LilyPond: Free Music Engraving Software
April 22, 2005 6:41 AM   Subscribe

LilyPond is a free, mature, actively developed "automated engraving system" for the production of beautifully formatted musical scores. Essay and examples from the site. All major platforms are supported.
posted by teleskiving (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This looks like TeX for mathematical notation, and with both, I wonder, isn't there some input-assistance program that keeps you from having to use input so foreign in style to the output you have in mind? Oh well, I guess I have no geek cred.
posted by Zurishaddai at 7:04 AM on April 22, 2005

Without a user interface, these guys are completely behind the curve.
posted by mischief at 7:12 AM on April 22, 2005

MusiXTeX is TeX for music, LilyPond is another beast altogether. It also lacks a really powerful gui.
posted by beowulf573 at 7:39 AM on April 22, 2005

File converters and other input methods are discussed on the FAQ page; there seem to be quite a few choices. The relationship to TeX/MusiXTeX is also discussed in the FAQ.

I haven't tried to produce a score with LilyPond yet, but I've never really enjoyed using any GUI for producing notation, mainly because inexpensive music software tends to exude ugliness. Unless someone knows an exception?
posted by teleskiving at 7:58 AM on April 22, 2005

It looks OK, I guess. But since the main pitch is the relative beauty of the engraving-style notation, I kept looking for a side-by-side comparison with standard notation programs like Finale Allegro (the affordable version of Finale) which can print right off of a MIDI keyboard input. Didn't find any, so I gotta say, I'm unimpressed.

Moreover, I have to question the aesthetic sense of anybody who would use this as an emblem on one of their main pages.
posted by soyjoy at 8:27 AM on April 22, 2005

soyjoy, take a look at this comparison with Finale 2003 from the site.
posted by teleskiving at 9:54 AM on April 22, 2005

Rosegarden is a GUI music program that outputs to Lilypond format.

Don't be so quick to knock the text-input approach, though. Lilypond is not really designed to be a program that you compose directly into -- it's primarily a typesetting program. I've tried Lilypond to typeset some longish extracts, and personally found it faster than Sibelius, at least for entry. However, I can't imagine what a nightmare it would be to try and create something from scratch straight into Lilypond notation.
posted by chrismear at 10:07 AM on April 22, 2005

(As an aside, I also find entering equations in TeX much easier than clicking around in the Microsoft Equation Editor -- same basic principle, I think.)
posted by chrismear at 10:11 AM on April 22, 2005

teleskiving, thanks, that was what I was looking for - or at least half of what I was looking for.

I wasn't at all surprised at the little inaccuracies that can be generated on the default settings of Finale. But it would have been more convincing to see the two final products side-by-side. And in fact, to be fair, there would need to be a comparison of time spent on getting the music notated, starting with the raw data entry. Otherwise it's a little disingenuous to be comparing an amateur user's product on default settings with something whose claim to fame is meaningful only to the most discerning connoisseur - I mean, what amateur user who only uses the default settings is going to care?
posted by soyjoy at 11:56 AM on April 22, 2005

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