We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Reference and education software Reviews
15,670 Reviews

LilyPond review


Manufacturer: LilyPond

Our Rating: We rate this 3 out of 5

LilyPond is a free music-score creation software program, but it's not easy to use.

LilyPond is a free music-score creation software program, but it's not easy to use.

Musicians love reading from great-looking scores, but programs that produce them (such as Finale and Sibelius 5.0) can be quite pricey. LilyPond is a free, albeit much more difficult-to-use, alternative that produces excellent-looking results.

The difficulty stems from the lack of a wysiwyg interface - LilyPond simply interprets text files, which you or others must provide.

LilyPond's text files aren't particularly difficult to understand or produce. However, the commands and syntax can also be as complex as music itself. Music entry is tedious, even with a mouse, and with LilyPond it can be downright drudgery.

For instance:

title = "A scale in LilyPond"

c d e f g a b c

produces a C scale in the treble clef.

The results we produced in PDF form were nothing short of splendid - as good as or better than any program we've ever tried. Also, you can reap the 1,500 fruits of other people's efforts by downloading LilyPond files from Mutopia.

LilyPond is part of the GNU project and as such, represents a fair amount of altruism on the programming and music community's part.

When some of the other music programs out there start exporting LilyPond files - or when someone sticks a visual editor on top of it (there is at least one at www.denemo.org in development) - it's going to be something else.

LilyPond Expert Verdict »

Windows NT/2000/Me/XP
  • Overall: We give this item 6 of 10 overall

LilyPond is a tool that anyone who wants to produce good-looking sheet music should at the very least familiarise themselves with. And it should get a lot better soon.

IDG UK Sites

Nexus 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 comparison: Lollipop phablet takes on KitKat flagship smartphone

IDG UK Sites

Why people aren't upgrading to iOS 8: new features are for power users, not the average Joe

IDG UK Sites

Free rocket & space sounds: NASA launches archive of interstellar audio on SoundCloud

IDG UK Sites

iPad Air 2 review: Insanely fast and alarmingly thin. Speed tests, camera tests, beautiful...