Installing Music21 on GNU/Linux

GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, etc. are supported by music21. However, by choosing to use Unix-like systems you should be an advanced user – the music21list should not be used for general installation/configuration problems that are specific to your operating system. Because of the number of different Unix variants, the list maintainers can only help with music21-specific problems post installation or Mac/PC problems.

Check Your Version of Python

Music21 requires Python 2.7.3+ or Python 3.3+.

To determine the Python version you have installed, open a shell or terminal and enter the following command-line argument (where “$” is the prompt):

$ python -V

or in many 3.X installation cases:

$ python3 -V

it should display something like:

Python 3.4.1

if so, you’re okay. If not, go to and download a newer version. Multiple versions of Python can exist on a single computer without any problems.

Download music21

Download the most-recent music21 package from the following URL.

Linux users should download the .tar.gz file.

Installing Music21 with

First, uncompress the .tar.gz file.

Open a shell or terminal, enter the outer-most music21 directory, and use python to execute the file with the ‘install’ argument:

$ cd /path/to/dir/music21-version
$ python install

You may need special permission to write in the Python site-packages directory. An easy way to temporarily gain this permission is to use the sudo command. If the above returns a permissions error, try the following:

$ sudo python install

If you cannot gain permission to install music21 in the Python site-packages directory, you can still run and use music21. Place the music21 folder anywhere convenient and note the file path. Start Python, and add this file path to Python’s list of directories searched for modules:

>>> import sys
>>> sys.path.append('/Users/ariza/Desktop/music21')  

This can be done permanently by adding the music21 directory to the Python PYTHONPATH environment variable. This is not necessary if music21 is installed in the Python site-packages directory. See the following link for more details:

After Installation

After a successful installation, you may proceed to Notes to begin using music21.

Installation Help

If you have followed all the instructions and still encounter problems, start over from scratch and try it again very carefully. If you still have problems contact an expert in your operating system.