ABC format?

ABC format?

Hi,

I’m new to playing traditional tunes but not new to music, I’ve played violin and piano for many years.

Firstly I’d like to say what a marvellous resource this website is.

However, what in the world is this ABC business? I’m trying to find the music for simple little tunes and I see people commenting things like "try playing |gabg a (3bag ba|"……

Why in the name of God have people tried to reinvent music notation???

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Re: ABC format?

The site has a function for displaying sheet music from the abcs… Just not for that particular comment ~
https://thesession.org/tunes/277#comment1077
"The Britches"
Posted by Will Harmon on September 7th, 2001

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Re: ABC format?

So that we can send tunes to each other over the internet.

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Re: ABC format?

For tunes you can find a button that says "sheet music," which will give you a standard notation of the tune. ABC notation is a useful way to notate things such that someone can type up a tune without having a music notation software like finale or sibelius on their computer. Some people find it easier to read as well, it seems to be common in the traditional and folk communities…

Re: ABC format?

Why Not. It is a universal tab.

Re: ABC format?

So how would you convey music snippets in the form of "try playing |gabg a (3bag ba|"?
Commit the dots to paper, scan it, upload the image to a file-sharing platform and provide the link? …
Hm, no… in the name of whatever, ABC notation seems to have some advantages, which are discussed in length here (for example): https://thesession.org/discussions/31901 ;~)

Edit: kind of cross posted a few times… so, what has already been said.

Re: ABC format?

Hi Wes

I guess the simple answer is it’s easy and it works!

All you need is a pen and paper. In it’s basic form it can be read by anyone. It’s particularly suited to traditional tunes with just a melody line. It lends itself well to the modern digital world of computers, email, smart-phones, search engines etc.

It can look a little confusing at first but it really is easy to learn and it’s worth the effort!

Check out: http://abcnotation.com

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Re: ABC format?

No you don’t have to commit any "dots" to paper or do any scanning. There are perfectly good music notation editors, many of them open source and free to use.

You can save your music as pdfs, jpgs… whatever format you would like for the purpose of emailing and posting on sites like this.

Why try to reinvent something that has already been universally accepted and understood for the last however many centuries? It’s absolutely bizarre.

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Re: ABC format?

Wes, if you read the discussion that metapop posted, you’ll find a number of strong points. For what it’s worth, I learned to read it without any instructions, and long before I even knew about software which could convert it into readable staff notation and/or MIDI. Nobody is forcing you to (learn how to) read it, but I can assure you it’s doable.

Re: ABC format?

Beg pardon, Wes. Musical notation using numbers is older than staff notation. And the abc code used on this site (& several other sites) was developed from similar relatively common traditional methods for notating music using letters. Not even to mention solfegio.

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Re: ABC format?

I’ve read the discussion that was mentioned. It seems the arguments are that it was useful in the early days of the internet when it wasn’t so easy to send a jpg for example. And also that it’s for people who can’t read music.

Well now we can send jpgs and just about any other file format you can think of. You could fit thousands on your mobile phone if you want.

Music notation conveys essential information that this ABC nonsense seems to leave out. Do we really have to dumb things down that much? What a shame, musical scores and manuscripts can be such beautiful things.

What are we going to do next? Change the alphabet to make it "easier" to learn?

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Re: ABC format?

Once again ~ the abcs (when written out for the entire tune) can be used to produce a score in various formats.

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Wes, I know that there’s good software available… to be honest, I’ve just been messing with you a bit…. apologies!
However, under the hood of any software dots are represented as characters and numbers anyway. Copy/pasting, editing, sharing, mailing, posting, collecting music is much handier when all you need is your keyboard, and not a special software that is probably way too overloaded for this kind of music.

But this has all been discussed in the other thread.

Feel free to click the sheet music button if you prefer a nicer look.

Re: ABC format?

Were not dumbing anything down! ABC hasn’t replaced manuscript - it is a form of shorthand that has some definite advantages in certain circumstances. Think of it as an alternative.

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Re: ABC format?

Na éisc, don’t want to quibble, but staff notation has been around since about the 10th century, and I’m unaware of numbered notation older than that, at least in the Western world. I believe there are Chinese/Asian forms of notation that use numbers, and the Ancient Greeks had a letter/symbol based system, but I don’t think either had an influence on the notation systems used in ITM or the broader Western traditions.

Wes, something to keep in mind is that this site was started when jpgs and musical notation software were a lot harder to share and use, and it has been kept up (to my knowledge) pro bono. As I mentioned before, you can view the sheet music for any tunes up there. To convert everything to some other system would be a massive undertaking, something that no one has the time or money to do (at least, on this site).

More to the point, the tradition is much more of an aural one than a notated one, so detailed scores are pretty much unnecessary. You really just need the bones of the tune, then figure out what ornamentations and such YOU want to put in, as opposed to what someone else has decided.

Re: ABC format?

ABC also has the lowest administrative overhead for submitting tunes to the database.

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Fair play, bigsciota. However, I wasn’t suggesting there was musical notation predating staff notation which was exclusively numeric*, much less that I am capable of reading any of it.
Perhaps I should have said the use of characters (including some for numbers) was in existence before any known staff notation;
http://www.silkqin.com/02qnpu/01yl.htm

* also not to imply (nor infer) a connection between this ancient tablature & more recent forms of notation.

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Re: ABC format?

I figured as much, just wanted to clear it up a bit. The more important point, of course, is that if you’re relying on the notation too much, you miss the point of the tunes…

Re: ABC format?

If you have a tune in ABC format, you can easily convert it into your favorite notation format, convert it to MIDI, or run searches over it. If you have a PDF or JPEG you can… um… look at it. ABC is a wildly better choice for a database of tunes. There is no comparison.

Re: ABC format?

>>"Hi, I’m new to playing traditional tunes but not new to music, I’ve played violin and piano for many years.
Firstly I’d like to say what a marvellous resource this website is."

Hi Wes, welcome to The Session! I hope you enjoy your stay :-)

>>"Why in the name of God have people tried to reinvent music notation???"

As already indicated above, we haven’t tried to reinvent anything. We’re using a different system to what you may be used to. There’s a good reason for this.

Many years ago, classical musicians and traditional musicians lived together peacefully, sharing a common language and goal. One day they decided to build a tower that reached all the way to the heavens where the virtuosi lived. But the virtuosi didn’t like this, and so confounded their language to hinder their progress.

And so the classical musicians built to a strict, regimented plan, with all the bricks in their precise places, under the instruction of a formidable foreman waving a stick. Meanwhile, the traditional musicians had some bricks, and some mortar, and some general instructions, and each player built to their own design but with a general theme running throughout. Arguments and fights broke out between the two parties, as each tried to argue their system was better.

As the debate raged on, some old-time musicians came in, saw the bricks and put one on top of the other in an endless, repeating pattern. Occasionally one man stepped forward to add a little flourish or carving, but soon they returned to their endless repeating cycle. Leaving the squabbling classicists and traditionalists far below, they built higher and faster, until someone suggested they change the pattern for another. Not knowing how to do anything else, the musicians panicked, and everything fell apart and they tumbled back to earth.

To this day, musicians argue over the best system, and the tower remains unbuilt.

=============

Anyway,

>>"No you don’t have to commit any "dots" to paper or do any scanning. There are perfectly good music notation editors, many of them open source and free to use. You can save your music as pdfs, jpgs… whatever format you would like for the purpose of emailing and posting on sites like this."

Yes, ABC has many "perfectly good music notation editors". Many of them are "open source and free to use", and you can save your music as "pdfs, jpgs…". Also, it is a format we all "like, for the purpose of emailing and posting on sites like this".

>>"Why try to reinvent something that has already been universally accepted and understood for the last however many centuries? It’s absolutely bizarre."

"Universally accepted" by whom? You? Please don’t speak for all of us.

>>"I’ve read the discussion that was mentioned. It seems the arguments are that it was useful in the early days of the internet when it wasn’t so easy to send a jpg for example."

Do you see jpgs on this site? It’s easier to communicate via ABC.

>>"And also that it’s for people who can’t read music."

Great! We can all get involved!

>>"Well now we can send jpgs and just about any other file format you can think of. You could fit thousands on your mobile phone if you want."

Gosh, I’ve always felt that plain text took up FAR too much space. My phone is clogged up with letters, I wish I had it all stored in jpgs.

>> "Music notation conveys essential information that this ABC nonsense seems to leave out."

You have a long way to go before you understand traditional music.

>>"Do we really have to dumb things down that much?""

We’re not dumbing down at all.

>>"What a shame, musical scores and manuscripts can be such beautiful things."

I agree, but in the case of traditional music, where I don’t look at manuscripts except to learn tunes in the first instance (e.g. from old collections), I don’t care what it looks like.

>>"What are we going to do next? Change the alphabet to make it "easier" to learn?"

We aren’t going to do anything next. We’re all getting along happily as we are thank you.

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Re: ABC format?

I like the point about the music being an aural tradition. We’re incredibly lucky that we have such easy access to a huge archive of recorded music these days.

I’ve done a bit of reading and I’ve found that ABC notation was invented in 1991 and that, as people have quite rightly said, it was to facilitate emailing and sharing of tunes.
That’s a good point too, it was probably groundbreakingly genius and massively useful at the time.

I’m not having any of this business that it’s easier to read or that it allows "everyone to join in" though.
Most (all?) the tunes here are simple, single line melodies over one or two octaves. I’m going to suggest anyone could learn to read them in standard notation as quickly as they could learn this ugly ABC text version.
Children typically learn to read treble clef in just a few minutes as do the vast majority of adult beginners.

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Re: ABC format?

