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ABC - bar lines and Time signature do not match...


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Sometimes, (usually in older ABC transcriptions which I've found on the internet), I see something

like this:

 

I:abc-charset utf-8

%%measurenb 1

X:100
T:Kelly of Killane
C:P. J. McCall
M:2/4
L:1/8
Q:120
R:March
K:Dmaj
(D2 F2) | "D" A4 F2 A2 | "G" d4 c2 B2 | "D" A4 F2 D2 | "G" B,4 D2 E2 |
"D" F4 (E2 F2) | "A7" A2 G2 E2 C2 | "D" D8- | "D" D4 :|
A2 A2 | "G" B4 G2 B2 | "G" d4 c2 B2 | "D" A4 "G" d2 B2 | "D" A4 "E7" A2 A2 |
"G" B4 G2 B2 | "E7" d4 c2 B2 | "A7" A8- | "A7" A4 D2 F2 |
"D" A4 F2 A2 | "G" d4 c2 B2 | "D" A4 F2 D2 | "G" B,4 D2 E2 |
"D" F4 (E2 F2) | "A7" A2 G2 E2 C2 | "D" D8- | "D" D4 |]

 

As I understand it, if it's really 2/4, there are bar lines 'missing' in there, or the bar lines are 'correct', and

the time sig. should be 4/4 (or 2/2?).

 

Am I missing something, or is there really something wrong here? If there is something wrong, which is it:

missing bar lines, or an incorrect time sig? How do I tell which? Is it something to do with the tune having

been transcribed using a now-long-gone piece of ABC software which behaved differently from (say)

EasyABC?

 

My own thoughts tend to make me wonder if the tune has been written down 'oddly' in the first place (not

by the ABC transcriber, but in the original source), but I dunno - which is why I'm asking the question...

 

Any thoughts welcome - this one is doing my head in...

 

Thanks in advance.

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I agree the barring suggests 4/4 or 2/2. 

 

ABC transcriptions have to be treated with caution.  I'm speculating, but I would expect its ease of use and focus on folk music probably means many of its users are not very knowledgeable about written music (I include myself here).  I often see errors, not only in time signatures but especially key signatures - some transcribers don't seem to understand that the same key signature may represent either a major or minor key, and are even more ignorant of modal key sigs although ABC can expressly handle these.  I've lost count of the number of A Mixolydian tunes (2 sharps) I've seen transcribed as K: D.

 

Don't worry about it. If you think it's wrong, it's easy enough to edit.

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1 hour ago, hjcjones said:

I agree the barring suggests 4/4 or 2/2. 

.....

Don't worry about it. If you think it's wrong, it's easy enough to edit.

Thanks for that - encouraging that I'm not completely asleep at the helm!

 

I've learned to approach (particularly) elderly ABC transcriptions with caution, and as you've mentioned it,

I'll say that my suspicion parallels yours to a certain extent, in that I wonder if "...many of its users (ie: ABC)

are (or were) not very knowledgeable about writing ABC code...". I write that with a certain amount of

trepidation, because I don't want to be seen as in any way casting doubt on the veracity/accuracy of 'elderly'

ABC, but at the same time, I see a lot of 'mistakes' in such files (I have a long, scary list of such 'mistakes' [1]).

I've often wondered if files are suffering from 'software rot', or have got mangled in some way during the

download process, or (as I already said) whether ABC has changed in some fundamental way.

 

Thanks for that. It's given me the confidence to go in there with a slightly bigger stick and do some slightly

more radical editing of these 'legacy' files...

___________________________

[1] Including some of the ones you mention...

Edited by lachenal74693
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I agree with everything above. The quoted notation is incorrect.

 

32-bar “fiddle” tunes are generally in 2, not 4. In many printed sources they are notated in 2/4, but that makes for a lot of ugly 16th notes (semiquavers). That many flags and beams (ligatures) make the page very busy. I generally notate them in 2/2 (or C|), so the shortest notes are 8th notes (quavers) and the page looks cleaner and easier to read.

