Update: It looks like the votes are clearly in favor of Lilypond. While Sibelius and Finale appear to be the "canonical" solutions, and MuseScore has a nice showing (albeit using a "development" version).

I'd like to produce my own edition of Paganini's Caprice No. 6, with guitar fingerings and ossias. I've tried muscript, and while it generally looks good, it can't handle the complex beaming. I've tried homebrewing my own typesetting system, but that's just going to take forever. So what can I use to reproduce this piece with 64-th note dodecatuplets and sixteenth-note tremolos?

Image borrowed from from http://www.everynote.com/violin.show/3828.music
Image of the theme.

This is the output I've been able to get with muscript (code demonstrated here):
theme from Paganini Caprice no 6

This is the output I've been able to get with my homebrewed code:
improved postscript output

  • muscript is perl program which produces postscript output. Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 9:44

5 Answers 5


I'm pretty sure LilyPond can do what you want. It's not the easiest thing to use but since you've already used a text-based system it might not be too bad. Here are some examples and this is also relevant in this case. MuseScore is another free option, which is easier to use and might also be able to do this.

EDIT: Here's a lilypond version: LilyPond Caprice

And code:


  • the code is showing as an empty tab!
    – Agos
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 8:55
  • @Agos: Yeah, I just noticed. You should be able to see the code if you click "edit". I don't know how to prevent the tab thing from happening...
    – nonpop
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 8:57
  • 1
    It's a problem both with jTab not rendering in preview (which you can fix with <pre> tags), and the fact that lilypond syntax inside <pre> tags still has problems. I've replaced it with a pastebin. Please upvote/favorite these questions on Meta!
    – NReilingh
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 17:53
  • 2
    +1 Lilypond us currently my go to music type setting program. It has everything you need and looks elegant on the page. Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 7:48

MuseScore 1.3 will not create the sub beam like in the first measure. The rest should be doable. If you are not afraid of using a development version, you can try a development version of MuseScore 2.0. I did the following with the current dev version. enter image description here


You need look no further than Sibelius and Finale.

They are the most expensive programs on the market, and for good reason. They can handle professional, advanced music notation and they can emulate the way it was done in classical music engraving in previous centuries. They also do it in a nice GUI that, while it certainly has a steep learning curve, doesn't require any knowledge of computer programming or writing scripts or code.

There are various versions of each program at different price points that have different features and capabilities. You can also get a steep discount on the full-fledged program if you are affiliated with a university, school, or church music program.

I think you should check both of them out.

Shareware, free, and open-source systems exist, but they just aren't as elegant in their capabilities or their use as Finale or Sibelius.

  • 2
    I think it's fair to say that open-source or shareware solutions and text-based quasi-programming code systems like Lilypond will be popular with the kinds of people who frequent this site (computer geeks who are musicians). But I want a scoring program that works more like writing notes on staff paper -- from a musician's point of view and not a computer programmer's point of view. That is why I favor Finale and Sibelius.
    – user1044
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 18:00

I did this in Sibelius:

Sibelius version

It's not an exact copy, but perhaps the possibilities are good enough for you. I had to create a lot of (implicit?) triplets and hide their markings to get it this way. Sibelius istn't free though, in case that was a requirement.

(I am not affiliated with Sibelius, but I enjoy the software very much.)

He, I just noticed that the original was in 3/4 time. No wonder I had to create and hide all those triplets to fit it into 2/4 time... Not to mention how confused I was, thinking that there was something I didn't understand.

  • Notice the tremolos in the second system. Most notation programs can't do that, but Sibelius can. This is an example of a method of notation rather peculiar to the 19th century; it's the sort of feature that free or shareware programs don't attempt to support.
    – user1044
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 18:16
  • The timing in the piece is truly bizarre. It only makes sense in the final few measures. And conversely, you have to understand the final few measures to make sense of the rest. Melodically, it looks as if it were 6/8, but in fact it's syncopated against the (implicit) 3/4. Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 6:15
  • 4
    @Wheat Williams: "it's the sort of feature that free or shareware programs don't attempt to support" is quite absurd when looking at the above examples written with LilyPond and MuseScore.
    – User8773
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 23:26

I didn't find n°6, but you can find several others at http://musescore.com/sheetmusic?text=paganini+caprices All made with MuseScore.

Also check out this video tutorial on how to make tuplets in MuseScore:

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