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#1 Dirge

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 09:43 PM

Taking this out of the 'Something for the Weekend' bit...You see I thought the reason for ABC's existence was to allow tunes to be 'computerised' in the days when typesetting music wasn't practical for the home enthusiast and people worried about using too much memory for simple tasks. On that principle it is obsolete; the Tune-o-tron (and no doubt other things I haven't discovered) will take your abc and make it into proper music directly and no one worries about one more pdf, jpg or whatever file on the desktop these days. You don't need lilypond, the computer converts it for you.

(Incidentally I found the problem with Lilypond was a lack of help to get started; I got scared and gave up.)

Now I realise there are people out there who are terrified by written music. For them the abc allows them to hear it, it seems. But won't the dreaded tune-o-tron play off one of it's own music files, whatever they are? So you don't need the gobbledegook, you could add an attachment that is instantly readable by anyone who wants to just sight-read it straight off, or who can sing it to themselves from the notes yet can be played mechanically by the computer. Is that wrong?

I also understand that there are actually people who can play off an abc but not read music. That leaves me speechless. It takes several characters to get one note across; it's so cumbersome and (it's been said before) reading music at a basic level is EASY. I suppose if you want to humour these people that is a justification for putting up an abc even now. But they must be a very small minority relative to those of us that either read music or do everything by ear.

From my point of view I am less interested in a bare tune than an interesting arrangement. When someone puts an abc up I have to copy and paste to see the music; it's a right old performance and I usually don't bother. Offer the music as an attachment that I can see instantly and I'll always have a look at it. You may say this doesn't matter because I won't do much with it and that might be fair. You may say learn to read abc and I say 'Why?' then follow it up with 'I'm not about to learn guitar tab either.'

So when you say 'abc is universal' Pete (Tallship), I find myself wondering if this is true or whether abc has just become another 'tradition'. 'That's how you do it' in the folk world. Is it really much more use than sticking your finger in your ear as you sing? Hasn't it passed its sell-by date? Does it actually offer anything useful any more?

(ps yes I do know that on occasion blocking one ear while singing can be helpful with tuning but you know what I mean)

It's at times like this I miss M3838. I could just start this up and leave it to him...

Edited by Dirge, 14 September 2011 - 09:50 PM.


#2 blue eyed sailor

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 12:22 AM

You don't need lilypond, the computer converts it for you.

(Incidentally I found the problem with Lilypond was a lack of help to gt started; I got scared and gave up.)

Lilypond engages the computer with just the same effectiveness, but through a downloadable compiling program. The "code" looks quite similar to the abc format indeed, though it can achieve a much better outcome (as said elsewhere, for the purpose of making beautiful looking sheets).

I can very well remember having fallen into sort of a rush therewith, but sadly couldn't tell how I did it back then any more... :o

Anyway, I'd like to provide the link (with an instructive manual included) within this new thread again. I myself shall have another go with it...

Edited by blue eyed sailor, 15 September 2011 - 12:25 AM.


#3 Randall Cayford

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 01:51 AM

You see I thought the reason for ABC's existence was to allow tunes to be 'computerised' in the days when typesetting music wasn't practical for the home enthusiast and people worried about using too much memory for simple tasks. On that principle it is obsolete; the Tune-o-tron (and no doubt other things I haven't discovered) will take your abc and make it into proper music directly and no one worries about one more pdf, jpg or whatever file on the desktop these days.

I'll take a stab at this. ABC does indeed allow tunes to be 'computerized". It does a very good job of it but not because it is somehow a cheap way to avoid typesetting. I don't think it's becoming obsolete in the least but if it does, it will be because some other computerized form of music representation (musicXML, Lilypond, etc) becomes the default. "Proper music", by which I presume you mean staff notation representations of music, isn't even in the running.

ABC is not in competition with "proper music". The two serve completely different purposes. A pdf or jpg with staff lines and notes is a visual representation of music. ABC is a semantic representation of music. The power of staff notation is that music is already in the form that many musicians will consume it. The power of ABC is that it's much more flexible. Because it contains semantic information, it can be manipulated in ways the visual representation cannot. This includes easily changing keys, editing it for personal variations, adding chording, harmonies, arrangements, computer playing, and many other uses. The downside of that flexibility is that most people need to perform some additional step to use the content. For most of us, that seems to be paste it into the Tune-O-Tron.