"I’m not having any of this business that it’s easier to read or that it allows "everyone to join in" though.
Most (all?) the tunes here are simple, single line melodies over one or two octaves. I’m going to suggest anyone could learn to read them in standard notation as quickly as they could learn this ugly ABC text version.
Children typically learn to read treble clef in just a few minutes as do the vast majority of adult beginners."

Just because you find it easy doesn’t mean everyone else does! ABC works on here because everyone can join in — those who read pure ABC are catered for, and those who prefer staff notation (myself included) can take 2 seconds to either click the sheet music button or copy-and-paste it into our own preferred editor. Thus, everyone is catered for, rapidly. Doing it the other way round would take longer (transcribing from a jpeg into ABC? No thank you) and thus be less accessible to others.

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Re: ABC format?

Ok fair enough. I’m far from convinced but let’s not argue about it.

I take your point.

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Re: ABC format?

I’m siding with Wes here. Apart from the fact that I find neither notation nor ABCs useful for learning tunes, it seems to me (having tried on a few occasions to "convert" an ABC on that concertina site) that you’re not allowed to make the teensiest mistake in laying it out lest the software rejects it. Maybe it works better on this site but I doubt I’ll be trying it any time soon. I can’t sight-read fast enough to play from a score and I’m totally self-taught with regard to notation, but I find it elegant in a way that ABC isn’t, easy enough to understand the melody line and more than enough for my occasional needs. While I’m at it, I’m also totally opposed to any kind of tab for my instrument (the harmonica) on the grounds that it seems to relieve users of the need to actually hear and respond to what’s coming out of their instrument. Thread drift not intended!

Re: ABC format?

The next question is "Which ABC system?" OK, there’s only one that has that name (I think), but the system long in use in Ireland is radically different and seems to be understood by all, in that country at least.

For simple tunes, letter notation is accessible to all, and really easy to scribble out on a beermat. :-)

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Re: ABC format?

"Ok fair enough. I’m far from convinced but let’s not argue about it. I take your point."

I also understand yours Wes, I’m from a classical background myself and can’t sightread pure ABC, but as I say, I’d rather convert ABC to staff than the other way round, so for me, I think the method used here is the better option.

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Oh really? There’s actually a letter based system that’s common with traditional Irish musicians?

That’s interesting, where can I find it?

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Re: ABC format?

You won’t find it on the net - it’s the system that is almost exclusively used by Irish musicians for passing tunes from one to the other*, and for recording tunes for mnemonic purposes. It has nothing to do with computers whatsoever and, as far as I know, there is no software available to handle it.


*Yes, I know, by ear blah blah …

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Re: ABC format?

You will find references to such systems on the web though:
"Q: Do you note tunes?
A: I’m beginning to forget tunes, unfortunately. What I do is note down say the first few notes of a tune, of the different parts. I just file them away. In abcd notation. I never learned to read music properly."

from http://www.mattmolloy.com/interview.html

If is good enough for Matt Molloy…

Re: ABC format?

ABCD format? Gosh no wonder Matt Molloy is so much better than the rest of us, he’s storing 33% more notes!

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Re: ABC format?

So does anyone here use this traditional Irish format? Can anyone show me how it works?

It sounds like something that would be really interesting if it’s actually part of the history and the tradition.

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Hey that’s a thought. Maybe they notate this pulse that the rest of us don’t have.

I wonder if that eb guy knows the secret :-D

Re: ABC format?

Not bad, David, not bad. :-)

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Re: ABC format?

you mean those are tunes??? I thought ABC notation was how you guys put down your bets for the football matches

Re: ABC format?

Wes man look. I used to have Finale on my computer and use musical notation for more than just ITM. Now I only use ABC. If you learn how to write and read ABC properly there is nothing that is written in Finale that cannot be written in ABC. ABC in itself does not simplify anything, that is the notation styles of the individuals who submit to the board. That is a social convention that people tend to submit simplified versions of tunes first, and the more detailed settings come after. ABC notation IS sheet music, it is just a much more efficient way of encoding sheet music than to create a .mus (or whatever type of file Sibelius or Finale produces) or a .jpg as it is LESS DATA (sorry for caps). You are comparing up to 1megabyte or more with mere hundreds of bytes. An ABC tune can be stored into a database AS IS, where a jpeg is usually stored in a folder on the server with the database cell storing a link to the folder (much more work yuck), that is how extreme the typical size difference is.

Re: ABC format?

"Actually, bigsciota, letter notation has been around in Western music for a very long time indeed:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_notation"

In that case, "letter notation" means referring to pitches by letter names. Much of De Institutione Musica refers to the Ancient Greek style of notation, which also assigned each pitch a letter name, but Boethius doesn’t write out melodies by these letters as in ABC notation.

Re: ABC format?

Working with ABC is much much easier than working in WYSIWYG editors, where everything must be precisely clicked with the mouse. While working you can temporarily have 9 beats in a 8 count measure and it won’t break the program. Everything is much cleaner. For example: you can easily manipulate which measures appear on which line of the sheet music simply by structuring the line breaks in the text in the correct spot. You can spend lifetimes aligning your Finale scores properly, and then you add a measure and it all falls to shit, your lyrics and other markings are now all off.

Re: ABC format?

[puzzled emoticon] Yeah Earl but this website has both. [/puzzled emoticon]

Re: ABC format?

I can’t figure out why the OP is whinging about ABC notation on this site when all he has to do is click the button that says "sheet music" and voila! The staff notation magically appears.

Can you imagine what a pain in the arse it would be to try to write out a tune, using the dots, on a beer mat when too pissed to draw straight lines or an intelligible treble clef?

Re: ABC format?

http://www.lilypond.org/

Is amazing. The scores can be works of art. But wait! How does one enter the music to turn it into a score? Is that a form of ABC I see?

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So what you have a set of tunes saved as jpeg’s and a friend wants to play them with you on the clarinet. Anyone have a transposition tool for jpegs ? :-P

Re: ABC format?

Anyone have a "transposition tool" for printed scores ? No? So every orchestra in the world is f*cked then are they?

Some of the arguments here display a shocking level of ignorance and arrogance.

The grand staff and the use of clefs allows for "everyone to get involved" as an earlier poster put it.

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Re: ABC format?

I’m new here, but my reaction to ABC format is that, while I can download a musical version of any tune, in order to contribute here, I will have convert my Finale files to ABC format. I have no idea how to do that. I can notate anything and take down in musical dictation any tune in Finale in pretty short order. To contribute here, it would be nice to be able to just upload a jpg or pdf of a Finale file.

Re: ABC format?

I don’t read ABCs. I only know how to read music, but not reading ABCs hasn’t put me at any particular disadvantage. So don’t feel that you HAVE to deal with ABC notation. It’s just there as an option. Like tablature. I don’t read that either.

Re: ABC format?

>>"Anyone have a "transposition tool" for printed scores ? No? So every orchestra in the world is f*cked then are they?"

ABC takes two seconds to transpose a whole tune into any key, any clef if you want to convert it to staff, etc.

>>"Some of the arguments here display a shocking level of ignorance and arrogance."

Read https://thesession.org/discussions/32038#comment686450 and then this whole thing can stop.

>>"The grand staff and the use of clefs allows for "everyone to get involved" as an earlier poster put it."

It looks like you’ve completely misquoted me to suit your own means. Or did someone else say it (I may have missed it).

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"To contribute here, it would be nice to be able to just upload a jpg or pdf of a Finale file."

As I understand Earl’s post, it would be far more hassle for Jeremy and cost him far more server space if he had to deal with people uploading tunes as jpgs and pdfs. Is that right, computer people?

Re: ABC format?

87838 members before you have managed to cope with the abc format without too much difficulty, but your first post here is to tell everyone they’ve got it wrong.

I don’t read it because I’ve never bothered to learn, but I fail to see why its conventions are harder to grasp than staff notation. Above all, you really need to understand that this music is about listening not reading (refer to threads passim ad nauseum……)

Re: ABC format?

"As I understand Earl’s post, it would be far more hassle for Jeremy and cost him far more server space if he had to deal with people uploading tunes as jpgs and pdfs. Is that right, computer people?"

Indeedio!

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Re: ABC format? Computer People?

The abc system used on the site is relatively easily to edit.

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Re: ABC format?

I honestly didn’t think ABC notation could generate so much passion. I mean, we’re not talking rolls on button accordion or anything as emotionally charged as that

Re: ABC format?

Rolls on a what?!?

Wes, you can have your own views on ABC and staff, just as much as the rest of us. Please accept that both are used, and that as has already been pointed out, you can convert the ABC to staff very easily on this site, or even look into other editors at http://abcnotation.com/‎ to explore it further. Hence, there should be no issue preventing you from accessing the tunes, in the same way I am not prevented from accessing them.

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"Anyone have a "transposition tool" for printed scores ? No? So every orchestra in the world is f*cked then are they?" Wes. Transposition was introduced into to the discussion in my post immediately before that. What I said was "transposition tool for jpegs". If you are interested in having a useful discussion then I suggest you don’t alter the sense of the posts you are responding to. And maybe skip the sarcasm - it confuses people if they take it literally.

Re: ABC format?

I’m not suggesting I can’t access the sheet music or the tunes. I can, I have been doing and I appreciate it. Like I said earlier it’s a fantastic resource.

My original post was asking why on earth has someone tried to reinvent music notation? I couldn’t believe it when I saw this unintelligible text and then realised… my God……this is what they’re actually using to learn tunes??

So I asked the question, why?

The answer was that in the early days of the internet it made it easier to email and share tunes…… so I said ok, that’s a good point.

Then people started offering reasons why ABC is somehow better than written music….. easier to learn, easier to save as different file formats, easier to transpose into different keys, etc.

