I have a note here: two adjacent note heads on the same pitch, one dotted, one not

What do these notes (a quarter note and dotted quarter note on the same line) mean?

It's note a, in LilyPond, bottom of the bass clef.

How is this coded in LilyPond?

Full measure score here:

score with two voices having a sixteenth and dotted quarter on the same pitch

  • Is that Brahms?
    – Aaron
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 6:35
  • No, not Brahms. Schumann Aufschwung?
    – Aaron
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 7:07
  • 1
    @Aaron The Heart Asks Pleasure First- (The Piano) -Michael Nyman musescore.com/johnny-piano/scores/3509146
    – Vinod
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 7:41
  • 1
    Related question concerning the general notation problem
    – guidot
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 9:03

2 Answers 2


It means there are two "voices": one of them "sings" a dotted quarter note on a certain pitch, the other sings a series of sixteenth notes beginning on that same pitch.

More commonly, you would see this written with a double stem, as in the upper staff. However, in this case, because of the "dot", it must be written as a double note. If not, it would seem as though the upper voice of the two was responsible for a dotted sixteenth note.

This is not a LilyPond issue; it's a standard notational convention.

For instructions on coding this in LilyPond, see the Collision resolution section of the LilyPond documentation.

Here is a code snippet based on the documentation.

  } \\ {

...which produces

Adjacent sixteenth and dotted quarter on same pitch


In addition to Aaron's answer, you can also overlap these two noteheads if you like by introducing the \mergeDifferentlyDottedOn command:

enter image description here

The code to create this is:

\version "2.20.0"

global = {
  \key c \major
  \time 6/8

music = \relative c {
      a16\( e' a e a e\)

\score {
  \new Staff { \clef bass \music }
  \layout { }
  • I would argue this version is more ambiguous than the one in the question about whether the upper voice's first note should be extended. It's not completely ambiguous because of the time signature constraint, but the version in the question seems cleaner.
    – WBT
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 21:36

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