1.3.1 Expressive marks attached to notes

This section explains how to create expressive marks that are attached to notes: articulations, ornamentations, and dynamics. Methods to create new dynamic markings are also discussed.


Articulations and ornamentations

A variety of symbols that denote articulations, ornamentations, and other performance indications can be attached to a note using this syntax:

note\name

The possible values for name are listed in List of articulations. For example:

c4\staccato c\mordent b2\turn
c1\fermata

[image of music]

Some of these articulations have shorthands for easier entry. Shorthands are appended to the note name, and their syntax consists of a dash - followed by a symbol signifying the articulation. Predefined shorthands exist for marcato, stopped, tenuto, staccatissimo, accent, staccato, and portato. Their corresponding output appears as follows:

c4-^ c-+ c-- c-!
c4-> c-. c2-_

[image of music]

The rules for the default placement of articulations are defined in ‘scm/script.scm’. Articulations and ornamentations may be manually placed above or below the staff; see Direction and placement.

Articulations are Script objects. Their properties are described more fully in Script.

Articulations can be attached to rests as well as notes but they cannot be attached to multi-measure rests. A special predefined command, \fermataMarkup, is available for attaching a fermata to a multi-measure rest (and only a multi-measure rest). This creates a MultiMeasureRestText object.

\override Script.color = #red
\override MultiMeasureRestText.color = #blue
a2\fermata r\fermata
R1\fermataMarkup

[image of music]

In addition to articulations, text and markups can be attached to notes. See Text scripts.

For more information about the ordering of Scripts and TextScripts that are attached to the notes, see Placement of objects.

Selected Snippets

Modifying default values for articulation shorthand notation

The shorthands are defined in ‘ly/script-init.ly’, where the variables dashHat, dashPlus, dashDash, dashBar, dashLarger, dashDot, and dashUnderscore are assigned default values. The default values for the shorthands can be modified. For example, to associate the -+ (dashPlus) shorthand with the trill symbol instead of the default + symbol, assign the value trill to the variable dashPlus:

\relative c'' { c1-+ }

dashPlus = "trill"

\relative c'' { c1-+ }

[image of music]

Controlling the vertical ordering of scripts

The vertical ordering of scripts is controlled with the 'script-priority property. The lower this number, the closer it will be put to the note. In this example, the TextScript (the sharp symbol) first has the lowest priority, so it is put lowest in the first example. In the second, the prall trill (the Script) has the lowest, so it is on the inside. When two objects have the same priority, the order in which they are entered determines which one comes first.

\relative c''' {
  \once \override TextScript.script-priority = #-100
  a2^\prall^\markup { \sharp }

  \once \override Script.script-priority = #-100
  a2^\prall^\markup { \sharp }
}

[image of music]

Creating a delayed turn

Creating a delayed turn, where the lower note of the turn uses the accidental, requires several overrides. The outside-staff-priority property must be set to #f, as otherwise this would take precedence over the avoid-slur property. Changing the fractions 2/3 and 1/3 adjusts the horizontal position.

\relative c'' {
  c2*2/3 ( s2*1/3\turn d4) r
  <<
    { c4.( d8) }
    { s4 s\turn }
  >>
  \transpose c d \relative c'' <<
    { c4.( d8) }
    {
      s4
      \once \set suggestAccidentals = ##t
      \once \override AccidentalSuggestion.outside-staff-priority = ##f
      \once \override AccidentalSuggestion.avoid-slur = #'inside
      \once \override AccidentalSuggestion.font-size = -3
      \once \override AccidentalSuggestion.script-priority = -1
      \single \hideNotes
      b8-\turn \noBeam
      s8
    }
  >>
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: tenuto, accent, staccato, portato.

Learning Manual: Placement of objects.

Notation Reference: Text scripts, Direction and placement, List of articulations, Trills.

Installed Files: ‘scm/script.scm’.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: Script, TextScript.


Dynamics

Absolute dynamic marks are specified using a command after a note, such as c4\ff. The available dynamic marks are \ppppp, \pppp, \ppp, \pp, \p, \mp, \mf, \f, \ff, \fff, \ffff, \fffff, \fp, \sf, \sff, \sp, \spp, \sfz, and \rfz. Dynamic marks may be manually placed above or below the staff; see Direction and placement.

c2\ppp c\mp
c2\rfz c^\mf
c2_\spp c^\ff

[image of music]

A crescendo mark is started with \< and terminated with \!, an absolute dynamic, or an additional crescendo or decrescendo mark. A decrescendo mark is started with \> and is also terminated with \!, an absolute dynamic, or another crescendo or decrescendo mark. \cr and \decr may be used instead of \< and \>. Hairpins are engraved by default using this notation.

c2\< c\!
d2\< d\f
e2\< e\>
f2\> f\!
e2\> e\mp
d2\> d\>
c1\!