So I suggested that if you think standard notation is any more difficult to learn or is limited and lacking in some way…. but this ABC thing is better…. then that’s a shocking level of ignorance and arrogance.

Again, I’d like to say that I think it’s great people are sharing these tunes and sharing their interest in traditional music.

Shall we talk about something else? I do have other things I’d like to ask……..

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Ask away!

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Wes, It might help to look on it as a human readable/writable equivalent of the coding that programs like Finale and Sibelius use rather than as an alternative to notation.

Last time I had a multi-part choral score in my hand it had been a tone higher the week before. I don’t think any scribes were involved - it came out of Sibelius (and had some typos…).

Re: ABC format?

@Wes Patrick

Each tune abc uploaded to this site is used to auto-generate:

1) A sheet-music version (for folks like you, who can read music)
2) A midi version (so that folks who can’t read music can a get a rough idea of a tune by listening).

As these versions are generated from the source abc "on the fly" there is no additional storage requirement needed on the website’s server.

If you really want the facilty to upload jpegs, gifs or pdfs, why don’t you email Jeremy and offer to fund the enormous additional amount of server space and webmaster time that would be needed? In any case, if you had such a facility, it would need standards for upload (dpi, aspect ratio etc). How would you control that?

And has been pointed out above, these formats are "tablets of stone" and don’t really lend themselves to being edited.

On the other hand, there’ s plenty of PD/shareware scoring software out there with an "import abc" facility.

e.g. this one:

http://www.musicease.com/

Once you’ve imported the abc (if you wanted to), you can do things like:

- Transpose into a different key
- Add harmony parts
- Add bowing marks
- Add guitar chord names or chord fret diagrams
- Add tablature notation
- Add lyrics

P.S. What is the name of the traditional tune that you wish to upload? Tell us all the title of it, and I virtually guarantee that some member here will be more than happy to upload the abc for you … :-)

Re: ABC format?

ABC, as far as I’m aware, was not invented so as to e-mail and share tunes on the internet. Similar systems have been in existence for centuries.

I don’t think that someone’s opinion that ABC is better than staff notation (not that anyone has said so in this thread, as far as I can see, so it’s a straw man in any case) is "a shocking level of ignorance and arrogance". It would just be a different opinion. Not that anyone here seems to think that in any case.

Knowledge of ABC does let you in to a whole world of tunes out there, in that there are several major collections of tunes on the internet which are stored in ABC format. It’s therefore extremely useful to know how to deal with that, if, that is, you’re at all interested in traditional music.

ABC allows some useful database analyses to be performed, which can be used for a variety of purposes including, for instance, for musicological analysis of tunes across a database of thousands.

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"Some of the arguments here display a shocking level of ignorance and arrogance."

I’m not entirely convinced that this is not a wind up - the level of arrogance from the OP doesn’t quite add up.

However, on the basis that it might be genuine and since ‘Wes’ wonders about an ‘Irish method’ of music notation in text, I suggest he takes himself down to the Willie Clancy summer school in July and sits in on one of the beginner classes. Not because he is a ‘beginner’ per se, but because the teacher will impart some of the basics of this music to his ear and also because s/he will usually write the tune being learnt up on the blackboard for him to study. The students in these classes will typically need some aide memoire whereas whereas more advanced classes will be taught by ear, so try a basic class.

Typically capital letters are used throughout and the octaves are separated by use of , or ’ etc. Long notes with a - as in G- for G2. How old is it - I haven’t a clue but since it requires basic literacy, probably since 1900s.

Re: ABC format?

as in: D GBA G-B D’E’F’ G’D’B GBA G-B AFD AFD etc etc. for opening bars of Saddle the Pony

Re: ABC format?

@ the artiste: I think the notation could be a lot older. "Basic literacy" is as old in Ireland as anywhere. Ireland has been a sophisticated, cultured country for centuries. In the early 19c, the population was 50% more than it is today. Evidence of the cultural importance of Dublin (for instance) in the first half of the 18c is shown in the fact that the first performance of The Messiah was there, rather than in London.

All the above is no evidence of anything, of course, but I don’t think "basic literacy" would be any bar to a potentially much greater age of letter notation in Ireland. Having said which, I too have no idea. :-)

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Re: ABC format?

Oh man Wes. I never said ABC was better than staff notation. I said IT IS staff notation. In the same way that since this webpage is written in HTML, music can be said to be written in ABC, the most universally accepted ASCII code for music.

Victoria, you should convert your settings to abc, if you need help I can do a couple so you can see how I translated your work. I highly encourage you to convert and learn abc and you will find you have entered a whole new world of transcribing. You can even export to MIDI and send your work to Finale for final publishing touches if you like. Also it is possible to export Finale files to MIDI which can be converted to ABC, but you will lose measure lines most likely and it’s better to just work by hand to convert high quality tune settings over to ABC.

Re: ABC format?

This is comedy.

Somebody just implied that the Irish were illiterate before the 1900s…….

…… and yet I’m the arrogant wind-up merchant for daring to ask what ABC notation is all about?

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I’m with yer man Wes—if anyone is using ABCs to learn a tune, it’s a crying shame. Of course, the same goes for using the glorious beauty of standard notation to learn a tune, too.

Re: ABC format?

@Wes Patrick

If you still don’t understand the reason for abc on this and other similar sites, please read my post above …

… and please answer my question. After all, I did go to some considerable trouble to answer yours …

Re: ABC format?

@ Mix O’Lydian, to answer your question,

I’m not trying to upload anything, sorry if I’ve confused you somehow.

Don’t bother reading the whole thread again though, it’s mostly bickering and nonsense.

This is the original post that I made…..

"I’m new to playing traditional tunes but not new to music, I’ve played violin and piano for many years.

Firstly I’d like to say what a marvellous resource this website is.

However, what in the world is this ABC business? I’m trying to find the music for simple little tunes and I see people commenting things like "try playing |gabg a (3bag ba|"……

Why in the name of God have people tried to reinvent music notation???"

Shocking….. I know….. I do apologise for my extraordinary audacity.

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But why do you need the music for ‘simple little tunes’? Why don’t you just… play them?

Re: ABC format?

Wes Patrick: "I’m not trying to upload anything, sorry if I’ve confused you somehow"

Ah! … I thought as much … you don’t have anything to upload - gif or otherwise. And as all the tunes already on this site are already available in your favoured sheet-music format, you really have nothing to complain about.

You asked why abc format is used to upload tunes here. A fair and reasonable question.

You have been supplied with some very fair and reasonable answers - both from myself, and from others - and yet you still don’t seem to want to get it.

As for understanding comments such as: "try playing |gabg a (3bag ba|", it’s just a simple textual shorthand. At lot easier than saying single barline + high "G" quaver on the treble clef - etc etc (and that’s only the first two characters of the comment!).

OK, if you are new to abc code it will seem like gobbledegook. I suggest that you take the time to learn it - it’s not too difficult. Several tutorials on the Internet, for example this one:

http://www.lesession.co.uk/abc/abc_notation.htm

It should only take about an hour of your time to master the basics. You’ve probably already spent almost that amount of time posting to this thread …

And if you can already read sheet music, it should be a piece of cake …

Re: ABC format?

As regards basic literacy in Ireland pre 1900, I can only observe that a good many of my ancestors signed things like marriage certs and census returns with an X.

You must surely know that up to the mid 1900s that this was basically a rural society, still is in many ways - that’s where the roots of this music lie. And most children in rural Ireland were far more likely to be put to work in the fields rather than sent to school. Then there was the effect of the Penal laws etc. Sometimes someone knowledgeable in the community ran a ‘hedge school’ during the more clement months. This tradition of illiteracy still runs in the Traveller community - just yesterday the actor Michael Collins was being interviewed and said he really struggled at the start, as he couldn’t read the scripts when he started out in the 1980s.

Sure, the better off could probably read & write but were they playing the music in any great numbers?

Re: ABC format?

No, I don’t get it.

Does anyone like to see people writing in "sms" speak? You know when people write things like "LOL" and "m8" and "THX" and "2day"?

Some of you may say that’s evolution of language, or that it’s a more efficient means of communication. Those people would be correct to some extent.

But I think quite a lot of people would say that language is actually quite a lovely thing and worth taking the time to learn how to use properly.
There are whole books written about the misuse of punctuation and grammar. Some people find it mildly amusing whilst others despair at the mere sight of an ill considered apostrophe.

What if you were to go to a website that had an archive of historically significant literary works and then found they were all converted to sms speak? Would you think it brilliant or an abomination?

It’s a similar thing. I came on here and I saw a type of shorthand "text" music that I have never before seen in my life.

Don’t get your collective knickers in a twist because someone dared question it.

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

What is ABC notation all about? = ignorant
I saw this unintelligible text and then realised… my God…
…this is what they’re actually using to learn tunes?? = arrogant
Shocking….. I know….. I do apologise for my extraordinary audacity = wind-up merchant.

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Re: ABC format?

I don’t think anyone is, Wes. Most seem to me to be simply smiling benignly at someone who, out of ignorance, questions something of which they have no understanding.

Do I gather that you have no understanding of the music either?

:-)
(That’s a benign one.)

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Re: ABC format?

Ah. I cross-posted with gam. (In a benign sort of way.)

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Re: ABC format?

"Don’t get your collective knickers in a twist because someone dared question it." - please don’t lump my knickers in with everyone else’s. I’ll never be able to fold them all when they come out of the dryer

Re: ABC format?

Hello! I’m a banjo player - I specialize in ignorance and arrogance. However, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. If you don’t care for ABC files, don’t use them. If you think learning this music from dots is a poor practice, avoid it. Bashing those who do employ these sources from time to time does you no benefit. It may make their journey a bit longer, but that shouldn’t trouble you any.

