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Convert dots to ABC? PDF to ABC?


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Hello, all.

 

I have seen much about how to turn ABC back to standard notation, but can't seem to find a simple way to go in the other direction.  As an ear-only learner, the ABC files let me play tunes, change speed, etc.  I use Tunebook all the time for that.

 

So, the question is:  Isn't there an easy-to-use, reasonably-priced app that would let me scan a page from a standard printed score, for example, and automatically convert that to an ABC file?  If it matters, my usual technology is iPhone and iPad, but could use PC if that's the only platform for something great.  And, I can readily scan the print to a PDF file, which might make a difference?

 

Thanks for any advice.

 

David

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I thought of my answer before reaching Don’s response, above, which I completely agree with and complements my answer. Here is my answer:   I hate to say this, David, but the most efficient

And, an early update:  Used PlayScore2 for a song in a hundred-year-old book, basement-stained and faded, yellowed, partly crumbled.  It was almost instant (10 seconds processing, maybe) and perfectly

if  your old-tunebook tunes are not very obscure there is a good chance that someone else has already put them into MuseScore library.  Although MuseScore is free, you do have to pay for access t

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I think you can import MIDI (.mid), XML (.xml) and Noteworthy (.nwc) files into ABC. Is that

any help? I suspect not...☹️

 

Edited by lachenal74693
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It is possible to use something like photoscore to scan a pdf and turn it into midi. Unfortunately, the results of this can vary wildly.. you may end up learning nonsense instead of the real tune.

 

A program like Sibelius talks to photoscore. It will plot the notes out on a virtual stave. If you'd like to listen to the score, then Sibelius will play it for you, at any speed you like. It saves these scores as .sib files. In this case you can skip the ABC step all together. The .sib files can be exported to midi, then ABC if that's how you like to store them.

 

Scanning quirks apply where sometimes it'll miss a few notes, or be totally off, but photoscore is usually pretty good with clearly printed music and you can cross check it in Sibelius.

 

Sibelius isn't free, but I think a basic version of photoscore is. I would never promote piracy, but you might be able to find an ancient version of Sibelius knocking around somewhere which will do the job.

 

As for iPhones and tablets, I have absolutely no idea what apps are on the market these days. There's likely to be something I haven't heard of.

 

It might be worth having a crack at learning to read the classic notation anyway, even if you don't play from it. It's definitely no harder than learning to play the concertina.

 

 

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Unless there's an easy way to get to those files from the printed page of standard notation, I don't think so.  Basically, I have old songbooks I'd like to simply and quickly be able to make ABC files from, and need to go from a picture or scan of a page from the book to an ABC file I can then open in Tunebook, etc., for playback as audio.  So, PDF (which I can make) to ABC?  

 

Thanks for the thought.

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And, thanks, JimmyG.  I read yours after my previous reply.  I will investigate Sibelius and Photoscore, but it sounds more "iffy" and complicated than I had hoped.  OTOH, you are probably right in your suggestion I learn to read standard notation, but until (unless) I can read and simultaneously "hear" the tune in realtime in my head, I still need the aural crutch(es) that have gotten me this far.  

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I have used Sharpeye for converting scans of printed music to MusicXML, which I then loaded into a music processor (I use Mozart but Musescore is probably more popular and free). Sharpeye works pretty well if you've got a nice clean scan of fairly simple music, but it can take a fair bit of work to correct if the scan is poor-quality or the music is complex (e.g. many piano scores). Sometimes it's easier just to retype it directly into your music program.

 

Sharpeye is pretty old and newer software may be better, but my guess is the same will apply. What does your source material look like? My hunch is that if you're talking about early C20 tunebooks, the printing is quite close and speckled, so it might be easier to retype.

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I thought of my answer before reaching Don’s response, above, which I completely agree with and complements my answer. Here is my answer:

 

I hate to say this, David, but the most efficient way of achieving your objective (to be able to play music that only exists as printed notation) is to learn how to read music. It’s not that difficult and you will find it more satisfying and rewarding than making the computer do it for you.

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Ear musician also.  Why not go old style and ask (or hire) a musician friend ( fiddler?) to record the tunes from the score for you?....😊

 

( sorry to step on your post David)

Edited by wunks
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And, thanks to all since last look.....Moll, it sounds like two or three steps from what I can do now (play ABCs to listen to) and what I want (yes, old songbooks) and not simple.  Wunks, a good idea, but not an impulse or mass-production (like my whole songbook collection) in my mind.  And, of course, Don and David, you are right.  It's a mental block I'd best get past.  I will try, but it looks so darned "foreign," despite the fact I was "OK" at it up to middle school.  I'll really look for ways to learn, though I am reminded of how easy French was to learn when I was 12, and how difficult Spanish was, at 50!

