Using Lillypond to show the ‘sim’ notation in a score

How can you include ‘sim’ in your score ?


How to define the ‘sim’ notation when using Lilypond to engrave a score. This is a little off topic for my blog but I found it difficult to find this information myself so I’m hoping others will find it here.

Lilypond and Frescobaldi

Lilypond is a file format allowing you to define a musical score using simple text notation; Lilypond is also the program which takes that text notation and outputs a score in, for instance, Acrobat PDF format. It’s a pretty amazing technology.

In using Lilypond I’ve found it very useful to use the Frescobaldi sheet music text editor which provides support for writing files in the Lilypond format.

What I’ve done

My music theory knowledge isn’t great but I’ve really enjoyed using Lilypond and Frescobaldi to engrave a score for a relative of mine. It’s just an amazing technology and the output is beautiful.

It took a little time to get to grips with some of the ideas although the Lilypond manuals are very good. I did however find one little thing I couldn’t work out how to do and that is the subject of this, rather top heavy post.

‘sim’ notation on a score

Sometimes in scores you want the text ‘sim.’ to appear as shown below in the screen dump.

I looked all over the documentation and there just didn’t seem to be a way of including that. However I visited the Lilypond IRC channel ( which you can visit directly by going to the support page and paging down a little.

The good folk on there were able to point me in the right direction. By appending

_\markup{\large \italic "sim."}

to the note I wished ‘sim’ to appear under the right thing was done.

Just to make that a little clearer here are a few bars which include the annotation to create the ‘sim’

As you might imagine the


only controls how large the ‘sim’ appear on the score and I fiddled around with this a little until I found an adjective which produced text that matched the rest of the score. There are a number of options for altering the size of text displayed as can be seen in the Selecting font and font size part of the Lilypond manual.

2 thoughts on “Using Lillypond to show the ‘sim’ notation in a score

  1. Josiah

    If you want to use sim. often, you might not want to type that much each time. You could define a variable:

    sim = \markup{\large\italic “sim.”}

    And could be used within the music like so:

    <f a>2 <g b>4_\sim <a c>

    Looks much better; and then, if you decide that you want to change the font property, or what word gets used (“etc.”, or “simile”, for example), you can change it in the variable definition without searching all over your document and changing it every time.

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