Re: ABC format?

It is very clear from your arguments that you have no idea what ABC is or how it relates to staff notation. ABC is not the equivalent of text speak, it can contain ALL of the detail that any written piece of music would contain by any standard. I would argue this further but I can tell that you know almost nothing of computers or how they work so you will never appreciate the power that goes along with using more sophisticated notation techniques. When the wheel was invented, I’m sure someone like you was present hemming and hawing at the innovation.

Re: ABC format?

Imagine the first wheel not having an axle, but maybe was just a spherical roller and you had to use several and keep moving them under the moving object. One person will complain that the technology is tedious, another person invents the axle.

Re: ABC format?

Hi Earl. As you know, I essentially agree with you. I think, however, that you’re getting a bit over-excited in defence of the very useful tool known as ABC notation. As far as I know, it can’t contain "ALL of the detail that any written piece of music would contain" (by which I take it you mean, for instance, a piece of music written in staff notation). Otherwise, it wouldn’t still be being developed, to make it capable of containing more and more of the detail. It’s extremely useful, of course, but one of its benefits in this music (trad) is that trad only needs simple notation, so you never notice the stuff that ABC can’t do.

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Re: ABC format?

ABC can contain all the detail of a piece of music in standard notation?

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

Wes, the reason your position that ABC is a mongrelized, debased form of notation when compared to the beauties of standard musical notation is getting such an amused response is that we are used to the ‘dots vs ears’ argument. This means that there is a certain camp in Irish traditional music that maintains that written notation of any kind (“dots” as your beautiful notation is irreverently referred to) is superfluous to an aural tradition, and ANY sort of visual notation is a bit of a cheat and somewhat looked down upon.

Of course, this is a hotly disputed viewpoint and fodder for some really interesting and ridiculous exchanges on this board, but the fact that you see a hierarchy within the notational systems themselves, and seem almost offended by ABC, is funny.

Re: ABC format?

But yes, for the purposes of notating traditional Irish music, ABC can give as much information as standard notation and possibly more, especially in the K: field where you can specify mode, such as E dorian instead of just showing two sharps which could indicate D major.

Re: ABC format?

Interestingly, I read a book many years ago about Bach’s WTC that argued that composers of the day also had a certain amount of contempt for music notation. Apparently they thought it was a vague way to convey their musical ideas.
A lot of Bach’s music was actually improvised, especially with regard to dynamics or ornamentation. He disliked that all that "essentialness" was lost by trying to commit it to paper.

Posted .

ABC notation has been around quite some time

Ditto - ditto - ditto - ad infinitum… If you don’t like ABC notation and haven’t the sense to see its use, don’t bother with it. However, it has proved useful for a lot longer than computers, and not just in Ireland. I have some sheets from the 1800s, written by Irish musicians, and used in teaching too. I used it before I used a computer, and I’m that dated I even used ARPANET, pre Internet.

I trained as a music transcriber, pen and ink - the dots! I loved it that much I wanted a bit more intimate understanding of it. And, I’m a lefty, which only means there were added difficulties in doing notation longhand. While I appreciated that, and love the whole history of notations, music and dance, I welcome computers and software, and ~ I’ve also found ABC notation to be useful, repeatedly, including before it was adjusted slightly to become an ascii code for computers. I read it as easily as I read the dots. For most with any ability with sheet music, any, it is usually an easy transition to understanding and finding useful ABC notation. Another form of letter shorthand music transcription, also used in Ireland, was based on Solfeggio, the Do-Re-Mi, or D-R-M.

Having taught, including people to read dots and ABCs, I have run across those rare stubborn few who create blocks in their ability to understand and learn. These are often based on some bias, bigotry or preconceptions that contribute to an enforced ignorance, an inability to get past their own stubbornness, often with accompanying excuses or strong opinion. There’s no easy cure for that kind of enforced ignorance but yourself. The hardest thing to get past is that such folk, possibly for defensive purposes, convince themselves that they’re in the right and anyone who disagrees is deluded, just plain wrong. I can only guess that’s your problem if you are seriously having difficulty understanding or making sense of such a simple and useful alternate form of music notation. So be it. Remain as you are and don’t bother.

I suppose one could make an argument for writing implements, why bother with ink when a pencil is so much more easy to keep track of what’s left and to erase. Why not reduce EVERYTHING to just one option? Why bother with alternatives?

I was asking that before I decided to at least correct the ignorance about ABC notation being invented in the 90s ~ "Why bother?" Is this really worthy of this few seconds of thought and typing? Some folks are set in their ways and no amount of time given will make any difference. But ~ ABC notation, I knew and used and valued it before the ARPANET and computers and ascii code, and I have examples of it from other musicians that date back to the 1800s… I can’t say if the same system was around any earlier. I love that I can write tunes with it on a beer coaster, or a few bars for memories sake. It has proved invaluable, and not only to me, to those I’ve taught, to those who taught me, to those that came before me…

It’s all skeletal, the dots included. It takes understanding to bring it to life, to add the muscle and veins and arteries, the brain and heart and senses to it, and to breath life into it…

Re: ABC format?

@EB just curious , what information can’t yet be transmitted through ABC?
I use it to write tunes that I then turn into standard notation. I find it is a lot easier to work with than the various notation programs I tried, I use ABC exclusively now for composing. Many of the programs I tried were incapable of 11/8 21/8 etc etc without paying top rates for the professional programs ie 600$ for the finale! I can do everything I need with ABC and freeware.

Re: ABC format?

Lilypond.

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Re: ABC format?

I’ve struggled in the past with part-writing, Will. Mind, I don’t know what progress has been made in that area by now. Oh, and then there’s things that are standard in the classical repertoire like writing an ambiguous time signature such as 6/8 3/4 (those two terms side by side). I don’t think it can do that, or imply what is meant by that. TBH, without looking it up, I can’t *think* of anything else … but then, with reasonable frequency, there’s an ‘upgrade’ to ABC software, and the notation itself that makes me realise that it can now do something I hadn’t even thought of doing before, so it must be true that it can’t yet do everything… mustn’t it? Unless there are going to be no more upgrades to the notation?

I suppose the following, and its attendant discussion forums might give some clue. I haven’t gone into them in any depth:

http://abcnotation.com/wiki/abc:standard:route-map

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Re: ABC format?

I know abc standards are still being developed. I would say that much of that development is debate about what standards should be. At the most advanced levels it can become like a programming language where certain combinations of characters become language constructs and are thus reserved for a single purpose. Most things you would want to do can be done, you can change everything about how the page looks with abc code. Most of us only use it at the most basic levels because we don’t wish to be experts at tune transcription. So ABC still gives us a simple and easy way to work with music without the huge clunky staff notation programs, which are arguably harder to use.

Re: ABC format?

Completely agree with your last comment there, Earl. :-)

… by the way, I just found another whole area of ambiguity/issues with ABC - accents. It doesn’t look to me as if it can do anything but the most basic. Of course, we don’t need them for this music, so no worries eh? :-D

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Re: ABC format?

I’ve read through some of the new features and they are just making the language better and easier to use. I don’t know of any disadvantages or limitations to using abc, at all. It actually is great for notating multi voice classical music, the larger and more complicated the music, the more strongly I would recommend abc as a transcription method over WYSIWYG editors or writing staff notation by hand.

Re: ABC format?

… oh, and am I right in thinking that not all modes can be notated? For instance, if my ‘key signature’ included a B flat and a C sharp, would I be able to do that? I guess I’d just have to use accidentals wherever they were required …

Again, not important for this music. That’s why ABC is so appropriate for it. :-)

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Re: ABC format?

ABC probably can’t handle it but neither could any WYSIWYG editor that I know of. I’d say the odds are more in favor of it being possible for abc but I can’t see their being enough demand for such a feature, as it’s a pretty useless feature for any music. You would want to just use a standard signature (whichever signature decreases your accidental count the most) and use double flats or double sharps to depict scalewise relationships greater than a step in length.

Re: ABC format?

A lot of Irish traditional music is actually improvised, especially with regard to phrasing and ornamentation. Many dislike that all that "essentialness" is lost by trying to commit it to paper.

Re: ABC format?

Ah … have you moved the goalposts, Earl? ‘Cos originally you said that ABC notation could include all the detail that any written music could. Now you’re limiting that to WYSIWYG music editors? If so, I wouldn’t have a clue, never having used one. I’m pretty sure that ABC notation can’t include all the detail that staff notation written out by hand could show, which is what I thought you meant. Well, it’s what you originally said, at any rate.

Anyway, not to worry. ABC’s great for this stuff as most of us seem to agree, including you and me, Earl.

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Re: ABC format?

I don’t know what you can and can’t do with ABC.

However, if for example you wanted 21/8 time, what you can do is get a piece of manuscript paper and write…..wait for it…. 21/8. Genius no?

If you have accents or tempo markings or dynamics….you can write them on your manuscript too.

I’ve even heard a rumour that a manuscript will let you add a C sharp and a B flat despite them not being in the key signature.

Hey, go crazy…. add a B sharp and an F flat if you like….

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

Or just type
M: 21/8
L: 1/8
that way I can post it online for my friends

Re: ABC format?

Joking aside, I do admit that this ABC notation serves a useful purpose.

Especially, as was mentioned earlier, in that it allowed for sharing and documenting traditional music in the early days of the internet.

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

How do you propose sharing your 21/8 tune instantly over the internet currently, with someone on the other side of the world who plays an A clarinet, Wes?

Snapchat? Instagram?

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Re: ABC format?

Well I guess if you need a B flat and C sharp you are limited to paper and pen. lol, who cares? that would be a pointless way to notate music anyway.

