Linux notation software
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    As usual, title says it all. I'm considering taking the plunge into Ubuntu, but I presently use Finale 2003. Is there another good (and preferably free) notation program for Linux which would be comparable to Finale?

    Some things I'd need:
    - GUI
    - Instant playback
    - MIDI input would be nice
    - Looks good printing/good page editing
    - Supports multiple layers, but that's kind of a given for any notation software, isn't it?

    Any recommendations? What are you all using with Linux?

    I should add I know nothing about Linux and am only considering it to join in the anti-Windows smugness.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,884
    I am on Linux (Macintosh flavored) but I don't run freeware for publishing. I am using Sibelius. It is a top notch digital engraving platform (including postcript output), but not cheap. They used to offer discounts for church musicians.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I've tried Sibelius and am very solidly a fan of Finale. I find Sibelius horribly non-intuitive, although I grant my intuitions are probably different from others.

    At any rate, I'm not a publisher, and I doubt I would ever become a composer. I'm a student and just want something legible that will make the writing process fast and easy. As is, I use Finale to write music for cantors (such as the Alleluia verse).
  • Felipe Gasper
    Posts: 804

    Wine may run Finale, but that’d be about your best shot.

    Lilypond is about the closest there is. In true *nix fashion, it can produce great-looking scores, but the way of entering them into the computer is very complicated. Making this even worse is how poorly documented (IMO) Lilypond is.

    Linux is a good choice for end users who only do word processing, web browsing, email, IM, and the other things that open source software does well. The catch-22 is that someone might be perfectly happy for a while with it and then discover with dismay that some really useful program (Finale, Turbotax, etc.) doesn’t run on Linux.

    I went hee-haw into learning *nix about 6 years ago. It takes a while to be comfortable with it. One very good way to learn might be I found that I preferred FreeBSD for many things eventually.
  • Hi Gavin,

    I currently run Ubuntu Linux. Lilypond is powerful software, but having a coding background to at least put templates together is mandatory. I still use text editors to hand-code (X)HTML, CSS, PHP and ASP, so transitioning over to Lilypond's markup language wasn't terribly difficult for me. Most others' experience will not be as smooth as mine, and my transition wasn't the smoothest to begin with. Rosegarden and Denemo are two of the GUI-like tools for score input, but I cannot recommend either of them to people used to Finale and/or Sibelius.

    Once you get used to score entry and have a template to work with, Lilypond can be a suitable tool for the purposes you mentioned. However, it's probably best to maintain and improve your Finale skills. The workflow is that different IMO.

    If you still want to muck around with Lilypond I believe there is a Windows version available.
  • G
    Posts: 1,389
    I love it when y'all talk Martian...
  • Chris
    Posts: 80
    I'm with you, G. This is like translating Greek for me...
  • msafford
    Posts: 1
    A good front-end for Lilypond that allows playback and is quite similar to Finale is Canorus:

    I'm still investigating it to see if it will support Lilypond files in chant notation :)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Thank you msafford, that looks like something I'd be quite interested in!

    As an update, I installed Ubuntu Hardy, and after no more than 14 hours of using it, I'm sick of it. It's the same frustrating software that has vexed me the past 3 or 4 times I've tried to install Linux. Seriously, why even BOTHER with a GUI if you have to do half your work in a terminal? I pretty much destroyed the whole GNOME interface trying to get the compiz cube to work. Luckily I used the Wubi install, so all I have to do is do the uninstall in Windows. Maybe I'll try again with Kubuntu, I like the look of KDE better anyway.

    And FWIW, I am NOT a computer idiot. I have been using DOS since I was 6 and programming since the same age. Linux is just too different. If you do want to help me with Finale, occasionally the MIDI driver freezes up and it stops doing playback. Any advice on that?

