The Linux Story – Between Heaven and Hell


To be honest, it is hard to conclude the story. I choose to install Linux Mint 17 with the cool Cinnamon Desktop Environment. But I chose to install Linux for two application and the sense of adventure.

Finale and other GUI based application will never come near to the abilities of Lilyond in my opinion and Tab is pretty much the only free Lute Tablature engraving application I know.

I don’t use office on this laptop, Libre/Open and other Linux office suites will never get to the level of Microsoft Office, both the Mac version and the Windows one. And I prefer the pro music application OSX has to offer (again, the open source application will never come near Apple’s Logic and Garageband) The only thing I truly miss, is iTunes, but I’m willing to give that up so I can work faster.

Now, Linux require the same maintenance as Windows and OSX, you still need to install updates, keep your account secured (working as root is bad for every system out there)

If I had no sense of adventure and I could use Tab under Windows, so I guess I wouldn’t install Linux in the first place. But other then working, I love to explore, gaming is nice but again, it’s not comfortable on laptop for me anyway and my pro apps are on my iMac.

I will always prefer to work with OSX, but Linux is better then Windows for my needs, before you install it, make sure it also match your needs, and try not to listen to over enthusiasts Linux users, it will just ruin the whole experience.


Fantasy I for Lute / Omer Katzir


The Fantasy

The Story:

I wrote this Fantasy in 2008 while studying with Dr. Levi Sheptovitsky and this is the third issue of  it. The 1st was done with Finale giving me very poor results, especially in the tablature section, the second edition was done with Wayne Cripps Tab, but I still needed a full version with both tablatures and staff notation.

This is pretty much an example of what Lilypond can do, as I wrote in The Linux Story – The Music Engraving Incident. Now, this was not only my work and I’m thinking Lilypond’s hivemind, I couldn’t really get this perfect result without their help.

In 2012 my grandfather Matitiyahu Kosiver died at the age of 95 (or 94 according to some other calculations), his life and death left a great impact on me. My grandfather came from a small Jewish village in Poland and at the age of 3 was sent to a Cheider and then Yeshiva. In 1940 he joined the Russian army to fight the Natzies. If I recall right, only my grandfather and one of his cousins survived the holocaust.

In the day of the funeral my uncle said to me “Your grandfather lived like a king, and died like a king”.


So please enjoy Fantasy I!


The Linux Story – Part III – The Music Engraving Incident


“Music is the healing force of the universe”

(Albert Ayler  1936-1970)

GUI Applications

There are two types of music engraving applications, two different approaches and abilities. The first kind is the GUI (Graphical User Interface.) Finale, Sibelius, NoteWorthy Composer. This kind of applications are also known as WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) a long living approach (You might know it from Microsoft Word for example) These application approach is simple, you select the object you want and place it where you want.

I used mostly Finale in these types of application, and do have some experience with NoteWorthy and Sibelius. It is possible to use key binds and shortcuts the make the engraving faster, but it is still somewhat slow. The main problem with these applications that it takes time, and sometimes a lot of time, if it’s even possible, to set it up for what is needed.

The first version of my Fantasy III was engraved using Finale 2012, to write counterpoint I had to use different layers, as far as I know, it’s the only way to do so. It’s like using several papers to each voice. This also led to some problems with the stems.  To setup tablatures in the same piece is even a bigger nightmare and required much more tweaks, it makes the work really slow for my needs. There are of course specific entabulation application as Fronimo, but still, it’s point and click and a lot of setting up.

You can get great results with these applications, if you have time to set them up and play with configurations, tweaks and menus inside menus. But that’s not for me, I need my work to be fluid. There is however a big plus for these applications, if you have a MIDI keyboard you can easily use it, I do not know if Lilypond is capable of doing so (and I don’t have a MIDI keyboard to try it)

TUI Applications

TUI (Text based User Interface), do you remember DOS or Norton Commander? Something like that. TUI music engravers include Lilypond and specifically for tablatures (lute) Tab by Wayne Cripps are more of programming languages. You do not point and click, write instruction to the file and then compile it and get the results. 
Now, this is great, there are many commands and many tweaks you can write, there are no menus so you just need to find the right one and you do it in a simple search in the manuals. These applications are much more similar to the good old paper and pen, you write what you need and where you need it. Let me use the example of Fantasy III again, when I moved to Lilypond I only had to give several instructions. First, I had to setup the staves and voices, it is much easier then switching to different layers as one staff which include several voices. I also had to include a tablature staff and include the voices in it. That was it, I could start writing after 5 minutes of setup and completed the work in less then an hour. 
The result was perfect for me, I got all the voices in place as I wrote on paper. But, and there is a but, using these application under Windows is not that natural. I never tried Tab for Windows, I couldn’t really understand how to install it. But with Lilypond it was really unnatural, again, I can’t just explain what it means, I just the feeling that something is not right. 
There is a third kind of application, like Denemo and MuseScore, both based on Lilypond, they just gives a point and click, I don’t see any reason to use these application, they do not give anything GUI based application or text based. 

What does it have to do with the Linux story?

Finale and most GUI based application have versions for both OSX and Windows, but I don’t like the GUI based. Lilypond and Tab have OSX, Windows and Linux support (well, I never tried the windows version of Tab) it allows to use your works on every computer, and why it good for me? As I mentioned, I’m using iMac as my main computer, but I also have a laptop running windows. Sometimes I can’t Work on the iMac, for the usual reasons, in work, bathroom, bedroom watching TV, etc. and as Lilypond felt really wrong under Windows, the logical conclusion was to install Hackintosh.

But I also need a stable and long running system, the next logical choice was to install Linux. and That’s What I did.


In the next part I will explain the what I install and how I feel about it. Stay Tuned!