Re: ABC format?

Early days of the internet aside. The idea of the size of a piece of data still applies. For a database of hundreds of tunes, the difference in size to store the data is exponentially larger. Storing on your local machine even, if you have hundreds of tunes in Finale format or just image files you are taking up unnecessary space on your hard drive. I have some pdf collections that I often consider deleting because I need the space, for example.

Re: ABC format?

EB wrote:
"For instance, if my ‘key signature’ included a B flat and a C sharp, would I be able to do that?"

John Chambers’ tutorial confirms that it’s possible:

"There is also a mechanism for giving arbitrary key signatures, for music that uses non-classical scales. As of this writing (early 1999) only a few programs implement it. It is simple: Give explicit notes with accidentals. They may be combined with a key signature. Here are some examples. The first is often seen in Scottish bagpipe music, with an explicit G natural to make it clear that this isn’t A major. The rest should be familiar to any Balkan, Klezmer, or Middle-Eastern musician.
K:Amix=g A mixolydian two sharps + advisory G natural
K:Dphr^F D hijaz/freygish 2 flats and 1 sharp
K:Cdor^F C misheberach 2 flats and 1 sharp
K:_B_e^F same, no tonic 2 flats and 1 sharp
K:D_e_B^f^c D zengule 2 flats and 2 sharps
K:GDor^c G misheberach Bb plus C#"

http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/music/abc/doc/ABCtut_Headers.html#I_Key

Re: ABC format?

I still think its greatest benefit is its ease of quick transcription on beermats.

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Re: ABC format?

Now that is interesting, jeff. That’s exactly the sort of thing I had in mind. Well, well. Nice to know it can be done.

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Re: ABC format?

Actually all you have to do is
K: F ^C

to get the key signature you were inquiring about.

Re: ABC format?

oh somebody beat me to it.

Re: ABC format?

Fortunately it would seem that he is not the only local expert :-) (crossed a few posts there)

Re: ABC format?

And you people still argue this is a convenient and simple way to notate music?

You’ve even got each other confused.

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

And I guess it’s not pointless as this gives you the possibility for harmonic minor scales in the key signature or any other type of non-diatonic type scale. I would like to see if finale can do this. I doubt it but wouldn’t be surprised.

Re: ABC format?

man Wes, you are beating a dead horse.

Re: ABC format?

yes Wes, I used to write out my tunes by hand, but my music writing is pretty damn messy! just like my handwriting! thats why I type anything important ! I was interested in nice neat PDF files of my tunes in standard notation. ABC gives me that.

thanks EB yes accents, multi part is fairly straight forwards now.

Re: ABC format?

Am I?

I thought we had agreed ABC can be useful earlier but now you’re all coming out and proving my exact point. It’s limited, tedious, ugly and confusing.

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

I think the most important point to come out of this discussion though is the idea that the music we’re talking about is an aural tradition.

I like that.

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

Wes, if you find ABC ugly, why don’t you try a fancier font?
Dots can look ugly as well, at least when I’m scribbling them.
But at the end of the day, both do express pitch and value.

Re: ABC format?

I love all forms of musical notation. One of the extremely useful features of ABC notation is that it’s searchable, so throughout thesession.org, and the web in general, you can now find tunes you’re looking for with a simple search routine.

:s, |d :- .m : s |s :m :l |s :m :d’ |s :m :r |
|d :- .m : s |s :m :d |s, :m :- .r | d :- ||

Re: ABC format?

It’s all about communication,no? In certain ways, I’m reminded of the archetypical American tourist who thinks the Parisians should be able to understand him if he speaks loudly and slowly..in English. ABC’s have their advantages,as do dots or even tab-for notating rock guitar solos a vocabulary of symbols has developed to match the vocabulary of techniques a rock guitarist employs,so that now it’s easier to accurately convey a Jimi Hendrix solo in tab than in notation. In general I am most comfortable with dots,but that’s because of my training-if you ring a bell I salivate :) I did develop a method for learning to read ABC’s,though. I just went to random tunes on this site and opened them in two windows -one of ABC’s,and the other I clicked the sheet music tab. I would read from the ABC until I got stuck,then glance at the dots and say aha! After about a half a dozen tunes I was getting pretty comfortable with ABC’s, but at the same time I found I was weaning myself from reading and trying to play almost entirely by ear.(this was coincidence,not cause and effect. I think…)
One last point-for me anyway standard notation does have one huge advantage-I can look at it and hear the tune in my head. Still can’t do that with ABC’s but I’m guessing coelachan or any one who’s been doing it that long probably can.

Re: ‘It takes understanding to bring it to life’

ceolachan I tend to agree with the direction in your response ~ ‘why bother?’ Just the same I appreciate your input; as I’m sure many others do. You’ve good insight.

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Re: ABC format?

X:1
T:Man is
L:1/2
R:right
K:A
| bet ter | i3 dea | wou ld2 |
| be2 to2 | lea rn2 |
| the tun | es2 by2 | ear zzz |

Re: ABC format?

wes, here’s the point: it doesn’t have to be useful. it is what we use in irish music. that is all. you are asking people to defend it and criticizing their responses. what you are ignoring is that fundamentally nobody had a problem with it.

i use it because it is simple and fast. i find typing music to be quicker than using finale or sibelius. if i am composing, i handwrite out the tunes, and then type it into the computer to generate the pdf. i don’t think that my way is right, or better, it is just how i personally do things.

your original question was: "Why in the name of God have people tried to reinvent music notation???" the answer is that nobody tried, it just happened. we like it, whether it is hard or difficult, simple or complicated, it is what we like to use. you don’t need specialized software to use it, but you can if you’d like. you must understand that sometimes other cultures do things differently, and there’s nothing wrong with it. we are not eschewing sheet music. basically, it is just how many of us like to generate our sheet music. in other words: we have our own markup language for sheetmusic. it is not a replacement for sheet music.

you asked about the irish notations that are similar and traditional. well, they are very simple, and they are actually more ambiguous than ABC notation. my experience with them is thus:

1. all letters are capitalized. the upper octave is an apostrophe, the lower octave is a comma. the D scale on the whistle is as follows: D E F G A B C D’ E’ F’ G’ A’ B’. notice that they do not notate F# or C#, in general, except perhaps at the top of the page. below D on the fiddle would be D C, A, B, G, etc.

2. there is no standard way of showing length of notes, rhythm, or measures. very often, there will be measure markings, with no indication of how the notes within them are grouped together. i have also seen tunes notated completely without measures. for example, you may know that there 2 beats in a measure, but have no idea which notes go to which beat. such markings as a line, e.g. —, are not standardized and not to be trusted. all that would mean is that it is longer than an eighth note. most often, note length is implicitly shown by putting notes farther apart.

3. there is no assumption that anyone could play the tune off the transcription without having heard the tune. they expect you to either have a recording (made during class) or have heard the tune enough to be able to remember how it sounds. the traditional lettered notation is not expected to ever stand by itself, but rather serve as a reminder or quick aid to help someone learning the tune by ear.

so, in comparison, ABC notation is as veridical a representation of music as sheetmusic itself is. in fact, ABC notation is most often viewed as a markup for sheetmusic, a means to an end, rather than an end to itself. it is, however, not as easily sightread as sheetmusic. it is easy to spread on the internet, at least from our perspective, and if it is not objectively easy then we don’t mind, because we’re used to it. there is a strong tradition of notating music with letters in ireland, but this traditional system is actually very unreliable in comparison, unpredictable, and in no way can be trusted to notate rhythm in any accurate way.

in short, irish people culturally expect all musical systems—whether it be sheet music, ABC, or other lettered notation—to only be a supplement to learning by ear.

your problem is that you are viewing ABC as if it is purportedly an attack on sheetmusic, or minimally that we view it as superior. we do not. it is a cultural difference that has historical roots. your fundamental criticism is flawed. it is like saying chinese speakers are attacking french speakers because they speak chinese, in other words: it’s a complete non-sequitor.

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Re: ABC format?

yeah this thread was a waste of time.

Re: ABC format?

Oh, I don’t know Earl. I learnt some stuff about ABC that I didn’t know, partly from you. I learnt that it was even more flexible than I had thought it was. So not a complete waste of time, for me at least. :-)

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Re: ABC format?

Nigel Gatherer has made a point there about ABC being searchable.

That’s possibly the best point made during the whole silly argument.

So that means if I had a tune stuck in my head for days I don’t have to go mad trying to remember what it is?

I can just write it out as ABC and google it? I like that!

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Re: ABC format?

Yes, thank you everyone this has been a really useful thread. When I first saw ABC notation I too thought it was a dumbing down of the beauty of written music, because I was ignorant. When I learned how to write and read it ( in that order) I was stunned by the beauty and simplicity of this method of recording tunes, and to see them magically appear in standard notation as I add the ABCs on this site is wonderful!

Previously to write a tune I had to crank up Sibelius, which is such a large program it made my computer run slow, and the file storage space! I had to buy extra hard disc space.

I was blown away by jeff_lindqvist’s demonstration of alternative keys before - now that’s beautiful.

Plus, and this is great, if I am out & about and a tune comes to me it’s very difficult to scrawl 5 long parallel lines on a bit of scrap paper to jot it down, but this is easy and I can fit a lot more music onto my scrap.

Thanks for showing me so much more about ABC guys!

Re: ABC format?

of course tunepal would have difficulties without ABC
http://www.tunepal.org

Wes, I’m sure you’ll like that as well, you’ll be liking quite a lot of things..

Re: ABC format?

I’m sure what I’m going to say this been mentioned here already but I can’t be bothered reading every single post. However, some posters have certainly hinted along these lines.

