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Converting sheet music to the 1a to 10 numbering system..


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Hello, I’m fairly new to the concertina, having been playing for around 9 months on a 30 button Stagi.  I’ve been working my way through Gary Coover’s book, ‘Anglo Concertina in the Harmonic Style’.  I’ve managed to get around half way through it, and like the 1a to 10 numbering system..

 

The tricky bit for me is what to do when presented with a piece of sheet music WITHOUT the 1a to 10 numbering system.. so far what I’ve done is write the numbers onto the sheet music (provided its my copy of course!), using page 11 of Gary’s book too, so as to make sure that I’ve got the right numbers for the correct key.

 

My question is, is there a quicker way of ‘converting’ sheet music, is there an ‘App’ out there that does it for you for example, or some other tool?

 

Any suggestions/advice, very welcome :)

 

Hilary

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I used a different numbering tablature myself; and still occasionally use it in awkward passages of music. I wont detail it as it may confuse you further, however  over time I found I used it less  as my experience went on, and now play without completely quite often. 

It can be time consuming numbering nearly every note of a musical page [i have done it hundreds of times] but look at it this way; once you have done it, you have it there for as long as you need, into the future; the hard work is done that once. You may in time need to do less numbering [at least of every bar] as you go on. Once you become more familiar with your instrument and music. Don't see it as a burden, but as an exciting step forward in musicianship. Don't know if that helped you; but keep up the practice!

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Some different approaches are discussed in this thread: 

 

 

This assumes you already have standard notation in ABC or MuseScore. Here's a discussion about automatically digitizing printed sheet music: 

 

 

If you're interested in creating tab for melody-only music, there are probably some tools that will at least get you close. Even then, you may find that you want to use different buttons or bellows directions than the automatic tool chooses. You'll also probably find that most tools struggle to produce a continuous line for consecutive pull notes, if that matters to you.

 

If you're trying to do harmonic-style arrangements, you're going to have to do it by hand. At one point I looked into writing a tool that could do automatic harmonic tab, and it's an interesting (and I think possible) challenge, but AFAIK nobody has done it yet. There's a lot to deal with - bellows direction conflicts, missing harmony notes, and considering consecutive fingering patterns (which also depends on bellows direction choices).

 

Honestly, I think what you're already doing is probably the best/fastest approach, unless you want to make something that's typeset nicer for sharing with others. It's also good practice for familiarizing yourself with note locations on the Anglo keyboard, which should help with sight reading sheet music in the future.

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1 hour ago, Steve Schulteis said:

(1) This assumes you already have standard notation in ABC or MuseScore.

 

(2) If you're interested in creating tab for melody-only music, there are probably some tools that will at least get you close. Even then, you may find that you want to use different buttons or bellows directions than the automatic tool chooses. You'll also probably find that most tools struggle to produce a continuous line for consecutive pull notes, if that matters to you.

 

(3)If you're trying to do harmonic-style arrangements, you're going to have to do it by hand. At one point I looked into writing a tool that could do automatic harmonic tab, and it's an interesting (and I think possible) challenge, but AFAIK nobody has done it yet. There's a lot to deal with - bellows direction conflicts, missing harmony notes, and considering consecutive fingering patterns (which also depends on bellows direction choices).

 

(4) Honestly, I think what you're already doing is probably the best/fastest approach, unless you want to make something that's typeset nicer for sharing with others. It's also good practice for familiarizing yourself with note locations on the Anglo keyboard, which should help with sight reading sheet music in the future.

 

(1) I've seen discussions on this topic by both ABC-ers and Musescore-ers. The general consensus seems

to be that it's not possible to create a full Coover style harmonic tablature in the current state of development

of either ABC or Musescore. I think I'm right when I say that GC does it himself by a mixture of 'by hand' and

a piece of software, the name of which escapes me (GC did tell me but I can't find the email - damn!).

 

(2) Yes! I've wasted employed some of my spare time over the last couple of years writing a few programs to

munge existing ABC files in various ways - including adding simple tabs. I can do ABT-style tabs and modified

Coover-style tabs (both  left-and right- hand appear as a single line, rather than one above and one below).

They both use simple 'mappings' using along-the-row and cross-row strategies, but as SS says, it's difficult

to optimise runs of tabs. I worry myself to sleep every night trying to work out different mappings which might

be better than what I already have... I can do the job for C/G, G/D and Bb/F concertinas, and can (up to a point)

handle mid-tune key changes and modal keys, but I can't yet correctly handle repeated accidentals

in the same bar, and don't try to tackle multi-headed notes (chords) in case I end up with a simultaneous

push and pull...

