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Re: Real-world usage of Lilypond

From: Tim McNamara
Subject: Re: Real-world usage of Lilypond
Date: Thu, 9 Apr 2009 10:58:54 -0500

On Apr 9, 2009, at 1:38 AM, Wei-Wei Guo wrote:

I don't know there are many different systems. I'm working on a songbook for our family church, but I have little knowledge of music. So I started learning music script about a month ago. Since it's difficult for me to
remember and understand those music symbols, I want to record those
symbols and make learning notes in my reading notices system. That's why
I keep on asking about methods of inputing music symbols in several
mailing list threads. Sorry for making those noises.

Well, you have to ask questions to learn and I have found this mailing list has been very patient with my stumbling along and asking questions with obvious answers.

Learning both music notation and LilyPond simultaneously is a daunting challenge. My advice would be to first learn the basics of music notation: what the staves mean, time signatures, etc. Without that knowledge it is very difficult to decide what to do with LilyPond. Interesting but probably excessive information about music notation systems:

European classical music notation, which is probably the most widely used method other than learning by ear:

Now I kind of know how to input those symbols with \markup. But I feel it is somehow inconvenience. I asked whether Lilypond has any application on
music textbook because I want to get some clues to some easier way of
inputing symbols. It's seem not. Then I feel a little pity and asked the
question in previous mail.

LilyPond is designed for having complete control over the printed music, which means that the entry of the data is a bit cumbersome at times. There are, for some operating systems, some GUI style frontends than can be used but there aren't any for my OS so I can't really talk about those. I would imagine that those are designed to simplify the input. There are text editors that have syntax modules for LilyPond which colors the text and makes it easier to lay things out and to find mistakes in the code (Emacs and, I think, jEdit are two examples).

There are basically two types of entry in LilyPond code. One is the content (notes, rests, chords) and the other is the formatting (how the content is arranged and printed). Learning to use LilyPond means learning the coding language, which is a steep learning curve. However, that means that within about a week or two of diligent study you can be producing useful sheet music.

Sorry Tim, I don't understand what you said. Could you point me to a link
explaining those systems?

Well, there are multiple systems of music just in European world; they look mostly similar on the paper but use different terminology. The first link given above covers some of this and other non-European systems as well:

Other than for basic intellectual curiosity, I'd recommend just picking the one that is predominant in the area where you live and sticking with that. The default in LilyPond is the Dutch system, IIRC (one of the main differences is that natural notes are input as c4, d4, e4 (for quarter notes), flat notes are input as ces4, des4, ees4 and sharp notes are input as cis4, dis4, eis4. If, for example, you live in the US you might use the English terminology (c4, cf4, cs4 respectively for natural, flat and sharp).

The best place to start is the learning tutorial (lilypond- learning.pdf) which was included with the download package. Then lilypond.pdf is the reference guide and lilypond-snippets.pdf offers specific coding to achieve specific printed output.

Since I use LilyPond to write jazz lead sheets, which are really pretty rudimentary, my expertise at using LilyPond is somewhat limited. I can get a lead sheet written up in LilyPond in under an hour these days, and then can use the transposition function to make charts for the horn players in just a few seconds. I can make lead sheets with lyrics for the singers in a few minutes (thanks to being able to find the lyrics to almost any standard online). W00t!

I hope some of this helps!

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