A frequent MuseScore user reviews LilyPond with Frescobaldi

Music, Music Composition, Reviews

Once I got into the flow of text entry, I *really* wanted to like LilyPond (and Frescobaldi). And when I say flow, I mean the full-on Csíkszentmihályi experience.

Black kitty with white paws typing like the wind! (From Aaron's Animals on YouTube)

Pictured: me inputting musical notes in LilyPond

Never in all my years of writing and adapting music in MuseScore did note entry go so fast. The notes flew out of my fingers.

When done, I pressed the little green lily pad button in Frescobaldi to see my plain text turned into beautifully-engraved music in the tiled window just next to my text editor.

If I had never coded before in HTML and CSS, I’d say it was like magic.Screenshot of an old version of MOUNTAIN BELLS, being worked on in Frescobaldi

That’s the promise of the free program LilyPond: beautifully engraved sheet music made with fast (text-based) input. And when you pair it with the free program Frescobaldi, the “coding” becomes close to What You See Is What You Get, once you hit that lily pad button. Plus, Frescobaldi played the music back to me.

Yes. Once I got used to it, the text input was MIGHTYFAST and I loved it and wished it would go on forever.

BUT I don’t think it’s a good tool for piano sheet music.

Because 1) setting up the right hand section in paragraphs in separate-but-parallel sections to the left hand got old quickly, despite Frescobaldi highlighting which text part corresponded to which printed notes. This was extra apparent when adding new notes and phrases in the middle of completed measures. One note gets shifted, then—bazoom!— both staves are misaligned and it’s very heard-wrapsy to fix it all on the text side.

2) Though the documentation claims there’s a way to set up staves one atop another, I just couldn’t figure it out. And folks, I just taught myself how to typeset a novel in Scribus from the ground floor. If you look up “self-taught” I’m at least in an example sentence.

While shifting notes and phrases around can also be a pain in MuseScore, it’s a nuisance-pain, not an MC-Escher-word-puzzle-being-solved-through-a-laparoscope pain. Mess up in MuseScore, you can directly cut, paste, and adjust on the score. In LilyPond, you have to go hunting through text, run the engraving process again, then pray you aligned everything correctly.

If input speed were my sole consideration, I might try using LilyPond and Frescobaldi for banjo tabs, or something else with only one staff.

But my understanding is MuseScore can do tablature too—and editing a multi-stave piano score makes far more sense to me in that program than it does LilyPond.

Sorry, folks. For this piano composer, MuseScore is just easier to handle.

New! A GINGERSNAP CAT CHRISTMAS – my first paperback release!

Art, News from Pixelvania Publishing, Writing

A GINGERSNAP CAT CHRISTMAS Book Cover: A ginger cat with a halo smiles at a terrified black and grey kitten hiding behind him.

Gingersnap Cat is an orange tabby feeling blue. Heaven’s paradise, but it’s just not home without his human family by his side. Not even Christmas with his feline friends can cheer him up.

But when Heaven needs an extra paw, Gingersnap answers the call. Sent back to Earth, Gingersnap must help a little kitten fulfill a big destiny!

Announcing my latest Christmas novel (and first paperback release!), A Gingersnap Cat Christmas.

If you’re like me, you love Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Disney’s Prep and Landing, and A Garfield Christmas Special. But while all of these shows are great at talking about Christmas spirit, it’s hard to find a kid-friendly story (with exception of A Charlie Brown Christmas) that even mentions Jesus Christ, the actual reason for the season. And it’s doubly hard to find a Christian Christmas story that’s not too…well…preachy.

That’s why I wrote A GINGERSNAP CAT CHRISTMAS–to meld all the festive fun of a classic Christmas special without leaving the Savior out of his own celebration.

(I also wanted to write a story where the cats are the heroes, instead of selfish jerks.)

Anyway, if you ever wondered what Highway to Heaven would’ve been like with feline stars, you’ll love A Gingersnap Cat Christmas.

At 200 pages long, it’s a great novel for voracious young readers, but with 25 chapters, families can read a chapter a night in December for a new Christmas tradition.

You can…

Thanks for reading, everyone! I hope this book can help you whittle down your Christmas list early. 😉

A little about branding book spines for DIY Indie Authors

Thoughts on Entertainment, Writing

As an indie author on a shoestring budget, you may be wondering how you can make your print books look like they belong on your readers’ shelves next to the “big boy” books published with gobs of money and professional art departments behind them.

Using my Visual Arts BA powers and some slightly blurry photos of our booka nd DVD shelves, I thought I’d try to explain some of the elements of good spine branding. Spinal branding? Ouch. Sounds painful.

Let’s get started.

Spines of the AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER DVD boxed sets

AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER (Asian-influenced animated series)

Here’s the three-volume set of the marvelous fantasy cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender.

At the very top we have the logotype for the series itself, which any fan recognizes from the show’s intro sequence. But even if you’ve never seen the show, there’s a lotta info packed into that itty bitty logo: first, the Nickelodeon logo (in its signature orange) lets you know the station its from…and all that that implies (animation, kid-friendly, playful, positive energy).

Grey-Gold (Golden-eyed Penguin)

Art

A golden-eyed penguin swims through an abstract sea of gold textureA very very very very very very very long overdue commission for Frank Villarreal, a wonderful artist, banjoist, and penguin enthusiast.

Before this commish, I didn’t even know this species of penguin existed! They are really rad. With their semi-intimidating gaze it was hard not to cartoon one as a hard-boiled detective.

I believe the digital watercolor brushes are by Mastodon.Art user PolloMostro??