LilyPond and Alternative Music Notation Systems

LilyPond LogoLilyPond is a free, open-source application that supports displaying and printing music in alternative music notation systems.

See our LilyPond wiki page for the most current documentation and demo files showing various alternative notation systems rendered by LilyPond.

LilyPond is used by writing and editing text documents that contain music notation data, rather than pointing and clicking with a mouse. Instead of providing a graphical user interface for editing scores, LilyPond’s developers concentrate on producing the highest-quality output, sheet music that looks as good as if it had been typeset by hand.

The LilyPond developers are experimenting with a graphical interface for LilyPond (see Schikkers List), but it is in very early stages. There are free open-source applications that offer graphical editing of music notation that can export music to the LilyPond file format. One could use them to graphically edit music in traditional notation, and then export the music to LilyPond for transnotation into an alternative notation. Also, since LilyPond can import MusicXML files, any of the many applications that export to MusicXML (e.g. MuseScore) could also be used in this way. (See Open-Source Strategy.)