GNU LilyPond

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GNU LilyPond
Original author(s) Han-Wen Nienhuys, Jan Nieuwenhuizen
Developer(s) LilyPond development team
Initial release 1996 (1996)
Written in Scheme, C++, Metafont, PostScript, Python
Operating system Cross-platform
Size 20MB, 100MB including documentation
Available in Dutch, English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish
Development status active
Type Application Programs, Music Software, Music engraving, Scorewriter
License GNU General Public License version 2
Standard(s) MusicXML, SVG

GNU LilyPond is a computer program for music engraving. One of LilyPond's major goals is to produce scores that are engraved with traditional layout rules, reflecting the era when scores were engraved by hand.

LilyPond is cross-platform, and is available for several common operating systems; released under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2, LilyPond is free software.



LilyPond is written in C++ and assembled by a Scheme library (GNU Guile) which allows for user customization and extension.[1]

It uses a simple text notation for music, which is then compiled into PDF (via PostScript) or other formats. LilyPond can automatically generate MIDI files from music specified in the LilyPond format.

Unlike some commercial, proprietary music engraving software, such as Finale and Sibelius, LilyPond does not contain its own graphical user interface (although others like Denemo have been created) for the creation of scores. It does, however, have the same aim of producing output comparable to professionally-engraved scores.

Collaboration with other projects

Some graphical music notation programs, such as Rosegarden, NoteEdit, Canorus and TuxGuitar, can export files directly to LilyPond format.

The Mutopia project, which distributes free content sheet music, uses LilyPond to typeset its music, as does Musipedia, a collaborative music encyclopedia. WikiTeX, a MediaWiki interface, supports editing LilyPond notation directly in wiki articles.

Example of LilyPond input file

Text after a percent sign (%) is a comment.

In LilyPond, notes are entered in note, pitch and length format; pitch is represented with series of single quotes or commas, each representing an octave up or down from the base. For example, a'4 is an A, one octave up from the base, of quarter note length. As a curious syntactical rule, all other modifiers - even ones containing parentheses, which by usual writing rules should go before the note - are added after the note, so d8[ c] is an eighth-note pair with a beam as signified by the brackets.

LilyPond has two modes of entering the note pitches: Absolute and relative. In absolute mode, note pitches are always given, for each note, relative to the base; in relative mode, when the melody stays within limits, notes with unspecified pitch are assumed to be "near" the last note, and pitch markers are used only when the interval from the preceding note is more than a fourth. This example uses the relative mode.

The only character encoding that LilyPond understands is UTF-8. This allows for the combination of Danish, Hebrew, Korean, etc. in the same file. The first line in the file tells emacs that this file should always be read and written as UTF-8. If one uses other editors than emacs, it is necessary to make sure that they use UTF-8 too; otherwise anything but ASCII will break.

#!lilypond -*- coding: utf-8; -*-
% Theme to "Fire Breathers", a homebrew NES game perpetually 
% under development.  Composed by Urpo Lankinen.
% Note: The composer has made this source code available 
% under the GFDL license.  Some previous versions of this
% code may also be available under CC BY-SA license.
% This file uses Finnish note names (for example, where 
% Americans use "F#" and "Bb", Finns use "Fis" and "B"). 
% Dutch note names are used by default.
\include ""
% Optional language upgrade helper.
\version "2.6.0"
% The header block defines the titles and texts.
\header {
    title = "Theme to ``Fire Breathers!''"
    instrument = "For the 2A03 or SID"
    composer = "Urpo Lankinen"
    enteredby = "Urpo Lankinen"
    updatedby = "Jan Nieuwenhuizen"
    date = "June 2005"
Melody = \relative c'' {
   \clef treble
   \time 3/4
   \key a \minor
   % The piece starts with a quarter-note partial bar, "\partial 4"
   % tells so to LilyPond.
   \partial 4
   a4 | e'4.( d8[ c]) r8 | d4.( c8[ h]) r8 | a2. | e2
   a4 | e'4.( d8[ c]) r8 | d4.( e8[ f]) r8 | e2. | r2
   e4 |  f4.( e8[ d]) r8 | d4.( c8[ h]) r8 | a2. | e2
   a4 | e'4.( d8[ c]) r8 | d4.( c8[ h]) r8 | a2. ~ a2 r4 | \bar "|."
% This is the second voice.
SecondVoice = \relative c {
   \clef bass
   \time 3/4
   \key a \minor
   \partial 4
    r4 | e2.              | d2.             | a2. | e2
    a4 | e'2.             | d2       f4     | e2. | r2.
       |  f2.             | d2.             | a2. | e2
    a4 | e'2.             | d2       h4     | a2. ~ a2 r4 | \bar "|."
% Melodies, lyrics and chords can be assigned to a variable and then
% be *reused* elsewhere.  Here are three different accompaniment
% patterns, which are used throughout the accompaniment melody.
AccompA = \relative c { a4 e'8 a, e' a, | }
AccompB = \relative c { g4 d'8 g, d' g, | }
AccompC = \relative c { e,4 h'8 e, h' e, | }
Accompaniment = {
   \clef bass
   \time 3/4
   \key a \minor
   \partial 4
    r4 | \AccompA \AccompB \AccompA \AccompA
        \AccompA \AccompB \AccompA \AccompA
        \AccompC \AccompC \AccompA \AccompA
        \AccompA \AccompB \AccompA | a2 r4 | \bar "|."
% The top level music definition.
  \new Staff \Melody
  \new Staff \Accompaniment
  \new Staff \SecondVoice

Corresponding output


See also


  1. "LilyPond is linked to GUILE, GNU's Scheme library for extension programming. The Scheme library provides the glue that holds together the low-level routines and separate modules which are written in C++."[1]

External links

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