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hand written lead sheet

Plunging Head-first Into LilyPond

February 28th 2004

Since writing my arrangements,  I've had quite a few requests from choir directors wanting to foist them upon unsuspecting choristers.   Here I smelled an opportunity for pecuniary advancement but wasn't sure how to transform hand-penned scores and parts into a more commercial venture with potential for wider public consumption.   Then Nick,  the techie,  discovered LilyPond.

LilyPond lead sheet LilyPond is music engraving software,  written and developed by two Dutch orchestra musicians whose goal was to produce sheet music of high quality.   After seeing gorgeous,  readable typeset samples,  accompanied by many sparkling testimonials from happy LilyPond users,  I knew I must have it too.   It hardly mattered that LilyPond is a text-based musical notation package and that I,  having not a whit of computer keyboard experience,  didn't know a SHIFT-key from and ALT-key.   In addition,  we chose to use the development version of LilyPond.   I plunged head-first into the 'Pond and became a beta-tester.

It was hard getting started.   It was new.   It was strange.   Nick plowed through the manual,  set up the initial templates and looked on patiently as I stumbled into the utterly alien mindset of programming.  

I clicked and typed and whined all day,  every day for a month.   My efforts,  though,  were ultimately rewarded.   When I offered LilyPond incantations to the text editor in window 3 and ran it through the LilyPond translator in window 4,  beautiful LilyPond-engraved notes and lyrics popped out of the Ghostview in window 5.   The result was 95% magic and 5% tweaking the tweaks.

After four weeks of pure insanity,  I managed to typeset 14 lead sheets of my own jazz tunes and 3 choir arrangements,  complete with parts and conductor's score and they look pretty nice.   Not bad for a neophyte!   Thanks Han-Wen Nienhuys and Jan Nieuwenhuizen!


P.S.   Click here  if you're interested in seeing one of my jazz lead sheets (Balilli Island).    I'll soon be posting more.  

Also,  when my Choir of One CD is released,  I'll be publishing and selling the typeset arrangements for three of the CD songs.

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