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Lilypond is a Free Software score writing application. Its input is a plain text file in the lilypond music writing format, and its output is in either postscript or Portable Document Format.


Install lilypond from the official repositories.

Example Score

Create a test file like:
 c' e' g' e'

To compile it, use:

$ lilypond

It will create test.pdf and files that contain your score.


Which editor to use?

  • VIM

Vim with the possibilities of compiling the code within the program along with syntax coloring tools and indenting. First install the vim editor, then go to this Lilypond website [1] and follow the instructions on how to enable the vim mode.

The next thing you need to do is enable the syntaxes. To do so edit ~/.vimrc with your favorite editor and after editing your file should look like this:

set runtimepath+=/usr/share/lilypond/2.12.3/vim/ 
syntax on		" Turn on colors
filetype plugin on	" Enables the ftplugin options
set autoindent		" Automaticaly indent while writing.

Now when you edit a *.ly file you can compile your code with F5 button, open PDF viewer with F6 and play midi with F4 (using timidity). A configuration file is in /usr/share/lilypond/2.12.3/vim/ftplugin/lilypond.vim which is easy to customize.

Click-and-point using evince. [2]

  • Frescobaldi

You can find it in AUR.

  • jEdit with lilyPondTools plugin.

Install jedit from the official repositories.

Open jEdit and go to Plugins > Plugin Manager. Select the Install tab and click on LilyPondTools. Hit the Install button.

  • Emacs

Lilypond includes an emacs mode. Add the following line to your ~/.emacs:

(load-library "lilypond-init.el")

Speed up writing notes

LilyComp [3] can be used to speed up writing notes. It requires python and tk. Lines 67 and 68 in should be edited to enable dictionary for sharp and flat symbols. It uses absolute notation (\relative is not used.)

More useful info

  • For JEdit: Under plugins install LookAndFeel. You can find good stuff under Visual.

For better usability my settings are: under Global Options > Docking put the Console and Error List to right and LilyPond PDF preview to bottom under Docking position. Then under View push Alternate docked window placement and Alternate tool bar placement buttons.

  • For a tutorial on how to use this software visit LilyPond [4] website.