This week’s pet peeve

This week’s pet peeve

I know there are more important things to concern oneself with and I’ve probably been isolating a bit too long and my OCD is showing, but . . .

. . . what is it with posting tunes that are evidently wrongly scored? I know typos and erors of all sorts can creep in and need correcting, but sometimes a tune has been put up with bars in which there are too many notes - or too few - so the piece clearly doesn’t fit the time signature or fall into any recognisable rhythm. It looks as though the poster has simply not played through what they’ve written. If they had, the anomalies would be bleedin’ obvious.

Isn’t there any feature of the posting process that would flag up a mismatch between the contents of a bar and the time sig? Like show it up in red or something?

O.k. I’ll do something useful now, like learn The Kesh in C#.

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Typos and *errors. Sorry :p

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Glad someone’s reading it.

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Hi there Bazza
I agree with you
Here’s an example

https://thesession.org/tunes/17019

You’ll notice that I did post and indicate the error, but it hasn’t been rectified.
I don’t know much about computers but I do know how to add up

Keep safe and well everyone
All the best

Brian x

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I don’t do ABC, hence I don’t post any tunes, but I do write some out in standard notation, using free scoring software. It won’t let me put too many notes in a bar, or, if I put too few in, it will fill the rest of the bar up with ……..rests!
But I see other people’s scores, using different software, where they do have all the faults you complain of, Bazza. How can this be that such faulty software is allowed to exist?

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“How can this be that such faulty software is allowed to exist?”

Are you talking about the facility on this site or notation/abc programmes in general, Trish?
If the latter, I would agree that this is not ideal especially if these are commercial software programmes.

As for the facility here, this has evolved over the years and has always worked (or not) on the basis that most posters have some knowledge of “ABC” and have learned or taught themselves how to compose same. Also, a certain knowledge of standard notation and so on is helpful too as one needs to know how tunes are usually constructed. Of course, everyone has to gain experience and I’m sure we all make a few errors from time to time.
Usually, I will play the tune through before final submission but sometimes I’ll miss something. Generally, most members are helpful enough and will let you know if you’ve made a mistake or offer an opinion or advice.

Some ABC software programmes do give error messages and it is possible, of course, to compose the tune in one of those before transferring it here. Other than that, I don’t know if it’s possible for Jeremy to drastically alter the tune submission process to produce error messages and so on. It may involve quite a lot of extra work and expense which, personally, I wouldn’t consider necessary. The system has worked very well until now and should do in the future as long as we continue to help each other.

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It doesn’t matter. The tune isn’t the dots. Music doesn’t live on the page.

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The point of ABC was always to be a musical notation in its own right, so if you wrote down

| [M:6/8] GABc BAG |

Well, that was what you meant, just as if you wrote the same thing in standard notation. Whether it has a meaning is up to the writer and reader.

One of the reasons I use ABC as a typesetter, though, is exactly this flexibility. If you take a tune I submitted here, Mairi’s Tune:

https://thesession.org/tunes/18096

You could set this in standard notation with Sibelius or Musescore or whatever, but it would be, frankly, a battle. With ABC, I just wrote out what I wanted (and you might argue I’ve done it wrongly, which is fair, but what’s there is what I intended).

That said, automated sense checking would be useful as long as it’s not enforced. I do agree with Bazza that obvious errors are annoying, doubly so when you can’t reconcile them yourself.

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If you want to ensure you have your abc editing correct you can try mimicking the original melody using all resets and place that directly below a V:2 in the edit window. Here’s an example:

X:1013
T:Come Up Stairs With Me
O:Artist: Loretta Egan Murphy Album: Beyond the Watery Lane - track #8
M:9/8
L:1/8
K:Gmaj
R:Slip Jig
P:A
|: D | “G”G2c BAG Bcd | “C”ecA ABG “D”FED |
“G”G2c BAG Bcd | “C”efg “D”faf “G”g2 :|
P:B
|: g | “D”fed d2g fed | “C”ecA ABG “D”FED |
[1 “D”fed d2 g fed | “C”efg “D”faf “G”g2 :| [2 “G”G2 c BAG Bcd | “C”efg “D”faf “G”g2 |]
V:2
z | z9 | z9 |
z9 | z8 :|
|: z | z9 | z9 |1 z9 | z8 :|2 z9 | z8 :]

You know as the editor how many beats are in each bar and if the V:2 entries have the correct numerical value and your bars do not align, then you know you have a problem that needs to be fixed.

This is why there is less value in learning to play from abc notation directly. It’s difficult to spot mistakes. ABC editors like ABC Navigator and EasyABC provide a score window and it’s one very useful tool when editing the abc notation.

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‘It doesn’t matter. The tune isn’t the dots. Music doesn’t live on the page’. Deep or what? There are no doubt those who, in preserving their authenticity and as point of principle, only ever assimilate tunes by ear from players who have them via an unbroken aural tradition.

Mind you, there are clearly quite a few of us who find that the dots are a useful way of familiarising ourselves with a bit of music as a first step in trying to get it to live on the instrument and in the air. To that extent, it matters that the dots (or letters) actually represent the tune with tolerable accuracy - or else sites like this would be redundant. And some of us can’t manage to hold all the tunes we like to play in our heads for instant recall, so use the dots as an aide-memoire. Just like those folks in orchestras.

