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

From: Graham Percival
Subject: Re: Fis or not fis, that is the question.
Date: Mon, 09 Dec 2002 12:48:28 -0800

On Mon, 09 Dec 2002 14:55:40 +0000
Ralph Little <address@hidden> 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?

Because assuming that "f" really means "fis" in G major only works for
classical tonal music.  In late Romantic music and 20th century music,
having an f-natural in a piece in G major isn't uncommon.  We'd have to
write something like "fnat" to mean f-natural.

Look at it this way -- pick up an instrument (or sit in front of an
instrument, like a piano) and play a D-major scale.  What's the third
note you played?  It was an F-sharp.  Even if you look at a score that
shows an F-no-accidental and has two sharps in the key signature, the
actual note you played was an F-sharp.  So you tell Lilypond "I want an

In a more unixy answer, lilypond is based on LaTeX, which makes a strong
(and very useful!) distinction between data and presentation.  You write
your data in a text file, and the LaTeX takes care of all the formatting.
In a similar way, for Lilypond you write the music down in a text file,
and then Lilypond takes care of the formatting and presentation.

Given the confusion over this, we should add a note in the tutorial.  To
devel folks: I'll be getting back into lilypond devel on thursday, so I'll
be happy to add this if nobody does it before me.

- Graham

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