 

(3) See point (1). Writing a tool to do the job would be beyond me!

 

(4) Yeah, I started out doing it by hand, but I found it slow tedious and error-prone. I then tried hand-editing

the tabs into the ABC file - and found it slow, tedious and error prone. That's why I decided to try and

automate the process.  It works, and I use it, but it has the disadvantages hinted at by SS, and in point (2).

It is fast though...

 

Declaration of interest - my preferred system is the ABT system mentioned above, and I'm an (Easy)ABC-er.

 

As an example, I've attached a PDF of a tune in Dmaj tabbed for a G/D concertina, using an along-the-row

note/button mapping strategy...

 

Edit: Oh, aye, I should have acknowledged the source of the ABC I used. It's from Paul Hardy's Tune

Book...

Alston Clog Hornpipe.pdf

Edited by lachenal74693
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44 minutes ago, lachenal74693 said:

Writing a tool to do [harmonic tab] would be beyond me!

 

My idea for cracking this is to treat the sequence of notes as a pathfinding problem, for which there are standard algorithms. But you have to decide how to handle errors (e.g. impossible note combinations) and there will still be cases where you might prefer a different option from what the algorithm picks by default. It's a fun problem to think about, but I'm not convinced there's a lot of value in such a tool, and I have no intention of actually building it.

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As a fairly basic anglo player I would say learn the tune so that you can whistle it and then simply learn your way around the instrument, and the required basic chord shapes. Ie play it by ear. It's what an anglo excels at.

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10 hours ago, Steve Schulteis said:

 

My idea for cracking this is to treat the sequence of notes as a pathfinding problem, for which there are standard algorithms. But you have to decide how to handle errors (e.g. impossible note combinations) and there will still be cases where you might prefer a different option from what the algorithm picks by default. It's a fun problem to think about, but I'm not convinced there's a lot of value in such a tool, and I have no intention of actually building it.

 

Are you talking about some sort of 'Travelling Salesman' type approaches here - or more general 'path

finding' approaches?

 

I wondered about 'recurrent' or 'self-training' neural networks. It works for Shogi, Go and Chess (AlphaZero),

and for computer-generated folk music, but these are programming techniques about which I have no knowledge

whatsoever - and I intend to keep it that way!

 

The computer programming is 'great fun' (if you are that way inclined), but deep down, I can't help wondering

if Clive Thorne's down-to-earth approach (see previous post) might not be the best approach to the

'problem'!

Edited by lachenal74693
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13 hours ago, Steve Schulteis said:

a pathfinding problem, for which there are standard algorithms.

 

It's fun suggesting workable solutions to problems which because of combinatorial expansion would take a very long time to explore all possibilities exhaustively. As an ex-programmer who ran projects to do map generalisation (automated change of scale), we tended to use "Simulated Annealing" where a nominal 'temperature' starts high and then falls slowly. You set up an initial starting state, then while the temperature is high, you allow drastic changes, and as it falls, only smaller perturbations so that the overall system settles into a stable state. Not necessarily the best state, but a 'good enough' one. 

 

If I were to try this (which I won't), having allocated an initial default button and finger to each note of the tune, I'd get each note to assess (as a fraction) its overall 'happiness' (ease of access). if it was unhappy then try actions to improve its happiness (swap buttons/fingers). If the result improves the overall happiness of the tune (sum of all the note happiness), then keep the change, else roll it back and try a different action or a different note. The aim is to maximise the overall happiness.

 

Implementation is left as an exercise to the reader!

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7 hours ago, lachenal74693 said:

Are you talking about some sort of 'Travelling Salesman' type approaches here - or more general 'path

finding' approaches?

 

No traveling salesman here; I think this can be reduced to something that can be handled with A*. However, I'm not talking about picking chords or notes for chord spellings - I'm assuming that work is already done, and we're just trying to figure out fingering patterns to play the selected notes.

 

3 hours ago, Paul_Hardy said:

If I were to try this (which I won't), having allocated an initial default button and finger to each note of the tune, I'd get each note to assess (as a fraction) its overall 'happiness' (ease of access). if it was unhappy then try actions to improve its happiness (swap buttons/fingers). If the result improves the overall happiness of the tune (sum of all the note happiness), then keep the change, else roll it back and try a different action or a different note. The aim is to maximise the overall happiness.

 

I've actually thought about something similar as an enhancement to the pathfinding approach, but I think it's possible even without considering finger positions (though that may improve the results).

