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ly2video is a Python script which converts music represented by a GNU LilyPond file into a video containing a horizontally scrolling music staff which is synchronized with a MIDI-generated audio rendering of the music.


Here are some examples of videos generated by ly2video.


Please also read the Installation section below before you start installing anything!

  • GNU LilyPond >= 2.15.41 (needs one-line-breaking support)
  • FFmpeg (if you are on Ubuntu or Debian, see first see issue 32)
  • TiMidity++
  • Python 2.7
  • Python's pip installer
  • swig and ALSA development libraries (python-midi requires these in order to build its sequencer code successfully, although ly2video doesn't use that code)


Installing dependencies on openSUSE 12.2

Install the ffmpeg package from Packman via 1-click install (you can also find the button on this page), or via YaST and/or zypper.

You can ensure the remaining dependencies are installed via something like:

sudo zypper install lilypond timidity python-pip python-imaging alsa-devel

Installing dependencies on Debian- and Ubuntu-based Linux distributions

There is currently a known issue on these distributions, since Debian and Ubuntu switched from ffmpeg to the libav fork. See issue #32 for a suggested workaround.

Additionally, Debian and Ubuntu both currently ship very old versions of LilyPond, so you might need to install a newer one via the "Generic Packages" section near the top of:

You can ensure the remaining dependencies are installed via something like:

sudo apt-get install timidity python-pip python-imaging swig libasound-dev

Installing dependencies on Arch-based Linux distributions

Download the source tarball from the Arch User Repository, extract it, and run

makepkg -si

in the directory you extracted to in order to pull all the dependencies (python and otherwise) from the main repos and then install ly2video. The other dependencies from the AUR will have to be installed manually; however, they will all be listed if you run makepkg in the same directory.

If you have an AUR helper such as yaourt installed, this entire process can be shortened to one step:

yaourt -S ly2video

where yaourt would be replaced by the name of your AUR helper if you have a different helper installed.

Regardless, after installing the package, you can use the script by running with the required arguments.

Installing dependencies on other platforms

If you have figured out how to install the dependencies and get ly2video working on another platform, please file a new issue containing the information, so that this README can be updated. Thanks!

Installing required Python module dependencies

ly2video requires some specific Python modules - do NOT install these manually! (unless you are a Python expert.) They can be installed system-wide via:

sudo pip install -r pip-requires.txt

or for the current user via:

pip install --user -r pip-requires.txt

You can optionally protect against the risk of installation of these Python modules destabilising any other Python applications you may use, by isolating them in a virtual environment using virtualenv. The most convenient way to do this is via virtualenvwrapper. Once you have virtualenvwrapper installed, it's as simple as:

mkvirtualenv ly2video
pip install -r pip-requires.txt

Installing ly2video itself

Just run

python2 install --root=INSTALLATION_DIR

from the main directory to install it to some directory INSTALLATION_DIR. Running python2 build first will build it separately from the install step, if desired.


Run ./ --help to display usage information.

You must ensure that your .ly input file contains both \layout { } and \midi commands, which ensure that valid .midi and .png files are generated when it is run through lilypond --png.

Support, bugs, development etc.

Please check the issue tracker for known issues, and if yours is not there, please submit it. I can't guarantee that I'll be able to fix it, or even respond, but I'll try, and even if I can't help, this is github, so anyone else can potentially help you out too.

If you know how to fix a problem or contribute an enhancement, you are extremely welcome to fork this repository, commit your fix, and then send a pull request!


Huge credits for the initial implementation go to Jiří "FireTight" Szabó, who wrote it as part of his Bachelor's degree. If you are lucky enough to understand Czech, you can read his thesis on ly2video in the doc/thesis/ subdirectory, or online :-) Work on an English translation has begun and is being tracked in issue 15 but is unlikely to be finished any time soon unless someone else volunteers to help out.

Very big thanks also to Jan Nieuwenhuizen not only for co-inventing LilyPond in the first place, but also for helping me implement the complete revamp of the synchronization algorithm, which should be much more robust than the previous one.

And finally of course, much gratitude to the many great people who have contributed to LilyPond over the years. This would not have been possible without you.


ly2video is released under the GNU GPL v3.

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