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

From: Chris Snyder
Subject: Re: LilyPond, Finale and Sibelius (was Review of Valentin's Opera)
Date: Thu, 02 Apr 2009 15:44:13 -0400
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20090319)

Valentin Villenave wrote:
> 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).

I concur here. I am much faster with Lily than I suspect I ever could be
with a graphical interface. It's so much more intuitive to me, and
actually feels more musical - I have to think about the relationships
between notes in a much more musical way, especially when dealing with
multiple voices.

> 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.

As an engraver (rather than a composer), I greatly prefer the
line-by-line approach the vast majority of the time - I prefer that the
other parts take care of themselves, retaining modifications I've made,
while I work on tweaking a specific area. Other than initial line+page
breaks and final evaluation, I find that I keep my PDF reader zoomed in
most of the time. If I need to jump between voices, the point+click
hyperlinks in the PDF are a tremendous help.

>  - 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"? :-)

The following observation isn't true 100% of the time (i.e. don't flame
me if you believe you don't fit into my perception), but in my
observation most of the best composers still compose the old-fashioned
way. In the little composing I've done (music theory exercises when I
was still in school, etc.) I found that the GUI interface acted as a
crutch, preventing me from really thinking about the relationships
between notes. The GUI was certainly faster - and I appreciated
utilizing it for the exercises where I really didn't care about the
quality of the resulting music (especially for one theory professor that
I didn't respect much) - but I started thinking about the way the music
looked on the page rather than how it sounded.

The way that music is entered for LilyPond causes me to think in a more
musical way - there have been times when I've been stumped as to how to
tell Lily to engrave something, only to realize that even if I did get
it exactly as the composer wanted, the music would be confusing to read.
LilyPond makes it much easier for me to work in my dual editor+engraver

I've been using LilyPond exclusively for my fledgling music publishing
business. Virtually without exception, every composer has been blown
away by the quality of the engraving when presented with the proofs of
their music about to be published. I deserve some of the credit for this
- I spend a lot of time tweaking output, especially ties (mainly in
chords) - but LilyPond gives me an excellent starting point, a very
intuitive interface, and the ability to modify absolutely anything if I
want to take the time. I'm convinced that no commercial product can come


Chris Snyder
Adoro Music Publishing
1-616-828-4436 x800

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