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Which Abc Version?


Paul Woloschuk
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Having only just heard about the usefulness of ABC, I have performed a Google search only to find a myriad of different versions with differing amounts of functionality.

 

Can anyone with ABC experience suggest a useful and easy to use version for reading ABC files, printing sheet music together with the ability to play though a PC's speakers please?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Paul

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Having only just heard about the usefulness of ABC, I have performed a Google search only to find a myriad of different versions with differing amounts of functionality.

 

Can anyone with ABC experience suggest a useful and easy to use version for reading ABC files, printing sheet music together with the ability to play though a PC's speakers please?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Paul

 

If you're using Windows, ABC Navigator is good if a little less than helpful occasionally. I think it makes a better job of playing the tunes than some software, it seems to manage to give them a bit of a lilt, though they obviously still sound mechanical.

You can also vary speed (and pitch).

 

Of course, if you don't need to edit the tunes, the Concertina net Tune-a-Tron is a real gem. I use this a lot for one off printouts.

 

Chris

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If you're using Windows, ABC Navigator is good if a little less than helpful occasionally. I think it makes a better job of playing the tunes than some software, it seems to manage to give them a bit of a lilt, though they obviously still sound mechanical.

You can also vary speed (and pitch).

 

Of course, if you don't need to edit the tunes, the Concertina net Tune-a-Tron is a real gem. I use this a lot for one off printouts.

 

Chris

Thanks for your prompt reply Chris.

 

I have found the Tune-a-Tron useful already (a great name!), but after hearing about the almost universal use of ABC, I'd better get familiar with it.

 

Thanks again,

 

Paul

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I make quite a lot of use of abc. JC's tune finder, the Lewes session collections, the session pages, and the collection by Nigel Gatherer are large sources of tunes. The abc format is also convenient for sharing tunes in small files. I've transcribed music from historical sources (notably the New Harmony Community Dance Manual from 1826--a hand written manuscript found in the University of Illinois library in microfilm) and set some harmony parts and arrangements using multipart capabilities of abc.

 

I have somewhat impaired vision and have found that others in my band and in the slow session I play in also appreciate the ability to provide clear sheet music with the repeats starting at the beginning of the line and the notes themselves somewhat larger than usual music text. I use abc2mtex to produce typeset sheet music in large print. My main source for a standard for abc is the abc2mtex manual. Very rarely I also use the MusicTeX manual to tweak the resulting TeX code. (I'm a mathematician, so LaTeX (and to a lesser extent TeX) is practically my native language for word processing--most people find markup languages hard.) Some of the programs which produce abc files for use in Windows PC's do not use standard syntax and the results need to be edited. I now use only Macs, but have also used Unix and Linux machines for abc2mtex. I have no idea how it works in a Windows environment.

 

It is worth the effort to learn basic, standard abc. It is easy. Friends here said recently that workshops they had attended in St. Louis on traditional Irish music gave the tunes in abc format. Indeed, some musicians are reading abc the way the rest of us read standard musical notation. That is probably only possible for single line melody use, but it might be a skill worth cultivating. :P

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I've been using abc for years, and have even taught a workshop ("the abc's of abc") at the Northeast Squeeze-In.

 

When you use the word "version" in your question, there's two things that could mean. abc (always uncapitalized, even at the beginning of a sentence) is an evolving standard, and the rules change as folks decide there's more that they want to do with it (support for multiple voices, lyrics, etc.). The version (in this sense) that is supported by the tune-o-tron is version 1.6. A few years ago, some folks got together (Chris Walshaw, the inventor of abc didn't seem to be interested) to create a version 2.0, but it contained some backward incompatibility, and never really achieved status as any kind of standard. As far as I know, version 1.6 is still the gold standard, although most software developers tweak it, adding features to suit their own purposes which might or might not work in other abc software.