What appealed to me most about "ABC" was that it was a very cheap and easy way to actually compile sheet music. You don’t have to purchase expensive software or fiddle about with "on line" manuscript and "dots" etc or manually write out out scores.
Once you have learned how to notate a tune in ABC which isn’t that difficult nor particularly time consuming compared to many other things we have to do in life, it’s a very easy matter to convert this to standard notation via any one of many programs which are all extremely cheap and often completely free.

I agree that sheet music itself is much more useful and probably easier for most(It is for me) for the purpose of sight reading but the "ABC" is a means to an end as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never really bothered too much about mastering the sight reading ABC itself. There’s no need, as far as I’m concerned.

It’s true that for compiling really complicated scores, you would obviously require something much more elaborate but it’s perfectly adequate for producing melodies on the "top" or treble clef line which is all that most of us really need for our kind of music.

Re: ABC format?

Johnny,

I agree, ABC is probably alright for single line stuff and as I mentioned earlier I definitely think that idea about it being searchable is bloody brilliant. It might be nice if we never have to look at it but behind the scenes something like google is using it to build a database of searchable sheet music.

I think I can safely say I have absolutely no intention of using it or nor learning it myself though, as long as the sheets are available like they are on this site.

If you are looking for a cheap and easy way to jot things down though, have you heard of musescore?

http://musescore.org/

And I know someone else has already mentioned lilypond. They’re both open source (free) and both lightweight, simple notation editors. Musescore is my preference but only by habit really, I’ve heard lilypond is good too.

I’ve never bothered with anything like Sibelius of Finale. They’re very expensive and no doubt much too heavy for anything I would ever need.
I know that a good many award winning film scores have been composed using both Sibelius and Finale though so that tells us something about how powerful they are as tools in the right hands.

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

Yep, single line treble clef melodies are what we mostly play. And you don’t need to crank up Sibelius and have your computer running slow. I have a little program called Finale NotePad that I’ve been using for years which cost me a few quid, and you can get free ones that do more or less the same job. And I can convert my .mus Finale files to .xml files and send them to anyone with Sibelius.

Re: ABC format?

"I’ve heard lilypond is good too."

But it uses a form of ABC! :-)

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Re: ABC format?

" But it uses a form of ABC!"

Haha, does it really? I didn’t know that.

Ok well forget lilypond then.

Musescore is definitely alright though. Or maybe Finale Notepad like Steve Shaw just said. And I’m sure there are many others.

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

Do we forget that people playing traditional music have a variety of skills and, probably, aptitudes ? I think that my friends (and many of their children) who play music to a decent level must have built up neural connections that I just don’t have. And me trying to gain them at 60+ is hard a hard slog (not saying that it wasn’t hard for them).

On the other hand I, and many others who post here, have been paying the bills using our familiarity and experience with the encoding/decoding of data and instructions for decades. People like us (I suspect) invented ABC because we could do and thought that it would be useful to ourselves and others. That’s one way in which things progress. Maybe it will go the way of the typewriter, maybe not.

Re: ABC format?

But if it goes it will probably fade, rather than have the plug pulled on it: http://www.sibeliususers.org/

Watcha gonna do when those cheap packages won’t run on the latest version of your operating system and the people who wrote them have moved to to make money somewhere else ?

Re: ABC format?

… moved on to make… (I don’t pay the bills by writing :-()

Re: ABC format?

There is the fact that ABC is a utilitarian ways of archiving tunes, transmitting them through cyberspace, and running programs like Tunepal. But then there’s the fact that it is surely better to learn them by ear anyway, be it from recordings or from your friends or a teacher. Yeah, that dead horse.

Wes, you say you’re primarily a classical player. Do you play much Irish music? Most people who are deeply involved in the music don’t freak out about ABC, since it’s primarily a simple, useful way to write down what is essentially an aural tradition anyway.

Re: ABC format?

musescore looks ok, I could program various time sigs but its so much messing about that for me Its not worth the hassle and learing curve .All I need to do is type out the tune, I can transpose to any key with a click and in moments have a nice neat PDF . I tried a lot of programs when first investigating and its nice to see how they have come along but ABc is a whole load simpler both to learn and to use IME .

Re: ABC format?

Wes. You say you are "new to playing traditional tunes but not new to music". Are you used to a genre with a repertoire of thousands of ‘small’ tunes each of which may occur in several different variants and where what you want to play may not be available as sheet music, here or anywhere else ? If it is available it may be in a book that only has another couple of tunes you want and dozens of tunes you don’t want.

Are you going to have library like ceolachan’s ? Do a lot of photocopying and make up a scrap book ? Do a lot of writing on manuscript paper ? Use some sort of interface (mouse, keyboard) that is not notation ?

Re: ABC format?

Well the bigger and more complex the music, the better ABC will be at writing it down. Although it is frequently used for simple things it is not in any sense, limited to simple scores. It simply excels at doing large pieces of music as the layout is extremely easy to control and edit as your composition grows, and ABC is more powerful than WYSIWYG editors.

I agree with Will, it’s nice that there is something like musescore for people who only want to click their mouse, and who like memorizing menus. I personally find it much faster and easier to work with a markup language as I can type faster than I can click. Musescore is kind of a pain because you have to fill out a form before it will even let you make a new file. To write down an abc score I have to open notepad and start typing. I will usually open my interpreter though and type there so I get instant feedback.

Re: ABC format?

I have another question for Wes.

Would you rather flog a horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?

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Re: ABC format?

I’ve sat through that film Na éisc, Weta Workshop did a good job!

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Re: ABC format?

You guys are funny.

Why are you all so keen for me to learn ABC?

Earl, you say "the bigger and more complex the music, the better ABC will be at writing it"?

And then "…. it simply excels at doing large pieces of music"?

Well get your notepad editor open then, and see how much "faster" and "easier" it is to ABC this well known piece:

http://javanese.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/5/59/IMSLP248685-SIBLEY1802.18602.bfe9-39087009348535score.pdf

And before anyone asks, no, I can’t sight read it and I’ve never tried to play it but I almost certainly wouldn’t get very far if I did.

I could however, quite easily, save it, copy it, edit it, email it, share it, store it on my phone, post it on a forum like this one, print it, roll it up and shove it up someone’s a*se if I felt so inclined.

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

"post it on a forum like this one", how, other than as a link?

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Re: ABC format?

Wes, have you ever been involved in getting a large document of any sort to a state where it can be distributed without having to follow it up with an erratum slip ?

How do you propose editing that PDF file ?

Why did my browser give a warning "! This PDF file may not be displayed properly.

How old are you ?

Re: ABC format?

"Why did my browser give a warning "! This PDF file may not be displayed properly."

Because your browser has been looking at ABC files for too long and got confused when it saw a proper bit of music.

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

why are you talking about writing out classical music in ABC on an irish music forum?

Re: ABC format?

Come on, answer the question. How would someone "quite easily" edit that PDF file ? l

Re: ABC format?

wes, were these film scores composed in finale or typeset in them? i think that most world-class composers would compose on the piano and then notate from there. i am not sure, but my experience with classical musicians is that they would prefer to work from paper for their first draft. although i agree that doing a full score on ABC might not be a piece of cake, i doubt that world class film composers use to do anything but typeset their music.

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Re: ABC format?

Well ok, maybe typeset is possibly more correct. I have no clue how much of the work is typically done at a piano, at a computer, in the composer’s head, or whatever.

I think I remember reading an interview with Hans Zimmer though where he said he works straight in to the software for most of the parts, whilst watching the particular scene of the film he’s writing for.

And yes I agree with you about paper. I’m not a composer but just sitting down and playing I would prefer a piece of paper in front of me every time. I’m not necessarily reading it, but it’s sort of a road map, there are signposts for if I get lost. And I’m not trying to concentrate on what comes next so it’s easier to just listen, either to myself or to what others are doing.

Oh, I’ve just thought of something that I maybe could have mentioned a lot earlier in the discussion but it’s honestly only just occurred to me.

Typically you don’t operate these notation softwares by clicking with the mouse, although that’s probably the most intuitive way to do it.
No. Usually the keyboard is connected to the computer by midi or usb. You enter your notes by just playing.
Now from my experience, the software is pretty poor at getting the timing right. So you don’t play the whole piece and expect it to be notated perfectly, it’s not that convenient. But you can play a bar or two at a time for sure. Editing is done in a similar way.

I would suggest that’s the way a lot of composers would like to work too, although I have no way of knowing that for sure.

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

Well ABC editors can import/export midi so there is no reason you couldn’t work from it the same way. It would be a pain to transpose that music you posted to ABC, that’s not my point. If you were composing that work, ABC would be the most logical choice to save your progress and piece it together, as it is more intuitive when piecing together whole phrases as you can simply copy and paste. I know you can copy in other programs but it’s more difficult in my experience to get a clean copy that doesn’t glitch the page layout. For the most part composing is done on an instrument or in your head but to write down the phrases and piece them together in different ways. To compose a symphony or a fugue ABC is ideal, as you can view more data on a single page, which is very helpful when trying to see the bigger picture on a multipart stave. Copying from printed music to ABC isn’t possible yet as far as I know but I’m sure somebody will come up with an automated way to do it. As far as I know it must be done by hand, but there is no reason music that complicated can’t be expressed in ABC and there are a number of classical works already transcribed to ABC by supporters of the language.

Re: ABC format?

earl, that sounds interesting! i would love to get a MIDI concertina (they exist) so i could just play a tune and generate ABC output.

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Re: ABC format?

I had this trascription saved as a pdf from a long time ago when I still used Finale. I was able to save the image to paint and open it in a program called SharpEye2 which I used to export a midi file. The midi file was then imported into abcexplorer. The midi import feature didn’t pick up the chords and on other attempts it didn’t pick out multiple voices, so the import feature can only be used on one voice at a time.

