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Getting Started

Searching for a good software and not trash looking for writing sheet music in linux? LilyPond! Are you tired of pointing and clicking? LilyPond! Are you tired of having dual-boot systems so you could just write music? LilyPond! Are you tired of cracks and illegal software? LilyPond!

Torn between two operating systems.

My only barrier on deleting Windows from my hard disk was that i am an artist. I was searching for a good comercial software for writing sheet music. I was waiting for years on Sibelius Software to give a port for linux but like they didn't care. But due to their lack of interest i have found this amazing software that i could only dream off.


For a quick start:

~# pacman -S lilypond

To see how this software realy works create a text file called ‘’ and enter:

~# cat >
 c' e' g' e'

and then hit Ctrl+D to save. To process ‘’, proceed as follows:

~# lilypond

It will create test.pdf and files. Open it with your favorite viewer.


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 vim editor.

~# pacman -S vim

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 syntaxses. To do so edit ~/.vimrc with your favorite editor and after editing your file should look like this:

~# nano ~/.vimrc
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> (timidity). Config file is in "/usr/share/lilypond/2.12.3/vim/ftplugin/lilypond.vim" and you can read your options there and edit it.

Click-and-point using evince. [2]

  • Frescobaldi

You can find it in AUR.

  • jEdit with lilyPondTools plugin.
~# pacman -S jedit

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

Speed up writing notes

One other thing that i discoverd is LilyComp [3]. Its purpose is to speed up writing notes. You need python and tk to use it. I had to edit two lines (67 and 68) in to enable dictionary for sharp and flat symbols. It uses absolute notation (\relative is not used.)

More usefull 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 tutorial on how to use this software visit LilyPond [4] website.