Jump to content

Abc Music Notation


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 36
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Hey Fiddlehead

 

I know only a very little more than you, but not by much. :blink: From the little I do know, all you need is a pencil and paper, and know the note names a through g. No computer need be involved.

 

It's explained here pretty good in the introduction page (the top blue bar on the left marked: " abcnotation.org.uk"), with some nice examples especially the tune books.

http://www.walshaw.plus.com/abc/tunes.html

 

Here is a nice page to put it to use:

http://www.concertina.net/tunes.html

 

Thanks :)

Leo

Edited by Leo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was told a while ago about ABC notation, and looked into it, but never downloaded it. Does anyone here use it, and, if so, any tips or cautions about it?

It sounds intrguing, but I'm still a little fuzzy on how it works. I'm not quite the computer whiz that I could be.... :blink:

 

It works. It's invaluable because of the vast assortment of music available on the Web. Software for the PC is all quirky, inefficient and generally lousy. ABC navigator seems the best available program, but it, too, has its quirks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't taken the time to write anything in ABC in a while, but I think it's very useful and basically easy to use.

 

If you want some idea of how it works:

 

Click on the small 'concertina.net' link that I assume you can see top left of this page, you'll find the set of links, at the top of the new page, that has 'Tune-O-Tron.' Click on Tune-O-Tron, the click on any of the tunes (in the box on the right...as I recall).

 

Once you see a tune page, you'll see a set of links above the tune, one which says 'ABC Source' or something like that. If you click that, you'll see the code for the tune you're viewing.

 

I've often browsed around the Tune-O-Tron and copied the code of any tune that has some example of something I want to try sometime -- like, adding a bass clef section or whatever.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My use of ABC is basic, but very useful all the same. If I come across a tune in a session that I want to learn I get the name and then Google for an ABC of it. More often than not I'll find it. Then I start up the ABC Convert-A-Matic on this very site and cut-and-paste the ABC in. Hey presto - I've got score and a MIDI file. There doesn't appear to be anything else on the net like the Convert-A-Matic, BTW. Quite a few other sites link to it, which makes it a good source of publicity for c.net, I guess. Well done, Paul!

 

This site here is a tutorial and set of resources for ABC by the man who invented it - Chris Walshaw. Mathematician and folk musician he's exactly the sort of person you'd imagine inventing something like ABC. I've been in sessions where he's been playing - he's a superb piper in the Blowzabella/French style. His site has lots of pointers to tune collections in ABC on the web.

 

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also use the Convert-A-Matic on this site, but recently downloaded ABC Navigator 2. Documentation is a bit thin on the ground, but with a bit of trial and error I got the hang of it. It lets you import some of the huge ABC tune collections on the web - within a couple of hours I had more tunes than I could ever learn in a lifetime. As well as displaying & printing the score, you can change the sound of the instrument when you play a tune, change the speed, and the pitch. I am not (yet) into writing my own ABC files, but I am pretty sure it can do that too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ABC is great as a cataloging tool for collecting tunes, but if you're interested in Irish music I don't recommend using it as a source for learning tunes.

 

There are a few good reasons for this:

  1. you'll miss the nuances
  2. the versions are often quite different than what's being played
  3. often the transcriptions you find on line are written by people who have a different concept or might lack experience.

The best thing to do is track down recordings that have the tune or record them being played at the session where you heard them. When I first discovered ABC I learned a few tunes I recognized the name of but I had to seriously retool the way I played them after hearing them played on recordings or at the session.

 

On the positive side I find ABCs to be a great way to collect tunes and I can easily alter them to reflect the settings I prefer. It's also a very handy tool if you enjoy composing tunes.

Edited by The Phantom Button
Link to comment
Share on other sites

ABC is the great tool for me to collect tunes in a portable format.

ABC navigator seems the best available program, but it, too, has its quirks.

I will second that. I tried several ABC programs, and I'd like ABC navigator 2 the best :) ,except for one problem.

It won't work properly on Japanese Windows, but when I switch my PC language to English and reboot, it really works great.

I am too lazy to reboot many times ;) , I use runabc.tcl. It is simple program but efficient.

 

some useful links:

ABC tune finder http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/cgi/abc/tunefind

web-wide abc index (over 20000 tunes!) http://www.walshaw.plus.com/abc/index/wwabc.html

theSession.org http://www.thesession.org/

 

--

Taka

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've used abc for years together with abc2mtex to produce large type score for my own use and for my band. This has included producing multistaff and multipart music. For a beginner I'd suggest BarFly as an editor which typesets and plays abc (though not the multipart multistaff stuff I occasionally produce). abc is useful, fairly easy to write and read, and there is a lot of material out there in abc (including O'Neil, Allan's Irish Fiddler, the complete O'Carollan, full symphonic scores, sheet music from long out of print sources, and lots of transcriptions of varying quality(. Some of that uses extensions to the standard making it incompatible with some of the programs used to play or typeset abc files.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have used abc quite a bit.

