I have an arranging project due very soon, so I decided to ask this while I might still get help and a response. What is the best way to get rhythm section notation techniques like rhythmic notation, "kicks over time", and slash notation to display? To clarify, these techniques are illustrated here (https://ol.berklee.edu/pluginfile.php/4306485/mod_resource/content/1/RS%20Basics.pdf). For slash notation, I have seen this template (http://lilypond.org/doc/v2.19/Documentation/learning/jazz-combo), but I was wondering if I can add the chords to an instrument without creating a new variable and just make them part of the instrument when I put it in the score block (a simple explanation for how they are getting the slashes to occur would also be helpful). As for rhythmic notation (diamonds or slashes with rhythmic heads on them) or "kicks over time", I haven't seen any explanation or tutorial on how to do these in LilyPond / Frescobaldi and I am going to need to know how to do them. Thanks if anyone can provide me with information on this as not knowing these techniques right now is the only thing that is preventing me from using LilyPond for my everyday projects and compositions (on a side note I was also wondering if the chords will play in MIDI with these techniques or if I need specific notation for that). Here are a few pictures to clarify what I mean:

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here


2 Answers 2


Kicks over time can be shown by placing an empty "staff" above the drum staff.

Rhythmic slashes can be made by changing the note head style, and hiding the stems (or not).

\version "2.18.2"

%% Chord Progression
chordProgression = {
    \new ChordNames {
        \chordmode {
            c1:7 |
            f1:7.9+ |
            d1:m7 |
            g1:7 |

%% Kicks Over Time
kicksOverTime = {
    \new Staff {        
        \override Staff.VerticalAxisGroup #'staff-staff-spacing =
            #'( (basic-distance . 5) 
                (minimum-distance . 5) 
                (padding . 1) )
        \override Staff.Clef #'stencil = ##f
        \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
        \override Staff.BarLine #'stencil = ##f
        \override Staff.StaffSymbol.line-count = #0
            s1 |
            r2 r4 r8 f'8 |
            r8 f'8 r4 r2 |
            s1 |

%% Drum Kit Slashes
drumKitSlashes = {
    \new DrumStaff \with { 
            instrumentName = "Drums" 
            midiInstrument = "synth drum" } {
        \clef "percussion"
        \time 4/4 \numericTimeSignature
        \override NoteHead.style = #'slash
        \hide Stem
            b1 |
            b2 b2 |
            b4 b4 
        \undo\hide Stem 
                b4-- b8 b8->~ |
            b2. r8 b8-> |

\score {

Example with chords, kicks, and slashes

  • Thanks for the information. I guess that rhythmic notation can be expressed the same way as slash notation, only without using the \hide Stem command. Also, I guess you can also get the X's and the rhombuses sometimes used in rhythmic notation by using "\override NoteHead.style = #'cross" and "\override NoteHead.style = #'harmonic". Though I still have questions about the score block. How will the empty "staff" appear in the score block? Also, I still have the question which is if you can add chords without creating a new variable where you can just add them to the instrument variable. Mar 20, 2021 at 9:21
  • It's easier if you separate the different questions you want to ask - it's gets too messy when I'm trying to answer so many question at once. Mar 21, 2021 at 17:16
  • Thanks for the information. How do I add an instrument name and midi to this staff (I am currently using: "<< \kicksOverTime \new DrumStaff \with { instrumentName = "Drums" midiInstrument = "synth drum" } { \drumKitSlashes } >>", which creates a whole other staff)? Mar 22, 2021 at 15:01
  • Sorry for asking so many questions by the way. You can answer each as a separate comment if you want. Mar 22, 2021 at 15:03
  • I've edited in chords and instrument name into example - I think this is what you're asking for Mar 22, 2021 at 15:26

One more way to get rhythmic slash notation is to use

\improvisationOn toml4 toml toml toml \improvisationOff

What remains here is to remove the stems using \hide Stem (or perhaps there is an easier method?).

Note that I'm using toml simply because it is drawn on the middle line in Weinberg notation style.

This produces the following result:


which I find enough for my sheets. Hopefully we find even less syntactically verbose way to write these.

Edit: I have created a function

slash = {
        \improvisationOn \omit Stem
        \undo \omit Stem \improvisationOff

that can be used for this purpose


It draws one slash quarter note.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.