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Is it a tie, is it a slur...


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A very simple question about ABC usage. I sometimes see two different notes joined by a "-".

Can't be a tie because the notes are different. I don't think it can be intended to be a slur because it
doesn't appear as such in the generated score.

Any ideas please on what the intended purpose of this "-" might be? The standard is clear about what

constitutes a tie or a slur - this usage seems to contradict both these definitions.

There are three examples in the short ABC script below.

Thank you.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

X:1
T:Rights of Man, The
M:4/4
L:1/8
Q:1/4=130
K:Em
|: GA | "Em" (3BcB (3ABA (3GAG (3FGF | EFGA B2 e-f | gfed edcB | "Am" cBAG "B7" A2 GA |
"Em" (3BcB (3ABA (3GAG (3FGF | EFGA B2 e-f | gfed "B7" Bg (3fgf | "Em" e2 E2 E2 :|
|: ga | "Em" babg efga | babg e2 fe | "D" d^cde fefg | afdf a2 g-f |
"Em" eBeg "D" fdfa | "Em" gfga bgef | gfed "B7" Bg (3fgf | "Em" e2 E2 E2:|

Edited by lachenal74693
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Probably just a mistake by someone who doesn't know or care about the difference between a tie and a slur.  The output when it's converted to notation is the same, two notes connected by a curved line, so it's then up the to the musician to interpret how to play them.  It's slightly quicker to type than putting them in brackets (and in my case avoids the delay of having to look up which sort of bracket to use).

 

Many users of ABC, myself included, are a bit hazy on the finer points of music theory.

Edited by hjcjones
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1 hour ago, Stephen Chambers said:

Guitar chords?

Don't think so? There are already accompaniment chords in there, so the original transcriber knew

about them, and the highlighted couplets play back as if the "-" simply wasn't there.

45 minutes ago, hjcjones said:

Probably just a mistake by someone who doesn't know or care about the difference between a tie and a slur.  The output when it's converted to notation is the same, two notes connected by a curved line, so it's then up the to the musician to interpret how to play them.  It's slightly quicker to type than putting them in brackets (and in my case avoids the delay of having to look up which sort of bracket to use).

That was my thought on first seeing this one, but although I've often seen a tie written as a slur

(eg: A-A written as (A A) ), I've not seen a slur written as a tie (eg: (A-B) written as A-B ) - not so

that it actually 'works' and produces the curved line in the output, anyway. That tie written as a slur

can really screw things up on playback with some software (Trad Musicien, from memory)...

 

Like you suggest, I think it's a mistake, and the original transcriber was so unconcerned they didn't bother

to fix it, even when the curved line didn't appear in the output. I'm not seeing it very often, but often enough

to be bothered - was I missing something?

 

It's relevant to me because it can affect the output from some of my own software, and I needed to fix it. It

looks as if the fix is to simply delete the spurious "-" whenever it appears.

 

Thanks both.

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1 hour ago, lachenal74693 said:

Don't think so? There are already accompaniment chords in there, so the original transcriber knew

about them, and the highlighted couplets play back as if the "-" simply wasn't there.

 

Ah, I misunderstood your "-" and thought you meant what was inside the quotes in the ABC... 🙄

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A Tie is indicated by a hyphen   '-' and joins two notes of the same pitch.

 

A Slur is indicated by a bracket pair ' () ' enclosing any number of notes.

 

Both are displayed exactly the same BUT each is interpreted differently by programs that play from ABC.

 

See here :-  ABC standaard

 

In the example given - Rights of Man - using a hyphen to join notes of different pitch is incorrect.

Jake

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FWIW, I concur with both Jake and Howard. Abc is capable of differentiating between things that look the same in printed music. The distinction between D major and B minor is one of them. The distinction between a slur and a tie is another. A tie, connecting notes of the same pitch, is represented by a hyphen. A slur, connecting different notes is represented by parentheses. Since misuse of the standard is common, software that interprets abc notation should be liberal in what it will accept. Software that allows users to create abc notation should warn users if they attempt to misuse the standard.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Stephen Chambers said:

Ah, I misunderstood your "-" and thought you meant what was inside the quotes in the ABC... 🙄

 

Aye, maybe I should have avoided the "s and just bold-faced or italicised the hyphens, not

included them in quotes...

 

9 hours ago, Anglogeezertoo said:

See here :-  ABC standaard

 

In the example given - Rights of Man - using a hyphen to join notes of different pitch is incorrect.

Jake

 

Aye, it was a careful reading of the standard, and the thought that the hyphen was probably a

mistake, which prompted the question in the first place - I was bothered about whether I was

somehow 'missing' something, possibly buried deep in the standard - away from the definition

of tie and slur....