 

David

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Tell you what David. I can only play from dots, I am terrible at playing by ear. One of my ambitions for this year is to improve my ear-playing. I'll work on that if you work on your reading. Deal? 😉

 

(Bet you play an anglo, don't you? An EC has a pretty good mapping between the dots on the stave and the buttons on the instrument. Dunno how it works on an anglo but it seems to be a lot more complicated.)

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Strangely enough, this is a coincidence, I was really into Led Zeppelin when I was young in the 70s, and this morning I spent a bit of time writing out the ABC file for Stairway to Heaven.
Now I know this song quite well!

I know it well because I bought the LP and then for the car, I bought the cassette tape, and then I bought the CD, and then I was just about to buy the music to put onto my computer and I thought, ‘no way, sorry Jimmy, but I’ve paid out enough!’ 😂

 

So I tabbed it out into .abc ... from memory using the mandolin. EC would work well too.

 

try: Mandolintab.net

Edited by simon ds
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I knew this was the place for such discussion!  Yes, Moll, I mostly play Anglo, though I am picking up Hayden.  But for me, it really isn't about mapping the paper note to the key/button.  Rather, it's mapping the paper note to the sound in my head, and then I'll just find the note on the buttons with a bit of practice.  

 

And, Simon, I smiled at your trip up the "Stairway to Heaven!"  But, if I can play it on my mandolin, I won't need so much the ABC.  The ABC for me is just an efficient way to get a sound file (created on the fly in my Tunebook app) to learn the tune to begin with. 

 

So far, I am getting  the sense there isn't what I asked about in the first post:  A cheap, simple "scan the sheet music (to PDF or?) and easy conversion to ABC files."

 

I do appreciate the thoughtful responses here!  Thanks!

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David

 

Just to followup on my earlier comment about transcribing 'by hand' from a score to ABC.

 

You do not have to be a fluid music notation reader to do this, God knows I am not one and never will be.  But it is quite easy to read and transcribe, rather than to read and play, and in the process you do learn to read sheet music a little.  I suggest that you print a copy of a simple tune and simply go through it note by note and pencil the ABC value for each note  underneath the note.  Once you have got a few bars notated then enter those into an ABC program and play it back - does it sound OK?   Does it look the same as the original score?  Yes, then carry on transcribing.  If not then try to find the problem and fix it before going much further.  Just transcribe four or five bars at a time, test, fix and repeat.  At least initially, do not try to transcribe an entire tune in one go as this is harder to correct if you make a mistake.

 

Just a warning about song books - I have a few and have found that I often disagree with the score in the book.  I think that this is often because a professional transcriber has tried to reproduce the subleties of the human voice - and failed!

 

You say that your objective is to be able to play a score so that you can learn a tune by ear.  This is mostly what I do although I can slowly and haltingly read a score and play the tune.  Funny thing is that once my fingers know a tune I cannot then read it at all!  Anyway, I am going to put in a plug for Phil Taylor's concertina sound font (see below in my sig) and Musescore.    Once you have a tune that works in one of the ABC players then try it in Musescore with the concertina sound font.  I think that you will find that the sound is much, much better than that coming out of an ABC player and there are some handy looping and speed-changing tools, plus a metronome and a lead-in. The latest version of Musescore can also add a nice chordal accompaniment using a grand piano sound font -  the same chordal accompaniment played by a concertina sounds awful!

 

 

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I also have some very old tune books and lost the ability to sight read from them (lazy!).  I can almost always find at least one YouTube version or something on Slippery Hill, the Session, etc..  Are you interested in learning by ear the exact audio translation from a score?  If so, then I agree, (re)learning to sight read the dots is the way to go.

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Music scanners are improving all the time, but the ones I have tried have met with mixed success.  Admittedly I have only tried those which are free or cheap! Usually the output requires at least some editing to correct errors.  For simple folk tunes I find it is usually quicker simply to transcribe it into ABC myself.  For more complex music ABC probably isn't the best solution anyway.

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3 hours ago, hjcjones said:

[1] For simple folk tunes I find it is usually quicker simply to transcribe it into ABC myself. 

[2] For more complex music ABC probably isn't the best solution anyway.

[1] This sounds like good medicine to me...

[2] Lilypond?

 

What I really wanted to ask however, was "How do these scanners cope with hand-written scores?".

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