Posted by Owain on
Frescobaldi editor

"LilyPond came about when two musicians wanted to go beyond the soulless look of computer-printed sheet music. Musicians prefer reading beautiful music, so why couldn’t programmers write software to produce elegant printed parts? The result is a system which frees musicians from the details of layout, allowing them to focus on making music. LilyPond works with them to create publication-quality parts, crafted in the best traditions of classical music engraving."

(from http://lilypond.org/introduction.html)

Lilypond takes a fundamentally different approach to producing printed music than packages such as Sibelius. It doesn't give you a point-and-click WYSIWYG environment. Instead, it takes a text file and compiles it, separating the entry of notes and musical items from the concerns over how it lays things out on the page. It follows standard conventions for how to position music and how to space it out, and often needs far less tweaking to get to a high-quality end result.

To explain this another way - the notes for the top part of this score are created by the following:

violinInotes = {
a8( b16 a8.) fis4.
a8( b16 a8.) fis4.
e'4--( e8--) cis4.
d4--( d8--) a4.
\break
...

If that doesn't put you off, then you should explore further!

It's a completely different way of working than using Sibelius or Finale. It's no good as a composition tool, because you can't see the results of changes in real time. For music that's already composed or arranged, it can work wonders. Best of all, it's free software (part of the GNU project), and runs on all common operating systems, so there's nothing stopping you trying it out.

A lot of the sheet music on this website has been produced with Lilypond, along with all the music for this scale book.

Lilypond website