Not a limitation of ABC as a language because multiple voices can be expressed in multiple ways which I already went into detail on another thread, but more of a limitation of the midi import software built into abc explorer. Other programs may import cleaner midi, but this is technically correct. It cancels out the key signature and re-establishes it every line so all the extra stuff would have to be manually deleted to get clean looking abc code, but the sheet music is correct, although the note groupings got forced to pairs which is annoying. But you can turn your pdf files into ABC, it is possible.

X:1
T: from C:\Users\Earl\Desktop\Untitled.mid
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
Q:1/4=120
K:A % 3 sharps
% Produced using SharpEye2
%%MIDI program 0
% Produced using SharpEye2
K:C % 0 sharps
K:A % 3 sharps
B3c dc de| \
f=g fe de f^g| \
aA (3AAA (3FGA ED| \
CE Ac fe dc|
K:C % 0 sharps
K:A % 3 sharps
d2 cd Bc de| \
fB B2 Bc de| \
fc (3ccc ac fc| \
ec Ac Bc dc|
K:C % 0 sharps
K:A % 3 sharps
B3c dc de| \
f=g fe de f^g| \
aA (3AAA (3FGA ED| \
CE Ac fe dc|
K:C % 0 sharps
K:A % 3 sharps
d2 cd Bc de| \
fB B2 Bc de| \
fc (3ccc ac fc| \
ec Ac Bc dc|
K:C % 0 sharps
K:A % 3 sharps
d2 cd Bc de| \
fg ab af ed| \
c2 Bc AB ce| \
a3b af ec|
K:C % 0 sharps
K:A % 3 sharps
d2 cd Bc de| \
fB B2 Bc de| \
fc (3ccc ac fc| \
ec Ac2<B2c|
K:C % 0 sharps
K:A % 3 sharps
d2 cd Bc de| \
fg ab af ed| \
c2 Bc AB ce| \
a3b af ec|
K:C % 0 sharps
K:A % 3 sharps
d2 cd Bc de| \
fB B2 Bc de| \
fc (3ccc ac fc| \
ec Ac2<B2c|

Re: ABC format?

Those of you with the abcjs plugin will be able to see the sheet music below the ABC code and see that it does produce cleanly rendered sheet music.

Re: ABC format?

Or perhaps a limitation on the SharpEye program which exported the midi

Re: ABC format?

daiv it would probably be easier to just use tunepal, I think it transcribes what you play into ABC for the search so I assume there’s a way to just capture the ABC.

Re: ABC format?

Easy ABC has a cleaner import as it requires you to input some variables manually.
Haven’t tested for multi voice. Easy ABC also happens to be the way to for transposing anything in ABC. But I still mostly use abcexplorer for some reason.

X:1
T:Paddy Mac
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:A
B2>c2 dc de | f=g fe de f^g | aA (3AAA (3FGA ED | CE Ac fe dc | d2 cd Bc de |
fB B2 Bc de | fc (3ccc ac fc | ec Ac Bc dc | B2>c2 dc de |
f=g fe de f^g | aA (3AAA (3FGA ED | CE Ac fe dc | d2 cd Bc de |
fB B2 Bc de | fc (3ccc ac fc | ec Ac Bc dc | d2 cd Bc de |
fg ab af ed | c2 Bc AB ce | a2>b2 af ec | d2 cd Bc de |
fB B2 Bc de | fc (3ccc ac fc | ec Ac2< B2c | d2 cd Bc de |
fg ab af ed | c2 Bc AB ce | a2>b2 af ec | d2 cd Bc de |
fB B2 Bc de | fc (3ccc ac fc | ec Ac2< B2c |

Re: ABC format?

It still put 5 bars on the first line, bad job…really annoying to correct.

Re: ABC format?

Wes, as a punishment for daring to challenge the esteemed ABC format, I am going to post to you, at my own expense, the complete unabridged O’Neill’s 1850 Tunes, hand-crafted and leather bound, collector’s limited edition, published in ABC format.

You will then need to scan each page with OCR software, mince it through another abc-to-notation convertor, finally printing it all out, in standard notation, page by page, hole-punching each page, then you must store all the pages in a big ring binder that keeps falling off your music stand :)

But really … Wes, you mentioned composing. I compose too, and from a musical transcription aspect, mostly just simple melody line, single note stuff - although some of my tunes have multiple 2-note chords / double stops (I’m a fiddle player, oh sh*t). I use a little Prodikeys (on which I am now typing this post) to bash the notes into either Harmony Assistant or Finale PrintMusic - the notes pop up on the screen, and it’s a fairly quick process if things are simple, like the time sig. and similar note durations.

This whole thread has gotten kind of confusing, with so many off-shoots and periphery refs to notation and ABC, so I’ll just say a few things which apply to me …

ABC? I never use it outside of the PC environment. Meaning, only to port music from one source to another, like from Harmony Assistant to Finale Printmusic. I use both, because the Prodikeys works well with HA, and not so well with FP - but the layout and appearance are much better in FP, so that’s what I use for final rendering.

I learned to read music long before the days of ABC, and I read it fairly well - so for me, ABC is of little use for reading or writing. If one is at a Noddy level of reading / writing standard notation, maybe learning simple ABC is better for them. Who knows - I really can’t judge on that. The use of ABC on this site is good - in the tunes section I just click on the ‘Sheet music’ button and it shows the music properly. Thanks, Jeremy :)

For ABC, as to the ease of use in transcribing, eg at a session, during a break - I wouldn’t use it - I’d use my little manuscript book if I had to. Haven’t done that for a long time - I’ve always just used a little audio recorder of some sort, so they can play / hum / whistle the tune slowly, and it gets recorded. If the tune is really that complex I’ll transcribe it later on, in my own time.

People say ABC is quicker to use when transcribing - yes it is if you are a Noddy-level reader / writer of standard notation. If you see some of the real experts notating the normal way, they are very quick - each note is done in a single pen-to-paper action, just the same way as you would write an ‘A’. Often they just space out the notes on the paper to represent time values, so no time is wasted in tailing / beaming the notes. That’s standard notation shorthand, and it works :)

I don’t see the point (for me, anyway) of trying to learn to read ABC fluently. I understand it, and that’s enough. If someone posts a snippet of ABC, eg an example of two ways of playing a phrase, eg GEDE or GDGE, then it’s not difficult to work out what they mean.

As for the complexity of music that ABC can handle - well, it’s to quite a high degree, imo. Just for the hell of it I exported one of Harmony Assistant’s string quartet demos to ABC format, changed the key and a few random notes, and imported it back in again. Perfect (from a conversion aspect).

One last observation on reading ABC. On here the general impression I get is that it’s only really useful for simple single-note melody in simple regular time sigs, and in common keys. Although it can handle two-note chords, it seems weird that in ABC you are reading the bracketed note pairs from left-to-right (the only way possible), whereas those same note-pairs are read top-to-bottom in standard notation. So, you have to mentally transpose top-bottom to left-right - worse if it’s a 3-note chord. Ah well :)

Re: ABC format?

No I’m sorry…. more confusion.
I said I’m NOT a composer. I don’t write music. I have a hard enough time playing other people’s.

I just use software sometimes to write out a piece so I can print it and have it in front of me.
Lots of times there is a piece of music in a book and I only want one page or something. Or maybe I only want the violin part and I could get it all on one page. I’ll just write it out again and press print, takes 2 minutes.

That’s about as complicated as I get.

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

To be honest Wes, I have been learning trad music from a young age and I found abc notation far easier than real sheet music. Yes, I can read music also, but I find abc a lot easier:)

Re: ABC format?

There is more than one way to express harmony and/or multiple voices in ABC, brackets is just one quick and dirty way.

Re: ABC format?

"Wes, as a punishment for daring to challenge the esteemed ABC format, I am going to post to you, at my own expense, the complete unabridged O’Neill’s 1850 Tunes, hand-crafted and leather bound, collector’s limited edition, published in ABC format."
Or,Jim,you could just send Wes this link
http://www.oldmusicproject.com/
As a bonus you get O’Carolan andAllan’s Irish Fiddler and a bunch of other stuff in ABC,sheet music,MIDI and Noteworthy Composer,plus a bunch of cool links including Nigel Gatherer’s webpages:)

Re: Standard Music Notation

What many, many people refer to as ‘standard’ notation is staff notation.
It’s normal to jump to the conclusion that if one method is the standard system then other types of notation, especially those with which one has little to no experience, are non-standard & therefore inconvenient. Using this premise it’s easy to understand how someone might assume there aren’t shorthand ways to use other types of notation.

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Re: ABC format?

I am inspired by Wes’s example, and have decided to get in my car, drive north to Quebec, and let all those folks up there who speak French have a piece of my mind. How dare they use a language that I do not understand! How bizarre it is that they use different words, when English has been around for centuries, and it is the language that I was first taught! They would rather communicate in a way that allows themselves to understand each other, but don’t seem to realize that if I wanted to understand what they are saying, I would have to learn something new! Their audacity just baffles me! ;-)

Re: ABC format?

Good one Al!

Re: ABC’s audacious format :-O

AlBrown if you really want to follow Wes’ example don’t even bother driving up to Canada. Just post on a forum used by Québécois*.

*pronounced … er, um, ahhhh :-/ Well, I’m stumped. No biggie though. It’s Greek to me anyway.

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Re: ABC format?

Why we going on about the French now? I don’t understand.

Their language is older than your country though mate. As is standard music notation. Whereas ABC was made up in…….. 1991.

