What software can make circular notation?

I also recommend Blender. It could do this quite easily and it’s free! I used it in this video to distort the staff: https://youtu.be/VeIudHVa4OY
I simply exported the score and put it together in a linear fashion in Gimp. Then I imported it into Blender as “Images as plane”. Then subdivide and add a Simple Deform.

There are tons of videos out there that explain this process quite simply.

I know that LilyPond is off-topic on this forum, but I’d like to correct some facts about it if you allow me.

LilyPond does not use TeX. It did use it in the first years of its existence, but got independent about 20 years ago.

You can indeed “access” LilyPond from TeX, via either lyluatex or lilypond-book. Those will merely call LilyPond externally and then import the EPS file for you. Thus, no control over LilyPond’s output is possible from TeX code.

On the other hand, LilyPond contains a Turing-complete programming language too (Scheme), and you can use that to customize it.

As you can see on https:/ /lists.gnu.org/archive/html/lilypond-user/2023-04/msg00282.html , with <100 lines of Scheme code I could write a demo that does basic circular scores using Scheme code.

(You will need to remove the space in the link; apparently, Discourse won’t allow me to post a link, as a new user.)

Jean (LilyPond developer)


Thank you for your clarifications. My (limited) knowledge is clearly outdated.

Sure! Here’s a 15 minute long video where I talk about how to listen to mbira music.

This next one is a good one to start with because it is just two mbiras together without singing and hosho shakers. So it’s easier to hear several melodies at once, but doesn’t get too crazy.

And then if you decide you want to really go down the rabbit hole, I recommend listening to matepe music, which is a type of mbira music from North-Eastern Zimbabwe. The layers are heavily layered, the shakers also become solo instruments where they don’t stay on a single main rhythmic pattern (unlike a lot of other mbira music) and the vocals are very heavily polymelodic.


Thank you. The output on that thread looks beautiful. Unfortunately the idea of doing 100 lines of code is too intimidating for me!

Most LilyPond users wouldn’t write such code either. Luckily, they don’t have to; when special needs arise, they copy-paste code provided by kind programmers. In this case, the main file that produces the circular score is just the score in normal LilyPond syntax, plus one line that loads the separate file of code for circular scores as a kind of “stylesheet” or “package”.

If you have further questions, perhaps we should move this discussion to the lilypond-user mailing list (i.e., the LilyPond equivalent of this forum, where the code is posted).

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Lovely, thanks!