 

References have already been posted to Chris Walshaw's pages and Steve Mansfield's tutorial at lessession. You can even save a copy of that to your machine so you can refer to it offline while typing tunes.

 

There are thousands of tunes available in abc format. As pointed out, the quality varies but so does the reliability of hearing any one version live.

 

I use Bryan Creer's abacus program which is neither quirky not inefficient. Not sure if that is currently available. It is certainly quite useable as a text processor for music.

 

Good luck! Roger

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ABC is great as a cataloging tool for collecting tunes, but if you're interested in Irish music I don't recommend using it as a source for learning tunes.

 

There are a few good reasons for this:

  1. you'll miss the nuances .
 
 
But that applies to most notation, unless it has been deliberately transcribed to show ornamentation etc. As a rule, the notation of traditional music is just the bones of the tune, and it's up to the player to put flesh on it
 
the versions are often quite different than what's being played
 
Well, there are lots of versions of these tunes. If you can't find the one you're after, they will at least give you a starting point to write it out yourself
 
often the transcriptions you find on line are written by people who have a different concept or might lack experience.

 

 

As with anything on the internet, you have to treat these with caution. However the widespread use of ABC has allowed the easy dissemination of a large number of tunes. I remember when tracking down a tune could take weeks or even months to find it in a book or on a record, and that was only if you knew the name in the first place.

 

The best thing to do is track down recordings that have the tune or record them being played at the session where you heard them. When I first discovered ABC I learned a few tunes I recognized the name of but I had to seriously retool the way I played them after hearing them played on recordings or at the session.

 

This applies to any source. These tunes are played differently everywhere, and you have to adapt to the version of the session you're in

 

On the positive side I find ABCs to be a great way to collect tunes and I can easily alter them to reflect the settings I prefer. It's also a very handy tool if you enjoy composing tunes.

 

As someone whose ability with notation is patchy at best, it is a quick and easy way for me to transcribe tunes and check that I've got it right by playing it back on the computer. There are several software packages and some are better than others. But the great strength of ABC is that you don't need a computer, you can jot a tune down on a bit of paper and type it up later.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There doesn't appear to be anything else on the net like the Convert-A-Matic, BTW.

 

There are others, including ours at folkinfo but the "Convert-A-Matic" might have been the first - I don't know. We certainly decided we could do with something similar to it for our own abc usage though.

 

---

As for abc software, I found BarFly my favourite of the ones I tried but it is a Mac program. I've tended to use 5 line Skink on Windows and then Linux but I do have to adjust some lyrics (w:) to match the abcm2ps (which I use as a "standards guide") output we produce.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

often the transcriptions you find on line are written by people who have a different concept or might lack experience.

As with anything on the internet, you have to treat these with caution. However the widespread use of ABC has allowed the easy dissemination of a large number of tunes. I remember when tracking down a tune could take weeks or even months to find it in a book or on a record, and that was only if you knew the name in the first place.

Even when you have a name it's still not reliable since there are so many different names attached to any given tune and there are also mistakes on recordings or what people remember the name to be. If I have a tune without a name, I'll do a search with Google on a fragment in various ways that will sometimes successfully locate ABCs, and often there will be a name there, but not necessarily one that will help me locate a recorded example. Thesession.org is a good resource because it will cross-reference tune names with recordings, and even though I've had great success using it, it's still not 100% reliable and the names will be misleading.

 

When I do locate recorded versions I try to find as many as possible to compare before I begin submitting it to memory. Sometimes I'll just learn enough of what I have available to play for other musicians and see if they recognize it and can steer me in a direction that will result in a setting that's commonly played. My last resort is to learn the tune directly from the ABCs. Even though I have what I consider to be a comprehensive understanding of Irish styles with many years of experience, and I can interpret written music to include the subtleties -- I still prefer to learn the tunes aurally whenever possible.

Edited by Phantom Button
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is also important to note that a high proportion of tunes available on the Web in ABC are incorrectly notated. Or they load up OK in one ABC translator program but not another.

 

Just this morning I was looking for notation to use as a cheat sheet; I found 4 different versions, none of which loaded correctly in ABC navigator.

 

It is a wonderful resource. It can also be incredibly frustrating.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


Make a Donation


×
×
  • Create New...