And I’m with Calum: ‘automated sense checking would be useful as long as it’s not enforced’. My original pet peeve comment was not to recommend policing people’s submissions, but simply to put the question, ‘Would you like to check that what you posted is actually what you meant (because I can’t get it to sound right as it’s written)?’

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In answer to Johnny Jay: no I wasn’t talking about ABC or anything on this site, but some (dubious) standard notation software that apparently allows people to put more notes in a bar than the time sig should allow.

And, oh please, let’s not start the dots v ears thing again!

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OK, Trish.
I thought as much but I just wanted to make the point that the system we have on this site is what it is, for good or ill.
It wasn’t really intended to be used as a programme in its own right as such and it is only efficient as those who use it. Of course, it is also quite handy as a means of producing simple notation by typing in ABC code but that isn’t really its purpose as such. In a way, that’s just a by product.

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What do you have against pencil and paper, Trish? :p

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I think the errors mostly come from people who aren’t familiar with music notation (of any kind) trying their hand at using it. They can’t spot their errors by playing through the pieces because they can’t sightread music notation, don’t understand the correlation between written music and the way music sounds.

I will take exception to statements that music doesn’t live on the page. It can, to those who know how to read it.

You can read a book, a person is quoted as saying something, and you know the sound of what he’s saying, you can hear him saying it in your head. Now, the original reality (if it’s nonfiction) is spoken language, and reading a quote is never going to be the same experience as hearing the original utterance.

Yet we don’t have people advocating illiteracy because reading is a different experience that hearing spoken language! Rather we often feel a bit sad for someone who has a huge realm of human experience cut off from them due to it.

Remember the scene in Amadeus? When Salieri picks up a sheet of music and can hear the entire orchestration in his head by reading it? That’s not Hollywood make-believe, nor is it some rare Super Power that Salieri has, it’s what people who can read music do as a matter of course.

It allows sightreaders to pick up a music-book and read through music they’ve never heard anybody play and hear it as clearly and vividly as if they were hearing somebody perform it. That’s why I say that music can live on the page, like the utterances of long-dead people can.

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@Johnny Jay
“-that isn’t really its purpose as such. In a way, that’s just a by product.”

I’d beg to differ but I’m getting too old for that…

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@callison

🙂
I realise that it does produce standard notation although it didn’t do so in the early days as I recall.
What I meant was that the purpose of the facility was to submit settings of tunes to the database so that they may be accessed by others. It’s original purpose was not a tool for composing or transcribing tunes in the same way that typical music software programs are.
As I say, it can still be a handy and cheap way to do this providing the user is “au fait” with the system and has a bit of musical knowledge. It wasn’t originally designed with this in mind though.

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“What do you have against pencil and paper, Trish? :p”
Nothing per se, but some hand-written scores can be difficult to read, and notation software makes scores look so much neater! Plus, if you are writing harmonies you have the playback facility to check that your proposed combinations of notes work together OK.
I still use manuscript paper, pencil, and maybe eraser, if I’m going to a workshop and want to transcribe a tune taught by ear to paper quickly. I can do that faster than writing ABC.

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Sorry Trish, I was just trying to make a little point about this comment:

>some (dubious) standard notation software that apparently allows people to put more notes in a bar than the time sig should allow

Which is no different from what paper and pencil allow you to do. At some point, if we’re reading or writing music we have to take a certain level of responsibility for doing so correctly.

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I can barely sign my name after surgery on my right hand four months ago. I can still type pretty quick - and backspace a lot - so I’m pretty much constrained to the abc approach these days. If you can do your notation with pen and paper be very glad you have that option.

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@Calum: I see your point now. (But some handwritten scores ARE pretty illegible).

@Callison: sorry about your hand: not meaning to rub it in! Hope it continues to improve.

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‘And, oh please, let’s not start the dots v ears thing again!’ A heartfelt plea, Trish, which I share. Any chance it could be written into the house rules . . . .?

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I have always liked that it’s possible to recognize a person’s handwritten music, just like handwriting.

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Only if it’s legible!
I can recognise my own computer-written scores - especially do a double take when some random person hands them out, saying “here’s a nice tune to try” - not realising that I have done the scoring!

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Here’s the OP’s pet peeve in full bloom:

https://thesession.org/tunes/1330#comment896980

A discussion just came up about this tune, and I was amazed to see that half the versions are written in a different time signature than the one that appears at the beginning of their setting.

Do people really not know what the two occurrences of the number “4” in “4/4” refer to?

It’s why I said above that people who aren’t familiar with music notation can’t spot their errors by playing over the pieces they’ve written out. If they understood what the symbols used in music notation meant they wouldn’t have made the mistakes in the first place.

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That’s probably come about, Richard, because when that tune was first posted there was no March category. My guess it was probably posted under Polka to get the 2/4 time sig. When the March category was introduced, 4/4 was chosen as the time sig (despite humans only having two legs) and so many 2/4 tunes got a 4/4 time sig imposed on them.

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So this site automatically changed the time signatures after the tunes were posted?

I know you can put a different time signature at the start of your tune which overrides the pre-set one in the tune thread. I wish people would do that so their setting is written in the same time signature that appears on their setting.

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Yup.
A similar thing happened when Jeremy used an algorithm to identify abc script in the comments after he allowed multiple settings. Trouble was a lot of that abc script was partial settings or chord sequences.

I’ve went through all my submissions some time ago and “corrected” them. But I can only do that for my settings, unfortunately.