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I agree, the ABC is not correct.  ABC renderers generally just do what they are told so either change:

 

M:2/4


to

M:4/4

 

or modify the whole tune along the lines of:

X:100
T:Kelly of Killane
C:P. J. McCall
M:2/4
L:1/8
Q:120
R:March
K:Dmaj
DF | "D" A2 FA | "G" d2 cB | "D" A2 FD | "G" B,2 DE |
"D" F2 EF | "A7" AG EC | "D" D8- | "D" D2 :|
AA | "G" B2 GB | "G" d2 cB | "D" A2 "G" dB | "D" A2 "E7" AA |
"G" B2 GB | "E7" d2 cB | "A7" A8- | "A7" A2 DF |
"D" A2 FA | "G" d2 cB | "D" A2 FD | "G" B,2 DE |
"D" F2 EF | "A7" AG EC | "D" D4- | "D" D2 |]

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5 hours ago, David Barnert said:

I agree with everything above. The quoted notation is incorrect.

 

32-bar “fiddle” tunes are generally in 2, not 4. In many printed sources they are notated in 2/4, but that makes for a lot of ugly 16th notes (semiquavers). That many flags and beams (ligatures) make the page very busy. I generally notate them in 2/2 (or C|), so the shortest notes are 8th notes (quavers) and the page looks cleaner and easier to read.

Very interesting Thank you!

I read something about this a short while ago (can't remember where now), and I tried this with a couple of

'Scottish' tunes about two weeks ago. It certainly cleans up the score, and it sounds exactly the same when

I play the tunes back. I'm currently working on a batch of 'Scottish' tunes, many of which are 2/4, and which

have lots of groups of 4 beamed demi-quavers in there - pipe marches, reels, strathspeys, etc. (which are

often 'swung' and 'snapped'). Myself, I don't have too much trouble reading the ABC (which is moderately 'orrible),

because I've 'trained' myself to work in this style, but I can certainly sympathise with folks who don't like it.

Some 2/4 tunes don't 'need' this treatment, of course.

 

For my 'test' tunes, I actually converted to 4/4, because it was just a test, but I now have simple 'rules' which

allow me to do this in a few seconds. Dead easy to do it for 2/2 rather than 4/4...

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13 hours ago, eskin said:

I agree, the ABC is not correct.  ABC renderers generally just do what they are told so either change...

Too late! Like Mr. Sinatra, 'I (already) did it my way'😊 Strangely, I got something not entirely unlike what

you posted, so clearly some of us are singing from more or less the same hymn sheet.

 

The real point is that I was in a quandary about what to do about this. There was (is) an 'obvious' answer,

but I was a little unsure about 'validity'. Actually, I thought "I must be mad - surely it's more difficult than

that?" - apparently not...

 

Thanks!

Edited by lachenal74693
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The problem with digital technology is that it either works well.. or not at all; this goes for most things ( images, text etc too!)..

I do not myself use the ABC method, and did not even know what it was, until someone on concertina.net told me.. but it makes one wonder if it is not, at the end of the day, worth a little effort just to learn to read some music at even a basic level?  To get by, as that has worked for many people for hundreds of years; whereas technology is but a few decades old! And who knows how long that will last? In comparison?

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ABC isn't just a "digital" technology - here in Ireland traditional musician's frequently write down music in ABC format. When I was starting out on the tenor banjo years ago my instructor would do all teaching of tunes by ear, but then would write out the ABC's of the tune for me to have to refer back to if I needed.

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ABC is a way of writing conventional music notation on a computer. For simple folk tunes many (myself included) find it quicker and easier to use than more sophisticated score writers such as Musescore, although for more complex music they are usually better.  It uses very little memory, and because files are stored as text they are easily shared on forums when other file types may not be allowed. It has become the default system for folk tunes, and there are large libraries of tunes in this format on the internet.

 

Unlike most other programs it has the added advantage that a human can read it, but although some people can play direct from the ABC most use a computer program to render it as notation, and the program can also play it back as audio. 

 

Because it is text I can write out a piece of music in ABC on my phone or other device without needing to have specialist software installed.  It is also takes up a fraction of the space on a page that a conventional music stave would - it is much easier to jot down a tune on the back of a beer mat using ABC than to try to fit it onto a tiny, shaky hand-ruled stave.

