Question about abc’s

Question about abc’s

Hi everyone,

I write out lots of tunes and from time to time, I have one that has not been posted on here. I would like to share, but I do not know (nor do I really want to know) how to write tunes in the abc format. Is there some easy way to convert tunes from standard notation to abc’s?

Re: Question about abc’s

Send me the standard notation and I’ll do the ABC for you.

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Re: Question about abc’s

ABC is so simple that you can practically master it in 15 or 20 minutes, which is partly the point of the language in the first place. Why not give it a shot?

Re: Question about abc’s

Hey, thanks for the replies. Shrog, I can send some to you if you want to give me your email addy… I just wondered if there was an easier way. Craymcla, I understand the basics of it, I just think for me, it is a pointless language to learn. I understand that for some people this is a great tool, but I am not really interested. Don’t feel obligated Shrog, just a thought…….

Re: Question about abc’s

I also was about to submit some tunes thinking I could use standard notation which is easy for me. The use of abc’s kind of scared me off and I dropped it for now. Too bad there isn’t a choice to submit one way or the other.

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Re: Question about abc’s

if you have an abc software pack it will convert the dots for you to abc format.

Re: Question about abc’s

Have a look at Melody Assistant: http://www.myriad-online.com/en/index.htm
You can write in standard notation then export as abc, as well as vice versa. It can be used to change key, play music, write fretted instrument tab and harmonica tab. It’s a free download to try and reasonable to buy. An amazing program, usual disclaimer - no connection except as satisfied customer.

Re: Question about abc’s ~ don’t ask what you can do for yourself

For anyone who can read and write standard notation ABC’s is easy. The only thing that stands in your way is self doubt. You don’t need to spend much time to acquire an ability with it, you already have all the understanding you need in you, ears for starters, and if you read and write the dots, well, you already know ABC’s. so making that step is just a matter of getting past your self imposed limitations. It is a good bit of kit to have at hand and you can scribble it on anything that will take a bit of ink, without needing the space a staff and additions would require. You have the added benefit that a hell of a lot of people in this passion we share also read and scribble ABC’s. Don’t let your own preconceptions limit you. You’ll be glad of the added option once you have it ~

Steve Mansfield’s tutorial
http://www.lesession.co.uk/abc/abc_notation.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABC_(musical_notation)

Stop making excuses and give it a try. Most of the ABC software I’ve come across sucked. I first learned to write music out longhand, and then I had some fun with a number of dot programmes, including SIbelius and Finale. The dot programmes definitely have it over the awful ABC ones I’ve tried to date, but I have hopes for future developements. For quick reminders, say of a tune you’ve just picked up at a session, scribbled quickly on a beer mat ~ ABC notation can’t be beat ~ including for that quick note of inspiration you’ve just had in the p*ssing rain scribbled quickly under the cover of your poncho on the inside page of your Rough Guide to North Korea… 😉

Re: Question about abc’s

I don’t understand the reluctance to learn ABC. I use Sibelius myself for a standard notation program, but there are times that ABC is invaluable.

Try this. Get a celtic tune you’d like to transcribe. Find a similar type of tune here and copy the header lines from it’s ABC and change the values that obviously need changing, such a the tune name. Now write out the note values from your tune. Most celtic tunes have a range of just over an octave and a half, from D to b, so every note from the low D to B is written in caps, everything above that is in little letters: D E F G A B c d e f g a b.

In celtic tunes, the dominent note duration is an 1/8 note. the header “L: 1/8” specifies that. Now, for any note that is a quarter note, put a “2” after it. If you have any triplets, put “(3” before the three notes. Now put verticle lines where the bar lines belong and use a colon and vertical lines to put “||:” and “:||” for repeats.

That’s all there is to know on 90-95 percent of the tunes you will encounter IN THIS FORUM. So how hard was that? (ABC has lots more options, but this type of music requires few of them.)

Re: Question about abc’s

Nice quick intro… Also, think of all the versions in the comments you’d be missing, or denying yourself!

P.S. on the intro, following the above and L: 1/8 ~ if you want a 1/16th note, just add a forward slash after the note intended as half of 1/8 in value. Here’s a flow of some lengths, starting with a semibreve and a meter/time signature of 4/4 (reel, march, hornpipe, fling ~ etc…), N = a generic note, replace with any value you like ~ G,A,B,CDEFGABcdefgabc’d‘e’~, N>NN>N signifying ‘swing’, as in a hornpipe (> = greater than, while the reverse, <, less than, is used for the classic ‘snap’):

M: 4/4
L: 1/8

|: N4 N4 | N3 N N3 N | N2 N2 N2 N2 | NNNN NNNN |
(3NNN (3NNN (3NNN (3NNN | N>N (3NNN N>NN<N |
N/N/N NN NN/N/ NN | NN N2 N4 :|

Don’t let the little things dissuade you. I’ve actually taught note phobic people, and I always emphasize that the ears are what is most important, but these skeletons can be useful as basic reminders and guides and as a ‘tool’. I’ve also weaned folks off an addiction to the dots and having a music stand and sheet of music in front of them at all times, distracting them from the act of making and sharing music. So, I’ve known both ways. With the note phobic I have never had anyone that regreted getting past their phobia or preconceptions and coming to terms with notation. Their instrument never blew up and they didn’t lose their soul or style. Notation, dots or ABC’s, can’t do that sort of thing, you can only do it to yourself, like placing limits on what you can do.

