Is LilyPond Good Enough? – followup, with graphs!

An interesting discussion ensued under my previous post, and I’ve decided to write a short “supplement” before I publish information about Tie Crusade progress.

Below are graphs that illustrate my opinion on the effort needed to create scores in LilyPond. Engraving “ordinary” classical music in LilyPond requires considerable effort only if you want the score to be really perfect:


(click to enlarge)

In case of complicated piano music, the situation becomes different:

effort chart - complicated music

(click to enlarge)

Do you agree with these graphs?

5 thoughts on “Is LilyPond Good Enough? – followup, with graphs!

  1. Michael Rivers

    I set a lot of piano music in Lilypond, some of it quite complicated, and I would agree with the second graph. It’s worth mentioning that even in cases in which Lilypond is more difficult to use, Finale and Sibelius scores are always more difficult to read; no matter how much tweaking one does in Finale, for example, the print lacks weight. I know some publishers have custom fonts and settings for Finale, but for the ones that don’t, my homemade Lilypond scores are so much easier to read.

  2. Flup

    Piano music is indeed more difficult than Finale or Sibelius in some specific configuration; mainly cross staff notes or slurs. In the meantime, centered dynamics between staves are a huge time saver once mastered.

  3. Bertalan Fodor

    Good post. I miss LilyPond a bit, but there are parts where I don’t agree with the graphs.
    Other notation programs (even MuseScore) are programmable as well, so LilyPond doesn’t have an advantage there.
    If adjustments are needed, the effort for LilyPond goes up exponentially for two reasons: you don’t know where you need the adjustment. You just add something and hope that it appear right on the compiled score. If you add many things at once, you might even not notice some problems. In LilyPond don’t have instant visual feedback of adjustments, so you have to recompile the score to see if you succeeded.
    In terms of reaching perfection I think LilyPond’s advantage there is not to need less effort (though sometimes that is the case), but instead enabling the user to reach perfection without engraving knowledge.

    1. Janek Warchoł Post author

      I agree that having shorter compilation times would be a huge benefit. That’s why i can’t wait to see quantum computers widely available!.

  4. Robert Orso

    You can ease the pain with Lilypond a lot, if you use a GUI wrapper like Frescobaldi:

    You can pick elements and populate the source with the mouse. You can edit the (colored) source and you can compile the source in the background to get (almost) instant feedback in the “output” window. To easily navigate you to any point in the source, you can click all elements in the resulting PDF to get you pointed into the *.ly source where that happens – even in included files.


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