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Re: Fis or not fis, that is the question.

From: David Bobroff
Subject: Re: Fis or not fis, that is the question.
Date: Mon, 09 Dec 2002 16:34:55 +0000

Ralph Little wrote:

>Can anybody explain why, despite having a "fs" specified by the current key
>(for G Major), "fs" or "fis" needs to be specified, rather than just
>assuming that the key fills in the gaps?

Well, here's my take on this.  Bear in mind that I'm not a Lilypond guru.
It has been mentioned recently that Lilypond separates "music" from
"notation".  So when you write something in G major (or any key, for that
matter) you need to specify the sounding pitches.  Since you are also
telling Lilypond what key you are in it will take care of placing
accidentals, if any, where they need to be, without your intervention.  If
you then change the key but leave the pitches where they are, Lilypond will
keep the pitches the same, adding accidentals as needed.  If you transpose
the whole thing, Lilypond will make all necessary changes to the printed
pitches.  Going from G major to C major will cause all cases of 'fis' in
your input file to be printed as 'b' in the output.

I believe that in PMX (MusiXTeX preprocessor), it works as you are
describing.  That is, that in the key of G all F's are sharped.  If I
recall correctly a given pitch is then altered with a modifier following
the pitch name (PMX input is very similar to Lily's).  In the case of an
f-sharp, a lowering would, of course, produce a printed f-natural.
Lilypond's approach is, in my view, a bit more pure.  I think both
approaches have their points.  I used PMX before I used Lilypond so I had
to get used to the Lilypond syntax.

My suggestion?  Get used to it if you want to use Lilypond.  In the long
run I have not found it to be a burden.  Yes, I forget sometimes and have
to correct my input.  The authors have made their decision regarding the
input syntax.  I don't think they want to change it.  It does have sound
reasoning behind it, even if it feels awkward at first.

Maybe not very informational, but I hope this helps you some.


David Bobroff

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