The difference is similar to that between a word processing file and a printed page. I can just pick up a printed page and read it. But if it's not in exactly the form I want it, it's very, very hard to manipulate it in any significant way. The word processing file is not as convenient to read, but it's way more convenient to edit and I can still print it if I want to.

From my point of view I am less interested in a bare tune than an interesting arrangement. When someone puts an abc up I have to copy and paste to see the music; it's a right old performance and I usually don't bother. Offer the music as an attachment that I can see instantly and I'll always have a look at it. You may say this doesn't matter because I won't do much with it and that might be fair.

ABC is more "universal" in the sense that if I offer an ABC file of some piece of music, it's usable by people in many ways that a pdf or jpg isn't while still being usable in all the ways that a pdf or jpg is. You apparently only want to look at the music and for that the flexibility that ABC provides is unneeded so the conversion is additional effort for no gain. I usually have the computer play it to see if I like it and often I need to change keys. For this a pdf attachment is useless.

So, yes, ABC is still useful. My feeling is it's becoming more useful, not less, as time goes by.

Edited by Randall Cayford, 15 September 2011 - 01:52 AM.


#4 Lester Bailey

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 02:50 AM

<snip>
Does it actually offer anything useful any more?
</snip>


Go on the I will rise to it.

  • There are 1000's of tune available on the net in ABC
  • If I get the tune in C and I want it in G I can transpose it on line
  • I can listen to the tune, albeit in midi at any speed I like to get it in my head
  • I can carry around 100's of "first lines" of tunes in a small book (useful at my age)

You are right about Lilypond but who would use that for simple tunes abcNav is simple to use.

I also understand that there are actually people who can play off an abc but not read music. That leaves me speechless. It takes several characters to get one note across; it's so cumbersome and (it's been said before) reading music at a basic level is EASY.


Just because you find it easy does not mean everyone does. I do find playing from abc easier than manuscript but I don't denigrate those who use manuscript.

#5 Steve Mansfield

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 03:00 AM

The history of abc has be found from the horse's mouth here on Chris Walshaw's site.

Randall has covered a lot of the other points, although I would just re-emphasise that you can't take a JPG or PDF, load it into one program, and listen to it, then put that same original file into another program and transpose it.

The tune-o-tron takes abc as input and uses existing abc tools to generate the sheet music and the audio on request. It isn't creating an intermediate file that could then itself be distributed, it's doing direct processing on the raw abc file itself.

If, like Dirge, you're primarily interested in musical arrangements in traditional staff notation, then I'd agree that abc probably isn't the best file format for your particular needs. Personally I find cutting and pasting abc from the text of a post or email into an abc program (abcExplorer is my preferred option but many others are available) far quicker than downloading an attachment and opening that, but I suspect that's the way we individually use computers and the comparative timings are probably in the milliseconds.

If, however, you're interested in quickly and easily generating, consuming, and transmitting a melody in a format which can be consumed in many different ways by a variety of users across a variety of platforms, then abc is one of the best formats there is around for doing that. That's a real strength of the abc format, and the reason why I suspect it's going to be around for a long time yet.

#6 Cornerstone

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 05:34 AM

Although the outlay was expensive, I use Sibelius a great deal for the sake of its flexibility. It also allows me to print in PDF format, which I can then export and share music. Abc is a useful way of receiving scores from sources which don't have access to more expensive software; I immediately convert it to pdf and thence to Sibelius. There is no personal advantage for me in learning how to set the music in abc. Is there any software capable of converting other formats into abc so permitting me to pass music on to other enthusiasts?

#7 tallship

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 05:52 AM

I'd like to start my contribution to this thread by thanking Steve Mansfield for writing the LeSession ABC tutorials which I printed off when I first discovered ABC and still refer to on a regular basis, cheers Steve. :D

Many things that justify the existence and continued use of abc have been mentioned but I would like to add a few more.