As said previously, if you already read the skeleton, the lines and dots, you alread read ABC’s, you just need to step past the veil preventing you from making a direct connection…

Best of luck, and as you know, if you ask, there is an endless supply of nice people here, despite any wind-ups or occassional grouchiness, who would jump at the chance to help someone else, but be patient with our idiosyncrasies, which ‘occassionally’ spill out here in the Yeller land…

Re: Question about abc’s

PITCH:

C, the capital letter, is the middle C between the bass and treble staves, below the single staff of five lines used on site here, the treble clef (shown in standard dot notation with that fancy ‘G’ loopy thing that curls around the G line, second line up)…

Notes below that are shown by a comma after the note, so the lowest G on a standard tuned violin/fiddle is G, ~ and it goes up from there ~ A, B, C ~ to the D just below the lowest E line of the treble staff.

The next octave up from the middle C is c, and up another octave it is c‘, and from there it continues up as d’ e‘ f’…

Re: Question about abc’s

A lot of ‘old-timers’, folks we hold in respect and admiration, many no longer with us, wrote and read something similar. In some cases it was a version of ABC’s, in other cases it was Solfeggio ~ the Do Re Me’s = D R M ~ etc. For others it was some variation of tab ~ but all related, all with the same purpose.

Nowadays, in a lot of classes and workshops taught all over Eire and beyond, ABC notation is used. So if you attend a weekly class, or a festival workshop that lasts anything up to a couple of weeks, you’re more likely to be presented with this skeleton, not the dots. As well, in my experience, it seems easier to teach this first to the uninitiated, and then lead from here to the dots, than the other way around.

I think the dots sometimes suffer the same problem as print, aside from all the lovely history behind them and the graphic grace of them, in my eyes ~ some folks treat them as gospel, and others become addicted… It is always best to educate the ears first and place the greatest value there, and then acquire this aide-memoire as an afterthought. In those before mentioned classes and workshops ~ the best practice, again in my experience, is for the ABC’s to come at the end, the duration of the class being focused on the ears and the ABC’s to come at the end…

Most folks will have a scrap of paper to jot down the run of letters and numbers and lines on after class, or will have spare to share with others. Mostly we don’t run around with staff paper, and you won’t find staff paper loo rolls or paper towels in the bogs of your local ~ and not a lot of us are good at drawing a straight line, let alone five of them, from the mid to latter part of a session of tunes, if at all… 😉

Re: Question about abc’s

Thinking about submitting ABD tunes, I’ve a very elementary question. I can’t manage to type the vertical dash required, on my keyboard. It’s there all right, on the right hand side of a button at the top left of my keyboard, below the one that says “esc”, but shares the button with two other dashes ( a horizontal crooked one and a short one at 45 degrees), and all my attempts so far have only printed these two, not the vertical one I want. I assume it’s not just there for decoration…

Re: Question about abc’s

Nicholas,
As you know, different keyboard makers move some of those obscure keys around. Yours is a head-scratcher though. Break out the manual if you’ve still got it.

In the meantime, however, cut-and-paste works wonders. Just copy the vertical bars from other ABCs and paste ’em in.

Re: Question about abc’s

Anna,
I want to say this as nice as possible, but I think you are suffering from a kind of elitism over the dots and that you really don’t want to stoop down to the inferior level of ABC. Don’t think of standard notation as the superior and educated way to write music. It’s just a tool; one that evolved to meet a specific need. And so did ABC.

For simple melodies within a limited range, such as Celtic tunes, ABC can’t be beat. It’s quick and simple, and it doesn’t require specially lined paper or a lot of space on the page. It can be written on a computer in any text editor rather than a specialzed program. (I believe it was first developed as a way to write music on computers with a text-based operating system.) It’s a tool that fully meets the needs of this kind of music.

On top of that, you are participating in a community that embraces ABC. If you want to be a part of that community, join us in the tools that we use. You don’t go to a church picnic and refuse to participate because your stove at home is better than their BBQ pit. ABC is our BBQ pit, and it cooks the notes just fine for our needs. Come on down and slap a C# on a bun. Your standard notation stove will still be there when you need it.

