in the \with block. On the other hand, when we override NonMusicalPaperColumn in the middle of note entry, use the special \overrideProperty command. Here are some example NonMusicalPaperColumn overrides with the special \overrideProperty command:

\overrideProperty NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
  #'((X-offset . 20))

\overrideProperty NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
  #'((Y-offset . 40))

\overrideProperty NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
  #'((X-offset . 20)
     (Y-offset . 40))

\overrideProperty NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
  #'((alignment-distances . (15)))

\overrideProperty NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
  #'((X-offset . 20)
     (Y-offset . 40)
     (alignment-distances . (15)))

To understand how each of these different settings work, we begin by looking at an example that includes no overrides at all.

\header { tagline = ##f }
\paper { left-margin = 0\mm }
\book {
  \score {
    <<
      \new Staff <<
        \new Voice {
          s1*5 \break
          s1*5 \break
          s1*5 \break
        }
        \new Voice { \repeat unfold 15 { c'4 c' c' c' } }
      >>
      \new Staff {
        \repeat unfold 15 { d'4 d' d' d' }
      }
    >>
  }
}

[image of music]

This score isolates line- and page-breaking information in a dedicated voice. This technique of creating a breaks voice will help keep layout separate from music entry as our example becomes more complicated. See Explicit breaks.

Explicit \breaks evenly divide the music into six measures per line. Vertical spacing results from LilyPond’s defaults. To set the vertical startpoint of each system explicitly, we can set the Y-offset pair in the line-break-system-details attribute of the NonMusicalPaperColumn grob:

\header { tagline = ##f }
\paper { left-margin = 0\mm }
\book {
  \score {
    <<
      \new Staff <<
        \new Voice {
          \overrideProperty Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
            #'((Y-offset . 0))
          s1*5 \break
          \overrideProperty Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
            #'((Y-offset . 40))
          s1*5 \break
          \overrideProperty Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
            #'((Y-offset . 60))
          s1*5 \break
        }
        \new Voice { \repeat unfold 15 { c'4 c' c' c' } }
      >>
      \new Staff {
        \repeat unfold 15 { d'4 d' d' d' }
      }
    >>
  }
}

[image of music]

Note that line-break-system-details takes an associative list of potentially many values, but that we set only one value here. Note, too, that the Y-offset property here determines the exact vertical position on the page at which each new system will render.

Now that we have set the vertical startpoint of each system explicitly, we can also set the vertical distances between staves within each system manually. We do this using the alignment-distances subproperty of line-break-system-details.

\header { tagline = ##f }
\paper { left-margin = 0\mm }
\book {
  \score {
    <<
      \new Staff <<
        \new Voice {
          \overrideProperty Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
            #'((Y-offset . 20)
               (alignment-distances . (10)))
          s1*5 \break
          \overrideProperty Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
            #'((Y-offset . 60)
               (alignment-distances . (15)))
          s1*5 \break
          \overrideProperty Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
          #'((Y-offset . 85)
             (alignment-distances . (20)))
          s1*5 \break
        }
        \new Voice { \repeat unfold 15 { c'4 c' c' c' } }
      >>
      \new Staff {
        \repeat unfold 15 { d'4 d' d' d' }
      }
    >>
  }
}

[image of music]

Note that here we assign two different values to the line-break-system-details attribute of the NonMusicalPaperColumn grob. Though the line-break-system-details attribute alist accepts many additional spacing parameters (including, for example, a corresponding X-offset pair), we need only set the Y-offset and alignment-distances pairs to control the vertical startpoint of every system and every staff. Finally, note that alignment-distances specifies the vertical positioning of staves but not of staff groups.

\header { tagline = ##f }
\paper { left-margin = 0\mm }
\book {
  \score {
    <<
      \new Staff <<
        \new Voice {
          \overrideProperty Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
            #'((Y-offset . 0)
               (alignment-distances . (30 10)))
          s1*5 \break
          \overrideProperty Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
            #'((Y-offset . 60)
               (alignment-distances . (10 10)))
          s1*5 \break
          \overrideProperty Score.NonMusicalPaperColumn.line-break-system-details
            #'((Y-offset . 100)
               (alignment-distances . (10 30)))
          s1*5 \break
        }
        \new Voice { \repeat unfold 15 { c'4 c' c' c' } }
      >>
      \new StaffGroup <<
        \new Staff { \repeat unfold 15 { d'4 d' d' d' } }
        \new Staff { \repeat unfold 15 { e'4 e' e' e' } }
      >>
    >>
  }
}

[image of music]

Some points to consider:

See also

Snippets: Spacing.


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LilyPond — Notation Reference v2.19.13 (development-branch).