It's free
It is cross platform (that's why it's universal ;) )
Using free software I can pick and mix tunes and create a tune book with multiple tunes per page in minutes.
It is simple and logical (even I can use it!)

I have just volunteered as a transcriber for The Village Music Project so at some time in the future the contents of an ancient manuscript which currently gathers dust in a museum or private collection will be freely available to all thanks to ABC.

#8 Steve Mansfield

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 07:35 AM

I'd like to start my contribution to this thread by thanking Steve Mansfield for writing the LeSession ABC tutorials which I printed off when I first discovered ABC and still refer to on a regular basis, cheers Steve. :D


Thanks tallship, & I'm delighted to hear that yet another user of the tutorial is getting involved in the wonder that is the VMP.

I'm still regularly getting 800+ page impressions a week on the tutorial and 3 - 4 emails a week from all over the world, and no-one is more surprised than me.

My abc tutorial
The Village Music Project

#9 michael sam wild

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 10:04 AM

I was scared off the dots as a kid by a sadistic 'music teacher'.Once I realised thet doh re mi etc could be represented by Abc I found it useful in learning the Anglo as I letter the push and pull notes for each button on my C/G anyway as all the diagrams do..

So ABc coupled with a different colour marker for push or pull ( pink and yellow) makes it easy to work out the best bellows direction and button when there are varying options - improving speed, ornaments or adding chords and drones. As the letters name the notes we name orally to each other I find the dots stand between that process.

I usually convert wriiten staff notation as ABc as the first step in learning an unknown tunes off the paper.
What I do use is a stave in my mind or physically in the air, as the Kodaly method of teaching singing does, to show where notes are on the scale and whether they sharpen or flatten. I can't visualise dots but as I remember what the notes sound like it helps after a session to remember a new tune and get it down. Helpful at my age.


I do envy those who can read a new tune off the dots and sing it straight off and am still working on it. I can also appreciate the value in jotting down arrangements on the stave.

ABc was an eye opener and freed me from the inhibition that teacher with his big ruler instilled all those years ago. Luckily I just walked out of his choir and got on happliy with music by ear

Horses for courses I reckon .. Maybe next fore me is voice recognition where you sing a tune as you remember it and get a record in one of these forms. It's probably out their now , please let me know.

#10 Graham Collicutt

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 10:19 AM

Horses for courses I reckon .. Maybe next fore me is voice recognition where you sing a tune as you remember it and get a record in one of these forms. It's probably out their now , please let me know.
[/quote]

Try tunepal: http://tunepal.org/tunepal/index.php

Edited by Graham Collicutt, 15 September 2011 - 10:20 AM.


#11 David Barnert

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 01:33 PM

You see I thought the reason for ABC's existence was to allow tunes to be 'computerised' in the days when typesetting music wasn't practical for the home enthusiast and people worried about using too much memory for simple tasks.
...
I also understand that there are actually people who can play off an abc but not read music. That leaves me speechless.

The history of abc has be found from the horse's mouth here on Chris Walshaw's site.

Careful reading of the above mentioned history will reveal that 1) Computers were the farthest thing from Chris Walshaw's mind when he developed the handwritten system that evolved into the abc music notation protocol and 2) At the time he could not read music.

#12 Dirge

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 03:20 PM

Shall we agree to differ on the ease of learning to read music for the moment and just set it aside for another day?

I don't think you've convinced me that abc is the way a tune should be displayed on Cnet. I understand Randall's explanation, and I think the rest of you are broadly saying the same thing. Would that be a fair assessment? If so, you have basically agreed that it is not as accessible as a straight snapshot of the music, but that you have all sorts of wonderful options to transpose, play as a midi and whatever. My point is that when someone puts up a tune here, especially in 'Something for the Weekend', or to demonstrate some point or other, what you want first is to be able to see the tune, to see if you like it, or agree with the poster or whatever and the most elegant technique is the classic staff. This presumably can be taken to the Tune-o-Tron and transposed or played later, presumably via abc, but that's going to be a fraction of the people who just want to view it, at least until Pete puts one up in Db major or something. (Go on Pete I dare you!)

Now if I'm in a minority in reading music and abc-copers are the majority, well there's a justification immediately, although I would still refer you to my original post:

"I find myself wondering"....."whether abc has just become another 'tradition'. 'That's how you do it' in the folk world,".