 

Which brings us to the other meaning of "version." Are you asking which software to use? That depends, in part, on what kind of computer (or system software) you are using. The great thing about abc is that the files, being simple ascii text, are portable from platform to platform. Someone with a Windows PC can send me a tune which I might edit on my Macintosh and store on my Palm unit. There is software (versions?) for all there platforms and more (Linux, etc.). Some software is better for playing tunes, some better for displaying notation. Many do a fine job all arouond.

 

They are all listed on the abc home page. There is also a abc users discussion group which I was on for a while but seem to have fallen off. Maybe I'll try to get back into it, now that I see it has moved to Yahoo.

 

Hope this helps.

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Which brings us to the other meaning of "version." Are you asking which software to use?

Thanks to everyone who's replied.

I was after recomendations really, as looking at the variety available, I was interested in other user's experiences etc,.

I have downloaded 'abc navigator' which seems easy to use, and does pretty much what I want.

I'm (not at the moment) interested so much in editing, more using abc to download music and the score as a convenient method for personal use.

 

Thanks again.

 

Paul

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I use the tune-o-tron exclusively and extensively. I either write the abc file in notepad, or download it and save. Then I simply copy the file and paste into tune-o-tron. I can then play, print as sheet music and even edit by going pack to the pasted page to edit the abc text. By moving back and forth from the paste page and submitted tune I clean up mistakes, etc. Then I copy the edited abc from the paste page and save back on my drive.

 

Tune-o-Tron is one of my most-used tools on concertina net.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a question about abc that I haven't yet been able to answer with the online tutorials available. I have been cleaning up the abc (and correcting the few mistakes I've found) in the abc version of the Northumbrian Minstrelsy. In a few of the tunes, eg Sir John Fenwick's The Flower Amang Them All and Noble Squire Dacre the repeats are drawn with 4 dots rather than 2. I presume this means "repeat 4 times" instead of 2. There is no way I can find to show 4 dots in standard abc notation. What would an acceptable representation of "repeat 4 times" be in standard music and/or abc notation?

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I have a question about abc that I haven't yet been able to answer with the online tutorials available... In a few of the tunes... the repeats are drawn with 4 dots rather than 2. I presume this means "repeat 4 times" instead of 2. There is no way I can find to show 4 dots in standard abc notation. What would an acceptable representation of "repeat 4 times" be in standard music and/or abc notation?

I assume you're talking about one of these: post-65-1150639615.jpg

 

There is no support for notation like this in abc v1.6, and I'm not aware of any software products that implement it above and beyond the abc standard (see my previous post of May 25).

 

The only suggestions I can think of are these:

  • Use a normal repeat but include the notation "4x" (with the quotes) before the last note before the repeat. This will not result in the file being played properly (it will play only twice, and might screw up software that expects to find a chord between the quotes and tries to play it) but most well-behaved abc software will write "4x" (without the quotes) over the last note, making the intention clear to any musician who looks at the printed output (perhaps even clearer than the four dots <_< ).
  • Write the lines out twice (well, actually, copy and paste).

Edited to add:

 

BTW, I'm not certain that the 4 dots really does mean "repeat four times" or even that it always means the same thing, but the above is written on the assumption that it does.

Edited by David Barnert
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I have a question about abc that I haven't yet been able to answer with the online tutorials available. I have been cleaning up the abc (and correcting the few mistakes I've found) in the abc version of the Northumbrian Minstrelsy. In a few of the tunes, eg Sir John Fenwick's The Flower Amang Them All and Noble Squire Dacre the repeats are drawn with 4 dots rather than 2. I presume this means "repeat 4 times" instead of 2. There is no way I can find to show 4 dots in standard abc notation. What would an acceptable representation of "repeat 4 times" be in standard music and/or abc notation?
I believe that the four dots used in the repeat symbol in the Minstrelsy are simply an old-fasioned style of indicating a 'normal' repeat.

See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repeat

"In shape-note singing, repeat signs usually have four dots, between each line of the staff."