 

Just like handwritten music, it is not immune from human error. Whoever transcribed the tune the OP was asking about would almost certainly have made the same mistake if they had written out with pen and music paper.

 

 

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2 hours ago, hjcjones said:

 ...

Just like handwritten music, it is not immune from human error. Whoever transcribed the tune the OP was asking about would almost certainly have made the same mistake if they had written out with pen and music paper.

Expresses my view of the main advantages of ABC over some other music systems far more neatly than

I could!

 

That final point is perhaps relevant here. As I hinted in my OP, I suspected  that in this case, the ABC

represented what was written on the original MS (though I have no proof). In this case, I deliberately removed

the original source, and the name of the transcriber before posting, because I wasn't sure of the source of

the error (if indeed there was an error)...

 

Normally, when posting any ABC, as a matter of courtesy, and of information, I will leave in the details of

both the source and the transcriber, including a rider to the effect that I may have edited the tune slightly,

but in this case, it wasn't necessary...

Edited by lachenal74693
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15 hours ago, SIMON GABRIELOW said:

The problem with digital technology is that it either works well.. or not at all

 

That sounds catchy, but it isn’t true. A perfect example from the world of abc is the software “EasyABC.” It used to work very well, but couldn’t keep up with the requirements of modern system software. It was abandoned by its creator and salvaged by others, but it is now buggy. It works OK, but not very well.

 

Quote

it makes one wonder if it is not, at the end of the day, worth a little effort just to learn to read some music at even a basic level?

 

Simon, you misunderstand what it is all about. It has nothing to do with the ability to read music. It is just an efficient way of expressing all the information contained on a page of music without having to draw lines and notes (if writing on paper) or use anything more complicated than unformatted ASCII text if using a computer (or tablet or smartphone). It can be read by people and machines, and the machines can display it as standard notation and also transpose it, change the clef and play the notes. I use it all the time, and I’ve been reading music since many decades before abc was invented.

 

If I want to produce an uncomplicated page of music notation, by far the most efficient way to do it is to type the abc into my computer (yes, using EasyABC—or Tunebook on my iPhone or iPad) and let the software turn it into a PDF which I can then print. But saving the abc text file takes up a tiny fraction of the computer memory that saving the same information as a PDF or JPEG would.

 

I also agree with everything else that has been posted here since Simon’s post.

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On 9/13/2022 at 4:19 AM, David Barnert said:

[1] That sounds catchy, but it isn’t true. A perfect example from the world of abc is the software “EasyABC.” It used to work very well, but couldn’t keep up with the requirements of modern system software. It was abandoned by its creator and salvaged by others, but it is now buggy. It works OK, but not very well.

 

[2] ...It has nothing to do with the ability to read music. It is just an efficient way of expressing all the information contained on a page of music without having to draw lines and notes (if writing on paper) or use anything more complicated than unformatted ASCII text...can be read by people and machines, and the machines can display it as standard notation and also transpose it, change the clef and play the notes. I use it all the time, and I’ve been reading music since many decades before abc was invented.

 

[3] If I want to produce an uncomplicated page of music notation, by far the most efficient way to do it is to type the abc into my computer (yes, using EasyABC—or Tunebook on my iPhone or iPad) and let the software turn it into a PDF which I can then print. But saving the abc text file takes up a tiny fraction of the computer memory that saving the same information as a PDF or JPEG would. (my emphasis - RJH)

[1] I think that's absolutely correct. I am a daily user of ABC, and use EasyABC as my preferred 'tool'. Being realistic, it's never done everything I would like, but it manages about 95%. However, as DB states, recent versions have behaved a little peculiarly in some ways, so I've stuck with version 1.3.7.7. It started out doing 95% of what I want, and  it continues to do 95% of what I want. Maybe I'm easily pleased, but I'm content with that...

 

[2] I come from the opposite end of the music spectrum - unlike DB, I couldn't read a note when I started using ABC, but using [Easy]ABC has helped me to read music just a little. Without that slender knowledge, I would never have been in a position to ask the question which I raised in the OP. (Maybe I should have kept stum and never have asked the question in the first place?)

 

[3] Precisely - the word uncomplicated really nails it down for me...

Edited by lachenal74693
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