    To paraphrase the Rev. Jeremiah Wright: "No, not God BLESS Linus Torvalds, but God..."
  • Felipe Gasper
    Posts: 804
    msafford: Canorus looks like an answered prayer for many, when it reaches full functionality. Hopefully enough developers will hop on their bandwagon to make that a reality sooner than later. Finale and Sibelius really need an OSS alternative like is for MS Office.

    Gavin, the usability quirks you are experiencing are not a result of running Linux, but of the software that is running on top of Linux. You would experience the same difficulties running GNOME, KDE, etc. on FreeBSD. Linus Torvalds is not your enemy; all he does is write the kernel, the main piece of software that runs the system.

    Ubuntu is your enemy - which surprises and disappoints me because I have been hearing that Ubuntu is a good “user-friendly” distribution.

    I get the same MIDI issue with Finale. It’s probably something they’ll fix in a later version (if they haven’t already) and then tell you to upgrade to fix a bug that no decent software company would ever expect its users to tolerate. (PLEASE, God, let Canorus mature quickly!)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I reinstalled it, and figured out the problem. It's that stupid Compiz, which I admit I got suckered into. I just wanted to see the "cube" thing. Check out the "girlfriend test" of Ubuntu if you want to see what the problems are. I agree that Linux has a looong way to go before it's actually suitable for the general market:

    At any rate, I'll check out Canorus and Lilypad. My plan is to keep the dual-boot and maybe even partition. That way I can do games, Finale, whatever I have to in Windows but use Linux as the main OS. So far I'm not enamoured with it, and I don't see the point of all the stupid Compiz effects, but I'll keep giving it a chance. Does Gregoire, or any similar product, work in Linux?

    I do have to wonder which has more people literate in it? Chant notation or the Linux shell?
  • Felipe Gasper
    Posts: 804
    Gavin wrote:
    I do have to wonder which has more people literate in it? Chant notation or the Linux shell?

    Ok, I’ll bite and answer this very coldly and literally, which is how most I/T people would answer such a question.

    There is no such thing as the “Linux shell”. You are probably using bash, tcsh, csh, ksh, zsh, or something else similar as a command interpreter. These all run on WAAY too many operating systems to ascribe to any of them the name “Linux shell”. Moreover, many of the commands you’re typing (ls, cp, etc.) actually are compiled binaries--separate programs, not shell commands. They, likewise, also run and work identically in many operating systems.

    These operating systems are the various *NIX operating systems, including free ones like Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD, as well as commercial ones like HP/UX, AIX, MacOS, true-blue UNIX, and (until a few years ago) Solaris.

    To get at what you mean....I’d guess there are more folks who are savvy at a *NIX command line. It’s a professional skill that is useful (sometimes necessary) in any technical field, and there is a well-entrenched academic culture of *NIX-savvy computer users. When I was a college freshman, most everyone learned some sort of *NIX command line use because our email accounts ran on a Solaris cluster (which they have since replaced with dedicated appliances for email, personal web pages, and file hosting/sharing). It was very typical for John Q. Freshman to read email with PINE.

    By the way, Cygwin is a good way to learn the *NIX command line from Windows. It’s basically a POSIX emulation layer for Windows, which allows tons of programs intended originally for Linux, BSD, etc. to compile and run on Windows. and OpenSSH are perhaps the most useful programs to run - free X and SSH servers for Windows!
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I've switched over to Lilypond, but need help that I don't see on the web site: How do I have "lyrics" that are multiple words under one note, specifically for chanting?
  • Heath
    Posts: 861
    Helpful site:
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    Gavin - I believe you can use a non-breaking space to keep it from forcing you under the next note. On Windows that's a alt+0160. If you have one of those other computers, there's bound to be an equivalent.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Gavin, I'm a Lilypond user as well, for my student work. We could use this forum to post choral templates. Then all we would have to do is plop in music and text descriptions with their dynamics, articulations, and whatnot. If we post the Lily code for each piece, it then becomes trivial to transpose them in the \global block.

    The chant support in Lilypond is not strong. If find it's still much faster to use a font-based approach for that.