I'm looking at the notation for the fingerstyle Pattern #1 at https://www.justinguitar.com/guitar-lessons/folk-fingerstyle-patterns-part-1-fo-101

I've looked at the associated video for Pattern 1 and can play it adequately - the thumb picks C and E alternately on a 4/4 time and there are 3 other notes (the first plucked simultaneously with the first C, and then G and A picked 'between' the thumbed notes).

But the notation for Pattern #1 at the above URL seems wrong. It has 6 quarter notes in a measure. Perhaps it has been simplified for those not familiar with music notation? How should the G and A be properly notated? I'm seeking to engrave this with Lilypad and also export to midi for playing along & experimentation.

2 Answers 2


It hasn't six quarters in a measure. It's two separate voices written on the same stave. Tails up is one, tails down is the other. Justin is one of the better guitar gurus on the net - thorough and knows what he's up to.

He's tried here to make the timing clear - you read it right - in that the notes fit in between each other, if you count 1&2&3&4&,you can hear how they fit. It's a little unfortunate that he uses dotted crotchets, but that's an easier way than using tied quavers. And the way they sit reading l to r, it makes perfect sense.

  • So the rhythm for Pattern 1 would be "1 2&3&4 ", right? Or "D DUDUD " if it was strummed? Commented Jul 7, 2019 at 21:27
  • @EricDuminil - yes. If you watch the video, that's what he does time-wise.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 4:21

To answer the Lilypond part of the question: as Tim mentioned, they're two voices on the same staff, so that reflects what you need to do in Lilypond.

When typesetting classical guitar pieces with Lilypond, I usually use 3 separate voices and put them on the same staff. Here it clearly needs only two. I would recommend you to use a structure like this

global = {
    \time 4/4
    \key c \major

melody = {

    c'4. g4 c'4. |

bass = {

    c4 e c e |

This defines three variables: \global (I put global settings that need to be put in every voice and staff there, i. e. time signature (omitted in the image), key, and any "style" settings you may want to use), \melody (that keeps the upper voice of the guitar: we put the contents of \global into it and declare it to be the first voice, so it has stems up) and \bass (ditto for the lower voice).

To combine them, we need a single Staff that has both of the voices in it. So we use the following \score block:

\score {
    \new Staff <<
        \clef "treble_8"
        \new Voice \melody
        \new Voice \bass

The \score block just contains whatever you want to output. We specify that we need one staff with the clef "treble_8" (the guitar is written in the treble clef, but it actually sounds an octave lower than what is written (that's the "_8" part)) and two voices, one containing \melody and the other \bass. The << and >> just say that you are going to put multiple things (in this case voices) into the staff (or anything else). After that, we just need to put in a \layout{} (which tells Lilypond to output to PDF, with default settings) and \midi{} (which activates the MIDI output, with default settings). If you had any special settings for them, you could set them inside those empty braces.

By the way, for this example, the structure I gave is an overkill since this one line: << { \clef "G_8" c'4. g4 c'4. } \\ { c4 e c e } >> does just the same thing. However, this quietly sets a lot of things to default values (so if you want to change anything, you would still need to introduce parts of the bigger structure), and it just doesn't scale (typesetting more than 5 bars of music like this is going to be a huge pain). So I would recommend to go with the explicit structure from the start.


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