[image of music]

A hairpin that is terminated with \! will end at the right edge of the note that has the \! assigned to it. In the case where it is terminated with the start of another crescendo or decrescendo mark, it will end at the centre of the note that has the next \< or \> assigned to it. The next hairpin will then start at the right edge of the same note instead of the usual left edge had it been terminated with \! before.

c1\< | c4 a c\< a | c4 a c\! a\< | c4 a c a\!

[image of music]

Hairpins that are terminated with absolute dynamic marks instead of \! will also be engraved in a similar way. However, the length of the absolute dynamic itself can alter where the preceding hairpin ends.

c1\< | c4 a c\mf a | c1\< | c4 a c\ffff a

[image of music]

Spacer rests are needed to engrave multiple marks on one note. This is particularly useful when adding a crescendo and decrescendo to the same note:

c4\< c\! d\> e\!
<< f1 { s4 s4\< s4\> s4\! } >>

[image of music]

The \espressivo command can be used to indicate a crescendo and decrescendo on the same note. However, be warned that this is implemented as an articulation, not a dynamic.

c2 b4 a
g1\espressivo

[image of music]

Textual crescendo marks begin with \cresc. Textual decrescendos begin with \decresc or \dim. Extender lines are engraved as required.

g8\cresc a b c b c d e\mf |
f8\decresc e d c e\> d c b |
a1\dim ~ |
a2. r4\! |

[image of music]

Textual marks for dynamic changes can also replace hairpins:

\crescTextCresc
c4\< d e f\! |
\dimTextDecresc
g4\> e d c\! |
\dimTextDecr
e4\> d c b\! |
\dimTextDim
d4\> c b a\! |
\crescHairpin
\dimHairpin
c4\< d\! e\> d\! |

[image of music]

To create new absolute dynamic marks or text that should be aligned with dynamics, see New dynamic marks.

Vertical positioning of dynamics is handled by DynamicLineSpanner.

A Dynamics context is available to engrave dynamics on their own horizontal line. Use spacer rests to indicate timing. (Notes in a Dynamics context will also take up musical time, but will not be engraved.) The Dynamics context can usefully contain some other items such as text scripts, text spanners, and piano pedal marks.

<<
  \new Staff \relative c' {
    c2 d4 e |
    c4 e e,2 |
    g'4 a g a |
    c1 |
  }
  \new Dynamics {
    s1\< |
    s1\f |
    s2\dim s2-"rit." |
    s1\p |
  }
>>

[image of music]

Predefined commands

\dynamicUp, \dynamicDown, \dynamicNeutral, \crescTextCresc, \dimTextDim, \dimTextDecr, \dimTextDecresc, \crescHairpin, \dimHairpin.

Selected Snippets

Setting hairpin behavior at bar lines

If the note which ends a hairpin falls on a downbeat, the hairpin stops at the bar line immediately preceding. This behavior can be controlled by overriding the 'to-barline property.

\relative c'' {
  e4\< e2.
  e1\!
  \override Hairpin.to-barline = ##f
  e4\< e2.
  e1\!
}

[image of music]

Setting the minimum length of hairpins

If hairpins are too short, they can be lengthened by modifying the minimum-length property of the Hairpin object.

\relative c'' {
  c4\< c\! d\> e\!
  << f1 { s4 s\< s\> s\! } >>
  \override Hairpin.minimum-length = #5
  << f1 { s4 s\< s\> s\! } >>
}

[image of music]

Printing hairpins using al niente notation

Hairpin dynamics may be printed with a circled tip (“al niente” notation) by setting the circled-tip property of the Hairpin object to #t.

\relative c'' {
  \override Hairpin.circled-tip = ##t
  c2\< c\!
  c4\> c\< c2\!
}

[image of music]

Printing hairpins in various styles

Hairpin dynamics may be created in a variety of styles.

\relative c'' {
  \override Hairpin.stencil = #flared-hairpin
  a4\< a a a\f
  a4\p\< a a a\ff
  a4\sfz\< a a a\!
  \override Hairpin.stencil = #constante-hairpin
  a4\< a a a\f
  a4\p\< a a a\ff
  a4\sfz\< a a a\!
  \override Hairpin.stencil = #flared-hairpin
  a4\> a a a\f
  a4\p\> a a a\ff
  a4\sfz\> a a a\!
  \override Hairpin.stencil = #constante-hairpin
  a4\> a a a\f
  a4\p\> a a a\ff
  a4\sfz\> a a a\!
}

[image of music]

Vertically aligned dynamics and textscripts

All DynamicLineSpanner objects (hairpins and dynamic texts) are placed with their reference line at least 'staff-padding from the staff, unless other notation forces them to be farther. Setting 'staff-padding to a sufficiently large value aligns the dynamics.

