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Bart Meijer

Musical notation?

October 8, 2008 at 5:30 PM


Every once in a while I feel we need the ability to upload musical notation. Here is an attempt to do that. The music was written in LilyPond, output to a .pdf file, and a JPEG picture was created by selecting an area from the pdf. Here goes!

From Paul G.
Posted on October 8, 2008 at 6:31 PM
Are we supposed to name the song? If so.. Twinkle Twinkle.... Or are you just showing us?
From Michael Makhal
Posted on October 8, 2008 at 7:07 PM
What to not know,,lets sing twinkle twinkle little star......
From Tobias Seyb
Posted on October 8, 2008 at 7:17 PM


From Bart Meijer
Posted on October 8, 2008 at 7:22 PM
The idea was to try and put some notes up on, to see if the result was readable. And what would be better suited than Twinkle? It was not meant as a challenge.
I believe musical notation could be useful as an answer to questions about bowing or fingering. You can add those using Lilypond. Of course any other music notation program able to generate either .pdf or JPEG would do.
From Tobias Seyb
Posted on October 8, 2008 at 8:14 PM
I tried Lilypond, because it looked interesting and I've seen some nice results.
But it's totally abstract (what a strange idea - typing code lists to write music on a computer???), and you can't even finetune the result.
I recommend finale notepad (even if I hate the overall stupid and outdated concept of finale, but notepad works fine for simple tasks and it's for free).


PS: Fine idea to encourage forum users to use notation instead of sending abstract lists!

From Karin Lin
Posted on October 9, 2008 at 12:02 AM
A friend of mine mentioned LilyPond a while back and I just took a look at it again. I love the concept, which is totally natural for us scientists who are fluent in LaTeX. There are always going to be disagreements between those who are willing to sacrifice WYSIWYG for beauty and those who aren't, and I welcome the existence of both types of software.

I don't have any need to notate music, but if I ever do, I'm definitely going to give Lilypond a try. Thanks for the reminder.

From Drew Lecher
Posted on October 9, 2008 at 3:43 AM

Thanks for letting us know. I have often wondered if this was possible. I could answer a lot of questions more easily.


From Pauline Lerner
Posted on October 9, 2008 at 5:50 AM
I use Finale, but the principles are the same. When I want to email someone (usually a student) some music I have in the Finale format, I do a screen capture and save the result as a pdf file. I can email the pdf file as an attachment. Sometimes I need to make more than one screenshot, but that works, too.

I think it's good to have the means to upload sheet music to so that we can talk about it. Thanks for bringing up the idea and testing the technique.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on October 9, 2008 at 6:35 AM
Woops. I need some help. I saved a short piece of music as a pdf file. Would someone tell me how to upload it to my blog on
From Bart Meijer
Posted on October 9, 2008 at 12:16 PM
Many pdf viewers have a button that allows you to select and copy a rectangular area from the screen. Paste that in a word processor or a picture processor, save it as a JPEG file, and you can upload the JPEG file to Some pdf viewers even allow you to save your selection directly to a JPEG file.

Hope this helps,

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on October 10, 2008 at 3:59 AM
Bart, I use a screen shot capture, and I've always saved my documents as pdf files. I just took a closer look at my options under 'Save As', and I found jpg, as well as variants such as jpg2000. I used jpeg, and it worked just fine. Thank you for helping me solve my problem. :-)

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