 

My approach is this: Each chord (i.e. a known combination of specific notes) is treated as a step along the path. The number of available fingerings for a given chord is actually relatively small, since not every note has alternate buttons, and some alternates will be eliminated by bellows requirements for other notes. So you can reasonably calculate every fingering pattern for two consecutive chords and assign costs to moving from each pattern for the first chord to each pattern of the second. Costs can account for things like bellows direction changes, shared notes, or the fingering preferences mentioned above. Then you set A* loose on the whole sequence and see what comes out. Of course, this is a simplified explanation, and there are some other details to sort out, but that's the rough idea.

 

The real issue is that the amount of existing music for which this tool would work is probably fairly limited. I could see using it with some SATB arrangements, but even a lot of those are going to need modification to correct for bellows conflicts and missing notes. Making the tool also highlight such issues would help, but no matter what, a creative, analytical human is going to have to get involved at some point.

 

And that seems like a good opportunity to pivot back to the original topic - despite seeming like a somewhat dull task, picking fingering patterns is a creative effort that can't be 100% automated. But it gets easier with practice. For a melody line with no harmony, writing out tab would only take me slightly longer than slowly playing the piece. Like others, I mostly just mark tricky spots (accidentals I don't use often, alternates to avoid chopping, etc.) if I mark anything at all. My use of tab is mostly for harmony work, which is much more interesting to figure out.

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15 hours ago, Steve Schulteis said:

(1) No traveling salesman here; I think this can be reduced to something that can be handled with A*...

(2) However, I'm not talking about picking chords or notes for chord spellings - I'm assuming that work is already done, and we're just trying to figure out fingering patterns to play the selected notes...

(3) The real issue is that the amount of existing music for which this tool would work is probably fairly limited...

(4) And that seems like a good opportunity to pivot back to the original topic...

(1) I need to brush up my knowledge of path-finding - it was always fairly limited, to be honest.

(2) To clarify, I was talking about 'chords', not 'accompaniment chords', to use the ABC terminology.

(3) Yeah, I think that's pretty much spot-on.

(4) Your final paragraph says it all really...

________

My 'nightmare' is that whatever mapping/note-button allocation strategy you adopt, at some point you are going to get

a 'rogue' note which means that you may have to back-track and 're-do' the last (say) half-dozen notes in order to get an

'optimal' set of tabs. Which also suggests the question "should I do an anticipatory 'look-forward' of a half-dozen notes as

well?". I think this is probably one of those 'hard' computing problems...

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Whilst I's sure this is a fascinating computer programming problem, I wonder how applicable it is to actual playing?

 

It appears to me that any attempt to create concertina tablature from notation, whether by hand or by computer, is fraught with difficulty and is unlikely to be entirely successful, at any rate without considerable editing.  The layout of the anglo keyboard, with notes duplicated and laid out in peculiar ways, means that there may be several different ways of playing the same phrase.  Which one the player chooses is governed by a number of factors, including their own personal preferences and habits, which may be due to ingrained muscle memory or simply the size of their hands.  Above all, the style of the music and the musical effect the player is trying to achieve should dictate their approach to the fingering of a particular phrase.  It is not merely a matter of finding the most efficient pathway.

 

Surely the benefit of tablature is to record fingerings which the player has already found (often through trial and error) is their preferred way of playing the piece? Certainly the tab may then be of assistance to other players who want to replicate that particular style, but it may not be the "best" or most efficient way, and is almost certainly not the only way of playing it.   Trying to create tab directly from notation seems to me to be approaching it from entirely the wrong direction. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, hjcjones said:

Whilst I's sure this is a fascinating computer programming problem, I wonder how applicable it is to actual playing?

etc...

Everything you say is at very least completely reasonable - when it's not completely true...

 

Myself, I found (and continue to find) the automagically generated tabs extremely useful,

though they do need editing in the light of experience - and every tune is different. I've

farmed out selections of tabbed tunes to four players (3 novice 'tina players, 1 whistle

player), and they've all found them useful, but have 'moved on' as they've gained experience.

I regard that as a 'success'. It's not my intention that folks continue to slavishly use a tool

which is aimed mainly at new players. The tabs are a step along the road to learning to

sight-read and/or acquiring 'by ear' playing skills.

 

If you have a background in programming, it is a fascinating problem, worth studying if only

because it streeeeeeetches one a little - even to get at a partial 'solution'. In this case, the

'project' also kept me sane (more or less😎) while confined to barracks during the coronavirus

lockdowns in the U.K., and I also ended up with the bonus of a couple of other ABC-munging

non-tab-related programs which are useful (to me, at least).

Edited by lachenal74693
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I say stick with numbering your music by hand! The only computer you then need is inside your own head.. again, it can seem laborious, but the technique and learning you will gain, through having to read each note, key signature, is immense and worth the effort .

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