Top 5 Music Notation Apps

Original article by Andrew Min published on Full circle Magazine #45, the article is specific for Ubuntu Distribution, but these software can be installed on any GNU/Linux Distro.




LilyPond is one of the best-known open-source sheet-music notation programs in the world. Created by two Dutch musicians (Han-Wen Nienhuys and Jan Nieuwenhuizen), LilyPond utilizes a powerful yet simple scripting language that includes support for notes, chords, lyrics, orchestral parts, and much more. You can also add the
composer and lyricist, majors/minors, clefs, and much more. You can then export everything to LaTeX, HTML, or (with a plugin)

To install LilyPond, use the lilypond package in the universe repository.




If you prefer using an all-in0one IDE, give LilyPondTool a try. It’s a plugin for jEdit, a Java-based coding editor. As a result, you don’t just get all of the plugin’s features (a LilyPond debugger, code completion, and macros), but all of jEdit’s (plugins, auto-indent, syntax highlighting, folding, and much more).

To install LilyPondTool, you first need to install jEdit. You can use the jedit package in the universe repository. Once you’ve installed jEdit, you have two options: you can install using jEdit’s Plugin Manager, or you can use the package hosted by Sourceforge




A lot of musicians aren’t very excited when presented by a barebones text editor and a confusing-looking scripting language. Denemo is a wonderful solution. Developed for over a decade, this program acts as a user-friendly GTK+ interface for LilyPond. You can use either a computer keyboard or a MIDI instrument to input notes. It also supports macro-like scripts and a long list of keyboard shortcuts. You can also edit existing Lilypond files, and export to PDF, MIDI, and PNG.

To install Denemo, use the denemo package in the universe repository.




If you’re a Kubuntu user, you may prefer the KDE-based NoteEdit. It also allows for most LilyPond-like layout features, lyrics, and a variety of automated tools (like automatic bar placement). You can also preview your score with a simple MIDI player and export to a long list of file formats. Plus, its format is still plaintext, so you can edit any of the files by hand if you don’t want to use the GUI.

To install NoteEdit, use the noteedit package in the universe repository.



f you want a more fully-featured package, give Rosegarden a try. It’s more of an audio sequencer, rather than a score editor; as such, it supports a long list of features. Not only does it do MIDI inputs, it also sports advanced mixing tools and synthesizers. Once you’re done mixing your music together, you can export it using a Lilypond powered engine. Everything is done through the JACK framework, so you can also integrate Rosegarden with a variety of other sound applications.

To install Rosegarden, use the rosegarden packages in the universe repository. Rosegarden comes pre-installed in Ubuntu Studio.


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