Gavi's Song sheet music with TuxGuitar and LilyPond

A year or two ago I bought Lindsey Stirling’s Album Brave Enough. It’s wonderful all around, but I really fell in love with Gavi’s Song.

Three weeks ago I took a stab at playing this on my guitar. It’s technically not actually that difficult – After listening to the original and trying to repeat it for several days, I can now actually play through it without too many hiccups (still far from being YouTube’able, though). At least the first two thirds – but what I have is enough to get the feeling across, and it has a proper ending.

I didn’t find any existing tabs for it, so in order to share it with both my future self and with other interested guitar players I wanted to create some myself. My wife used LilyPond a while ago to create some sheet music, but she can actually read and write music notes – unlike me, I’ve never really learned them and I’m much more a “listen and replay” guy (aka. too lazy to learn it properly ☺). LilyPond doesn’t seem to have an input mode for tabs. But I found TuxGuitar (packaged in Debian and Fedora, so installation is trivial) which is able to do just that: there is a fret board where you can just click around to put together the sheet, and it translates it to notes + tabs:


It also has a nice chord editor, text/chord name input, and dozens of other features which I didn’t even start to explore yet. One highly useful thing is the MIDI playback, though: Just start

timidity -iA -Os &

then set Timidity in TuxGuitar’s Audio settings, and it plays your song while you can follow along on the sheet and fret board. This is highly useful to spot wrong notes.

TuxGuitar’s builtin PDF export isn’t that great, but it can export LilyPond files – and that does a much better typesetting job. One gotcha is that it exports a relatively old format that LilyPond 2.19 doesn’t understand - but fortunately there is a tool convert-ly which takes care of that. With that, exporting from TuxGuitar and calling

convert-ly "Gavis" | lilypond -o "Gavis Song" -

got me a nice music and tab sheet. I’m making this available under the CC-BY-SA license, and I appreciate feedback how to improve it.

I also uploaded the corresponding MIDI. But this is not for enjoying this song, just to check how I arranged it. The rigid timing and missing dynamics lack any kind of emotion, that’s the bit that I’m unable to express (with all these magical music notation symbols).