With Lilypond, in a piano staff (with double staff), a middle C belongs either to the treble or to the bass staff, so that it is not displayed aligned the middle of the staves. Is there a way to explicitly set the position (height) of a given C exactly in the middle of the staves?

  • Bad idea. Not what performers expect to see. May 27 '20 at 13:07

Middle C will be added to either the treble or bass staves as ledger lines. The reason it isn't centered in the middle, is because it will be associated with the bass or treble.

Maybe you can get it to be centered, but you will be running contrary to how middle C is read by the player as a ledger line added to one or the other staves.

enter image description here

...if a ledger line was centered between the two staves, it looks like there is a large leap in a line of step-wise motion.

...putting the ledger line one space above the bass makes it visually clear the line is smooth steps.

enter image description here

  • This is not 100% correct in my opinion. Middle C is in the first ledger both for upper and lower staves. There is no confusion.
    – Paco Vila
    May 26 '20 at 17:32
  • Yes, I understand the reasons why the middle C is associated to either one or the other staff. Nevertheless, for pedagogical reason, I want to produce a score for my (young) students where one sees the "continuity" between the staves, to show that there is "only 1 note" in between, so to say. May 26 '20 at 17:53
  • @PacoVila first ledger line above the bass, first ledger line below the treble, means two different ledger lines rather than one ledger line centered in the middle. May 26 '20 at 18:01
  • @michael-curtis: I Understand your argument. Nevertheless, for my purposes, I would be happy to have the code you used to produce the example of what "I should not do" :) Additionally I can also decrease the distance between the 2 staves to reduce the leap. May 26 '20 at 18:16
  • 2
    @nicoroy, I understand why you mean, but a quick look at some first piano books like book I of Mikrokosmos, Op. 101 Beyer, etc. show the separate ledger lines. Beyer actually starts with two G clefs rather than a grand staff. Again, it seems the point is learn to read lines/spaces and change clefs fluidly for both hands. That may seem advanced, but it's in several intro books in my collection. (I'm not a teacher, so maybe wait to hear from some other piano teachers.) May 26 '20 at 18:37

As already mentioned, this is generally not a good idea.

Nevertheless, what I think you want can be achieved by adjusting the padding between the staves in a grand staff.

NB: The staff-staff padding number will depend on the notes in your score

\new GrandStaff \with {
    \override StaffGrouper.staff-staff-spacing =
        #'( (padding . -1.1) )
    } {
        \new Staff {
            \clef "treble"  
                g'4 f' e' d' |
                c'1 |
                R1 |
        \new Staff {
            \clef "bass" 
                R1 |
                c'1 |
                b4 a g f |

Grand Staff with shared middle C

  • Sure, you can do this. But very little is published like this. When the L.H. plays D4 or higher notes will be on the treble staff which will seem be be R.H. unless the stems are down or labeled with L.H. While there is plenty of grand staff music with such indication for the hands, it's on normally spaced staves which also use normal ledger lines. If anyone "learns" from this, they will have to unlearn it to read common notation. May 27 '20 at 13:59
  • I agree. It would be bad to represent music like this. However it might be okay use in a one-off diagram, to show the notes from the middle section of a piano on a grand staff system. (I've certainly seen somewhat similar one-off diagrams) May 27 '20 at 15:46
  • It's kind of funny that everybody gives me some philosophical/pedagogical reason why I should not do that... but it is not what I asked for ! I have some good reasons, why I want to produce ONE score with such an effect, and I'm looking for a technical solution... not theoretical opinions. :) Anyway, this solution is acceptable, but I would prefer to reproduce the second picture of MichaelCurtis (large space between the staves, but c in the middle) Jun 6 '20 at 10:17

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