Re: Question about abc’s

I don’t think that’s Anna Craymcla, but there are folks reading this who may be of that mind frame. For some folks the ABC’s just look like gobbledegoop, and for others it is taken as ‘silly’, before they’ve actually given it a chance and a fair trial.

Oddly, for those of us use to them or raised on them, for others they can seem a daunting prospect ~ all those bits that look like an alphabet but with only CDEFGAB, what can you write that would make any sense, eh? ~ Bag, Cab, Deaf… Sometimes our minds get stuck in a mindframe that won’t allow letters to do anymore service than their regular use in language ~ but this is a language, to me anyway, this music thing, it is about communication too.

I understand that for some folks when they get used to one way with a thing it can be difficult to use it in another way, or try a completely different language or approach to a task they’ve gotten set in their way of doing it. It isn’t just age that can cause us to get fixed and inflexible in our ideas and ways, to limit ourselves and our options. Some folks are built that way, some of us have the confidence beat out of us ~ in any number of unfair and disrespectful ways… So, a little understanding and forgiveness of other’s interferences and blind sightedness can sometimes help to let a little light in…

Huh? I haven’t even been drinking… 😉

Re: Question about abc’s

Nicholas, you’re in England, so that is a good start, nothing too unusual in the way of keyboard setting choices, but if you’d brought your computer from elsewhere, or you’re learning another language or you have a language other than English, you might have your keyboard set in a particular way that has moved that slash ( / ) elsewhere, to another key. Sometimes, depending on what keyboard default you’ve chosen, it will be upper left hand side, the highest row of character keys, and sometimes it will be bottom right, the lowest row of character keys. You can change that, and you can even assign keys, depending on your set-up and software. Both Apple MacIntosh and Microsoft Windows allow you such options.

If you’ve got Microsoft WIndows, check these steps out:

Click on ‘Start’, bottom bar, lower left hand corner of your screen / desktop

Click on ‘Control Panel’ and a window will pop up which differs depending on how old your version of Windows

If XP click on ‘Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options’

Click on Regional and Language Options ~ each of these many choices has a different keyboard layout. You can also select or change a keyboard layout by opening the ‘on-screen keyboard’ and using the drop down menus. Using ‘Help’ will take you to a few options…including hot-keys, but you shouldn’t need to do that.

Best of luck ~ ‘c’

Re: Question about abc’s

Well, thanks for all the info. I just want to clarify that no, I don’t think of abc’s as an inferior way of writing music. Sorry if I left that impression I realize that it can be a very valuable tool. I use the converter on concertina.net to see the tunes I want in standard notation. I really just wanted to know if there was an easy, free program that did the opposite. I have my own website where I post a new tune everyday using standard notation. I usually have my laptop with me where I can record and write out tunes with Sibelius. Also, I almost always have notation paper within arms reach. For me, personally, I don’t need another way to write tunes. I appreciate this site very much and I understand that abc notation is very convenient for some of you. I’m not knocking that. Just asking a question. As long as we’re all playing tunes, who cares how we read or write them! Right?

Re: Question about abc’s

Some might be put off with you going through the rigamarole of pulling out a wad of notation paper at a sesh, where as discretely scribbling a quick line on a beer coaster doesn’t require as much space, time or flurry… It also is pretty useless in less than ideal conditions, where a small pocket sized notebook works wonders for recording as many tunes as you like using ABC’s. I understand, some of us accept the limitations and preconceptions we set for ourselves. We all have them.

It seems like your decision and judgement is firm, so no more attempts to try to get you to consider otherwise…

There are loads of software options out there, check here, the standard site:

http://staffweb.cms.gre.ac.uk/~c.walshaw/abc/

Click on ‘software’… Best of luck…

Re: Question about abc’s

Somewhere on site here Jeremy has mentioned what he uses for making his conversions on site. You could do a search or send him an email. If you do a search on ‘abc software’ here in the discussions you’ll find a forest of comments on the subject, and recommendations. It is a subject that comes around regularly in the discussions… There are also numerous links on the subject under ‘Links’ in the sidebar…

Re: Question about abc’s

Sorry, I was away from my computer for a while. I don’t feel obligated, I would be happy to help if anybody needs me to. You can mail me through my profile on this site.

Anna, I’ll sent you my address.

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Re: Question about abc’s

The only other note to add is that some of the teachers use “ C‘ ” or D’ etc, instead of lower case “c” for notes in the second octave. Presumably because they can go back and correct their notation withour rewriting it.

