Note: gcomposer is more or less sleeping. I don't think it's the program I need to make music. I need to think a lot. Don't expect new versions soon.


gcomposer is a little tool to write music.

The target audience is classical guitarists who want to create their own (preferably free) music.

The key point in making gcomposer was to have some quick audio feedback to ease the life of the composer. Sure, one can play the piece she writes using her guitar but having both the guitar and a computer in use at the same time was thought to be a bit difficult. And since the code to have audio feedback was easy to do, well, it's done.

Some might argue that a computer's program is not required to write music. That's true. But some people might have trouble with paper and pencil. In particular one might want a nice undo/redo mechanism to test various ideas as quick as possible. This is the second important concept of gcomposer.

Why gcomposer when so many good software already exist, are much better and have more features? Well, first reason: I wanted to code it. Second reason: I wanted a small, fast and reliable program with a GUI. Other software are big and slow (at least on my pentium 200 MHz, 64 MB of RAM, much less that 200 MB of free hard-disk space) so I just made a very simple one with just what I need. I release it for some other people might find it useful (why not?).

gcomposer works under GNU/Linux and certainly other systems too (it is known to work under Microsoft's Windows, a more or less working binary is provided below).

It is released in the public domain (freedom has no license).


Main window.

Tutorial window.


The list may grow in the future:


May, 18th, 2009: gcomposer-0.9.4pre3.tar.gz.
Same as pre2, only the website has changed.

March, 31st, 2008: gcomposer 0.9.4pre2 (not available, get pre3 instead).
This is the first release at Savannah.

One may want to take a look at the Changelog to know what's new, what bugs were removed, and so on.

If you want to hack into gcomposer you will need gtkcooker, a powerful abstract GUI language used to describe the GUI of gcomposer.

There is gcomposer-intaller.exe that more or less works under Windows.

Work in progress

I am currently rewriting gcomposer in a new, more abstract, language (that has to be designed as well). Don't expect any new release before, well, a while.


To install gcomposer, after downloading and unpacking the archive, just do a 'make' and you then should have a file 'gcomposer' that you can put where you want (like /usr/bin for example).

In case of trouble, contact the authors.


The first thing to do is to launch the tutorial.

gcomposer is very keyboard-centric so you probably cannot avoid running the tutorial to use it to its full potential.

I think that around one hour is required to run the tutorial.


In case of troubles, don't hesitate to contact the authors.

Related software

The most well known and powerful free software to write and engrave music using a computer is lilypond. It is powerful and rich-featured. But it is very big and has no GUI.

The last problem was solved by the creators of denemo (was it the first GUI frontend to lilypond?).

Later in time (I think) we find NoteEdit. It is well known in the GNU/Linux music community. I don't know if it is still actively developed or not.

After NoteEdit, its original creator is now working at NtEd (writing this 2008-03-31). It seems to be also rich-featured and nice.

Other people prefered to keep working on NoteEdit and so they made canorus because they found NoteEdit not to be well designed (in term of internal code) so they started all over from scratch.

There are other projects, like MuseScore or Rosegarden. They are both very rich-featured and nice.

My main concerns with these projects are: lack of GUI for lilypond, and: big, slow, buggy for most of them (don't take me wrong, I don't claim these are bad programs; my biggest problem is that I have a slow computer so the "buggy" problem is not the main one; the "big" and "slow" are; remember I own a Pentium 200MHz ordered around 1997; "rich-featured" often means "eats lots of CPU and RAM").

Classic guitarists have also special needs like fingering which are not well handled as far as my tests can tell (but it's true that I didn't give a look at lilypond for a long time; hopefully it is better now). gcomposer (as of 2008-03-31) does not provide fingering. It may change in the future. (But the goal of gcomposer is to provide a tool to create music, not pretty print it; but I agree, fingering may be part of the music) (even if sometimes various people disagree on the fingering) (but at least the tool should allow the composer to provide her own fingering) (anyway, time will tell.)

Contact: sed@free.fr

Created: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 10:07:50 +0200
Last update: Mon, 18 May 2009 15:35:06 +0200