But I can wonder this without expecting anything to change, or indeed, according to my version of democracy, having any right to expect any change.

I don't get that impression here on C net though. My feeling is that most of us do read music and that is what should be used here for choice. Returning to Randall's analogy, all we need for a first inspection is a nice legible printed page, not the full Msword package that takes 10 minutes to open.

#13 Randall Cayford

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 04:14 PM

Shall we agree to differ on the ease of learning to read music for the moment and just set it aside for another day?

I don't think you've convinced me that abc is the way a tune should be displayed on Cnet. I understand Randall's explanation, and I think the rest of you are broadly saying the same thing. Would that be a fair assessment? If so, you have basically agreed that it is not as accessible as a straight snapshot of the music, but that you have all sorts of wonderful options to transpose, play as a midi and whatever. My point is that when someone puts up a tune here, especially in 'Something for the Weekend', or to demonstrate some point or other, what you want first is to be able to see the tune, to see if you like it, or agree with the poster or whatever and the most elegant technique is the classic staff. This presumably can be taken to the Tune-o-Tron and transposed or played later, presumably via abc, but that's going to be a fraction of the people who just want to view it, at least until Pete puts one up in Db major or something. (Go on Pete I dare you!)

Now if I'm in a minority in reading music and abc-copers are the majority, well there's a justification immediately, although I would still refer you to my original post:

"I find myself wondering"....."whether abc has just become another 'tradition'. 'That's how you do it' in the folk world,".

But I can wonder this without expecting anything to change, or indeed, according to my version of democracy, having any right to expect any change.

I don't get that impression here on C net though. My feeling is that most of us do read music and that is what should be used here for choice. Returning to Randall's analogy, all we need for a first inspection is a nice legible printed page, not the full Msword package that takes 10 minutes to open.


I'm sure we're not going to agree here. You have clearly got much, much better sight reading skills than I have. I do read music. I can even sight read unfamiliar music on my instrument, though rather poorly. I can sort of sight read unfamiliar music in my head if it's very simple and I put in a lot of effort.

Sure, for someone with a high level of reading skill, a pdf is very accessible. For the rest of us, not so much. Even with good reading skills, hearing the chords or hearing multiple parts at the same time I would class very definitely in the advanced category. So many pdfs aren't going to be accessible even if you do read music.

As a default format for posting tunes on CNET, ABC reaches the widest audience with the least amount of effort on the part of the poster. Your suggestion above requires that people post both pdfs for a first look and ABC for all the other advantages. Given I can go from an ABC posting to looking at the score while the computer plays it in less then 30 seconds, the savings for the viewer who only needs pdf don't seem very large.

The postings in ABC, I look at. The postings in pdf, like scanned images of Matusewitch arrangements, I print and put aside to look at later when I have my instrument in hand. But I rarely really do look later. In my opinion, the ABC convention here is wonderful.

#14 tallship

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 04:16 PM

at least until Pete puts one up in Db major or something. (Go on Pete I dare you!)


No worries mate. Here it is in two different octaves. Take yer pick. You really miss having Misha as the heavy mob don't you? The bad news for you is that m3838 actually liked at least one tune in in the 'Something for the Weekend' thread and used abc like a native.

I do get your point by the way, but you really haven't given abc a proper go. I read music quite well really, I use abc because it's used by quite a lot of people and it doesn't exclude poor sight readers who should 'try a little harder'. Music is for the masses, to be used and enjoyed by everyone in whatever way they see fit. Anything that makes music more accessible to a larger number of people works for me.

Back to the matter in hand. A tune in Db you say? It's pretty straight forward so I look forward to hearing your recording of it sometime in the next few hours.

