Learn LilyPond: Free Music Notation

LilyPond is a free alternative to Finale, Sibelius, and Dorico. And it’s easy to learn.

If you’re reading this, you are probably looking to learn more about writing and publishing your own music.

  • Perhaps you are a student and unable to afford the license costs for Finale, Sibelius, or Dorico?
  • Maybe you are a professional on a tight budget who needs to distribute music to your ensemble for an upcoming performance?
  • Do you prefer to use free (libre) software whenever possible?

So if you would like to engrave your music and publish beautiful looking scores for free, then please read on…

I’m currently creating a series of tutorial videos which will take a comprehensive, in-depth look at engraving music using LilyPond. The first set of videos is aimed at beginners and follows a step-by-step approach. My goal is to help everyone become a power user. In addition, there are also more advanced videos showing how to polish up and finalize scores as well.

If you would like to see more videos on LilyPond, please click here to subscribe so you don’t miss any new tutorials.

*New videos include a complete, step by step tutorial on MIDI input, MIDI playback, and MIDI export.

Here’s the link to the newest MIDI videos: –>http://bit.ly/2d2sxoj

**If you are looking for my new solarized Frescobaldi color scheme, here’s that link: –> Frescobaldi Solarized

What is LilyPond?

LilyPond is a free, open-source, and cross-platform program. Those of you coming from graphical editors like Sibelius or Finale will notice right away that LilyPond is a different kind of program. Instead of dragging notes or articulations from a toolbar and placing them on the page, you will be creating your scores by typing simple plain text. This text is then compiled (or interpreted) by the program, which then produces beautifully engraved sheet music.

In some ways, LilyPond is more like a programming language than a graphical score editor. However, don’t let the idea of a learning curve discourage you. It’s really not as steep as you think. The syntax is very user-friendly and easy to pick up. There is quite a bit that LilyPond can do that Finale and Sibelius simply cannot. It’s also much better than the old SCORE program that many publishers used years ago (and a few still use today).

LilyPond truly brings the aesthetics of traditionally hand-engraved music straight into your computer and into your scores. It is also very easy to insert score excerpts or full pages of your score into LaTeX documents, scientific papers, musicology/research papers, and even HTML for web pages.

Why LilyPond?

In terms of purely music typesetting, LilyPond’s output is far superior to any other program available today, including the long-time favorite and de facto standard, SCORE.

With my tutorial videos, I’ll be starting at the very beginning:

  1. You will learn the structure of a LilyPond input file and basic note entry
  2. We’ll look at more advanced concepts like creating individual instrument parts
  3. Then formatting and layout – and the power to tweak anything on the page
  4. Finally you’ll learn how to add the finishing touches to your scores so they look perfect

The first playlist is aimed at beginners: it has 28 videos and provides over 2.5 hours of learning material.
Watch the tutorials here: http://bit.ly/LearnLilyPond.
To browse a full list of all my LilyPond videos by topic, click here.


Coming up next I’ll be showing how to format your score, tweak objects, align dynamics, create instrument parts, and graphic notation. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any new tutorials. New intermediate and advanced videos should be coming every week. I had some external factors that temporarily slowed down my video schedule but everything should be returning to normal now.

If you would like to support this channel and help me create more engaging and educational music materials, please consider making a donation here:

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