LilyPond — Usage

This file explains how to execute the programs distributed with LilyPond version 2.24.4. In addition, it suggests some “best practices” for efficient usage.

For more information about how this manual fits with the other documentation, or to read this manual in other formats, see Manuals.

If you are missing any manuals, the complete documentation can be found at

1. Running lilypond

This chapter details the technicalities of running LilyPond.

1.1 Normal usage

Most users run LilyPond through a GUI; if you have not done so already, please read the Tutorial. If you use an alternate editor to write LilyPond files, see the documentation for that program.

1.2 Command-line usage

This section contains extra information about using LilyPond on the command-line. This may be desirable to pass extra options to the program. In addition, there are certain extra ‘helper’ programs (such as midi2ly) which are only available on the command-line.

By ‘command-line’, we mean the command line in the operating system. Windows users might be more familiar with the terms ‘DOS shell’ or ‘command shell’. MacOS X users might be more familiar with the terms ‘terminal’ or ‘console’.

Describing how to use this part of an operating system is outside the scope of this manual; please consult other documentation on this topic if you are unfamiliar with the command-line.

Invoking lilypond

The lilypond executable may be called as follows from the command line.

lilypond [option]… file

When invoked with a filename that has no extension, the ‘.ly’ extension is tried first. To read input from stdin, use a dash (-) for file.

Note: On Windows prior to Windows 10 1903, LilyPond cannot handle Unicode file names.

When ‘’ is processed it produces ‘filename.pdf’ as output by default. Several files can be specified; they are each processed independently.1

If ‘’ contains more than one \book block, the rest of the scores is output in numbered files, starting with ‘filename-1.pdf’. In addition, the value of output-suffix is inserted between the basename and the number. For example, if ‘’ contains

#(define output-suffix "violin")
\score { … }
#(define output-suffix "cello")
\score { … }

LilyPond outputs ‘filename-violin.pdf’ and ‘filename-cello-1.pdf’.

Using LilyPond with standard shell features

Since LilyPond is a command line application, features of the ‘shell’ used for calling LilyPond can also be put to good use.

For example,

lilypond *.ly

processes all LilyPond files in the current directory.

Redirecting the console output (e.g., to a file) may also be useful:

lilypond 1> stdout.txt
lilypond 2> stderr.txt
lilypond &> all.txt

The above commands divert ‘normal’ output, ‘errors’ only, or ‘everything’, respectively, to text files. Consult the documentation for your particular shell, Command (Windows), Terminal or Console applications (MacOS X) to check whether output redirection is supported or if the syntax is different.

The following example searches and processes all input files in the current directory and all directories below it recursively. The output files are located in the same directory that the command was run in, rather than in the same directories as the original input files.

find . -name '*.ly' -exec lilypond '{}' \;

This should also work for MacOS X users.

A Windows user would run

forfiles /s /M *.ly /c "cmd /c lilypond @file"

entering these commands in a command prompt usually found under Start > Accessories > Command Prompt, or by typing in the search window ‘command prompt’.

Alternatively, an explicit path to the top-level of your folder containing all the sub-folders that have input files in them can be stated using the /p option;

forfiles /s /p C:\Documents\MyScores /M *.ly /c "cmd /c lilypond @file"

If there are spaces in the path to the top-level folder, then the whole path needs to be inside double quotes;

forfiles /s /p "C:\Documents\My Scores" /M *.ly /c "cmd /c lilypond @file"

Basic command line options for LilyPond

The following options are supported.

-d, --define-default=var[=val]

See Advanced command line options for LilyPond.

-e, --evaluate=expr

Evaluate the Scheme expr before parsing any ‘.ly’ files. Multiple ‘-e’ options may be given, they are evaluated sequentially.

The expression is evaluated in the guile-user module, so if you want to use a definition like (define-public a 42) as expr, use

lilypond -e '(define-public a 42)'

on the command-line, and include

#(use-modules (guile-user))

at the top of the ‘.ly’ file.

Note: Windows users must use double quotes instead of single quotes.

-E, --eps

Generate EPS files.

This option is equivalent to specifying -dseparate-page-formats=eps -dtall-page-formats=eps.

-f, --format=format

The format of the (main) output file or files. Possible values for format are ps, pdf, png or svg.

Example: lilypond -fpng

SVG internally uses a specific backend, and therefore cannot be obtained in the same run as other formats; using -fsvg or --svg is actually equivalent to using the -dbackend=svg option. See Advanced command line options for LilyPond.

-h, --help

Show a summary of usage.

-H, --header=field

Dump a header field to file ‘BASENAME.field’.

As an example, let’s assume that you have an input file ‘’ containing

\header { title = "bar" }
\score { c1 }

The command

lilypond -H title

then creates a plain text file ‘foo.title’ containing the string bar.

-i, --init=file

Set init file to file (default: ‘’).

-I, --include=directory

Append directory to the search path for input files with relative paths. By default, only the current working directory gets searched.

Multiple ‘-I’ options may be given. The search starts in the current working directory, and if the file to be included is not found the search continues in the directory given by the first ‘-I’ option, then the directory in the second ‘-I’ option, and so on.

Note: Using the tilde character (~) with the ‘-I’ switch may produce unexpected results in some shells.

Windows users need to include a trailing slash for the directory’s path.

-j, --jail=user,group,jail,dir

[This option is only available if your operating system supports the chroot functionality. In particular, Windows doesn’t support it.]

Run lilypond in a chroot jail.

The ‘--jail’ option can be used for security when LilyPond formatting is being provided via a web server, or whenever LilyPond executes commands sent by external sources (see Advanced command line options for LilyPond). Because LilyPond provides the ability to run Guile programs, it is essential in such scenarios to run it in a sandboxed way so that the file being compiled does not wreak havoc on the system, for example with

% too dangerous to write correctly
#(s ystem "rm -rf /")
% malicious but not destructive
{ c4^$(ly:gulp-file "/etc/passwd") }

--jail’ is one way to achieve sandboxing. Another one is running LilyPond in a Docker container.

The ‘--jail’ option works by changing the root of lilypond to jail just before starting the actual compilation process. The user and group are then changed to match those provided, and the current directory is changed to dir. This setup guarantees that it is not possible (at least in theory) to escape from the jail. Note that for ‘--jail’ to work, lilypond must be run as root, which is usually accomplished in a safe way using sudo.

Setting up a jail can be a relatively complex matter, as we must be sure that LilyPond is able to find whatever it needs to compile the source inside the jail itself. A typical chroot jail comprises the following steps:

Setting up a separate filesystem

A separate filesystem should be created for LilyPond, so that it can be mounted with safe options such as noexec, nodev, and nosuid. In this way, it is impossible to run executables or to write directly to a device from LilyPond. If you do not want to create a separate partition, just create a file of reasonable size and use it to mount a loop device. A separate filesystem also guarantees that LilyPond cannot write more space than it is allowed.

Setting up a separate user

A separate user and group (say, lily/lily) with low privileges should be used to run LilyPond inside the jail. There should be a single directory writable by this user, which should be passed in dir.

Preparing the jail

LilyPond needs to read a number of files while running. All these files are to be copied into the jail, under the same path they appear in the real root filesystem. The entire content of the LilyPond installation (e.g., ‘/usr/share/lilypond’) should be copied.

If problems arise, the simplest way to trace them down is to run LilyPond using strace, which allows you to determine which files are missing.

Running LilyPond

In a jail mounted with noexec it is impossible to execute any external program. Therefore LilyPond must be run with a backend that does not require any such program. As we have already mentioned, it must be run with superuser privileges (which, of course, it loses immediately), possibly using sudo. It is also good practice to limit the number of seconds of CPU time LilyPond can use (e.g., using ulimit -t), and, if your operating system supports it, the amount of memory that can be allocated. Also see LilyPond in chroot jail.

-l, --loglevel=level

Set the verbosity of the console output to level. Possible values are:


No output at all, not even error messages.


Only error messages, no warnings or progress messages.


Warnings and error messages, no progress.


Basic progress messages (success), warnings and errors.


All progress messages, warnings and errors.


Progress messages, warnings, errors and further execution information. This is the default.


All possible messages, including verbose debug output.

-o, --output=file
-o, --output=folder

Set the default output file to file or, if a folder with that name exists, direct the output to folder, taking the file name from the input file. The appropriate suffix is added (e.g., ‘.pdf’ for PDF) in both cases.

-O, --pspdfopt=key

Set the PS/PDF output optimization to key. Possible values are:


Generate a very small PS/EPS/PDF document. This is the default.

Using this value is equivalent to setting LilyPond’s Scheme command line options -dmusic-font-encodings='#f' and -dgs-never-embed-fonts='#f'.


Produce files that are optimized for inclusion in pdfTeX, LuaTeX, or XeTeX documents.

Using this value is equivalent to setting LilyPond’s Scheme command line options -dmusic-font-encodings='#t' and -dgs-never-embed-fonts='#f'.


If you want to include more than one PDF generated by LilyPond in a TeX document, use this option and postprocess the PDF generated by TeX with Ghostscript.

Using this value is equivalent to setting LilyPond’s Scheme command line options -dmusic-font-encodings='#t' and -dgs-never-embed-fonts='#t'.


Generate PostScript. This option is equivalent to -fps.


Generate pictures of each page, in PNG format. This option is equivalent to -fpng.

The resolution of the image may be set to N DPI with


Generate PDF. This is the default, being equivalent to -fpdf.

-s, --silent

Show no progress, only error messages. This is equivalent to -lERROR.


Generate SVG files for each page. This option is equivalent to -fsvg.

-v, --version

Show version information.

-V, --verbose

Be verbose: show full paths of all files read, give timing information, etc. It is equivalent to -lDEBUG.

-w, --warranty

Show the warranty with which GNU LilyPond comes. (It comes with NO WARRANTY!)

Advanced command line options for LilyPond

Option ‘-d’ is the command-line interface to LilyPond’s Scheme function ly:set-option. This means that all options listed here can also be set within ‘.ly’ files.

-d, --define-default=option-name[=value]
-d, --define-default=no-option-name

Set the equivalent internal Scheme symbol option-name to value. For example, the command-line option


is equivalent to

#(ly:set-option 'backend 'svg)

in a LilyPond input file.

If value is not supplied, use #t as the value (which might produce strange results if the expected value type is not boolean). The prefix no- may be added to option-name to switch ‘off’ an option, providing #f as the value. For example,


is the same as


[Note that the ‘#’ character introduces a comment in many shells. For this reason it is recommended to always quote expressions that contain it.]

The following table lists all supported option names together with its values. Within Scheme code, option values can be read using function ly:get-option.

anti-alias-factor num

Render at a higher resolution (using factor num, which must be a positive integer ≤8) and scale down the result to prevent ‘jaggies’ in PNG images. Default: 1.

aux-files bool

If bool is #t, create ‘.tex’, ‘.texi’, and ‘.count’ files. This option is mostly for use by lilypond-book. Default: #f.

backend symbol

Use symbol as the backend for LilyPond output. Possible values are:


This is the default setting. PostScript files include TTF, Type1, and OTF fonts. No ‘subsetting’ of these fonts is done. Be aware that using ‘oriental’ character sets like Japanese can lead to very large file sizes.

For PDF output, the ps backend is used, too; the resulting PS data is post-processed by Ghostscript’s ps2pdf script, which also does font subsetting by default.


This creates graphics output throught the Cairo library, if support was compiled in. This backend can output ps, eps, pdf, png and svg.


Scalable Vector Graphics. A single SVG file is created for every page of output. Music glyphs are encoded as vector graphics, but text fonts are not embedded in the SVG files. Any SVG viewer will therefore need the relevant text fonts to be available to it for proper rendering of both text and lyrics. It is recommended to not use font ‘lists’ or ‘aliases’ in case an SVG viewer is unable to handle them. When using Web Open Font Format (WOFF) files the additional -dsvg-woff switch is required.

clip-systems bool

If bool is #t, extract music fragments out of a score. This requires that the clip-regions function has been defined within the \layout block. See music Extracting fragments of music. No fragments are extracted though if used with the ‘-dno-print-pages’ option. Default: #f.

compile-scheme-code bool

Use the Guile compiler to run Scheme code, instead of the evaluator. For more information, see Debugging Scheme code.

crop bool

If bool is #t, a second PDF file gets created (with extension ‘.cropped.pdf’), together with a rendered image of it (with extension ‘.cropped.png’). This output file fits all the music and headers, without margins, into a single, possibly tall page. If option ‘--svg’ is set, an additional SVG file (with extension ‘.cropped.svg’) is produced instead. If option ‘--eps’ or ‘--ps’ is set, a cropped EPS file (with extension ‘.cropped.eps’) is produced instead of a cropped PDF. Default: #f.

Note that currently this option is not well suited for multi-system output since vertical space between systems gets removed.


Prefix for data files. This is a read-only option; setting it has no effect.

debug-eval bool

If bool is #t, use the debugging Scheme evaluator, which prints backtraces with line numbers on errors. Default: #f, or #t when using --verbose.

debug-skylines bool

If bool is #t, debug skylines. Default: #f.

delete-intermediate-files bool

If bool is #t, delete the unusable, intermediate ‘.ps’ files created during compilation. Default: #t.

embed-source-code bool

If bool is #t, embed the LilyPond source files inside the generated PDF document. Default: #f.

eps-box-padding num

Pad left edge of the output EPS bounding box by num millimeters. Default: #f (meaning no bounding box padding).

font-export-dir string

Set directory for exporting fonts as PostScript files to string. This is useful when you want to create a PDF without embedded fonts first and later embed the fonts with Ghostscript as shown below.

$ lilypond -dfont-export-dir=fontdir -dgs-never-embed-fonts
$ gs -q -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite \
     -sOutputFile=foo.embedded.pdf foo.pdf fontdir/*

Note: Unlike font-ps-resdir, this method cannot embed CID fonts with Ghostscript 9.26 and later.

Note: Same as font-ps-resdir, this option skips TrueType fonts because embedding TrueType fonts later causes garbled characters. To avoid garbling characters, use gs-never-embed-fonts, as this embeds TrueType fonts despite its name.

Default: #f (meaning not to export).

font-ps-resdir string

Set directory (as string) to build a subset of the PostScript resource directory to be used for embedding fonts later. This is useful when you want to create a PDF without embedded fonts first and later embed the fonts with Ghostscript as shown below.

$ lilypond -dfont-ps-resdir=resdir -dgs-never-embed-fonts
$ gs -q -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite \
     -I resdir -I resdir/Font \
     -sOutputFile=foo.embedded.pdf foo.pdf

Note: It is better not to specify the directory that contains the name ‘Resource’ because it has a special meaning when specified with the -I option for Ghostscript.

Note: Unlike font-export-dir, this method can embed CID fonts with Ghostscript 9.26 and later.

Note: Same as font-export-dir, this option skips TrueType fonts because embedding TrueType fonts later causes garbled characters. To avoid garbling characters, use gs-never-embed-fonts, as this embeds TrueType fonts despite its name.

Default: #f (meaning not to build).

gs-load-fonts bool

If bool is #t, load fonts via Ghostscript. This option makes LilyPond’s output files contain only references to all fonts, which must be resolved to real fonts in a post-processing step by Ghostscript. Default: #f.

gs-load-lily-fonts bool

If bool is #t, load LilyPond fonts via Ghostscript. This option makes LilyPond’s output files contain only references to its music fonts, which must be resolved to real fonts in a post-processing step by Ghostscript. All other fonts are still output as usual. Default: #f.

gs-never-embed-fonts bool

If bool is #t, make Ghostscript embed only TrueType fonts and no other font format. Default: #f.

help bool

If bool is #t, show this help. Default: #f.

include-book-title-preview bool

If bool is #t, include book titles in preview images. Default: #t.

include-eps-fonts bool

If bool is #t, include fonts in separate-system EPS files. Default: #t.

include-settings string

Include file string for global settings, which is included before the score is processed. Default: #f (meaning no global settings file).

job-count num

Process in parallel, using num jobs. Default: #f (meaning no parallel processing).

log-file string

Redirect output to the log file ‘string.log’. Default: #f (meaning no log file).

max-markup-depth num

Set maximum depth for the markup tree to value num. If a markup has more levels, assume it will not terminate on its own, print a warning, and return a null markup instead. Default: 1024.

midi-extension string

Set the default file extension for MIDI output files to ‘.string’. Default: "midi".

music-strings-to-paths bool

If bool is #t, convert text strings to paths when glyphs belong to a music font. Default: #f.

paper-size extra-quoted-string

Set default paper size to extra-quoted-string. Note that the string must be enclosed in escaped double quotes. Default: "\"a4\"".

pixmap-format symbol

Set Ghostscript’s output format for pixel images to symbol. Default: png16m.

png-width width
png-height height

For PNG output, set the width and height (in pixels) of the created image file. If one of the options is missing, the other dimension is computed according to the EPS bounding box, retaining the aspect ratio.

In addition to ‘--png’, either ‘--eps’, ‘-dcrop’, or ‘-dpreview’ should be used to get proper image scaling without clipping.

Option ‘-dresolution’ is ignored.

Note that there is a bug in ghostscript versions up to 9.52 for these two options: It produces empty PNG images if the height is larger than the width.

point-and-click bool

If bool is #t, add ‘point & click’ links to PDF and SVG output. See Point and click. Default: #t.

preview bool

If bool is #t, create preview images in addition to normal output. Default: #f.

For input file name file and output format fmt, it generates an output file having the name ‘file.preview.fmt’, containing the titles and the first system of music. If \book or \bookpart blocks are used, the titles of \book, \bookpart or \score will appear in the output, including the first system of every \score block if the \paper variable print-all-headers is set to #t.

To suppress the usual output, use the ‘-dprint-pages’ or ‘-dno-print-pages’ options according to your requirements.

print-pages bool

If bool is #t, generate full pages. Default: #t.

Option ‘-dno-print-pages’ is useful in combination with ‘-dpreview’ or ‘-dcrop’.

protected-scheme-parsing bool

If bool is #t, continue when errors in inline Scheme code are caught in the parser. If set to #f, halt on errors and print a stack trace. Default: #t.

relative-includes bool

When processing an \include command, look for the included file relative to the current file if bool is #t. If set to #f, look for the file relative to the root file. Default: #t.

resolution num

Set resolution for generating PNG pixmaps to num dpi. Default: 101.

separate-log-files bool

For input files ‘’, ‘’, …, output log data to files ‘file1.log’, ‘file2.log’, …, if bool is #t. Default: #f.

separate-page-formats symbol

Comma-separated list of formats (svg, pdf, png, or eps) to use for the separate page images in lilypond-book.

show-available-fonts bool

If bool is #t, list available font names as delivered by the fontconfig library. Appended to this list LilyPond displays the configuration settings of fontconfig itself. Default: #f.

strip-output-dir bool

If bool is #t, don’t use the directory part from input file paths while constructing output file names. Default: #t.

strokeadjust bool

If bool is #t, force PostScript stroke adjustment. This option is mostly relevant when a PDF is generated from PostScript output (stroke adjustment is usually enabled automatically for low-resolution bitmap devices). Without this option, PDF previewers tend to produce widely inconsistent stem widths at resolutions typical for screen display. However, the option does not noticeably affect print quality and causes large file size increases in PDF files. Default: #f.

svg-woff bool

This option is required when using Web Open Font Format (WOFF) font files with the svg backend. If bool is #t, a single SVG file is created for every page of output. Apart from LilyPond’s own music glyphs, no other font information will be included. Any SVG viewer will therefore require the fonts be available to it for the proper rendering of both text and lyrics. It is also recommended not to use any font ‘aliases’ or ‘lists’ in case the SVG viewer cannot handle them. Default: #f.

tall-page-formats symbol

Comma-separated list of formats (svg, pdf, png, or eps) to use for the ‘tall page’ image in lilypond-book.

use-paper-size-for-page bool

If bool is #t (the default), each page is set to the paper size, possibly cropping parts that extend beyond the paper. Setting it #f will resize the page to contain the content as necessary.


Verbosity level. This is a read-only option; setting it has no effect.

warning-as-error bool

If bool is #t, change all warning and ‘programming error’ messages into errors. Default: #f.

Environment variables

lilypond recognizes the following environment variables:


This specifies a directory where locale messages and data files are looked up by default, overriding locations defined either at compile-time or computed dynamically at run-time (see Relocation). The directory should contain subdirectories called ‘ly’, ‘ps’, ‘tex’, etc.


Specify the directory where locale-specific files are located. This overrides the value derived from LILYPOND_DATADIR.


Specify the directory where relocation files are located. This overrides the value derived from the location of the lilypond binary.


The language for LilyPond data sent to stdout and stderr, for example progress reports, warning messages, or debug output. Example: LANG=de.


The default loglevel. If LilyPond is called without an explicit loglevel (i.e., no ‘--loglevel’ command line option), this value is used.


A variable, as a percentage, that tunes memory management behavior. A higher values means the program uses more memory, a smaller value means more CPU time is used. The default value is 70.


This specifies the temporary directory in GNU/Linux and Mac. Default is ‘/tmp’. It is the directory where intermediate files (such as PostScript files) are saved during compilation. Overriding this variable might be useful, for example, if the user running lilypond does not have write access to the default temporary directory. Example: TMPDIR=~/foo.


Most programs in the Unix world use default directories for its data that are determined at configure time before compilation. LilyPond is no exception; for example, a typical installation puts the ‘lilypond’ binary into ‘/usr/bin’ and all files specific to LilyPond into subdirectories of ‘/usr/share/lilypond/2.21.0/’ (assuming that the current version is 2.21.0).

While this approach works fine for manual compilation and platforms that come with standardized package managers, it can cause issues where such managers are not common or not used by default. Typical examples of such platforms are Windows and MacOS, where users expect that application bundles can be installed anywhere.

The common solution to this problem is relocation support: Instead of using hard-coded paths to data files, locations of the necessary support files are computed at run time relative to the executed binary.

Relocation files

There’s actually a second mechanism for run-time configuration: LilyPond heavily relies on external programs and libraries, in particular the ‘FontConfig’ and ‘GUILE’ libraries to find system fonts and handle Scheme files, respectively, and the gs program to convert PS data to PDF files. All of them must be configured also to locate its relevant data files. To do that, the lilypond program parses all files in a directory called ‘relocate’ (if it exists; see below where this directory is searched for) to manipulate environment variables, which in turn control those external libraries and programs. The format of such relocation files is simple; each line has the syntax

command key=value

and empty lines get ignored.

The command directive is one of the following.


Uncondionally set environment variable key to value. This overrides a previously set value.


Set environment variable key to value only if key isn’t defined yet. In other words, it doesn’t override a previously set value.


If value is a directory, unconditionally set environent variable key to value. Otherwise, emit a warning.


If value is a file, unconditionally set environent variable key to value. Otherwise, emit a warning.


Prepend directory value to the list of directories in environment variable key. If key doesn’t exist it gets created.

Environment variables (marked with a leading dollar sign) are allowed in value and get expanded before the directive is executed.

Here are two examples of relocation file entries.

set? FONTCONFIG_FILE=$INSTALLER_PREFIX/etc/fonts/fonts.conf
prependdir GUILE_LOAD_PATH=$INSTALLER_PREFIX/share/guile/1.8

Multiple lines setting the same environment variable should be avoided in relocation files since the parsing order of files in the ‘relocate’ directory is arbitrary.

Relocation algorithm

LilyPond uses the following algorithm to find its data files.

  1. Compute the directory where the currently executed lilypond binary is located. Let’s call this bindir. Set (internal) environment variable INSTALLER_PREFIX to ‘bindir/..’ (i.e., the parent directory of bindir).
  2. Check environment variable LILYPOND_DATADIR. If it is set, use its value for LilyPond’s data directory, datadir. Otherwise use either ‘$INSTALLER_PREFIX/share/lilypond/version’ (with version being the current LilyPond version) or ‘$INSTALLER_PREFIX/share/lilypond/current’.
  3. Check environment variable LILYPOND_LOCALEDIR. If it is set, use its value for LilyPond’s locale data directory, localedir. Otherwise use ‘$INSTALLER_PREFIX/share/locale’.
  4. Check environment variable LILYPOND_RELOCDIR. If it is set, use its value for the directory of LilyPond’s relocation files, relocdir. Otherwise use ‘$INSTALLER_PREFIX/etc/relocate’.
  5. If datadir doesn’t exist, use a compile-time value instead. Ditto for localedir (but not for relocdir, since it doesn’t make sense to have that).
  6. If relocdir exists, process all files in this directory as described in Relocation files.

LilyPond in chroot jail

Setting up the server to run LilyPond in a chroot jail is a complicated task. The steps are listed below. Examples in the steps are from Ubuntu GNU/Linux, and may require the use of sudo as appropriate.

Example script for 32-bit Ubuntu 8.04

## defaults set here

# the prefix (without the leading slash!)
# the directory where lilypond is installed on the system

adduser $username
dd if=/dev/zero of=$loopfile bs=1k count=200000
mkdir $jaildir
losetup $loopdevice $loopfile
mkfs -t ext3 $loopdevice 200000
mount -t ext3 $loopdevice $jaildir
mkdir $jaildir/lilyhome
chown $username $jaildir/lilyhome
cd $jaildir

mkdir -p bin usr/bin usr/share usr/lib usr/share/fonts $lilyprefix tmp
chmod a+w tmp

cp -r -L $lilydir $lilyprefix
cp -L /bin/sh /bin/rm bin
cp -L /usr/bin/convert /usr/bin/gs usr/bin
cp -L /usr/share/fonts/truetype usr/share/fonts

# Now the library copying magic
for i in "$lilydir/usr/bin/lilypond" "$lilydir/usr/bin/guile" "/bin/sh"  \
  "/bin/rm" "/usr/bin/gs" "/usr/bin/convert"; do ldd $i | sed 's/.*=>  \
    \/\(.*\/\)\([^(]*\).*/mkdir -p \1 \&\& cp -L \/\1\2 \1\2/' | sed  \
      's/\t\/\(.*\/\)\(.*\) (.*)$/mkdir -p \1 \&\& cp -L \/\1\2 \1\2/'  \
        | sed '/.*=>.*/d'; done | sh -s

# The shared files for Ghostscript...
      cp -L -r /usr/share/ghostscript usr/share
# The shared files for ImageMagick
      cp -L -r /usr/lib/ImageMagick* usr/lib

### Now, assuming that you have in /mnt/lilyloop/lilyhome,
### you should be able to run:
### Note that /$lilyprefix/bin/lilypond is a script, which sets the
### LD_LIBRARY_PATH - this is crucial
      /$lilyprefix/bin/lilypond -jlily,lily,/mnt/lilyloop,/lilyhome

1.3 Error messages

Different error messages can appear while compiling a file:


Something looks suspect. If you are requesting something out of the ordinary then you will understand the message, and can ignore it. However, warnings usually indicate that something is wrong with the input file.


Something is definitely wrong. The current processing step (parsing, interpreting, or formatting) will be finished, but the next step will be skipped.

Fatal error

Something is definitely wrong, and LilyPond cannot continue. This happens rarely. The most usual cause is misinstalled fonts.

Scheme error

Errors that occur while executing Scheme code are caught by the Scheme interpreter. If running with the verbose option (‘-V’ or ‘--verbose’) then a call trace of the offending function call is printed.

Programming error

There was some internal inconsistency. These error messages are intended to help the programmers and debuggers. Usually, they can be ignored. Sometimes, they come in such big quantities that they obscure other output.

Aborted (core dumped)

This signals a serious programming error that caused the program to crash. Such errors are considered critical. If you stumble on one, send a bug-report.

If warnings and errors can be linked to some part of the input file, then error messages have the following form

filename:lineno:columnno: message
offending input line

A line-break is inserted in the offending line to indicate the column where the error was found. For example, error: not a duration: 5
  { c'4 e'
           5 g' }

These locations are LilyPond’s best guess about where the warning or error occurred, but (by their very nature) warnings and errors occur when something unexpected happens. If you can’t see an error in the indicated line of your input file, try checking one or two lines above the indicated position.

Please note that diagnostics can be triggered at any point during the many stages of processing. For example if there are parts of the input that are processed multiple times (i.e., in midi and layout output), or if the same music variable is used in multiple contexts the same message may appear several times. Diagnostics produced at a ‘late’ stage (i.e., bar checks) might also be issued multiple times.

More information about errors is given in Common errors.

1.4 Common errors

The error conditions described below occur often, yet the cause is not obvious or easily found. Once seen and understood, they are easily handled.

Music runs off the page

Music running off the page over the right margin or appearing unduly compressed is almost always due to entering an incorrect duration on a note, causing the final note in a measure to extend over the bar line. It is not invalid if the final note in a measure does not end on the automatically entered bar line, as the note is simply assumed to carry over into the next measure. But if a long sequence of such carry-over measures occurs the music can appear compressed or may flow off the page because automatic line breaks can be inserted only at the end of complete measures, i.e., where all notes end before or at the end of the measure.

Note: An incorrect duration can cause line breaks to be inhibited, leading to a line of highly compressed music or music which flows off the page.

The incorrect duration can be found easily if bar checks are used, see Bar and bar number checks.

If you actually intend to have a series of such carry-over measures you will need to insert an invisible bar line where you want the line to break. For details, see Bar lines.

An extra staff appears

If contexts are not created explicitly with \new or \context, they will be silently created as soon as a command is encountered which cannot be applied to an existing context. In simple scores the automatic creation of contexts is useful, and most of the examples in the LilyPond manuals take advantage of this simplification. But occasionally the silent creation of contexts can give rise to unexpected new staves or scores. For example, it might be expected that the following code would cause all note heads within the following staff to be colored red, but in fact it results in two staves with the note heads remaining the default black in the lower staff.

\override Staff.NoteHead.color = #red
\new Staff { a' }

[image of music]

This is because a Staff context does not exist when the override is processed, so one is implicitly created and the override is applied to it, but then the \new Staff command creates another, separate, staff into which the notes are placed. The correct code to color all note heads red is

\new Staff {
  \override Staff.NoteHead.color = #red

[image of music]

Error message Unbound variable %

This error message will appear at the bottom of the console output or log file together with a “GUILE signalled an error …” message every time a Scheme routine is called which (invalidly) contains a LilyPond rather than a Scheme comment.

LilyPond comments begin with a percent sign, (%), and must not be used within Scheme routines. Scheme comments begin with a semi-colon, (;).

Error message FT_Get_Glyph_Name

This error messages appears in the console output or log file if an input file contains a non-ASCII character and was not saved in UTF-8 encoding. For details, see Text encoding.

Warning staff affinities should only decrease

This warning can appear if there are no staves in the printed output, for example if there are just a ChordName context and a Lyrics context as in a lead sheet. The warning messages can be avoided by making one of the contexts behave as a staff by inserting

\override VerticalAxisGroup.staff-affinity = ##f

at its start. For details, see “Spacing of non-staff lines” in Flexible vertical spacing within systems.

Error message unexpected \new

A \score block must contain a single music expression. If instead it contains several \new Staff, \new StaffGroup or similar contexts introduced with \new without them being enclosed in either curly brackets, { … }, or double angle brackets, << … >>, like this:

\score {
  % Invalid! Generates error: syntax error, unexpected \new
  \new Staff { … }
  \new Staff { … }

the error message will be produced.

To avoid the error, enclose all the \new statements in curly or double angle brackets.

Using curly brackets will introduce the \new statements sequentially:

\score {
    \new Staff { a' a' a' a' }
    \new Staff { g' g' g' g' }

[image of music]

but more likely you should be using double angle brackets so the new staves are introduced in parallel, i.e., simultaneously:

\score {
    \new Staff { a' a' a' a' }
    \new Staff { g' g' g' g' }

[image of music]

Warning this voice needs a \voiceXx or \shiftXx setting

If notes from two different voices with stems in the same direction occur at the same musical moment, but the voices have no voice-specific shifts specified, the warning message ‘warning: this voice needs a \voiceXx or \shiftXx setting’ will appear when compiling the LilyPond file. This warning will appear even when the notes have no visible stems, e.g., whole notes, if the stems for shorter notes at the same pitch would be in the same direction.

Remember that the stem direction depends on the position of the note on the staff unless the stem direction is specified, for example by using \voiceOne, etc. In this case the warning will appear only when the stems happen to be in the same direction, i.e., when the notes are in the same half of the staff.

By placing the notes in voices with stem directions and shifts specified, for example by using \voiceOne, etc., these warnings may be avoided.

Notes in higher numbered voices, \voiceThree, etc., are automatically shifted to avoid clashing note columns. This causes a visible shift for notes with stems, but whole notes are not visibly shifted unless an actual clash of the note heads occurs, or when the voices cross over from their natural order (when \voiceThree is higher than \voiceOne, etc.).

See also

Explicitly instantiating voices, Real music example, Single-staff polyphony, Collision resolution.

2. Updating files with convert-ly

As LilyPond is improved, the syntax (input language) of some commands and functions can change. This can result in unexpected errors, warnings or even wrong output when input files, previously created for older versions of LilyPond are then used with later versions.

To help with this the convert-ly command can be used to upgrade these older input files to use the newer syntax.

2.1 Why does the syntax change?

Often, syntax changes are made to make the input simpler to both read and write, but occasionally the changes are made to accommodate new features or enhancements to existing functions.

To illustrate this here is a real example:

All \paper and \layout property names were supposed to be written in the form first-second-third. However, in LilyPond version 2.11.60, it was noticed that the printallheaders property did not follow this convention. Should this property be left alone (confusing new users with an inconsistent format)? Or should it be changed (annoying old users with existing LilyPond input files)?

The decision was made to change the name of the property to print-all-headers, and by using the convert-ly command the old users had a way to automatically update their existing input files.

However, the convert-ly command cannot always be used to manage all syntax changes. In versions of LilyPond before 2.4.2, accents and non-English characters were entered using standard LaTeX notation. For example the French word for ‘Christmas’ was entered as No\"el. But in LilyPond 2.6 onwards, the special ë must be entered directly as a UTF-8 character. The convert-ly command cannot change LaTeX special characters into UTF-8 characters, so older LilyPond input files have to edited manually.

The conversion rules of the convert-ly command work using text pattern-matching and replacement (rather than ‘understanding’ the context of what it is changing within a given input file). This has several consequences:

2.2 Invoking convert-ly

The convert-ly command uses the \version number in the input file to detect older versions. In most cases, to upgrade your input file it is sufficient just to run;

convert-ly -e

in the directory containing the input file. This will upgrade ‘’ in-place and preserve the original file by renaming it ‘’. The \version number in the upgraded input file, along with any required syntax updates, is also changed.

When run, the convert-ly command will output the version numbers of which conversions have been made to. If no version numbers are listed in the output for the file, it is already up to date and using the latest LilyPond syntax.

Note: For each new version of LilyPond, a new convert-ly command is created, however not every version of LilyPond will need syntax changes for its input files from the version before. This means that the convert-ly command will only convert input files up to the latest syntax change it has and this, in turn, may mean that the \version number left in the upgraded input file is sometimes earlier than the version of convert-ly command itself.

To convert all input files in a single directory use;

convert-ly -e *.ly

Linux and MacOS X users can both use the appropriate terminal application, but MacOS X users can also execute this command directly under the menu entry Compile > Update syntax.

A Windows user would run the command; -e *.ly

entering these commands in a command prompt usually found under Start > Accessories > Command Prompt or for version 8 users, by typing in the search window ‘command prompt’.

To convert all input files that reside in different sets of subdirectories;

find . -name '*.ly' -exec convert-ly -e '{}' \;

This example searches and converts all input files in the current directory and all directories below it recursively. The converted files will be located in the same directory along with their renamed originals. This should also work for MacOS X users, although only via the terminal app.

Windows user would use;

forfiles /s /M *.ly /c "cmd /c -e @file"

Alternatively, an explicit path to the top-level of your folder containing all the sub-folders that have input files in them can be stated using the /p option;

forfiles /s /p C:\Documents\MyScores /M *.ly /c "cmd /c -e @file"

If there are spaces in the path to the top-level folder, then the whole path needs to be inside double quotes;

forfiles /s /p "C:\Documents\My Scores" /M *.ly /c "cmd /c -e @file"

2.3 Command line options for convert-ly

The program is invoked as follows:

convert-ly [option]… filename

The following options can be given:

-d, --diff-version-update

increase the \version string only if the file has actually been changed. In that case, the version header will correspond to the version after the last actual change. An unstable version number will be rounded up to the next stable version number unless that would exceed the target version number. Without this option, the version will instead reflect the last attempted conversion.

-e, --edit

Apply the conversions direct to the input file, modifying it in-place. The original file is renamed as ‘’. This backup file may be a hidden file on some operating systems. Alternatively, if you want to specify a different name for the upgraded file without using the -e options default ~ appended to the old input file, the output can be redirected instead;

convert-ly >

Windows user would use; >
-b, --backup-numbered

When used with the ‘-e’ option, number the backup files so that no previous version is overwritten. The backup files may be hidden on some operating systems.

-f, --from=from-patchlevel

Set the version to convert from. If this is not set, convert-ly will guess this, on the basis of \version strings in the file. E.g. ‘--from=2.10.25

-h, --help

Print usage help.

-l loglevel, --loglevel=loglevel

Set the output verbosity to loglevel. Possible values, in upper case, are PROGRESS (the default), NONE, WARNING, ERROR and DEBUG.

-n, --no-version

Normally, convert-ly adds a \version indicator to the output. Specifying this option suppresses this.

-s, --show-rules

Show all known conversions and exit.

-t, --to=to-patchlevel

Explicitly set which \version to convert to, otherwise the default is the most current value. It must be higher than the starting version.

convert-ly --to=2.14.1

To upgrade LilyPond fragments in texinfo files, use

convert-ly --from=… --to=… --no-version *.itely

To see the changes in the LilyPond syntax between two versions, use

convert-ly --from=… --to=… -s

2.4 Problems running convert-ly

When running convert-ly in a Command Prompt window under Windows on a file which has spaces in the filename or in the path to it, it is necessary to surround the entire input file name with three (!) sets of double quotes:

convert-ly """D:/My Scores/""" > "D:/My Scores/new"

If the simple convert-ly -e *.ly command fails because the expanded command line becomes too long, the convert-ly command may be placed in a loop instead. This example for UNIX will upgrade all ‘.ly’ files in the current directory

for f in *.ly; do convert-ly -e $f; done;

In the Windows Command Prompt window the corresponding command is

for %x in (*.ly) do convert-ly -e """%x"""

Not all language changes are handled. Only one output option can be specified. Automatically updating scheme and LilyPond scheme interfaces is quite unlikely; be prepared to tweak scheme code manually.

2.5 Manual conversions

In theory, a program like convert-ly could handle any syntax change. After all, a computer program interprets the old version and the new version, so another computer program can translate one file into another2.

However, the LilyPond project has limited resources: not all conversions are performed automatically. Below is a list of known problems.

 Doesn't always convert figured bass correctly, specifically things like {<
>}.  Mats' comment on working around this:
   To be able to run convert-ly
   on it, I first replaced all occurrences of '{<' to some dummy like '{#'
   and similarly I replaced '>}' with '&}'.  After the conversion, I could
   then change back from '{ #' to '{ <' and from '& }' to '> }'.
 Doesn't convert all text markup correctly.  In the old markup syntax,
 it was possible to group a number of markup commands together within
parentheses, e.g.
   -#'((bold italic) "string")
   This will incorrectly be converted into
   -\markup{{\bold italic} "string"}
   instead of the correct
   -\markup{\bold \italic "string"}
 Doesn't handle \partCombine
 Doesn't do \addlyrics => \lyricsto, this breaks some scores with multiple
 \magnify isn't changed to \fontsize.
    - \magnify #m => \fontsize #f, where f = 6ln(m)/ln(2)
 remove-tag isn't changed.
    - \applyMusic #(remove-tag '. . .) => \keepWithTag #'. . .
 first-page-number isn't changed.
    - first-page-number no => print-first-page-number = ##f
 Line breaks in header strings aren't converted.
    - \\\\  as line break in \header strings => \markup \center-align <
      "First Line" "Second Line" >
 Crescendo and decrescendo terminators aren't converted.
    - \rced => \!
    - \rc => \!
 \turnOff (used in \set Staff.VoltaBracket = \turnOff) is not properly
 \markup{ \center-align <{ ... }> } should be converted to:
 \markup{ \center-align {\line { ... }} }
 but now, \line is missing.
 Special LaTeX characters such as $~$ in text are not converted to UTF8.
 \score{} must now begin with a music expression.  Anything else
 (particularly \header{}) must come after the music.

2.6 Writing code to support multiple versions

In some cases, especially when writing library code it is desirable to support multiple LilyPond versions across breaking syntax changes. To do this alternative portions of code can be wrapped into conditional expressions depending on the currently executed LilyPond version. The Scheme function ly:version? expects a comparison operator op and a reference version ver passed as a list of integers with up to three elements. Missing elements are ignored so '(2 20) is equivalent to any version of the 2.20 line of versions. Constructs like the following are possible:

  ((ly:version? > '(2 20))
   (ly:message "This is code to run for LilyPond after 2.20"))
  ((ly:version? = '(2 19 57))
   (ly:message "This will only be executed with LilyPond 2.19.57"))
  (else (ly:message "This will be executed in any other version")))

Usually this will be integrated in library functions to allow alternative syntax to be used, but it is also possible to use the comparison directly within the music like in the following example:

  c' d' e' f'
  #(if (ly:version? = '(2 21))
       #{ \override NoteHead.color = #red #}
       #{ \override NoteHead.color = #blue #})
  g' a' b' c''

Note: This function has been introduced in LilyPond 2.21.80, so it is not possible to compare with versions earlier than that.

3. Running lilypond-book

If you want to add pictures of music to a document, you can simply do it the way you would do with other types of pictures. The pictures are created separately, yielding PostScript output or PNG images, and those are included into a LaTeX or HTML document.

lilypond-book provides a way to automate this process: This program extracts snippets of music from your document, runs lilypond on them, and outputs the document with pictures substituted for the music. The line width and font size definitions for the music are adjusted to match the layout of your document.

This is a separate program from lilypond itself, and is run on the command line; for more information, see Command-line usage.

This procedure may be applied to LaTeX, HTML, Texinfo or DocBook documents.

3.1 An example of a musicological document

Some texts contain music examples. These texts are musicological treatises, songbooks, or manuals like this. Such texts can be made by hand, simply by importing a PostScript figure into the word processor. However, there is an automated procedure to reduce the amount of work involved in HTML, LaTeX, Texinfo and DocBook documents.

A script called lilypond-book will extract the music fragments, format them, and put back the resulting notation. Here we show a small example for use with LaTeX. The example also contains explanatory text, so we will not comment on it further.




Documents for \verb+lilypond-book+ may freely mix music and text.
For example,

\relative {
  c'2 e2 \tuplet 3/2 { f8 a b } a2 e4

Options are put in brackets.

  c'4 f16

Larger examples can be put into a separate file, and introduced with


(If needed, replace @file{} by any @file{.ly} file
you put in the same directory as this file.)



Save the code above to a file called ‘lilybook.lytex’, then in a terminal run

lilypond-book --output=out --pdf lilybook.lytex
lilypond-book (GNU LilyPond) 2.24.4 
Reading lilybook.lytex...
…lots of stuff deleted…
Compiling lilybook.tex...
cd out
pdflatex lilybook
…lots of stuff deleted…
xpdf lilybook
(replace xpdf by your favorite PDF viewer)

Running lilypond-book and latex creates a lot of temporary files, which would clutter up the working directory. To remedy this, use the ‘--output=dir’ option. It will create the files in a separate subdirectory ‘dir’.

Finally the result of the LaTeX example shown above.3 This finishes the tutorial section.


Documents for lilypond-book may freely mix music and text. Using Texinfo syntax, this example

\relative {
  c'2 e2 \tuplet 3/2 { f8 a b } a2 e4
@end lilypond


[image of music]

Options to control the appearance of snippets can be added, too. Using LaTeX syntax, this example

\begin{lilypond}[fragment, quote, staffsize=26]
c'4 f16


[image of music]

Larger music snippets can be put into separate files. Using HTML syntax, this example

<lilypondfile quote noindent>


[image of music]

If a tagline is required, either default or custom, the entire snippet must be enclosed in a \book { } construct.

\book {
  \header { title = "A scale in LilyPond" }

  \relative { c' d e f g a b c }

[image of music]

3.2 Integrating music and text

Here we explain in detail how to integrate LilyPond with various output formats.

3.2.1 LaTeX

LaTeX is the de-facto standard for publishing layouts in the exact sciences. It is built on top of the TeX typesetting engine, providing the best typography available anywhere.

See The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX for an overview on how to use LaTeX.

lilypond-book provides the following commands and environments to include music in LaTeX files:

In the input file, music is specified with any of the following commands:



\lilypond[options,go,here]{ YOUR LILYPOND CODE }



Additionally, \lilypondversion displays the current version of LilyPond. Running lilypond-book yields a file that can be further processed with LaTeX.

We show some examples here. The lilypond environment

  c'4 d' e' f' g'2 g'


[image of music]

The short version

\lilypond[quote,fragment,staffsize=11]{<c' e' g'>}


[image of music]

The default line width of the music is computed by examining the commands in the document preamble (this is, the part of the document before \begin{document}). The lilypond-book command sends these to LaTeX to find out how wide the text is. The line width for music fragments is then adjusted to the text width. Note that this heuristic algorithm can fail easily; in such cases it is necessary to use the line-width music fragment option.

Each snippet calls the following macros if they have been defined by the user:

Selected Snippets

Sometimes it is useful to display music elements (such as ties and slurs) as if they continued after the end of the fragment. This can be done by breaking the staff and suppressing inclusion of the rest of the LilyPond output.

In LaTeX, define \betweenLilyPondSystem in such a way that inclusion of other systems is terminated once the required number of systems are included. Since \betweenLilyPondSystem is first called after the first system, including only the first system is trivial.


  c'1\( e'( c'~ \break c' d) e f\)

If a greater number of systems is requested, a TeX conditional must be used before \endinput. In this example, replace value 2 by the number of systems you want in the output.


(Since \endinput immediately stops the processing of the current input file we need \expandafter to delay the call of \endinput after executing \fi so that the \if...-\fi clause is balanced.)

Remember that the definition of \betweenLilyPondSystem is effective until the current group is finished (such as the LaTeX environment) or is overridden by another definition (which it is, in most cases, for the rest of the document). To reset your definition, write


in your LaTeX source.

This may be simplified by defining a TeX macro


and then saying only how many systems you want before each fragment,


See also

There are specific lilypond-book command line options and other details to know when processing LaTeX documents, see Invoking lilypond-book.

3.2.2 Texinfo

Texinfo is the standard format for documentation of the GNU project. An example of a Texinfo document is this manual. The HTML, PDF, and Info versions of the manual are made from the Texinfo document.

lilypond-book provides the following commands and environments to include music in Texinfo files:

In the input file, music is specified with any of the following commands

@end lilypond

@lilypond[options,go,here]{ YOUR LILYPOND CODE }



Additionally, @lilypondversion displays the current version of LilyPond.

When lilypond-book is run on it, this results in a Texinfo file (with extension ‘.texi’) containing @image tags for HTML, Info and printed output. lilypond-book generates images of the music in EPS and PDF formats for use in the printed output, and in PNG format for use in HTML and Info output.

We show some examples here. The lilypond environment

  c'4 d' e' f' g'2 g'
@end lilypond


[image of music]

The short version

@lilypond[quote,fragment,staffsize=11]{<c' e' g'>}


[image of music]

See also

There are specific lilypond-book command line options and other details to know when processing Texinfo documents, see Invoking lilypond-book.

3.2.3 HTML

lilypond-book provides the following commands and environments to include music in HTML files:

In the input file, music is specified with any of the following commands:

<lilypond options go here>

<lilypond options go here: YOUR LILYPOND CODE />

<lilypondfile options go here>filename</lilypondfile>

<musicxmlfile options go here>filename</musicxmlfile>

Additionally, <lilypondversion/> displays the current version of LilyPond.

We show some examples here. The lilypond environment

<lilypond quote fragment staffsize=26>
  c'4 d' e' f' g'2 g'


[image of music]

The short version

<lilypond quote fragment staffsize=11: <c' e' g'> />


[image of music]

See also

There are specific lilypond-book command line options and other details to know when processing HTML documents, see Invoking lilypond-book.

3.2.4 DocBook

For inserting LilyPond snippets it is good to keep the conformity of DocBook documents, allowing the use of DocBook editors, validation, etc. For this reason no custom tags are provided, only specifying conventions based on standard DocBook elements.

Common conventions

For inserting all types of snippets we use the mediaobject and inlinemediaobject elements to format snippets inline or not inline, respectively. The snippet formatting options are always provided in the role property of the innermost element (see next sections). Tags are chosen to allow DocBook editors format the content gracefully. The DocBook files to be processed with lilypond-book should have the extension ‘.lyxml’.

Including a LilyPond file

This is the simplest case. We must use the ‘.ly’ extension for the included file and insert it as a standard imageobject, with the following structure:

    <imagedata fileref=""
               role="printfilename" />

Note that you can use mediaobject or inlinemediaobject as the outermost element as you wish.

Including LilyPond code

Including LilyPond code is possible by using a programlisting environment where the language is set to lilypond, with the following structure:

    <programlisting language="lilypond"
                    role="fragment verbatim staffsize=16
                          ragged-right relative=2">
\context Staff \with {
  \remove Time_signature_engraver
  \remove Clef_engraver}
  { c4( fis) }

As you can see, the outermost element is a mediaobject or inlinemediaobject, and there is a textobject containing the programlisting inside.

Processing the DocBook document

Running lilypond-book on a ‘.lyxml’ file creates a valid DocBook document (with extension ‘.xml’) to be further processed. If you use dblatex, it creates a PDF file from this document automatically. For HTML (HTML Help, JavaHelp, etc.) generation you can use the official DocBook XSL stylesheets; however, it is possible that you have to make some customization for it.

3.3 Music fragment options

In the following, a ‘LilyPond command’ refers to any command described in the previous sections which is handled by lilypond-book to produce a music snippet. For simplicity, LilyPond commands are only shown in LaTeX syntax.

Note that the option string is parsed from left to right; if an option occurs multiple times, the last one is taken.

The following options are available for LilyPond commands:


Set staff size to ht, which is measured in points.


Produce ragged-right lines with natural spacing, i.e., ragged-right = ##t is added to the LilyPond snippet. Single-line snippets will always be typeset by default as ragged-right, unless noragged-right is explicitly given.


For single-line snippets, allow the staff length to be stretched to equal that of the line width, i.e., ragged-right = ##f is added to the LilyPond snippet.


Set line width to size (expressed in unit). unit is one of the following: cm, mm, in, pt, or bp. This option affects LilyPond output (that is, the staff length of the music fragment), not the text layout.

If used without an argument, set line width to a default value (as computed with a heuristic algorithm).

If no line-width option is given, lilypond-book tries to guess a default for lilypond environments which don’t use the ragged-right option.


Set paper size to string (for example a5 or letter) for music fragments that use \book. See Predefined paper sizes for a list of available paper sizes.

This option affects LilyPond output (that is, the paper size of the music fragment), not the text layout. Unknown values of string are ignored: a warning is emitted and the snippet is printed using the default a4 size.


Set paper width to size (expressed in unit) for music fragments that use \book. unit is one of the following: cm, mm, in, pt, or bp.

This option affects LilyPond output (that is, the paper width of the music fragment), not the text layout. If set, it overrides option ‘papersize’ if given. If option ‘paper-height’ is not specified, the paper height is set to the default A4 paper height (296mm).


Set paper height to size (expressed in unit) for music fragments that use \book. unit is one of the following: cm, mm, in, pt, or bp.

This option affects LilyPond output (that is, the paper height of the music fragment), not the text layout. If set, it overrides option ‘papersize’ if given. If option ‘paper-width’ is not specified, the paper width is set to the default A4 paper width (210mm).


\lilypond[paper-width=10\cm, paper-height=57\mm]{
  \book {

Do not print the time signature and turn off the timing (time signature, bar lines) in the score.


Make lilypond-book add some boilerplate code so that you can simply enter, say,


without \layout, \score, etc.


Do not add additional code to complete LilyPond code in music snippets. Since this is the default, nofragment is redundant normally.


Set up snippet for inline use, that is, to be typeset within a paragraph. The snippet itself is formatted with a very small left padding (approximately the same as the right padding), ignoring the value given by the command line option ‘--left-padding’.

For Texinfo output, it suppresses the insertion of a blank line before and after the snippet. For HTML output, it suppresses the insertion of <p> before and </p> after the snippet.

To actually make a snippet appear inline in LaTeX and Texinfo mode, it is necessary to position it within a paragraph, avoiding an empty line before and after the snippet. For example

The motive
  { \time 2/4 r8 g'[ g' g'] | es'2 }
is widely known.


The motive [image of music] is widely known.


Set indentation of the first music system to size (expressed in unit). unit is one of the following: cm, mm, in, pt, or bp. This option affects LilyPond, not the text layout.


Set indentation of the first music system to zero. This option affects LilyPond, not the text layout. Since no indentation is the default, noindent is redundant normally.


Reduce line length of a music snippet by 2*0.4in and put the output into a quotation block. The value ‘0.4in’ can be controlled with the exampleindent option.


Set the amount by which the quote option indents a music snippet.


Use relative octave mode. By default, notes are specified relative to middle C. The optional integer argument specifies the octave of the starting note, where the default 1 is middle C. relative option only works when fragment option is set, so fragment is automatically implied by relative, regardless of the presence of any (no)fragment option in the source.

LilyPond also uses lilypond-book to produce its own documentation. To do that, some more obscure music fragment options are available.


The argument of a LilyPond command is copied to the output file and enclosed in a verbatim block, followed by any text given with the intertext option (not implemented yet); then the actual music is displayed. This option does not work well with \lilypond{} if it is part of a paragraph.

If verbatim is used in a lilypondfile command, it is possible to enclose verbatim only a part of the source file. If the source file contain a comment containing ‘begin verbatim’ (without quotes), quoting the source in the verbatim block will start after the last occurrence of such a comment; similarly, quoting the source verbatim will stop just before the first occurrence of a comment containing ‘end verbatim’, if there is any. In the following source file example, the music will be interpreted in relative mode, but the verbatim quote will not show the relative block, i.e.,

\relative { % begin verbatim
  c'4 e2 g4
  f2 e % end verbatim

will be printed with a verbatim block like

  c4 e2 g4
  f2 e

If you would like to translate comments and variable names in verbatim output but not in the sources, you may set the environment variable LYDOC_LOCALEDIR to a directory path; the directory should contain a tree of ‘.mo’ message catalogs with lilypond-doc as a domain.


(Only for Texinfo output.) If lilypond is called with the ‘--header=texidoc’ option, and the file to be processed is called ‘’, it creates a file ‘foo.texidoc’ if there is a texidoc field in the \header. The texidoc option makes lilypond-book include such files, adding its contents as a documentation block right before the music snippet (but outside the example environment generated by a quote option).

Assuming the file ‘’ contains

\header {
  texidoc = "This file demonstrates a single note."
{ c'4 }

and we have this in our Texinfo document ‘test.texinfo


the following command line gives the expected result

lilypond-book --pdf --process="lilypond \
  --header=texidoc" test.texinfo

Most LilyPond test documents (in the ‘input’ directory of the distribution) are small ‘.ly’ files which look exactly like this.

For localization purpose, if the Texinfo document contains @documentlanguage LANG and ‘’ header contains a texidocLANG field, and if lilypond is called with ‘--header=texidocLANG’, then ‘foo.texidocLANG’ will be included instead of ‘foo.texidoc’.


(Only for Texinfo output.) This option works similarly to texidoc option: if lilypond is called with the ‘--header=doctitle’ option, and the file to be processed is called ‘’ and contains a doctitle field in the \header, it creates a file ‘foo.doctitle’. When doctitle option is used, the contents of ‘foo.doctitle’, which should be a single line of text, is inserted in the Texinfo document as @lydoctitle text. @lydoctitle should be a macro defined in the Texinfo document. The same remark about texidoc processing with localized languages also applies to doctitle.


(Only for Texinfo output.) Do not translate comments and variable names in the snippet quoted verbatim.


If a LilyPond input file is included with \lilypondfile, print the file name right before the music snippet. For HTML output, this is a link. Only the base name of the file is printed, i.e., the directory part of the file path is stripped.

3.4 Invoking lilypond-book

lilypond-book produces a file with one of the following extensions: ‘.tex’, ‘.texi’, ‘.html’ or ‘.xml’, depending on the output format. All of ‘.tex’, ‘.texi’ and ‘.xml’ files need further processing.

Format-specific instructions


There are two ways of processing your LaTeX document for printing or publishing: getting a PDF file directly with PDFLaTeX, or getting a PostScript file with LaTeX via a DVI to PostScript translator like dvips. The first way is simpler and recommended4, and whichever way you use, you can easily convert between PostScript and PDF with tools, like ps2pdf and pdf2ps included in Ghostscript package.

To produce a PDF file through PDFLaTeX, use:

lilypond-book --pdf yourfile.lytex
pdflatex yourfile.tex

To produce PDF output via LaTeX/dvips/ps2pdf:

lilypond-book yourfile.lytex
latex yourfile.tex
dvips -Ppdf yourfile.dvi

The ‘.dvi’ file created by this process will not contain note heads. This is normal; if you follow the instructions, they will be included in the ‘.ps’ and ‘.pdf’ files.

Running dvips may produce some warnings about fonts; these are harmless and may be ignored. If you are running latex in twocolumn mode, remember to add ‘-t landscape’ to the dvips options.

Environments such as;

\begin{lilypond} … \end{lilypond}

are not interpreted by LaTeX. Instead, lilypond-book extracts those ‘environments’ into files of its own and runs LilyPond on them. It then takes the resulting graphics and creates a ‘.tex’ file where the \begin{lilypond}\end{lilypond} macros are then replaced by ‘graphics inclusion’ commands. It is at this time that LaTeX is run (although LaTeX will have run previously, it will have been, effectively, on an ‘empty’ document in order to calculate things like \linewidth).

Known issues and warnings

The \pageBreak command will not work within a \begin{lilypond} … \end{lilypond} environment.

Many \paper block variables will also not work within a \begin{lilypond} … \end{lilypond} environment. Use \newcommand with \betweenLilyPondSystem in the preamble;



To produce a Texinfo document (in any output format), follow the normal procedures for Texinfo; this is, either call texi2pdf or texi2dvi or makeinfo, depending on the output format you want to create. By default, texi2pdf uses pdftex for processing, which you can verify in the console output. In this case, run lilypond-book with the ‘--pdf’ option so that it creates ‘.pdf’ snippets instead of ‘.eps’ files. pdftex is unable to include the latter ones and will output an error message otherwise.

See the documentation of Texinfo for further details.

Command line options

lilypond-book accepts the following command line options.

-f format

Specify the document type to process: html, latex, texi (the default), texi-html, or docbook. If this option is missing, lilypond-book tries to detect the format automatically, see Filename extensions. Currently, texi-html is the same as texi.

-F filter

Pipe snippets through filter. Example:

lilypond-book --filter='convert-ly --from=2.0.0 -' my-book.tely

lilypond-book does not accept options ‘--filter’ and ‘--process’ at the same time.


Print a short help message.

-I dir

Add dir to the include path. Since lilypond-book also looks for already compiled snippets in the include path and does not write them back to the output directory, it is necessary in some cases to invoke further processing commands such as makeinfo or latex with the same ‘-I dir’ options.

-l loglevel

Set the output verbosity to loglevel. Possible values are NONE, ERROR, WARNING, PROGRESS (default), and DEBUG. If this option is not used and the environment variable LILYPOND_BOOK_LOGLEVEL is set, its value is used as the log level.

-o dir

Place generated files into directory dir. Running lilypond-book generates lots of small files that LilyPond will process. To avoid all that clutter in the source directory, use the ‘--output’ command line option, and change to that directory before running latex or makeinfo.

lilypond-book --output=out yourfile.lytex
cd out

Do not fail if no LilyPond output is found. It is used for generating LilyPond’s Info documentation without images.


Do not fail if no PNG images are found for EPS files. It is used for generating LilyPond’s Info documentation without images.


Write ‘lily-XXX’ files to directory dir and link into ‘--output’ directory. Use this option to save building time for documents in different directories that share a lot of identical snippets.


Set the output verbosity of the invoked lilypond command to loglevel. Possible values are NONE, ERROR, WARNING, BASIC, PROGRESS, INFO (default), and DEBUG. If this option is not used and the environment variable LILYPOND_LOGLEVEL is set, its value is used as the log level.


Format Texinfo output so that Info will look for images of music in directory dir.


Run executable prog instead of latex. This is useful if your document is processed with xelatex, for example.


Pad LilyPond snippets on the left with whitespace.

amount is rounded up to be an integer multiple of a big point (bp). One bp is 1/72th of an inch (approx. 0.353mm). amount is given in millimeters relative to the start of the staff. The default value is 3.175mm (which equals 9bp).

The widths of tightly clipped systems can vary due to notation elements such as bar numbers or instrument names that are positioned left of the beginning of staves. The padding sets the minimum distance between the left margin of the snippet images and the beginning of (non-indented) staves; this allows the expected vertical alignment of snippets in the master document.

In addition to padding at the left, this option shortens each staff line by amount. As a consequence, each line is moved to the right visually.

-P command

Process LilyPond snippets using command. The default command is lilypond. lilypond-book does not accept options ‘--filter’ and ‘--process’ at the same time.


Create PDF snippet files. If not set, only PNG and EPS files are produced. Use this option if you want to directly embed PDF files into LaTeX or Texinfo files.


By default, logging output is displayed on the terminal. This option redirects all output to log files in the same directory as the source files.


Write snippet output files with the same base name as their source file. This option works only for snippets included with the lilypondfile command and only if directories implied by ‘--output-dir’ and ‘--lily-output-dir’ options are different.


Be verbose. This is equivalent to --loglevel=DEBUG.


Print version information.

Known issues and warnings

The Texinfo command @pagesizes is not interpreted. Similarly, LaTeX commands that change margins and line widths after the preamble are ignored.

Only the first \score of a LilyPond block is processed.

3.5 Filename extensions

You can use any filename extension for the input file, but if you do not use the recommended extension for a particular format you may need to manually specify the output format; for details, see Invoking lilypond-book. Otherwise, lilypond-book automatically selects the output format based on the input filename’s extension.

extensionoutput format

If you use the same filename extension for the input file than the extension lilypond-book uses for the output file, and if the input file is in the same directory as lilypond-book working directory, you must use ‘--output’ option to make lilypond-book running, otherwise it will exit with an error message like “Output would overwrite input file”.

3.6 lilypond-book templates

These templates are for use with lilypond-book. If you’re not familiar with this program, please refer to Running lilypond-book.

3.6.1 LaTeX

You can include LilyPond fragments in a LaTeX document.



Normal LaTeX text.

\relative {
  a'4 b c d

More LaTeX text, and options in square brackets.

d4 c b a

3.6.2 Texinfo

You can include LilyPond fragments in Texinfo; in fact, this entire manual is written in Texinfo.

\input texinfo 
@node Top
@end ifnottex

Texinfo text

\relative {
  a4 b c d
@end lilypond

More Texinfo text, and options in brackets.

d4 c b a
@end lilypond


3.6.3 html

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">

Documents for lilypond-book may freely mix music and text.  For
\relative {
  a'4 b c d

Another bit of lilypond, this time with options:

<lilypond fragment quote staffsize=26 verbatim>
a4 b c d


3.6.4 xelatex

%xetex specific stuff
\setmainfont[Numbers=OldStyle]{Times New Roman}
%This can be empty if you are not going to use pdftex
%Here you can insert all packages that pdftex also understands

\title{A short document with LilyPond and xelatex}

Normal \textbf{font} commands inside the \emph{text} work,
because they \textsf{are supported by \LaTeX{} and XeteX.}
If you want to use specific commands like \verb+\XeTeX+, you
should include them again in a \verb+\ifxetex+ environment.
You can use this to print the \ifxetex \XeTeX{} command \else
XeTeX command \fi which is not known to normal \LaTeX .

In normal text you can easily use LilyPond commands, like this:

{a2 b c'8 c' c' c'}

and so on.

The fonts of snippets set with LilyPond will have to be set from
of the snippet.  For this you should read the AU on how to use

Auch Umlaute funktionieren ohne die \LaTeX -Befehle, wie auch alle
seltsamen Zeichen: __ ______, wenn sie von der Schriftart
unterst__tzt werden.

3.7 Sharing the table of contents

These functions already exist in the OrchestralLily package:

For greater flexibility in text handling, some users prefer to export the table of contents from lilypond and read it into LaTeX.

Exporting the ToC from LilyPond

This assumes that your score has multiple movements in the same lilypond output file.

#(define (oly:create-toc-file layout pages)
  (let* ((label-table (ly:output-def-lookup layout 'label-page-table)))
    (if (not (null? label-table))
      (let* ((format-line (lambda (toc-item)
             (let* ((label (car toc-item))
                    (text  (caddr toc-item))
                    (label-page (and (list? label-table)
                                     (assoc label label-table)))
                    (page (and label-page (cdr label-page))))
               (format #f "~a, section, 1, {~a}, ~a" page text label))))
             (formatted-toc-items (map format-line (toc-items)))
             (whole-string (string-join formatted-toc-items ",\n"))
             (output-name (ly:parser-output-name))
             (outfilename (format #f "~a.toc" output-name))
             (outfile (open-output-file outfilename)))
        (if (output-port? outfile)
            (display whole-string outfile)
            (ly:warning (G_ "Unable to open output file ~a for the TOC information") outfilename))
        (close-output-port outfile)))))

\paper {
  #(define (page-post-process layout pages) (oly:create-toc-file layout pages))

Importing the ToC into LaTeX

In LaTeX, the header should include:


where \includescore is defined as:

% \includescore{PossibleExtension}

% Read in the TOC entries for a PDF file from the corresponding .toc file.
% This requires some heave latex tweaking, since reading in things from a file
% and inserting it into the arguments of a macro is not (easily) possible

% Solution by Patrick Fimml on #latex on April 18, 2009:
% \readfile{filename}{\variable}
% reads in the contents of the file into \variable (undefined if file
% doesn't exist)
{\catcode`\^^M=10\global\read\readfile@f to \readfile@tmp}%
\openin\readfile@f=#1 %
\typeout{No TOC file #1 available!}%


3.8 Alternative methods of mixing text and music

Other means of mixing text and music (without lilypond-book) are discussed in LilyPond output in other programs.

4. External programs

LilyPond can interact with other programs in various ways.

4.1 Point and click

Point and click lets you find notes in the input by clicking on them in the PDF viewer. This makes it easier to find input that causes some error in the sheet music.

4.1.1 Configuring the system

When this functionality is active, LilyPond adds hyperlinks to PDF and SVG files. These hyperlinks are sent to a ‘URI helper’ or a web-browser, which opens a text-editor with the cursor in the right place.

To make this chain work, you should configure your PDF viewer to follow hyperlinks using the ‘lilypond-invoke-editor’ script supplied with LilyPond.

The program ‘lilypond-invoke-editor’ is a small helper program. It will invoke an editor for the special textedit URIs, and run a web browser for others. It looks up the environment variables EDITOR and LYEDITOR to find out and launch the favorite editor to use. LYEDITOR will have priority over EDITOR, so we recommend using the former especially if you want to use one editor in the terminal and another editor for LilyPond point and click.

Every editor may have a different syntax to open a file in a specific line and column. For user’s convenience, LilyPond comes with ready commands for several editors, listed in ‘scripts/’. This means that you can simply write the editor binary name, e.g.:

export LYEDITOR=atom

and this will invoke

atom %(file)s:%(line)s:%(column)s

where %(file)s, %(line)s and %(column)s are replaced with the file, line and column respectively.

In order to use an editor not listed in the script, you should find its specific syntax and assign the full command to LYEDITOR. Here’s an example for Visual Studio Code editor:

export LYEDITOR="code --goto %(file)s:%(line)s:%(column)s"

Note: If you choose Emacs, an extra configuration is needed. You should add the line (server-start) to your ‘~/.emacs’ file, otherwise every click on an object in the PDF will open a new Emacs window.


In GNOME, URIs are handled via ‘.desktop’ files. Create a file in a local directory such as ‘/tmp’ that is called ‘lilypond-invoke-editor.desktop’ and has the contents;

[Desktop Entry]
GenericName=Textedit URI handler
Comment=URI handler for textedit:
Exec=lilypond-invoke-editor %u

and then execute the commands

xdg-desktop-menu install ./lilypond-invoke-editor.desktop
xdg-mime default lilypond-invoke-editor.desktop x-scheme-handler/textedit

After that invocation;

xdg-open textedit:///etc/issue:1:0:0

should call ‘lilypond-invoke-editor’ for opening files.

Extra configuration for Evince

If xdg-open works, but Evince still refuses to open point and click links due to denied permissions, you might need to change the Apparmor profile of Evince which controls the kind of actions Evince is allowed to perform.

For Ubuntu, the process is to edit the file ‘/etc/apparmor.d/local/usr.bin.evince’ and append the following lines:

# For Textedit links
/usr/local/bin/lilypond-invoke-editor Cx -> sanitized_helper,

After adding these lines, call

sudo apparmor_parser -r -T -W /etc/apparmor.d/usr.bin.evince

Now Evince should be able to open point and click links. It is likely that similar configurations will work for other viewers.

Enabling point and click

Point and click functionality is enabled by default when creating PDF or SVG files.

The point and click links enlarge the output files significantly. For reducing the size of these (and PS) files, point and click may be switched off by issuing


in a ‘.ly’ file. Point and click may be explicitly enabled with


Alternately, you may disable point and click with a command-line option:

lilypond -dno-point-and-click

Note: You should always turn off point and click in any LilyPond files to be distributed to avoid including path information about your computer in the PDF file, which can pose a security risk.

Selective point-and-click

For some interactive applications, it may be desirable to only include certain point-and-click items. For example, if somebody wanted to create an application which played audio or video starting from a particular note, it would be awkward if clicking on the note produced the point-and-click location for an accidental or slur which occurred over that note.

This may be controlled by indicating which events to include:

Multiple events can be included:

4.2 Text editor support

There is support for different text editors for LilyPond.

Emacs mode

Emacs has a ‘lilypond-mode’, which provides keyword autocompletion, indentation, LilyPond specific parenthesis matching and syntax coloring, handy compile short-cuts and reading LilyPond manuals using Info. If ‘lilypond-mode’ is not installed on your platform, see below.

An Emacs mode for entering music and running LilyPond is contained in the source archive in the ‘elisp’ directory. Do make install to install it to elispdir. The file ‘lilypond-init.el’ should be placed to load-path/site-start.d/’ or appended to your ‘~/.emacs’ or ‘~/.emacs.el’.

As a user, you may want add your source path (e.g. ‘~/site-lisp/’) to your load-path by appending the following line (as modified) to your ‘~/.emacs

(setq load-path (append (list (expand-file-name "~/site-lisp")) load-path))

Vim mode

For Vim, a filetype plugin, indent mode, and syntax-highlighting mode are available to use with LilyPond. To enable all of these features, create (or modify) your ‘$HOME/.vimrc’ to contain these three lines, in order:

filetype off
set runtimepath+=/usr/local/share/lilypond/current/vim/
filetype on
syntax on

If LilyPond is not installed in the ‘/usr/local/’ directory, change the path appropriately. This topic is discussed in Other sources of information.

Other editors

Other editors (both text and graphical) support LilyPond, but their special configuration files are not distributed with LilyPond. Consult their documentation for more information. Such editors are listed in Easier editing.

4.3 Converting from other formats

Music can be entered also by importing it from other formats. This chapter documents the tools included in the distribution to do so. There are other tools that produce LilyPond input, for example GUI sequencers and XML converters. Refer to the website for more details.

These are separate programs from lilypond itself, and are run on the command line; see Command-line usage for more information.

Known issues and warnings

We unfortunately do not have the resources to maintain these programs; please consider them “as-is”. Patches are appreciated, but bug reports will almost certainly not be resolved.

4.3.1 Invoking midi2ly

midi2ly translates a Type 1 MIDI file to a LilyPond source file.

MIDI (Music Instrument Digital Interface) is a standard for digital instruments: it specifies cabling, a serial protocol and a file format. The MIDI file format is a de facto standard format for exporting music from other programs, so this capability may come in useful when importing files from a program that has a converter for a direct format.

midi2ly converts tracks into Staff and channels into Voice contexts. Relative mode is used for pitches, durations are only written when necessary.

It is possible to record a MIDI file using a digital keyboard, and then convert it to ‘.ly’. However, human players are not rhythmically exact enough to make a MIDI to LY conversion trivial. When invoked with quantizing (‘-s’ and ‘-d’ options) midi2ly tries to compensate for these timing errors, but is not very good at this. It is therefore not recommended to use midi2ly for human-generated midi files.

It is invoked from the command-line as follows,

midi2ly [option]… midi-file

Note that by ‘command-line’, we mean the command line of the operating system. See Converting from other formats, for more information about this.

The following options are supported by midi2ly.

-a, --absolute-pitches

Print absolute pitches.

-d, --duration-quant=DUR

Quantize note durations on DUR.

-e, --explicit-durations

Print explicit durations.

-h, --help

Show summary of usage.

-k, --key=acc[:minor]

Set default key. acc > 0 sets number of sharps; acc < 0 sets number of flats. A minor key is indicated by :1.

-o, --output=file

Write output to file.

-s, --start-quant=DUR

Quantize note starts on DUR.

-t, --allow-tuplet=DUR*NUM/DEN

Allow tuplet durations DUR*NUM/DEN.

-v, --verbose

Be verbose.

-V, --version

Print version number.

-w, --warranty

Show warranty and copyright.

-x, --text-lyrics

Treat every text as a lyric.

Known issues and warnings

Overlapping notes in an arpeggio will not be correctly rendered. The first note will be read and the others will be ignored. Set them all to a single duration and add phrase markings or pedal indicators.

4.3.2 Invoking musicxml2ly

MusicXML is an XML dialect for representing music notation.

musicxml2ly extracts notes, articulations, score structure and lyrics from ‘part-wise’ MusicXML files then writes them to a ‘.ly’ file. It is run from the command-line as follows;

musicxml2ly [option]… file.xml

Note that by ‘command-line’, we mean the command line of the operating system. See Converting from other formats, for more information about this.

If ‘-’ is used instead of file.xml, musicxml2ly reads all input directly from the command line.

The following options are supported by musicxml2ly:

-a, --absolute

convert pitches in absolute mode.

--fb --fretboards

converts <frame> events to a separate FretBoard voice instead of markups.

-h, --help

print usage and a summary of all the available command line options.

-l, --language=LANG

use LANG for pitch names, e.g. deutsch for note names in German.


Sets the output verbosity to LOGLEVEL. Possible values are NONE, ERROR, WARNING, PROGRESS (default) and DEBUG.


use the lxml.etree Python package for XML-parsing; uses less memory and cpu time.

-m, --midi

activate the midi block in the .ly file.

--nb, --no-beaming

do not convert beaming information, use LilyPond’s automatic beaming instead.

--nd, --no-articulation-directions

do not convert directions (^, _ or -) for articulations, dynamics, etc.

--nrp, --no-rest-positions

do not convert exact vertical position of rests.

--nsb, --no-system-breaks

ignore system breaks.

--npl, --no-page-layout

do not convert the exact page layout and breaks (shortcut for --nsb --npb --npm options).

--npb, --no-page-breaks

ignore page breaks.

--npm, --no-page-margins

ignore page margins.

--nsd, --no-stem-directions

ignore stem directions from MusicXML, use lilypond’s automatic stemming instead.

-o, --output=FILE

set the output filename to FILE. If file is ‘-’, the output will be printed to stdout. If not given, will be used instead.

-r, --relative

convert pitches in relative mode (default).


the interval between pitch c and TOPITCH to transpose by.

--sm, --shift-meter=BEATS/BEATTYPE

change the length|duration of notes as a function of a given time signature to make the score look faster or slower, (e.g. 4/4 or 2/2).

--tc, --tab-clef=TABCLEFNAME

switch between two versions of tab clefs (tab and moderntab).

--sn --string-numbers=t[rue]/f[alse]

deactivate string number stencil with --string-numbers false. Default is true.

-v, --verbose

be verbose.


show version number and exit.

-z, --compressed

input file is a zip-compressed MusicXML file.

4.3.3 Invoking abc2ly

Note: This is not currently supported and may eventually be removed from future versions of LilyPond.

ABC is a fairly simple ASCII based format. It is described at the ABC site:

abc2ly translates from ABC to LilyPond. It is invoked as follows:

abc2ly [option]… abc-file

The following options are supported by abc2ly:

-b, --beams=None

preserve ABC’s notion of beams

-h, --help

this help

-o, --output=file

set output filename to file.

-s, --strict

be strict about success


print version information.

There is a rudimentary facility for adding LilyPond code to the ABC source file. For example;

%%LY voices \set autoBeaming = ##f

This will cause the text following the keyword ‘voices’ to be inserted into the current voice of the LilyPond output file.


%%LY slyrics more words

will cause the text following the ‘slyrics’ keyword to be inserted into the current line of lyrics.

Known issues and warnings

The ABC standard is not very ‘standard’. For extended features (e.g., polyphonic music) different conventions exist.

Multiple tunes in one file cannot be converted.

ABC synchronizes words and notes at the beginning of a line; abc2ly does not.

abc2ly ignores the ABC beaming.

4.3.4 Invoking etf2ly

Note: This is not currently supported and may eventually be removed from future versions of LilyPond.

ETF (Enigma Transport Format) is a format used by Coda Music Technology’s Finale product. etf2ly will convert part of an ETF file to a ready-to-use LilyPond file.

It is invoked from the command-line as follows;

etf2ly [option]… etf-file

Note that by ‘command-line’, we mean the command line of the operating system. See Converting from other formats, for more information about this.

The following options are supported by etf2ly:

-h, --help

this help

-o, --output=FILE

set output filename to FILE


version information

Known issues and warnings

The list of articulation scripts is incomplete. Empty measures confuse etf2ly. Sequences of grace notes are ended improperly.

4.3.5 Other formats

LilyPond itself does not come with support for any other formats, but some external tools can also generate LilyPond files. These are listed in Easier editing.

4.4 LilyPond output in other programs

This section shows methods to integrate text and music, different than the automated method with lilypond-book.

4.4.1 LuaTeX

As well as lilypond-book to integrate LilyPond output, there is an alternative program that can be used when using LuaTeX called lyluatex.

4.4.2 OpenOffice and LibreOffice

LilyPond notation can be added to and LibreOffice with OOoLilyPond, an extension that converts LilyPond files into images within documents. OOoLilyPond (OLy) works with recent versions of LibreOffice and OpenOffice. Older versions should work as well. It has even been tested with OpenOffice 2.4 without issues.

4.4.3 Other programs

When integrating LilyPond scores into documents in other software, you have to effectively mimick how lilypond-book runs lilypond.

Here we discuss how to create ‘PNG’ images for use with online formats similar to HTML, and ‘PDF’ and ‘EPS’ for print-out formats similar to ‘PDF’.

PDF documents are usually formatted to enable printing. This means that long pieces of music must be distributed over several pages. For this mode of operation, invoke lilypond as

lilypond -dseparate-page-formats=pdf

This creates ‘myfile-1.pdf’, ‘myfile-2.pdf’, …, each containing a single page.

For embedding the images in a PostScript file, you can create ‘EPS’ files, using -dseparate-page-formats=eps. In this case, you may also want to specify -dno-gs-load-fonts -dinclude-eps-fonts, otherwise the ‘EPS’ files will not render if they are copied to another computer.

HTML documents are not printed, so they usually don’t have to worry about splitting music images across page breaks, and you can use a single (possibly very tall) image to represent a long score. This can be achieved with

lilypond -dtall-page-formats=png

yielding a ‘myfile.png’ that has all the pages of ‘’ stacked vertically.

Specifying either -dseparate-page-formats or -dtall-page-formats suppresses the standard output mode (single file with multiple pages) and the associated --formats option. Both options take a comma-separated list of formats and can be specified together, e.g.

lilypond -dseparate-page-formats=eps,pdf -dtall-page-formats=png,svg

To reduce the margins around the pages pass the -dno-use-paper-size-for-page option to crop extraneous whitespace. The following paper settings will elide page numbers and other footers that enlarge the page.

  bookTitleMarkup = ##f
  scoreTitleMarkup = ##f

… music …

The above discusses how pages are dumped into output files, but for music integrated into text, you often don’t want full pages (possibly including page numbers, margins etc.), but rather lines of music. This is achieved by including ‘’ before a fragment of music. This makes a toplevel \score block render into lines of music rather than pages.

If you need to quote many fragments from a large score, you can also use the clip systems feature, see Extracting fragments of music.

4.5 Independent includes

Some users have produced files that can be \included with LilyPond to produce certain effects and those listed below are part of the LilyPond distribution. Also see Working with input files.

4.5.1 MIDI articulation

The Articulate project is an attempt to enhance LilyPond’s MIDI output and works by adjusting note lengths (that are not under slurs) according to the articulation markings attached to them. For example, a ‘staccato’ halves the note value, ‘tenuto’ gives a note its full duration and so on. See Enhancing MIDI output.

5. Suggestions for writing files

Now you’re ready to begin writing larger LilyPond input files – not just the little examples in the tutorial, but whole pieces. But how should you go about doing it?

As long as LilyPond can understand your input files and produce the output that you want, it doesn’t matter what your input files look like. However, there are a few other things to consider when writing LilyPond input files.

5.1 General suggestions

Here are a few suggestions that can help to avoid (and fix) the most common problems when typesetting:

5.2 Typesetting existing music

If you are entering music from an existing score (i.e., typesetting a piece of existing sheet music),

5.3 Large projects

When working on a large project, having a clear structure to your lilypond input files becomes vital.

5.4 Troubleshooting

Sooner or later, you will write a file that LilyPond cannot compile. The messages that LilyPond gives may help you find the error, but in many cases you need to do some investigation to determine the source of the problem.

The most powerful tools for this purpose are the single line comment (indicated by %) and the block comment (indicated by %{…%}). If you don’t know where a problem is, start commenting out huge portions of your input file. After you comment out a section, try compiling the file again. If it works, then the problem must exist in the portion you just commented. If it doesn’t work, then keep on commenting out material until you have something that works.

In an extreme case, you might end up with only

\score {
    % \melody
    % \harmony
    % \bass

(in other words, a file without any music)

If that happens, don’t give up. Uncomment a bit – say, the bass part – and see if it works. If it doesn’t work, then comment out all of the bass music (but leave \bass in the \score uncommented.

bass = \relative {
  c'4 c c c
  d d d d

Now start slowly uncommenting more and more of the bass part until you find the problem line.

Another very useful debugging technique is constructing Tiny examples.

5.5 Make and Makefiles

Pretty well all the platforms LilyPond can run on support a software facility called make. This software reads a special file called a Makefile that defines what files depend on what others and what commands you need to give the operating system to produce one file from another. For example the makefile would spell out how to produce ‘ballad.pdf’ and ‘ballad.midi’ from ‘’ by running LilyPond.

There are times when it is a good idea to create a Makefile for your project, either for your own convenience or as a courtesy to others who might have access to your source files. This is true for very large projects with many included files and different output options (e.g., full score, parts, conductor’s score, piano reduction, etc.), or for projects that require difficult commands to build them (such as lilypond-book projects). Makefiles vary greatly in complexity and flexibility, according to the needs and skills of the authors. The program GNU Make comes installed on GNU/Linux distributions and on MacOS X, and it is also available for Windows.

See the GNU Make Manual for full details on using make, as what follows here gives only a glimpse of what it can do.

The commands to define rules in a makefile differ according to platform; for instance the various forms of GNU/Linux and MacOS use bash, while Windows uses cmd. Note that on MacOS X, you need to configure the system to use the command-line interpreter. Here are some example makefiles, with versions for both GNU/Linux/MacOS and Windows.

The first example is for an orchestral work in four movements with a directory structure as follows:

|-- MIDI/
|-- Makefile
|-- Notes/
|   |-- cello.ily
|   |-- figures.ily
|   |-- horn.ily
|   |-- oboe.ily
|   |-- trioString.ily
|   |-- viola.ily
|   |-- violinOne.ily
|   `-- violinTwo.ily
|-- PDF/
|-- Parts/
|   |--
|   |--
|   |--
|   |--
|   |--
|   `--
|-- Scores/
|   |--
|   |--
|   |--
|   |--
|   `--
`-- symphonyDefs.ily

The ‘.ly’ files in the ‘Scores’ and ‘Parts’ directories get their notes from ‘.ily’ files in the ‘Notes’ directory:

%%% top of file ""
\include "../symphonyDefs.ily"
\include "../Notes/cello.ily"

The makefile will have targets of score (entire piece in full score), movements (individual movements in full score), and parts (individual parts for performers). There is also a target archive that will create a tarball of the source files, suitable for sharing via web or email. Here is the makefile for GNU/Linux or MacOS X. It should be saved with the name Makefile in the top directory of the project:

Note: When a target or pattern rule is defined, the subsequent lines must begin with tabs, not spaces.

# the name stem of the output files
piece := symphony
# The command to run lilypond
LILY_CMD := lilypond -ddelete-intermediate-files \

# The suffixes used in this Makefile.
.SUFFIXES: .ly .ily .pdf .midi

.DEFAULT_GOAL := score


# Input and output files are searched in the directories listed in
# the VPATH variable.  All of them are subdirectories of the current
# directory (given by the GNU make variable `CURDIR').
VPATH := \
  $(CURDIR)/Scores \
  $(CURDIR)/Parts \
  $(CURDIR)/Notes \

# The pattern rule to create PDF and MIDI files from a LY input file.
# The .pdf output files are put into the `PDF' subdirectory, and the
# .midi files go into the `MIDI' subdirectory.
%.pdf %.midi: | $(PDFDIR) $(MIDIDIR)
	$(LILY_CMD) $<          	# this line begins with a tab
	mv "$*.pdf" $(PDFDIR)/		# this line begins with a tab
	mv "$*.midi" $(MIDIDIR)/	# this line begins with a tab

	mkdir $(PDFDIR)

	mkdir $(MIDIDIR)

common := symphonyDefs.ily

notes := \
  cello.ily \
  horn.ily \
  oboe.ily \
  viola.ily \
  violinOne.ily \

# The dependencies of the movements.
$(piece)I.pdf: $(piece) $(notes) $(common)
$(piece)II.pdf: $(piece) $(notes) $(common)
$(piece)III.pdf: $(piece) $(notes) $(common)
$(piece)IV.pdf: $(piece) $(notes) $(common)

# The dependencies of the full score.
$(piece).pdf: $(piece).ly $(notes) $(common)

# The dependencies of the parts.
$(piece)-cello.pdf: $(piece) cello.ily $(common)
$(piece)-horn.pdf: $(piece) horn.ily $(common)
$(piece)-oboe.pdf: $(piece) oboe.ily $(common)
$(piece)-viola.pdf: $(piece) viola.ily $(common)
$(piece)-violinOne.pdf: $(piece) violinOne.ily $(common)
$(piece)-violinTwo.pdf: $(piece) violinTwo.ily $(common)

# Type `make score' to generate the full score of all four
# movements as one file.
.PHONY: score
score: $(piece).pdf

# Type `make parts' to generate all parts.
# Type `make symphony-foo.pdf' to generate the part for instrument `foo'.
# Example: `make symphony-cello.pdf'.
.PHONY: parts
parts: $(piece)-cello.pdf \
       $(piece)-violinOne.pdf \
       $(piece)-violinTwo.pdf \
       $(piece)-viola.pdf \
       $(piece)-oboe.pdf \

# Type `make movements' to generate files for the
# four movements separately.
.PHONY: movements
movements: $(piece)I.pdf \
           $(piece)II.pdf \
           $(piece)III.pdf \

all: score parts movements

There are special complications on the Windows platform. After downloading and installing GNU Make for Windows, you must set the correct path in the system’s environment variables so that the DOS shell can find the Make program. To do this, right-click on "My Computer," then choose Properties and Advanced. Click Environment Variables, and then in the System Variables pane, highlight Path, click edit, and add the path to the GNU Make executable file, which will look something like this:

C:\Program Files\GnuWin32\bin

The makefile itself has to be altered to handle different shell commands and to deal with spaces that are present in some default system directories. Windows also has a different default extension for midi files.

piece := symphony
LILY_CMD := lilypond -ddelete-intermediate-files \

#get the 8.3 name of CURDIR (workaround for spaces in PATH)
workdir := $(shell for /f "tokens=*" %%b in ("$(CURDIR)") \
          do @echo %%~sb)

.SUFFIXES: .ly .ily .pdf .mid

.DEFAULT_GOAL := score


VPATH := \
  $(workdir)/Scores \
  $(workdir)/Parts \
  $(workdir)/Notes \
  $(workdir)/$(PDFDIR) \

%.pdf %.mid: | $(PDFDIR) $(MIDIDIR)
        $(LILY_CMD) $<			# this line begins with a tab
        move /Y "$*.pdf"  $(PDFDIR)/	# begin with tab
        move /Y "$*.mid" $(MIDIDIR)/	# begin with tab

    mkdir $(PDFDIR)/

    mkdir $(MIDIDIR)/

notes := \
  cello.ily \
  figures.ily \
  horn.ily \
  oboe.ily \
  trioString.ily \
  viola.ily \
  violinOne.ily \

common := symphonyDefs.ily

$(piece)I.pdf: $(piece) $(notes) $(common)
$(piece)II.pdf: $(piece) $(notes) $(common)
$(piece)III.pdf: $(piece) $(notes) $(common)
$(piece)IV.pdf: $(piece) $(notes) $(common)

$(piece).pdf: $(piece).ly $(notes) $(common)

$(piece)-cello.pdf: $(piece) cello.ily $(common)
$(piece)-horn.pdf: $(piece) horn.ily $(common)
$(piece)-oboe.pdf: $(piece) oboe.ily $(common)
$(piece)-viola.pdf: $(piece) viola.ily $(common)
$(piece)-violinOne.pdf: $(piece) violinOne.ily $(common)
$(piece)-violinTwo.pdf: $(piece) violinTwo.ily $(common)

.PHONY: score
score: $(piece).pdf

.PHONY: parts
parts: $(piece)-cello.pdf \
       $(piece)-violinOne.pdf \
       $(piece)-violinTwo.pdf \
       $(piece)-viola.pdf \
       $(piece)-oboe.pdf \

.PHONY: movements
movements: $(piece)I.pdf \
           $(piece)II.pdf \
           $(piece)III.pdf \

all: score parts movements

The next Makefile is for a lilypond-book document done in LaTeX. This project has an index, which requires that the latex command be run twice to update links. Output files are all stored in the out directory for .pdf output and in the htmlout directory for the html output.

LILYBOOK_PDF=lilypond-book --output=$(OUTDIR) --pdf $(FILE).lytex
LILYBOOK_HTML=lilypond-book --output=$(WEBDIR) $(FILE).lytex
PDF=cd $(OUTDIR) && pdflatex $(FILE)
HTML=cd $(WEBDIR) && latex2html $(FILE)
INDEX=cd $(OUTDIR) && makeindex $(FILE)

all: pdf web keep

        $(LILYBOOK_PDF)  # begin with tab
        $(PDF)           # begin with tab
        $(INDEX)         # begin with tab
        $(PDF)           # begin with tab
        $(PREVIEW)       # begin with tab

        $(LILYBOOK_HTML) # begin with tab
        $(HTML)          # begin with tab
        cp -R $(WEBDIR)/$(FILE)/ ./  # begin with tab
        $(BROWSER) $(FILE)/$(FILE).html &  # begin with tab

keep: pdf
        cp $(OUTDIR)/$(FILE).pdf $(FILE).pdf  # begin with tab

        rm -rf $(OUTDIR) # begin with tab

        rm -rf $(WEBDIR) # begin with tab

        tar -cvvf myproject.tar \ # begin this line with tab
        --exclude=out/* \
        --exclude=htmlout/* \
        --exclude=myproject/* \
        --exclude=*midi \
        --exclude=*pdf \
        --exclude=*~ \

TODO: make this thing work on Windows

The previous makefile does not work on Windows. An alternative for Windows users would be to create a simple batch file containing the build commands. This will not keep track of dependencies the way a makefile does, but it at least reduces the build process to a single command. Save the following code as build.bat or build.cmd. The batch file can be run at the DOS prompt or by simply double-clicking its icon.

lilypond-book --output=out --pdf myproject.lytex
cd out
pdflatex myproject
makeindex myproject
pdflatex myproject
cd ..
copy out\myproject.pdf MyProject.pdf

See also

This manual: Command-line usage, Running lilypond-book.

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ADDENDUM: How to use this License for your documents

To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:

  Copyright (C)  year  your name.
  Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
  under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3
  or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
  with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover
  Texts.  A copy of the license is included in the section entitled ``GNU
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If you have Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts and Back-Cover Texts, replace the “with…Texts.” line with this:

    with the Invariant Sections being list their titles, with
    the Front-Cover Texts being list, and with the Back-Cover Texts
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If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other combination of the three, merge those two alternatives to suit the situation.

If your document contains nontrivial examples of program code, we recommend releasing these examples in parallel under your choice of free software license, such as the GNU General Public License, to permit their use in free software.

B. LilyPond index

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Index Entry Section

\header in LaTeX documents3.2.1 LaTeX

ABC4.3.3 Invoking abc2ly
Aborted (core dumped)1.3 Error messages
Articulate project4.5.1 MIDI articulation

Bar and bar number checksMusic runs off the page
Bar and bar number checks5.1 General suggestions
Bar linesMusic runs off the page

call trace1.3 Error messages
chroot jail, running insideBasic command line options for LilyPond
Coda Technology4.3.4 Invoking etf2ly
Collision resolutionSee also
coloring, syntax4.2 Text editor support
command line options for lilypondBasic command line options for LilyPond
convert-ly2. Updating files with convert-ly
convert-ly2.1 Why does the syntax change?

Debugging Scheme codeAdvanced command line options for LilyPond
directory, redirect outputBasic command line options for LilyPond
docbook3. Running lilypond-book
DocBook, adding music3. Running lilypond-book
documents, adding music3. Running lilypond-book

Easier editingOther editors
Easier editing4.3.5 Other formats
editors4.2 Text editor support
emacs4.2 Text editor support
Enhancing MIDI output4.5.1 MIDI articulation
enigma4.3.4 Invoking etf2ly
Enigma Transport Format4.3.4 Invoking etf2ly
error1.3 Error messages
error messages1.3 Error messages
errors, message format1.3 Error messages
ETF4.3.4 Invoking etf2ly
EvinceExtra configuration for Evince
Explicitly instantiating voicesSee also
expression evaluation, SchemeBasic command line options for LilyPond
External programs, generating LilyPond files4.3.5 Other formats
Extracting fragments ofAdvanced command line options for LilyPond
Extracting fragments of music4.4.3 Other programs

fatal error1.3 Error messages
file searchingBasic command line options for LilyPond
file size, outputEnabling point and click
Finale4.3.4 Invoking etf2ly
Flexible vertical spacing within systemsWarning staff affinities should only decrease
format, outputBasic command line options for LilyPond
fragments, music4.4.3 Other programs

HTML3. Running lilypond-book
HTML, adding music3. Running lilypond-book
HTML, embeddable SVG scoresBasic command line options for LilyPond

invoking dvipsLaTeX
Invoking lilypondBasic command line options for LilyPond

LANGEnvironment variables
LaTeX3. Running lilypond-book
LaTeX, adding music3. Running lilypond-book
LibreOffice.org4.4.2 OpenOffice and LibreOffice
LILYPOND_DATADIREnvironment variables
LILYPOND_LOCALEDIREnvironment variables
LILYPOND_LOGLEVELEnvironment variables
LILYPOND_RELOCDIREnvironment variables
loglevelBasic command line options for LilyPond
LuaTeX4.4.1 LuaTeX
lyluatex4.4.1 LuaTeX

make5.5 Make and Makefiles
makefiles5.5 Make and Makefiles
ManualsLilyPond — Usage
ManualsLilyPond — Usage
MIDI4.3.1 Invoking midi2ly
MIDI4.5.1 MIDI articulation
modes, editor4.2 Text editor support
music fragments, quoting4.4.3 Other programs
musicology3.1 An example of a musicological document
MusicXML4.3.2 Invoking musicxml2ly

Octave checks5.1 General suggestions
OOoLilyPond4.4.2 OpenOffice and LibreOffice
OpenOffice.org4.4.2 OpenOffice and LibreOffice
options, command lineBasic command line options for LilyPond
Other sources of informationVim mode
outline fontsLaTeX
output, directoryBasic command line options for LilyPond
output, formatBasic command line options for LilyPond
output, PDF (Portable Document Format)Basic command line options for LilyPond
output, PNG (Portable Network Graphics)Basic command line options for LilyPond
output, PS (PostScript)Basic command line options for LilyPond
output, setting filenameBasic command line options for LilyPond
output, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)Basic command line options for LilyPond
output, verbosityBasic command line options for LilyPond

PDF (Portable Document Format), outputBasic command line options for LilyPond
PNG (Portable Network Graphics), outputBasic command line options for LilyPond
point and click4.1 Point and click
point and click, command lineAdvanced command line options for LilyPond
PostScript (PS), outputBasic command line options for LilyPond
Predefined paper sizes3.3 Music fragment options
preview imageSee also
Programming error1.3 Error messages
PS (PostScript), outputBasic command line options for LilyPond
pspdfoptBasic command line options for LilyPond

quoting, music fragments4.4.3 Other programs

Real music exampleSee also

Saving typing with variables and functions5.1 General suggestions
Scheme error1.3 Error messages
Scheme, expression evaluationBasic command line options for LilyPond
search pathBasic command line options for LilyPond
Single-staff polyphonySee also
Skipping corrected music5.2 Typesetting existing music
Staff4.3.1 Invoking midi2ly
Style sheets5.1 General suggestions
SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), outputBasic command line options for LilyPond
switchesBasic command line options for LilyPond
syntax coloring4.2 Text editor support

texi3. Running lilypond-book
texinfo3. Running lilypond-book
texinfo3. Running lilypond-book
Texinfo, adding music3. Running lilypond-book
Text encodingError message FT_Get_Glyph_Name
thumbnailSee also
Tiny examples5.4 Troubleshooting
titling and lilypond-book3.2.1 LaTeX
titling in HTMLSee also
trace, Scheme1.3 Error messages
Tutorial1.1 Normal usage
type1 fontsLaTeX

Updating a LilyPond file2. Updating files with convert-ly
updating old input files2.1 Why does the syntax change?

vim4.2 Text editor support
Voice4.3.1 Invoking midi2ly

warning1.3 Error messages
web pages, SVG scores embeddableBasic command line options for LilyPond
Working with input files4.5 Independent includes

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[1] The status of GUILE is not reset after processing a ‘.ly’ file, so be careful not to change any system defaults from within Scheme.

[2] At least, this is possible in any LilyPond file which does not contain scheme. If there is scheme in the file, then the LilyPond file contains a Turing-complete language, and we run into problems with the famous “Halting Problem” in computer science.

[3] This tutorial is processed with Texinfo, so the example gives slightly different results in layout.

[4] Note that PDFLaTeX and LaTeX may not be both usable to compile any LaTeX document, that is why we explain the two ways.

Table of Contents

LilyPond — Usage v2.24.4 (stable-branch).