This is what I am aiming for: Thumb of left hand is a different voice - what I am aiming for

How can I tell LilyPond that the c1 in the first three measures is to be played by the thumb of the left hand in parallel with the other three notes also played by the left hand?

   r4 a4_3 a4 a4 | 
   r4 g4_4 g4 g4 | 
   r4 f4_5 f4 f4 | 
   c'2_1 c,2

Where do I put in those c1 notes?

1 Answer 1


A polyphonic passage can be coded in a number of different ways (see the documentation here).

For this case, I'd suggest writing it like this:

<< {c1^1} \\ {r4 a4_3 a4 a4}>> | 
<< {c1} \\ {r4 g4_4 g4 g4}>> | 
<< {c1} \\ {r4 f,4_5 f4 f4}>> | 
c'2 c,2
  • Thanks a lot - this works fine! But there are a couple of warnings warning: maybe input should specify polyphonic voices warning: cannot have note heads and rests together on a stem ... For the sake of completeness - could you also please give the other way of adding this polyphony?
    – saraf
    Dec 3, 2021 at 11:30
  • @saraf — That's strange, I'm not getting any warning. What version of LilyPond are you using? And what does the rest of your code look like? Dec 3, 2021 at 11:38
  • 1
    Yup! That did the trick :-) Tnx
    – saraf
    Dec 3, 2021 at 12:36
  • 1
    as I understand it, the double backslashes make both voices temporary, rather than just the second voice. But different versions handle them differently for some reason Dec 3, 2021 at 12:43
  • 2
    @saraf Using << A \\ B \\ C ... >> implicitely creates new voices for each bit and applies voiceOne, voiceTwo, ... to them. So << c1 \\ { r4 a a a } >> is equivalent to << \new Voice { \voiceOne c1 } \new Voice { \voiceTwo r4 a a a } >>. As this question is a bit basic I suggest you read this part of the documentation to get a principle understanding of how polyphony works in Lilypond: lilypond.org/doc/v2.23/Documentation/notation/multiple-voices
    – Lazy
    Dec 3, 2021 at 17:45

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