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FW: Professional ???

From: Jeff Henrikson
Subject: FW: Professional ???
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 18:20:56 -0500


        Below is an email that I sent to the composer who asked about lilypond 
a few weeks ago.  I didn't cc it to the list because it was
somewhat composition specific and was extremely critical, but he said he found 
it useful, and as I read it again, I think the
criticisms are harsh but fair.

I will also send a message about how I have made due on several projects that I 
have done in the last few weeks.

Jeff Henrikson

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeff Henrikson [mailto:address@hidden
Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2000 10:41 PM
To: address@hidden
Subject: RE: Professional ???


I thought you might like my 10 cents about the scalability of lilypond.  I am a 
jazz composition student, and the largest lilypond
score I have created is about 15-20 printed pages, for 9 instruments and a 
little over 200 measures.  I am imagining that your
notational needs are quite different, but I will attach the source for this 
score so you can see it.  Here are some subjective and
objective observations I have made about using the program:

- lily handles conventional notation reasonably, but degrades very quickly as 
soon as esoteric needs arise.  Don't ever try to
enter a Boulez or Stockhausen score without expecting to need psychiatric care! 
 I'm not sure what it means when you describe your
music your music as "contemporary music."
- lily is useful for copying scores or doing minor editing, but definitely not 
composing.  The visual skill of looking at letters
and numbers is very different from looking at staves, and one has to be 
exceedingly clever to organize one's .ly files to even have
a chance at seeing the same chord notes on the screen at the same time.  (You 
can see how I have done this with symbolic
definitions in my .ly file)  This would concur with the fact that at least 90% 
of the gnu-music-discuss list seems to be performers
copying/editing/transcribing classical compositions, not composers.  (This an 
appearance, not a certainty.)
- the concept of embedding a two dimensional entitiy like a musical score in a 
one dimensional text file seems suspicious from the
start.  It requires huge amounts of effort to get reasonable results.  I 
personally don't understand why they don't read their
source code out of text in a spreadsheet.

- the processing time of the attached score is over 10 minutes with build 
1.3.46 on my 266 MMX pentium.  The newer builds are much
slower.  This is very frustrating when a rhythmic error has been made because 
rhythmic errors generally freak lilypond out
completely after the barline check failure.  To get _any_ visual feedback you 
must either wait 10 minutes or enter an alternate
score block to generate just the measures in the general vicinity of the error. 
 Both are annoying when editing is being done out
of order (back to the nonusefulness for composing point.)  And my scores aren't 
really very large.
- entering alphanumeric text around the score appears to be very limited, 
though I do not claim to be a super-user.  For example,
(to my knowledge) you cannot have two different typefaces, one for tempo and 
one for a style marking, and get them to coexist
vertically.  Ideally I would also want to be able to write stuff below the 
staff, but the simple stuff would be good first.
- percussion support is basically nonexistent.  Add to that the fact that 
percussion parts have lots of text on them, sometimes
with conventions dictating weird locations like below staves.
- extracting parts is a very laborious process.  The next score I do will go to 
the extent of using a C preprocessor to allow
conditional score blocks for each different paper format so I can automatically 
get the score and parts.  Ditto midi playback since
some of the things I want to print on the page make ugly midi sounds.  This is 
a serious kludge.
- For undetermined reason, I have not been able to get multimeasure rests 
outside of a trivial example, critical for extraction of
individual parts.  I seem to be following the documentation/examples but the 
behavior is not consistent and 10 minute compiles are
not conducive to experimentation.
- changing the paper/font size is horribly braindead.  Landscape rotation 
likewise.  A real solution would allow any typeface at
any size on any paper, but this is far from the possibility.  Don't even think 
about changing the (1) font to one of the 5 approved
sizes.  I totally don't get why they are using the TeX/Metafont system anyway.  
I would prefer truetype/postscript any day,
hopefully with metric sets (or easy editing thereof) for support of things like 
Adobe's (expensive) music font.
- (jazz specific) the chord symbol system is totally useless for sophisticated 
chord symbols.  I had to use TeX math mode to get
mine, but I'm probably in a under 1% minority of composers that also has a 
degree in computer science and knows how or has any
desire to do that.  (Though for lilypond users, I think that percentage is 
probably pretty high given hard evidence like 75% of
users running Unix)
- getting the symbol c1. to span two measures of 6/8 time seems to be 
impossible.  After I wrote a bunch of them and didn't want to
go rejustifying my .ly text, I resorted to using perl regexp substitution to 
substitute for c2. ~ c2. or whatever other pitch.
- lots more little stuff that there's no reason to go over.

In summary, it has been an extremely frustrating process learning and some of 
the features I really need I know won't be
implemented within my school career unless I myself go and implement them.  The 
philosophical goals of the authors are too far away
from mine.  For now I write a lot of pencil over my lilypond printed scores.

Incidentally, I may voice some or all of these concerns to the list, but for 
now the language is to harsh to be properly
diplomatic.  I don't want to offend the authors who are after all voulenteers.  
So I thank you in advance for being careful not to
cc it back to them.

Best of luck,

Jeff Henrikson

> -----Original Message-----
> From: address@hidden
> [mailto:address@hidden Behalf Of rxf
> Sent: Sunday, November 19, 2000 6:07 PM
> To: address@hidden
> Subject: Professional ???
> Hello,
> I am a composer of contemporary music (it's my job)
> How about an professional use of TeX for Music ? and not just
> for score so simple than all your exemples (it's an another performance
> to copie score of Boulez or Stockhausen ...)
> On this, I permit to send a mail to you because I never see anything
> about it
> in mailling list. In fact, does music with Tex is just for fun or
> serious ??
> I was working with Tex long time ago at university. I am not afraid
> about this kind of languge BUT i need to know if it's usable seriously.
> You know, it's a matter of time beetwen to learn an result.
> (I am tied of Final / I don't need midi things / I need to print exactly
> what I want / etc ...).
> Thanck for your help.
> _______________________________________________
> Gnu-music-discuss mailing list
> address@hidden

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