X:31
T:Dearest Dicky (Fieldtown)
M:6/8
L:1/8
Q:1/4=100
A:Fieldtown
P:A(AB3)2(AC3)2
K:Dbmaj
P:A
|:A|d2d fef|gfg abc'|d'c'd' bag|fed cBA|
ded fef|gfg abc'|d'c'd' efg|a3 a2:|
P:B
f/2g/2|a2f gab|gef gfg|a2f gab|gef g2a|
b2a be'c'|d'3 d'c'b|agf edc|ded d2||
P:C
f/2g/2|a2f gab|gef gfg|a2f gab|gef g2a|
[M:4/4]"SLOWS"b2 a2 b4| b2 e'2 c'4 | d'2 e'2 d'4 | d'2 c'2 b4 | a2 g2 f4 | e2 d2 c4 | d2 e2 d4 |[M:6/8]"R.O.T."d3-d3||



X:31
T:Dearest Dicky (Fieldtown)
M:6/8
L:1/8
Q:1/4=100
A:Fieldtown
P:A(AB3)2(AC3)2
K:Dbmaj
P:A
|:A,|D2D FEF|GFG ABc|dcd BAG|FED CB,A,|
DED FEF|GFG ABc|dcd EFG|A3 A2:|
P:B
F/2G/2|A2F GAB|GEF GFG|A2F GAB|GEF G2A|
B2A Bec|d3 dcB|AGF EDC|DED D2||
P:C
F/2G/2|A2F GAB|GEF GFG|A2F GAB|GEF G2A|
[M:4/4]"SLOWS"B2 A2 B4| B2 e2 c4 | d2 e2 d4 | d2 c2 B4 | A2 G2 F4 | E2 D2 C4 | D2 E2 D4 |[M:6/8]"R.O.T."D3-D3||

Attached Files


Edited by tallship, 17 September 2011 - 04:28 AM.


#15 Dirge

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 04:40 PM

I do get your point by the way, but you really haven't given abc a proper go. I read music quite well really, I use abc because it's used by quite a lot of people and it doesn't exclude poor sight readers who should 'try a little harder'. Music is for the masses, to be used and enjoyed by everyone in whatever way they see fit. Anything that makes music more accessible to a larger number of people works for me.

I can't argue with any of that of course. When I'm feeling strong I'll start the 'Is abc really easier to learn than written music?' thread because I honestly doubt it, but one 'Dirge against the World' discussion at a time is enough. I already need to lie down and it's only half past 9 in the morning here. Alternatively I might have another go at getting to grips with Lilypond; that might actually be more useful given the number of tatty photocopies and manuscripts I use.

Thanks for the pdfs old bean.

(So now I take the abc, transpose to C, convert to pdf, bash it out quickly, use audacity to speed it up to Db and post it here and you'll all be amazed at my brilliance. Correct?)

#16 Leo

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 04:45 PM

A disadvantage of attached documents in a post is eventually you reach a personal limit and have to eventually start deleting PDF and GIF files to make room for more. ABC text in a post has no such limitation and doesn't count toward that limit.

Also if someone likes the tune, it's easy to just write the notes on a napkin pretty quick.

I read music enough to learn and sight read very slowly, but am practically tone deaf and don't play by ear.

ABC's are just another tool, but the sheet music is the ultimate tab that works on any instrument.

Thanks
Leo

Edited by Leo, 21 September 2011 - 02:47 AM.


#17 tallship

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 04:54 PM

(So now I take the abc, transpose to C, convert to pdf, bash it out quickly, use audacity to speed it up to Db and post it here and you'll all be amazed at my brilliance. Correct?)


Nah, I had all that technology aeons ago. I really do understand your viewpoint but there's a lot of fun to be had by sharing your love of music with as many people as possible. Your tastes vary quite a lot from mine (my wife is a classical music nut so I'm used to being in the minority!). If you want lots of people to share the music you love so much make it accessible to everyone that may read your posts, not just those who read staff notation.

Sorry about the silliness in other threads but you do need to take a broader view about music.

Pete.

#18 tallship

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 05:50 PM

I read music enough to learn and sight read very slowly, but am practically tone deaf and don't play by ear.

ABC's are another tool, but the sheet music is the ultimate tab that works on any instrument.

Thanks
Leo

Well yes exactly. Staff notation works and is perfectly legible to staff notation music readers. Others struggle to read conventional music and need to use other means to access music and make it make sense. I'm a music reader, am I the only one sensitive to the needs of fellow musicians who find written music a bit of a challenge ?




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