Editing Features

While editing, Frescobaldi provides many ways to change and manipulate already entered music.


In the LilyPond » Rhythm menu there are many options to manipulate the durations of a selected music fragment. You can double or halve the durations, add or remove dots, remove scaling (the *n/m suffix) or remove all durations. Make implicit removes durations that are equal to the previous note, and Make explicit adds the duration to every note or chord, even if it has the same duration as the previous one.

You can also copy a rhythm from a selected piece of music. The rhythm is then copied to the clipboard. To "paste" the rhythm to other music you must then select the target music. Paste Rhythm will then apply the copied rhythm to the newly selected music. This is nice when you enter e.g. hymns that have multiple voices that share the same rhythm. You can also use Apply Rhythm... to manually enter some durations and apply them to a selected fragment of music. If there are more notes than durations, the durations will be repeated.


The LilyPond » Pitch menu has several commands to manipulate pitches of already entered music:

Pitch Name Language

This command is very powerful: it translates pitch names in your document to a different LilyPond language. This is useful when you want to edit a work started by someone else, but are not accustomed to entering notes in e.g. dutch or italian names.

The pitch translation function is quite accurate: it almost 100% correctly parses LilyPond input and finds all pitches, without altering e.g. markup, lyrics, strings or comments that also might contain words (like "do") that are also pitch names. It even warns you when quarter tones are used and the target languages does not have definitions for them. But just to be sure: run LilyPond after translating the pitches and carefully examine the document. If anything went wrong, press Ctrl+Z and try again.

Convert Relative to Absolute

This command converts all notes in the document or selected fragment that are inside a \relative { ... } section to absolute pitches. It honors octave checks (see the LilyPond manual) but does not print warnings.

Convert Absolute to Relative

This command converts all notes in the selected music expression(s) to relative pitches, inserting a \relative command at the beginning of each selected music expression. A music expression is a piece of music enclosed in << ... >> or { ... }. If no music is selected, all toplevel expressions that contain notes are made relative. Chordmode sections (music inside \chordmode or \chords) are not made relative.


This command transposes all music in the document or selected fragment. A dialog is displayed where you can enter two pitches, the "from" and the "to" pitch. Frescobaldi then computes the distance between the two pitches and transposes the music over the same distance. Both absolute and relative music can be transposed. Chordmode sections are transposed without changing the octave.


Frescobaldi can automatically place hyphens ' -- ' inside texts to make those texts usable as lyrics. It can use hyphenation dictionaries of OpenOffice.org, Scribus, KOffice, etc.

To use this feature you must first select the text you want to hyphenate. Then choose LilyPond » Lyrics » Hyphenation from the LilyPond menu or press Ctrl+L. In the dialog that appears, select the language. Click OK or press Enter to have the hyphenation take place.

A small limitation is that word processor hyphenation dictionaries often don't want to break a word right after the first letter (e.g. a -- men), because that does not look nice in word processor texts. So it might be possible that you have to add some hyphens after the first letter of such lyrics.

There is also a command to remove hyphenation. This can be useful if you have a stanza of lyrics that you just want to display as a markup below the music. Under Settings » Configure Frescobaldi » Paths you can enter a list of directories to search for hyphenation pattern files.

Cut and Assign

If you find that you want to use the same LilyPond commands or music fragment more than once in multiple places in your document, but have already entered them in some structure, there is a quick command to cut the fragment out and put it as a toplevel variable assignment in your LilyPond document.

First select the exact text you want to store in a variable. Then choose Edit » Cut and Assign (Ctrl+Shift+C) and enter a LilyPond variable name. This identifier name may only contain letters. Then click Ok. The selected fragment will be cut from its original place and assigned to the specified variable. The assignment is placed just before the current section in your document. The fragment will be replaced with a reference to the variable.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Frescobaldi uses the KatePart text editing component of KDE. So, in addition to the shortcuts outlined below, you can also use the many keyboard shortcuts available in e.g. Kate and KWrite.

Alt+Up/Down Move the cursor to the end of the next or previous blank line
Alt+Shift+Up/Down Select text till the next or previous blank line
Alt+Ctrl+Shift+Up/Down Move the selected block to the next or previous blank line
Ctrl+D Comment out the current line or selected text
Ctrl+Shift+D Uncomment the current line or selected text
Ctrl+; Repeat the last entered note or chord with all added articulations, etc
Ctrl+{ Insert a pair of braces { } with an empty, indented line in between and places the cursor there. If text is selected, it is placed between the braces.
Ctrl+. Replace the entered mnemonic with the corresponding snippet from the Expand Manager, or, if no existing mnemonic was typed, show the Expand Manager dialog
Ctrl+Space Show the available completions
Ctrl+'Insert a single typographical quote. Left or right is automatically determined. If text is selected, that text is put between left and right single quotes.
Ctrl+"Insert a double typographical quote. Left or right is automatically determined. If text is selected, that text is put between left and right double quotes.
Ctrl+Shift+CCut and assign
Ctrl+Shift+V Insert a \version command with the default LilyPond version number. Which version number is used can be configured in the Settings dialog.
Ctrl+Shift+R Wrap the selected music in a \repeat volta 2 { ... } construct.
Ctrl+Shift+N Show the Score Wizard
Ctrl+M Run LilyPond on the current document in preview mode
Ctrl+L Hyphenate the currently selected lyric text
Ctrl+E Email the generated output documents (PDF, MIDI, etc.) after a LilyPond run
Ctrl+Shift+F Toggle Full-screen mode
Last modified: 19 dec 2009