 

4 hours ago, David Barnert said:

[1] ...Since misuse of the standard is common, software that interprets abc notation should be liberal in what it will accept... (my emphasis)

[2] ... Software that allows users to create abc notation should warn users if they attempt to misuse the standard

 

[1] Ah! there I must beg to differ. This 'problem' arose when my own software produced strange

results because of these hyphens. Frigging software to accommodate erroneous ABC code 

is not a good idea IMO. I really don't see that I should fanny about coding stuff into my software

to deal with other folks mistakes(*).  Programs should interpret the standard as strictly as

possible (difficult - the ABC language definition is a little ambiguous in places). This includes the

programs most ABC users use on a daily basis (abcm2ps, abc2midi,  abc2abc, etc.), and also

more modest personal efforts like my own.

 

[2] By all means - Software that allows users to create and manipulate abc notation should warn

users if they attempt to misuse the standard - point out the way around the mistake, and ideally,

disallow the misuse...


Thanks for the input(s) - it's all helped me sort out what is (probably) going on here.

 

Whatever, after the discussion, I'll be interpreting these hyphens as a 'mistake' and either deleting

them, or  re-interpreting (and re-writing) them as slurs.

-----------------------

(*) Actually, it's not really an option in purely practical terms - if you think about it, incorrect coding can manifest

itself in a potentially infinite number of ways, so my own programs would have to become infinitely large to cope

with it all - no thanks...😎

 

Edited by lachenal74693
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7 hours ago, David Barnert said:

Since misuse of the standard is common, software that interprets abc notation should be liberal in what it will accept.

 

2 hours ago, lachenal74693 said:

Ah! there I must beg to differ. This 'problem' arose when my own software produced strange

results because of these hyphens. Frigging software to accommodate erroneous ABC code 

is not a good idea IMO. I really don't see that I should fanny about coding stuff into my software

to deal with other folks mistakes(*).  Programs should interpret the standard as strictly as

possible (difficult - the ABC language definition is a little ambiguous in places). This includes the

programs most ABC users use on a daily basis (abcm2ps, abc2midi,  abc2abc, etc.), and also

more modest personal efforts like my own.

 

In the early 2000s I spent several years on the abc users discussion list, and the general consensus was as I have stated. If the software you refer to is for your own use exclusively, then by all means write whatever you want. But there is a great deal of faulty but valuable abc notation out there, and if you deprive your users of access to it when the intention is unambiguous, you are doing them a disservice.

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3 hours ago, lachenal74693 said:

Aye, maybe I should have avoided the "s and just bold-faced or italicised the hyphens, not

included them in quotes...

 

Here's what an italicized* hyphen looks like: -

* (Sorry for the American spelling)

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A general principle in software development is to be liberal in what you accept and strict in what you output. The exception is if the main purpose of your program is to test for standards-compliance. That doesn't mean you need to code special cases to handle every possible incorrect input, but your program shouldn't crash or generate garbage output when it encounters something it doesn't understand.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, David Barnert said:

...If the software you refer to is for your own use exclusively, then by all means write whatever you want. But

there is a great deal of faulty but valuable abc notation out there, and if you deprive your users of access to it

when the intention is unambiguous, you are doing them a disservice.

I completely agree. I encountered the error while plundering some of that 'valuable abc notation' for new

tunes, (which I do all the time). The reverse situation (slur used as a tie), and the (fairly common)

mis-representation of a triplet as '(abc' (for example) are usually easy to spot and fix, but in this particular

instance, there does seem to be an ambiguity arising from the 'hazy' use of the hyphen which was/is

happening often enough to make me a little restless as it didn't seem quite so easy to decide what the

original transcriber was aiming for.

 

My own software is reasonably laissez-faire in its approach to the format of the ABC input(*) - all it needs to

get at is the actual musical note - the surrounding structure such as note duration, key, meter, bar lines,

start/end repeats, etc. is pretty much irrelevant. This particular instance - where a tie is misused as

a slur is (I think) the only instance where the input really should be spot-on in order to stop my software

from barfing - even so, it produces  output which can be fixed with a little 'hand-editing'. (I think that

addresses AH's point which I just saw? I hope so...)

(* In the first instance, it was written to be fairly picky, but fortunately, willy-nilly, it's turned out to be pretty forgiving/robust...)

.

3 hours ago, David Barnert said:

Here's what an italicized* hyphen looks like: -

* (Sorry for the American spelling)

Hah! I never thought of that! Stick with bold-faced then, and I don't mind how you spell italicised...😎

 

As I said, now that we seem to have established that there isn't something really subtle going on here,

I think I'm just going to assume a-b means (ab)...

Edited by lachenal74693
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I've tried this in ABC Explorer, EasyABC and Mandolintab.net's ABC converter.  Only ABC Explorer doesn't display the tie as a slur.  So depending on what software the original transcriber was using maybe it displayed correctly for them.

 

All three played it back without difficulty, although the notes aren't played slurred but I suspect this is beyong the capability of the simple midi player.

 

You will come across a lot of errors in ABC.  Besides the tie/slur confusion, a common error is failing to understand modal key signatures. I'm sure my own ABC could be found lacking in many ways.  I often find it necessary to edit files, if only to tidy things up.

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