Re: Question about abc’s

There were several systems going around until ABC notation went digital and needed to become consistent in it’s structure and use. In the ‘old days’ I was one of the few folks that bothered with bar lines, or ~ | … Mostly people just grouped the notes. The triplet was made with a 3 over or under a group of three notes and some folks also drew a curved line above or under the 3. Also, in the ‘old days’ some folks started the Caps with the D below the staff so the run was from D to C, or DEFGABCdefgabc, instead of starting it with middle C…

Things change, especially when something like this takes on such popularity and spread that folks from Oz to Greenland use it, and all across North America and Europe, with a few variations still holding on amongst some. Like HTML it opened up a widespread ease of communicating the music, on slips of paper and via email and text mail. Those changes that have brought it to where it is today have, in my opinion, despite the need for reacquainting myself with them, have all been for the better. And then, more votes for its popularity and widespread use and value ~ you have all the different software creations to deal with ABC notation. You just can’t hold a good thing down… Another ‘old’ way that was particularly quirky was the doubling of letters to show lower notes, such as G, being given as GG… The problems with that are easy to figure. Another old way that tended to clutter the notation was doing a fraction of a basic beat with /2, now only shown as a forward slash after the note ~ N/…

Time values and fractions are shown after the note while pitch changes, sharps, naturals and flats, are shown before the note changed. As a quick example of the latter:

Sharp # ~ ^N
Natural ~ =N
Flat b ~ _N

Re: Question about abc’s

From the way you explain it, ceolachan, it seems as though with ABC, there is really no need for sheet music, except to be able to read source books that don’t use the new system. True?

I say this as someone who is re-learning to read music. You make a fine case for ABC, and I’m convinced I need to learn that too, although I think I will wait until I have a better feel for the dots and can sight-read with confidence. Too much information for my fiddle-addled brain!

Re: Question about abc’s

Ah, and how about double-stops (two notes at a time)? How does ABC handle them?

Re: Question about abc’s

Simply put all the notes inside square brackets [ ], like this:

[CEGc] would be a Cmajor chord
[C2E2G2c2] would be the same chord, but double the length

Get the picture? It’s really quite simple.

Re: Question about abc’s

Just make sure the same value (2, 3, 4, etc.) is applied to all the notes…

Re: Question about abc’s

Good on you Orlando.

Kennedy, do them together, honest, it is a great way to go, and they will and do complement each other since they are corollaries of one another. You might be surprised ~ as I suspect it will actually speed up your reading of music in notated form for both systems. Just don’t get bogged down with it. Like with anything there is a point of learner burnout, usually around the 40 to 55 minute mark for anything, but taking it in small repetitive doses is the best way to take it, a little bit at a time.

As you can see here, any questions just ask. When you start doing your first ABC’s if you are unsure or just want someone to check them, you can ask just about any of us, myself included, and we’ll give them a listen and a once over and offer any help we can. It is always a good idea when you start out submitting tunes to have a friend or someone here check them out for you, for the ABC’s, and as we’re more used to it, to do a search to see if it might already be here on sight in some form, in which case ~ definitely add it to the comments.

Best of luck in your task. If you’ve good ears and a good sense of the music from playing it, well, reading it will come. You have the best start ever, having started with your ears. The hardest thing I’ve ever faced is not getting past people’s self limits and preconceptions or phobias with regards to notation, like those that think you need to be illiterate in order to be trad, some very hard nosed folk about with that regards, who’ve convinced themselves notation is a kind of disease they might catch that will destroy their intimacy and way with the music ~ as if…not them, no, I’ve taught a couple of those sorts and they were pleasantly surprised ~ no warts! The ones that are hell to break of their addiction are those that are so damned sheet music bound that they have to have it to validate what they do, often these are folks who started in any of a number of ‘classica’ ways, but I don’t blame that myself, it is just easier to hide behind a music stand an only hear yourself than to expose yourself to the open and have to hear everyone else too ~ or some variation on that…

Best of luck ~ and consider giving both a try together, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Being a dyslexic, and having worked with all sorts of learning disabilities, including music related ~ approaching a task from more than one angle is always a great way to understanding…

Re: Question about abc’s

ceolachan, thanks for the encouragement (lord knows, we beginners need plenty of that!), and I will keep your advice in mind. On the one hand, reading anything off the page isn’t my favorite thing because it’s SO much easier playing by ear…I’m at the point now where I can go through a phrase on staff paper, play all the notes, and it sounds like absolutely nothing, but have my teacher play it for me once or twice, I can play it right back to him, in time and with all the accents in place…much more immediately rewarding.

On the other hand, written notation is just one more way for me to get absorbed in music, to understand it better, which is what I wanted to do in the first place. Plus it’s something I can do away from home and my fiddle---I can sit on the train and copy pieces of tunes onto one whole sheet, practice note progressions in my head, imagine where my fingers would fall for the notes I see, etc. So I don’t mind learning to read---it’s not my favorite thing, but I don’t want to be without it.

Re: Question about abc’s

I can do abc in a text file at work and no one knows any better.
win2abc has a decent help with all the commands on half a page (unlike navigator) and there are various tutorials available on-line (unlike navigator)
What makes you think I haven’t bothererd getting into navigator despite good reports?