The same idea, together with \textLengthOn, is used to align the text scripts along their baseline.

music = \relative c' {
  a'2\p b\f
  e4\p f\f\> g, b\p
  c2^\markup { \huge gorgeous } c^\markup { \huge fantastic }
}

{
  \music
  \break
  \override DynamicLineSpanner.staff-padding = #3
  \textLengthOn
  \override TextScript.staff-padding = #1
  \music
}

[image of music]

Hiding the extender line for text dynamics

Text style dynamic changes (such as cresc. and dim.) are printed with a dashed line showing their extent. This line can be suppressed in the following way:

\relative c'' {
  \override DynamicTextSpanner.style = #'none
  \crescTextCresc
  c1\< | d | b | c\!
}

[image of music]

Changing text and spanner styles for text dynamics

The text used for crescendos and decrescendos can be changed by modifying the context properties crescendoText and decrescendoText.

The style of the spanner line can be changed by modifying the 'style property of DynamicTextSpanner. The default value is 'dashed-line, and other possible values include 'line, 'dotted-line and 'none.

\relative c'' {
  \set crescendoText = \markup { \italic { cresc. poco } }
  \set crescendoSpanner = #'text
  \override DynamicTextSpanner.style = #'dotted-line
  a2\< a
  a2 a
  a2 a
  a2 a\mf
}

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: al niente, crescendo, decrescendo, hairpin.

Learning Manual: Articulation and dynamics.

Notation Reference: Direction and placement, New dynamic marks, What goes into the MIDI output?, Controlling MIDI dynamics.

Snippets: Expressive marks.

Internals Reference: DynamicText, Hairpin, DynamicLineSpanner, Dynamics.


New dynamic marks

The easiest way to create dynamic indications is to use \markup objects.

moltoF = \markup { molto \dynamic f }

\relative c' {
  <d e>16_\moltoF <d e>
  <d e>2..
}

[image of music]

In markup mode, editorial dynamics (within parentheses or square brackets) can be created. The syntax for markup mode is described in Formatting text.

roundF = \markup {
    \center-align \concat { \bold { \italic ( }
           \dynamic f \bold { \italic ) } } }
boxF = \markup { \bracket { \dynamic f } }
\relative c' {
  c1_\roundF
  c1_\boxF
}

[image of music]

Simple, centered dynamic marks are easily created with the make-dynamic-script function.

sfzp = #(make-dynamic-script "sfzp")
\relative c' {
  c4 c c\sfzp c
}

[image of music]

In general, make-dynamic-script takes any markup object as its argument. The dynamic font only contains the characters f,m,p,r,s and z, so if a dynamic mark that includes plain text or punctuation symbols is desired, markup commands that reverts font family and font encoding to normal text should be used, for example \normal-text. The interest of using make-dynamic-script instead of an ordinary markup is ensuring the vertical alignment of markup objects and hairpins that are attached to the same note head.

roundF = \markup { \center-align \concat {
           \normal-text { \bold { \italic ( } }
           \dynamic f
           \normal-text { \bold { \italic ) } } } }
boxF = \markup { \bracket { \dynamic f } }
mfEspress = \markup { \center-align \line {
              \hspace #3.7 mf \normal-text \italic espress. } }
roundFdynamic = #(make-dynamic-script roundF)
boxFdynamic = #(make-dynamic-script boxF)
mfEspressDynamic = #(make-dynamic-script mfEspress)
\relative c' {
  c4_\roundFdynamic\< d e f
  g,1~_\boxFdynamic\>
  g1
  g'1~\mfEspressDynamic
  g1
}

[image of music]

The Scheme form of markup mode may be used instead. Its syntax is explained in Markup construction in Scheme.

moltoF = #(make-dynamic-script
            (markup #:normal-text "molto"
                    #:dynamic "f"))
\relative c' {
  <d e>16 <d e>
  <d e>2..\moltoF
}

[image of music]

To left-align the dynamic text rather than centering it on a note use a \tweak:

moltoF = \tweak DynamicText.self-alignment-X #LEFT
         #(make-dynamic-script
            (markup #:normal-text "molto"
                    #:dynamic "f"))
\relative c' {
  <d e>16 <d e>
  <d e>2..\moltoF <d e>1
}

[image of music]

Font settings in markup mode are described in Selecting font and font size.

See also

Notation Reference: Formatting text, Selecting font and font size, What goes into the MIDI output?, Controlling MIDI dynamics.

Extending LilyPond: Markup construction in Scheme.

Snippets: Expressive marks.


Other languages: deutsch, español, français, italiano, 日本語.
About automatic language selection.

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