 

and also...

http://www.psalmody.co.uk/music/East.html

"East indicated repeat passages usually with a sign (which varied in pattern and orientation) at the start of a repeat, and the usual double barline (but with four dots) at the end."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Can I chuck in a few words here ... I'm in the middle of processing music for the "Concertina World" Music Supplement - mainly related to session tunes. It took me a while to define a simple working strategy - but I include it below for what interest it might provide.

 

The abc element uses Abacus which is a really neat program - if you want to generate music in abc it gives you a real time music display to go with your text! Abacus can be obtained from Bryan Creer

 

http://members.aol.com/abacusmusic/

 

For only a few pounds - support concertina players - Bryan plays a mean English System!!

 

 

Using the Internet to find a tune ...

 

Software required :

a Web browser : e.g. Firefox or Widows Explorer.

A text editor : e.g. Notebook

An abc music program: there are many - use your favourite : I favour "Abacus" (written by Bryan Creer) and "Harmony Assistant" or Melody Assistant.

Optional : a Music editing program : I favour "Mozart 2005" as it allows me to edit the music into the graphic format required for this Music Supplement. I think Noteworthy is well worth investigating!

 

Open Goggle and search for "tune finder abc" - select the first "hit"

in my case "JC's ABC Tune Finder" (this has an address of :http://ecf-guest.mit.edu/~jc/cgi/abc/tunefind)

 

Enter the tune name you want and click the "find" box. Depending on your success you may find a page or two of hits all based on your search input. On the left side there are hyper links to various music formats. Personally I tended to use the "abc" format choice.

 

Using the "Tune information" to select different versions of a tune I would open a "abc hyper link" (there is a delay function in the program to protect the data from "web bots" - if the data doesn't appear, use the "back arrow" to return to the search results page and try again). When the data appears - highlight the code and copy it - then open notebook and paste it into the opened page. You can copy as many versions - or indeed tunes - into Notebook. When satisfied - save the Notebook data as "filename.abc"

 

Open Abacus and using the File/Open command open "filename.abc" - you should find a tune list - select the tune you want to listen to (Ctl L - will re-open the tune list in Abacus and allow very quick switching between tunes). click the play button ... and off you go! (I have no intention here to go into the fine details of Abacus - which I personally think is one of the most usable of the "abc" programs ... however, one small warning to anyone using a computer with the Operating System "Windows XP" - Abacus doesn't like the silver colour scheme! - it looks very smart - but the music displays as black staves and notes on a black background!

 

To process the music further - having selected my "version" using Abacus - I open that version in "Harmony Assistant" (I prefer Harmony to Melody as the standard score display is better) using the "Import / abc" function. To transfer the data into Mozart I export a midi file (Midi1) out of Harmony Assistant - and then import it into Mozart ... edit and save as required. Needless to say at this point you can use your own personal favourite Music editor.

 

Kind regards

Jon McNamara

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Guest Mick Diles
Can I chuck in a few words here ... Software required :.... Widows Explorer

John,

 

I'm very interested in this Widows Explorer Software.... Can you give me a link to download?? :lol:

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Can I chuck in a few words here ... Software required :.... Widows Explorer

John,

 

I'm very interested in this Widows Explorer Software.... Can you give me a link to download?? :lol:

 

Isn't it Windows Explorer? - I wouldn't know - I've used Firefox for a couple of years now - smaller, neater and less prone to attacks by code creeps. Guess I should have said "Microsoft Internet Explorer" (the blue "E" thingy) - I think it ships with every version of Windows that I've ever used ... so just a slip of the keyboard!- I hope I'm allowed that! But thanks for the correction - I appreciate it - I don't mind being wrong now and then - which is probably a good thing since I often am!! :)

 

On the otherhand - if you're still using Explorer (which ever version) do have a look at Firefox (and Thunderbird for your email) - in my opinion - very much better than the Microsoft products ... and free as well!

 

Kind regards

Jon

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