Anyway, nevermind, what’s the first tune played in the this clip? Is it called Maudabawn Chapel?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIJ6sda4KcE


Thanks.

Posted .

Re: ABC format?

Quebecois is approximately pronounced: kuh - beck - wah

Re: ABC format?

The first tune is the Donegal version of "Drowsy Maggie", not "Maudabawn Chapel". No time just now, but I look forward to watching more of that clip. Thanks for posting it.

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Re: ABC format?

@earl: yeah, i have tunepal. but it would be nice to notate my particular version or variations just by playing, especially for my students. but, all the upfront costs definitely aren’t worth it! i’d rather use that money to buy a new flute or trip to ireland, :-).

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Re: ABC format?

Wes, if you would listen to what people are saying above, while the current computer-based ABC system dates from the 1990’s, letter, syllable and number based musical notation systems have been around for centuries, and many of them longer than the musical notation system developed for European classical music with which you are familiar. If you want to have an intelligent discussion, you need to understand something of what you are talking about before you start throwing around value judgments and criticisms.
"Why we going on about the French now? I don’t understand."
That, sir, is precisely the point of my little exercise in "reductio ad absurdum."

reductio ad absurdum

… or to put it another way where’s a good trouser changing, hotwiter bottle collecting, wig museum docent when you need him.?

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Re: ABC format?

Another question, in general terms - if you (meaning anyone here) were to send a tune (simple, or complex) to a stranger, with whom you were connected only through a common interest in fiddling / any instrument / genre of music - would you send the notation as standard, in .jpg or .pdf, or in .abc, if you had a choice?

In other words, it is good etiquette to give him the music in the easiest form possible? In other words, don’t expect him to have to put the .abc through a convertor just to be able to read it?

Re: ABC format?

"But if it goes it will probably fade, rather than have the plug pulled on it: http://www.sibeliususers.org/"

Note the dates on that website.

In fact, Sibelius is still going through Avid, and Avid haven’t gone bust. What they did to the original UK team was "very naughty", however (though the Sibelius UK team were very greedy - I know through personal experience).

ABC has become more and more versatile as its user base grows, but I disagree that it is more capable than something like Sibelius (if that’s what people are trying to say). Some ABC programmes are better than others in their rendition, but I’ve come across obstacles that Sibelius can handle more easily hands down (when dealing with traditional Scandinavian music - not just classical).
ABC’s capability of notation of GHB music could probably be developed, but as it is, it is not ideal. OK, it dosn’t claim to be the bee’s knees in GHB notation, and neither does Sibelius, but the latter now has a plug-in which has moved it ahead in that respect.

Anyway, long may ABC develop, and I hope something sorts itself out regarding the Sibelius UK fiasco.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I’ll continue to use both - and Lilypond for its quality, and NWC for its speed (never really liked Finale).

The OP might want to just accept that there are many ways of achieving an acceptable result, and ABC is here because it works better in this environment.

Re: ABC format?

@ Jim — you don’t ‘put ABC through a converter’ any more than you would any other format. You just use the relevant program to display it on your PC. As to the proper etiquette, I usually ask what format the recipient wants it in, with the suggestion that ABC is easiest all round (meaning easiest for me :) ).

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Re: ABC format?

I accept there are many ways of achieving an acceptable result.

If I ever have post a tune on here I’ll do it in ABC format since that is the format that seems to work in this environment.

If anybody ever wants to send me a tune, you can send it to me in ABC too. I’ll make the effort to work out what it says.

I apologise if any of my opinions upset anybody.

Smiley face.

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Re: ABC format?

I can’t imagine anyone would want to send you anything, if you need to make an effort to work out what it says, smiley face.

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Re: ABC format?

"If I ever have post a tune on here I’ll do it in ABC format since that is the format that seems to work in this environment. "

Yes, you will do it in ABC format. You’d struggle otherwise, since that is how the site operates.

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Re: ABC format?

Neat point gam, about the ‘converter’. :-)

Re: ABC format?

jim: i usually send it as a pdf of sheet music. this pdf, in turn, lived most of its life as a .abc file on my computer. many of my comhaltas students, however, use a type of ABC unique to our branch that is close to the irish one (no numbers, etc.), so in their cases i usually handwrite it for them.

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Re: ABC format?

daiv, I’m very interested in seeing the abcs your students are using. Years ago I used one of the ‘beermat’ styles before I picked up the computer code used here. If you could scratch out a simple jig or reel & message me I would appreciate it.

Cheers!

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Re: ABC format?

Jim, about sending music, what I do depends on the recipient. Typically it’s a pdf with staff notation &/or an audio recording. I only send .abc files when someone requests the format or I’m positive they have the means to use it. Once I sent a midi file of a 7/8 tune, arranging four voices & variations.
Of course this is assuming the dots, abc, etc. are for someone who uses computers, email, & has access to a printer. For those who don’t I just meet with them in person & we go from there. I’ve a laptop so it doesn’t rule out using it. But I don’t have a printer.

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Re: ABC format?

ABC - I think it’s function as a portability tool is pretty good, and is there any doubt about that?

Would I use to it read music? No, I don’t need to, and I don’t want to, but having just said that I am not in a position to advise or criticise anyone who does feel the need to use it.

For me, there’s something about the printed music page that ABC can’t give you. A bit like the difference between seeing the word ‘car’, then seeing a real car.

Daft analogy maybe … but I’m not right in the head anyway :)

Re: ABC format?

the difference between printed music and ABC is how you read it and what your comfortable reading….

Seeing a car and reading the word "car" is the difference between hearing music and seeing music written in notation regardless of what that notation is.

Musical notation only works if you know how to read it and the more you read it the more comfortable you get, and the easier it is to understand it.

I don’t understand how seeing a page with splattered dots is any easier than reading a page with scattered letters aside from the fact that most musicians (especially ones trained outside traditional music) are more used to reading staff notation.

Re: ABC format?

I would send my fiddling friend (thinking of a world life example) the sheet music because many musicians that I know in my area are ignorant of how to use ABC. I remember being turned off the first time somebody pulled out their ABC notebook. It’s not very useful to me written in pen or pencil because it can’t be converted to sheet music, which is easier to sight read.

Re: ABC format?

When I teach a fiddle student, the content is pretty much expected, so I’ll have the sheet music there, whatever the content may be. Sometimes, a new tune is suggested, and often I work through the tune with them, without any paper at all. There have been times when there is a fingering or bowing issue, and often the student has enough grasp to know what to work on in his / her own time.

If they want the music after the lesson, it’s always in standard notation format, because they can add fingering and bowing markings to it.

As I said before, I use Harmony Assistant for getting audio to PC, then to paper. It can do standard notation, abc, MIDI, xml and tab too. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked for ‘the tabs’ :)

Re: ABC format?

Actually Sean , the dots give a visual picture of the tunes movement so at a glance it’s possible to see the greater overall story . The lower the notes pictorially the lower the tune Etc . So at a glance it’s possible to see if a tune goes below or above a certain note scanning with the eye . I started by labouriously turning the dots into tab then realised it was easier just to skip the tab and go straight to the instrument . I’m a big fan of ABC but I use it to give me the dots .

Re: ABC format?

As much as I find dots easier to sight-read (if nothing else, it’s easier to notice how the melody line goes up and down), there shouldn’t be too difficult for anyone to guess what "ABcd eAce" means. After all, an A is an A, a B is a B, and if there’s a K:A, one could assume that a c is really a c#.

Re: ABC format?

Assuming you could read both ‘the dots’, and ABC, I think the dots would be easier to read and understand. A piece of written music is a picture. That picture can include bow markings, fingerings and loads more. No doubt there will be the capability to express those entities in ABC, but I think it would make the reading, understanding and translation more difficult.

I think the use of ABC in this music is quite good for people who like the system, and possibly they did not read standard notation very well. I think it’s fair to say that for the majority of ‘the tunes’, the fingering is simple and implicit. Same with the bowing.

ABC as a reading tool works for some music, but certainly not for others. Of that there can be no doubt :)

Re: ABC format?

@na eisc: i’ll send you a scan in a bit. sent you a pm describing the system, and i can email a handwritten copy.

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Re: ABC format?

For me, one of the great boons of ABC is the ease of adapting someone else’s version to my preferred version. Many of the tunes on ‘The Session’ are similar to but not identical to a version that I may wish to learn from a recording that I like. It is a matter of seconds to copy someone else’s transcription in ABC, paste it into EasyABC, tweak it to my preference and print it off in ‘dots’.

Re: ABC format?

Because it’s the internet, and I can’t stand for it to be wrong:

1) It’s pronounced k*ay*-beh-KWAH. That’s why there is that accent on the first syllable of "Québecois."

2) Composers do actually compose on typesetting tools as Sibelius, without ever touching a mouse or MIDI keyboard, at blazing speeds, because composers tend to be arguably human, and like to waste time as little as most other humans. Making dots pretty is one thing for which a tool such as Sibelius is extremely efficient.

3) ABCs are compact + human readable + machine searchable, which is a magical sweet spot in the whole post-internets world.

4) There are times when one tool is more appropriate than another tool, but they are still tools. Some tools are overkill (sabre to open champagne bottle). For some tasks a keyboard is appropriate, for some, a mouse, for some a pen[cil] and paper, for some a body-suit covered in MIDI percussion triggers. Telling the nut-job in the bodysuit that they are wrong is a sure path to a lengthy lecture on the merits of body percussion (opens the pores, don’t you know?). I’ll let each and every one of you project onto this conversation the identity of the bodysuit-clad.

Re: ABC format?

"Some tools are overkill( sabre to open champagne bottle)"

It can be quicker than opening it conventionally! And with champagne, speed is key…

*hic* :-P

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