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Re: Dynamics context

From: Martín Rincón Botero
Subject: Re: Dynamics context
Date: Tue, 8 Sep 2020 21:16:28 +0200

Hey Ben,

good question. I write contemporary classical music. In my score, for example, I have an independent tempo variable as a workaround for the current Lilypond lack of "tempo spanners" like rit., accel., etc. I merge this together in the score, and in the parts. Though not ideal, this is a minor inconvenience, since tempi are not something that changes so often, not even in CCM. But dynamics are something that changes very quickly. In my music, it's not seldom to see four dynamics in one measure. An independent dynamics variable full of spacers is thus cumbersome, since the variable where the actual music is, would have to be stripped of dynamics information, or I would have to remove the dynamics engraver and duplicate the corresponding dynamics to the variable full of spacers. With whatever option, when writing a new phrase, I would have to write everything in the music variable and then go to the dynamics variable, count the rhythms (which often includes tuplets) and add the dynamics. This is not really an efficient way to compose! :-). The music variable wouldn't look as readable to me without the dynamics. Lilypond's syntax is basically its "interface", and an independent dynamics variable, if not used as such (see the case of band music above), reduces "usability", in my opinion. So I would say the only pro of using a separate dynamic variable is that you can reuse a dynamic variable. The same can be said of basically every variable. For the sake of keeping a more readable syntax, though, in case I would really need to call the same dynamics (even in concert band music!), I would rather put my music with its normal syntax, make it into a section variable and call the section variables from a dynamics context, using the technique described by Xavier. That way the Lilypond syntax can remain unaffected.

As for what I started using the dynamics context, yes, it is alignment concerns. Lilypond's default behavior of making dynamics only aware of crescendi/decrescendi is not ideal.


Am Di., 8. Sept. 2020 um 20:52 Uhr schrieb Ben <>:
On 9/8/2020 2:05 PM, Martín Rincón Botero wrote:
Hi Wol,

yes, what you mention is indeed a good case for using dynamics in their own variable. The problem comes when using a Dynamics context from an independent dynamics variable for music that by its own nature is not really compatible with that approach, or for which the resulting code looks/feels clumsy. Btw. if you have your dynamics already in a different variable, maybe you could give the Dynamics context a shot! ;-).


Am Di., 8. Sept. 2020 um 18:06 Uhr schrieb antlists <>:
On 07/09/2020 17:01, Martín Rincón Botero wrote:
> I wanted to ask if using the Dynamics context is the simplest way
> available in Lilypond for achieving this kind of vertically aligned
> dynamics. The huge drawback of the Dynamics context is that it disrupts
> the syntax, since dynamics can’t be used next to the first note they’re
> attached to, but instead they need a separate variable, reducing
> readability of the actual “music”.

Just to throw my two-pennorth in, while I didn't know about the dynamics
context, I've started separating dynamics out ...

I do band parts, and if the dynamics are replicated across, say, all
trombones I find it easier to have the notes in one variable, the
dynamics in another, and to merge them for each part. Especially as,
although I haven't really been doing scores, I can then merge all the
trombone parts, and the dynamics, to put them on one line of the score.

It's not unusual for different instruments to have different dynamics,
as usually the cornets have the melody in the first section, then the
bass instruments in the trio, often with the middle instruments such as
trombones and euphs having a middle section. So whoever's got the melody
might be ff, with the others p underneath.

At the end of the day, horses for courses and if it doesn't work for you
then fine. But it does work for people like me :-)




I'm curious: what would you say the pros/cons are for using a dynamics context vs. a separate dynamics variable in your input files? (which scenario to use which, etc) -- is it alignment concerns?


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