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Re: LilyPond, Finale and Sibelius (was Review of Valentin's Opera)

From: Valentin Villenave
Subject: Re: LilyPond, Finale and Sibelius (was Review of Valentin's Opera)
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 2009 20:28:27 +0200

2009/4/2 Kieren MacMillan <address@hidden>:

> I used Finale for over a decade, eventually becoming the computer music lab
> tutor/assistant at Shepherd School of Music (while doing my Master of Music
> there) -- I was as nimble with Finale as anyone I knew (know). I estimate
> that, for me, note entry is ca. 3x faster in Fin/Sib than Lily, but
> tweaking-to-publishable is ca. 10x faster in Lily than Fin/Sib (partly
> because there's so much less tweaking to do).

I disagree -- with the first part :-)

To me, note entry is much, much, much faster with LilyPond than with
Fin/Sib. (even using a MIDI keyboard -- which, by the way, is one of
the less enjoyable experiences I know of).

As I mentioned earlier, I had written one half of my opera in Sibelius
before switching to Lilyn, and I had to re-type the whole darn thing
manually. I would certainly never had done so if I had found that it
was 1) slower, 2) less pleasant and 3) not as beautiful wrt the

Granted, the first three months were rough, but afterwards typing
plain code was an impressively quick solution. (And I actually did not
use any shortcut or fast-entry emacs trick or whatever). I didn't know
how to type and this made me learn (in a similar way that I couldn't
speak English until I subscribed to this mailing list :-)

> Of course, many of the scores I see from "firms that produce music scores
> that rely on software" would never get published if I were the head of that
> company -- I guess I just have higher aesthetic standards than many of the
> editors out there. [Anyone who has read the published songbook(s) of Jason
> Robert Brown's "The Last Five Years" will know that there is one song where
> the syncopated left-hand rhythm is so poorly spaced that it looks, on first
> *and* second sight, to be non-syncopated! Totally unacceptable from a
> "commercial publisher"...]

Absolutely. I completely disagree with what Reinhold and Laura said. I
understand they may be frustrated when comparing LilyPond's output
with an engraver's work, but... seriously, have you guys been using
Finale or Sibelius lately? This very afternoon, I've been using
Sibelius 5 this afternoon for the first time in four years (back then
it was version 3), for an orchestral score.
I am shocked, to say the least. That is just plain ugly! This stupid
program has no notion of collisions whatsoever, nor any sense of a
balanced layout. It's unbelievably not flexible (be it the interface
or the settings); it just does his thing blindly, mechanically, not to
mention the computing resources it takes, the bloat and useless bling
everywhere... /except/ in the engraving engine (or lack thereof).

LilyPond's vertical spacing for full orchestral scores could certainly
use some improvements, but...
come on, there is simply no better alternative right now. And yet
again, I'm not even talking about the features, because (except for
playback/export abilities) LilyPond is clearly way ahead.

The only advantage I could ever find in using such programs is that,
while LilyPond's workflow is very horizontal (i.e. you enter one voice
at a time), graphical programs allow you to have a global, vertical
view of your score. But that being said:
 - if you want to copy your music really fast, even with a graphical
program, you have no other choice than working in an horizontal way
just like in LilyPond
 - if you're still composing and need to constantly have an overview
of your score instead of entering pre-existing material... well, you
may as well use this free-hardware tool called "pencil and paper"? :-)


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