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There's a symbol used in piano manuscript notation that means "play this in the other hand, even though it's written in this one". It looks like a capital L shape:
Hand drawn example of L symbol

As you can (maybe) see in my bad drawing, the manuscript suggests playing the first chord exclusively in the right hand, and the second chord exclusively in the left hand (despite the fact that that's harder; it's a bad example okay?).

I'd like to use this symbol in LilyPond (because my handwriting is atrocious), but I don't know what to call it in order to search for it.

What is this symbol called?

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2 Answers 2

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These symbols for left or right hand notes in the other staff don't really have a good names, but I've seen them called L-shaped brackets, or LH/RH half brackets in a music context.

In Elaine Gould's Behind Bars - The definitive guide to music notation on p. 305, they are called "incomplete brackets". But this is merely descriptive and not particularly useful if you are trying to search for them.

Gould also mentions the complete "square brackets" which are used for arpeggios that are wider than the spread of both hands. LilyPond calls these complete brackets "arpeggio brackets", as seen in links given in @Richards answer.


Unfortunately the most recent version of LilyPond still doesn't have a standard inbuilt way to print the incomplete L-shaped half brackets.

However, you can use unicode characters:

Top Left Half Bracket (U+2E22) :
Bottom Left Half Bracket (U+2E24) :

in place of fingering numbers as demonstrated below. (You'll need to tweak the Y-offset if the notehead appears in a space.)

\version "2.23.6"

\score {
    \new PianoStaff {   
        \set PianoStaff.fingeringOrientations = #'(left)
        <<
            \new Staff {
                \clef "treble"
                    <c' f'>4 
                    <e'-\finger"⸢">
            }
            \new Staff {
                \clef "bass"
                    <g -\tweak Y-offset #-0.5 -\finger"⸤">4
                    <a c'>4
            }
        >>
    }
    \layout { }
}

unicode half bracket characters used in place of fingering numbers


Another option with more control than the unicode characters (and only slightly more code heavy) is to draw these symbols with lines and store them in macros, as demonstrated on Leigh Verlag's blog:
LH half bracket from Leigh Verlag's blog

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I'm not sure of a term, but I can at least point you to the right direction in terms of LilyPond.

These "cross-staff chords" are often notated by using an arpeggio bracket as shown here in the LilyPond Snippet Repository. It's also included at the bottom of this page in the LilyPond notation manual.

This symbol is a little bit different than what you're specifically asking for, but it's very similar.

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  • That's the topic of my other question - this is good to know, though.
    – wizzwizz4
    Nov 4, 2018 at 18:37
  • @wizzwizz4 Ah, so it is! I missed that one somehow.
    – Richard
    Nov 4, 2018 at 18:38

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