From Fedora Project Wiki
This Is out of Date
The most recent revisions of the Musicians' Guide are now available from the git repository.

What Frescobaldi Is, and How It Can Help

Frescobaldi is an advanced text editor, designed specifically for use with LilyPond source files. Its interface has been crafted in such a way that it aids the average workflow of creating and editing musical scores in LilyPond. Frescobaldi's tight integration with various system tools is similar to the way LilyPond itself is tightly integrated with various other software programs.

The Nature of Frescobaldi

Frescobaldi is designed to take advantage of several features of the KDE 4 desktop system. Regular KDE users will immediately recognize Frescobaldi's components as being identical to several other key KDE applications - specifically Kate, Okular, and Konqueror. The key advantage to this approach is that KDE users will already know how to use most of the features of Frescobaldi, because those other applications are not just replicated, but actually used by Frescobaldi. There are many other advantages to this development approach.

For non-KDE users - especially those with older computers, this KDE-based approach may be more of a hassle than a help. An unfortunate side-effect of this development choice is that Frescobaldi has many "dependencies" in KDE packages, meaning that some KDE software will need to be installed in order to use Frescobaldi. This is a significant disadvantage for some users, but the benefits of using Frescobaldi far outweigh the extra hard drive space that will be required.

Frescobaldi Makes LilyPond Easier

Using LilyPond with Frescobaldi is the recommended method for this User Guide. All three case studies in the "LilyPond" chapter (link? maybe?) use Frescobaldi. This is because the writers feel that Frescobaldi truly makes using LilyPond an easier thing to do.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • The text-editing component (from Kate), PDF-preview component (from Okular), and help file component (from Konqueror) are from applications that you may already know how to use.
  • The one-window setup of the application allows you to view either the source file and its output, or the source file and a help document, side-by-side. This is perfect for today's widescreen monitors.
  • The "Setup new score" tool greatly increases the speed of creating a new score, and offers some advanced configuration options that might otherwise take hours to discover.
  • The "Quick Insert" sidebar on the left-hand side of the window makes it easy to insert articulation, trill, and other marks. These would often otherwise require checking a reference document.
  • The 'LilyPond' menu provides several further tools to help adjust and troubleshoot your scores.
  • Careful integration with system tools allows you to input notes with a MIDI keyboard, listen to the MIDI output of your LilyPond score, and print the PDF file of your score, all from within Frescobaldi. These features are not covered in this Guide.

For further information on Frescobaldi, please refer to the project's website.


  1. Run sudo -c 'yum install frescobaldi' or install the "frescobaldi" package with PackageKit or KPackageKit.
  2. There are a lot of dependencies, including perl-* packages, subversion, kde* packages, and timidity++ including fluid-soundfont-gm (which is 114 MB?)
  3. Review and approve the list of dependencies.
  4. The application can be found in the K Menu under 'Multimedia' or somewhere in the GNOME 'Applications' menu (probably under 'Multimedia'... for some reason)


Changing these default settings is not necessary, but it may result in a more productive experience.

  1. Go to 'Settings > Configure Frescobaldi'
  2. In 'General Preferences' check 'Save document when LilyPond is run', or else you will have to save it manually
  3. Review the other options on this page
  4. In 'Paths', only some of the fields will be filled; this is okay.
    • GNOME users might want to set "PDF Viewer" to 'evince'; this will not change the embedded PDF viewer, but it will change what opens when you click "Open PDF" in the bottom pane's 'LilyPond Log'. If left blank, this will open KDE's "Okular".
    • You can fill in the "MIDI Player" path, so that the "Play MIDI" button will work
      • The program "pmidi" is available from the Planet CCRMA at Home repositories, and is a command-line MIDI player; install it with yum; run 'pmidi -l' to see which ports are available; then put "pmidi -p 14:0" in the "MIDI Player" field where "14:0" is instead whatever port you want to use; you'll need a MIDI synthesizer (like FluidSynth) listening
      • or you can use timidity++
    • You can change the "Default Directory" to the place where you store your LilyPond files
    • You can change "LilyPond documentation" if you don't want the right-side-bar "LilyPond Documentation" thing to internet it every time
      • install the 'lilypond-doc' package (it's 44 MB)
      • put "/usr/share/doc/lilypond-doc-2.12.2/index.html" in the field (or in another language if that's what you want)
      • this will need to be updated when LilyPond is updated; if you don't update it, then the built-in "LilyPond Documentation" tab will simply show up blank, instead of with the user guide - so it's harmless if you forget to update
  5. options for the "Editor Component" are the same as those for KWrite
    • I recommend going to the Editing tab, then "Auto Completion" and ensuring that both boxes are un-checked
    • You may want to change other settings here; highly-flexible, customizable, powerful; applies only in Frescobaldi

Using Frescobaldi

The practical use of Frescobaldi for editing LilyPond source files is described in the "LilyPond" chapter of this Guide, available here.