At the Sounding Edge: LilyPond, Part 1
Judging from the response to last month's column, it seems that many readers are interested in applications and utilities designed for practicing musicians. One reader brought up the subject of scoring software, which are programs designed for formatting music notation for printing. This month's column looks at music notation software for Linux, with a special focus on the LilyPond project.
First, a few remarks concerning the subject of music notation. Modern Western music notation is the result of hundreds of years of evolving practice. From its beginnings as a means of notating plainchant the system has grown to accommodate a bewildering array of symbols, signs and objects, all intended to convey a more or less accurate set of instructions describing a performance of the composer's musical intentions involving possibly huge instrumental and vocal resources. Learning to read and write standard Western music notation is a non-trivial task, and real fluency requires considerable effort.
Alas, the computer can't do your sight-reading for you yet, but it can relieve many burdensome clerical aspects of notation, particularly in regards to manuscript preparation and score printing. Programs are available that act as virtual manuscript paper, presenting the user with a palette of conventional music symbols such as staffs (or more pedantically, staves), clefs, time signatures, key signatures, notes, rests, articulations and so forth. The composer selects what he needs from the palette, beginning with staff definitions, and proceeds by freely adding and deleting elements to the staff(s). Typically, notes can be auditioned when placed or moved on the virtual staff, and the entire work or any part can be played at any time. When the composer is satisfied with the appearance and sound of his work, he can save or export it in a variety of formats, including MIDI files and PostScript graphics. The Linux applications that belong to this music software category include the MusE and Rosegarden audio/MIDI sequencers and Joerg Anders' NoteEdit program (see Resources).
Music typesetting software is another category. A music typesetting system is designed for formatting publication-quality output files. These systems typically work with a text-based interface (a language) and a compiler or preprocessor (the program). The user writes a specification file in the system's language and processes it with the typesetting program. Output usually is a scalable graphics format, such as PostScript or Adobe PDF, that can be printed with the common Linux printing tools. With a powerful enough language, every detail of a score's appearance can be customized for perfectly readable and beautiful printed music. Linux music applications in this category include MusiXTeX, Mup, abc and LilyPond.
A music specification language may seem like an odd way to deal with something so visual as music notation, but preparing a music manuscript is not necessarily a straightforward process. Note groupings, placement of accidentals, beaming requirements, necessary stem directions and many other factors influence the appearance and usability of the printed score, and the variations of those factors cannot be predicted and accommodated easily by formula. Even the most flexible notation GUI is not quite WYSIWYG, and the underlying program logic must make decisions that may not create optimal output. By contrast, a specification language allows a degree of output customization not commonly encountered in programs dependent on graphic interfaces. Which brings us to LilypPond.
So say Han-Wen Nienhuys and Jan Nieuwenhuizen, the principal architects of LilyPond. They are very clever and articulate fellows, so I'll let their capsule description of LP speak for them:
"Scores made with computers almost always look bland and uninspiring, but for what reason? Machines may be mechanical, but why should their products be? With that thought in mind we started programming seven years ago. We have tried to capture the rules of good music engraving in a program, and that program is called LilyPond. We built it like we expect software to be: robust, open and flexible. The best is that you can create beautiful sheet music comfortably with LilyPond."
Bold statements, indeed, but they're backed by solid programming skills and deep research into the chosen subject. This rest of this article gives you a glimpse of LP's capabilities. If you are a musician wanting to create publication-quality scores of your music, I hope you will be inspired to try LP yourself.
Its Web page refers to LilyPond as an automated engraving system, a software music typesetter designed to create beautiful readable output. Set to its defaults, LilyPond automatically formats most music for excellent printed output, at the same time permitting highly detailed customizations to accommodate virtually any music scoring requirement, including unusual and idiosyncratic notations.
Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide