Apr 20, 2015

Recent Developments

Wow, over a whole month has gone by without a post. Well, I've been busy working on myriad of (mostly font-related) projects. I'm still not quite done with most of them, but here are some highlights of my latest adventures that will hopefully be released soon:
  • Arnold - A font inspired by early Universal Edition scores. Sponsored by Urs Liska.
  • Broadway - Rogers and Hammerstein anyone? Sponsored by Kieren MacMillan, which may or may not be released publicly.
  • Capriccio - A totally new take on music fonts, this font was designed by Giovanni Murolo to match the elegance of high contrast found in Didot and Bodoni typefaces. LilyPond is the only music notation program that can even use it because it requires some programmatic functionality to make the notes appear in the correct orientation. This is because the noteheads (half and quarter) can only have a stem attach in ONE place, so it has to be rotated depending on the direction of the stem and if they appear in a chord. Giovanni has others, but we're starting with this one. More information about his thesis can be found here. He created a video that showcases his different fonts (Capriccio is the first one shown):

  • LilyJAZZ - After some suggestions from users, I've renamed these fonts so they all follow a more consistent naming convention:
    • lilyjazz-11 through lilyjazz-26
    • lilyjazz-brace
    • lilyjazz-text
    • lilyjazz-chord
    • lilyjazz.ily (the stylesheet)
  • Improviso - A minor addition to the stylesheet to make ties, slurs, and phrasing slurs all have a uniform thickness, just like everything else.
  • Optically sized fonts - This is one adventure I'm most excited about. To this day, LilyPond is still the only notation program that CAN utilize different sized fonts in the same score and, at this point, Emmentaler is the only font family that has this feature (8 sizes from 11pt to 26pt staff-heights). I'm in the process of making optical variants for each of my fonts. We'll see how long this takes me :-P
In addition to these efforts, I've also been creating some "Quick Start" tutorials designed for users migrating to LilyPond. I'm super close, so I'm hoping these will be available soon! I can't stop thinking that I should make some companion videos for them, but we'll see.

This makes me think of another thing I've heard about quite a bit: Simplifying LilyPond Documentation. Let me be clear: the online docs are incredibly detailed and deep, but it also doesn't provide a clear path for new users to find the information they need. It seems that this is a good-sized barrier for new users. Once used a bit, it becomes more intuitive where the needed information is, but let's be honest. Many things are just not that easy to find in the online docs. I've had numerous occasions where I've been working on a score and I am trying to remember the syntax for something and I find myself saying something like, I know I've seen that somewhere! Which manual was it in? What is that magic word so that I can find it in the search box?

Have you ever felt that way? I just feel that it often takes too many "clicks" to get to the information and often it's not obvious. So, I just might pursue making my own simple, unofficial documentation page that is more straightforward and obvious, using notation terms that people are the most accustomed to. Maybe that's what my "Quick Start" tutorials function as anyway.

What do you think? What would make the transition easier for new users of LilyPond from another notation program? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I love that idea. I just discovered Lilypond, and as you said, there's a lot of information with no clear path for a new user to follow.

    1. Thanks, Bartev! Until I get my unofficial docs up and running, I'd recommend subscribing to the lilypond-user mailing list. There you'll find me and lots of other expert users/developers that can answer your most challenging questions.