Fronimo Quickstart Tutorial
By Kemer Thomson

Setting Tablature Using Fronimo

By Kemer Thomson

There are several programs available today to set high quality tablature. I think all owe a debt to Wayne Cripps, who introduced his TAB program around 1995. TAB generated very attractive and functional tablature, but creating and maintaining the .tab files was pretty awkward. Follow-on programs have focused on providing WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") editing and are getting increasingly sophisticated at creating professional results that have the look of the finest historical examples—even to the point of looking like they are handwritten. Of the available programs, I find Fronimo to provide the best balance between power, ease-of-use and attractive results. As you will see in this tutorial you can create very attractive tablature very quickly.

This is a "quickstart" tutorial: it doesn't try be comprehensive, but rather tries to get you quickly to the point where you understand the basic mechanics of creating your own tablature and then start exploring the program on your own. Fronimo is a big and complex program (built from over 80,000 lines of C++ code) and it would take a sizeable book to uncover all of its secrets. I make a big assumption, and that is that you already thoroughly understand lute tablature and have a clear idea of what you want to do. With just a few basics you can create very polished tablature quickly.

What does Fronimo run on?

Fronimo runs in the Microsoft Windows environment. If you have a Mac or Linux system, you will have to buy Windows emulation software. This, of course, costs additional money and results in slower performance. Unfortunately, it simply is not realistic to try and support sophisticated software like this on multiple platforms, and the Windows operating system accounts for the overwhelming majority of available systems. (This is not to say I think Windows is better, just more prevalent!)

Where do I get Fronimo?

A limited demo version of Fronimo is available at and To get a fully licensed copy, one that allows you to actually save files (a desirable thing!), send email to the author, Francesco Trioboli. The cost of Fronimo is very modest when you consider the sophistication of what it does and especially if you compare it to other music typesetting programs, such as Sibelius.

Installing Fronimo

Run PopupInstallation is quick and generally problem-free. Copy the installation file, currently Fronimo-3_0.exe, to a local directory (and remember where!) and execute it. (For example, I have a directory c:\tmp that I always download stuff to. To execute the installation program, click on the Start button on the lower left corner of your screen and select the Run item. That will give you a popup window; use the "Browse" button to locate where you stored the file.) The installation program will create a new directory to put the executables in. Be aware that it does also install several fonts in your standard font directory: branle.ttf, gavotta.ttf, recercar.ttf, rondeau.ttf, Ouverture.ttf and Continuo.ttf.

If you want to use Fronimo in French, Italian, German or Spanish, you will want to copy the appropriate ".ddl" file to the same directory that Fronimo has been loaded into.

Remember that if you want a full, licensed copy, you need to contact Francesco Trioboli.

Running Fronimo


Once you have installed Fronimo you can run it from the Start All Programs menu; since you just installed it, there will be a folder on the far right of all your programs: click on it and you'll see an icon to start the program itself. Here's a trick: if it is not already there, to get that program onto your desktop, do the following:

  • Left click on the Start->All Programs
  • Left click on the Fronimo folder icon
  • Right click on the "Fronimo 3.0" item
  • Left click on the "Send To" item
  • Left click on the "Desktop (create shortcut) item.

DesktopYou will now see an icon for the program that you can easily click on to start the program.

When you start up Fronimo you get the application with a temporary popup announcing the application (it will go away five seconds, or you can click on it to get rid of it right away.) You will then see a minimal menu bar and most of the menu icons disabled: this will change when you actually start working on a file, which will be the topic of the next section.

Startup Screen

Next Step: Starting a New File