Is there a way to play the notes on LilyPond? I mean when using the Crescendo notation editor or MuseScore, there is a play button that can play the sound or complete piece.
score editor with playback button

2 Answers 2


LilyPond is not so much a notation editor as a notation compiler, so you're not going to get live feedback. It's sort of like setting everything up and hitting "go" each time you want to see what your changes did. There are many file formats that can be generated at compile time, and one of those is a MIDI file. There are benefits and drawbacks to this system, and one thing that's lost from going to text input is the immediacy of aural feedback. You can approximate the way you might work in a GUI-based notation editor by setting up a workflow that includes your text editor, PDF viewer, and MIDI player close at hand. As mentioned, this issue was recognized and addressed in Frescobaldi, so that all three are included in one workspace, but of course, it's up to you to decide how best you want to work with your files.

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    Looking for analogies with text editors: MuseScore and Crescendo are like WYSIWYG editors (What You See Is What You Get: Microsoft Office Word, LibreOffice Writer) vs. typesetters, where you create a file, which will later be typeset (like TeX and LaTeX, or even HTML which is based on an XML-markup and will be "typeset" (rendered) by a webbrowser).
    – D. Kovács
    Sep 27, 2021 at 12:43

Whereas the layout block \layout{} is used to generate a pdf, the midi block \midi{} will generate a midi file.

Depending on what software application you are writing LilyPond script in, this midi file will either be playable through that particular software (for example Frescobaldi), or you will have to open that midi file with some other program. Midi files are great because they can be opened with a large variety of music programs (for example MuseScore).

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