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Re: music function to be included somewhere in scm/*

From: Alexander Kobel
Subject: Re: music function to be included somewhere in scm/*
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2016 14:39:26 +0100
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Hi Urs, hi all.

On 2016-12-14 11:18, Urs Liska wrote:
Am 14.12.2016 um 10:43 schrieb Alexander Kobel:
To allow automated creation of lyric extenders a helper function is

... that does exactly this, adding extenders everywhere.

IMHO, the actual question to decide upon is: Do we want this to be
enabled by default? IIUC, the fact that extenders are not automatic is
a known shortcoming. NR 2.1.1 states under "Known issues and warnings":
"Extender lines under melismata are not created automatically; they
must be inserted manually with a double underscore." (see

With Knut's patch, this will mostly impact scores where extenders are
left out unintentionally. Still, it will be a burden for convert-ly
unless we have a global (or per lyric definition) \noAutomaticExtender
rule that is inserted by default.

On the other hand, there is the chance to get rid of scores where
users don't add extenders simply because they are not aware of their
importance or the proper syntax.

My gut feeling says: Yes, this is an improvement and should be there by
default. IIUC the reason why this has to be discussed is because that
could change/break existing scores, right?

Correct. Change: yes, for sure; break: hardly, unless non-standard adjustments to lyrics have been made.

If so, could you please think about an example where the patch would
have a negative impact that can't reasonably be caught by convert-ly?
Just because you two are much more into the topic, so that could help us
others understand ...

The only difficult situation for an automatic conversion that I can think of is the following: Attached is a modified version of the "divisi lyrics" example from NR 2.1.2, along with a modified version of \autoextenders that alleviates the severity and offers a way out. The file features a slightly different approach to divisi lyrics, where the second voice persists over the entire length of music, but some notes are skipped in the lyrics with _.

The short stub extenders after "We" and in the third lyrics line will be removed by Knut's patch, so they are not a problem (the picture is made from an unpatched Lily version). The issue is with the long extenders after "will" without corrections. That's because the several _ _ in the lyrics create a melisma over several notes, which is semantically wrong, but visually indistinguishable from the correct semantics; hence, I could imagine that this notation has been used in several scores with divisi lyrics. I'm no exception myself.

My guess is that a convert-ly rule that translates every occurence of
   word _
   \once \override LyricText.self-alignment-X = #LEFT word \markup{\null}
   \once \override LyricText.self-alignment-X = #LEFT word ""
will be sufficient to resolve it, but I'm not sure how robust this approach is. This fakes the melisma by left-alignment, but semantically leaves "word" assigned to only one note. "" gives a warning "LyricText has empty extent and non-empty stencil.", though; for the more verbose \markup{\null} I can't figure out how to leave out the braces: \markup \null translates to (markup #:null) in Scheme, but the Scheme construct (markup #:null) creates (markup #:line (#:null)) somewhere on the way, and those don't compare equal...

For "normal" lyrics, it's difficult to tell. I cannot imagine a "negative" impact in the sense that readability is affected for proper lyrics. But at least there is a change.

E.g., I took some (more or less) random piece from CPDL - have a look at
A typical renaissance piece with typical notation (no slurs). Alvarez is clearly aware of extenders and uses them, e.g. in m. 43. However, he decided not to add them at other places, e.g. for the very first word of the canto or in the final bars m. 100 - 102. I guess that this is deliberate decision and not lazyness, and the same is done throughout his other scores.

I could e.g. imagine that some editor distinguishes for { b2~ | b r } in m. 53: with extender, hold the entire value of the note; without, you're allowed to stop earlier, e.g. on the barline. Not saying that this is Alvarez' intention, or that this is a good or bad interpretation, but you never know. At least, it would be an explanation for having extenders only here and there.

But I'm confident that in most cases (basically, short of misusing lyrics for other means), the changes will not deteriorate the appearance and readability, rather the contrary.


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