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Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?

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Kudzuman 24 Sep 03 - 07:20 PM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Sep 03 - 07:27 PM
masato sakurai 25 Sep 03 - 12:40 AM
Desert Dancer 25 Sep 03 - 01:54 AM
pavane 25 Sep 03 - 03:32 AM
Mark Clark 25 Sep 03 - 02:14 PM
pavane 26 Sep 03 - 03:50 AM
GUEST,Jon 26 Sep 03 - 06:18 AM
Mark Clark 26 Sep 03 - 01:12 PM
GUEST,Jon 26 Sep 03 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,Jon 26 Sep 03 - 02:17 PM
tuggy mac 26 Sep 03 - 02:24 PM
GUEST,Jon 26 Sep 03 - 02:37 PM
GUEST,Jon 26 Sep 03 - 08:33 PM
Mark Clark 27 Sep 03 - 12:16 AM
Mark Clark 29 Sep 03 - 12:57 AM
treewind 29 Sep 03 - 06:29 AM
Mark Clark 30 Sep 03 - 01:12 AM
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Subject: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: Kudzuman
Date: 24 Sep 03 - 07:20 PM

OK, I checked the files and couldn't find a specific thread on this. How the heck do you read ABC files? I read music and abc makes no sense to me at all! How is timing figured out and how do you interpret the little letters and symbols into something resembling music. I can download these and convert them with Tabledit, but I really want to know how the heck this stuff works. Thanks in advance and sorry if this has been answered ad infinitum.

Kudzuman


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Sep 03 - 07:27 PM

It has; but for straightforward conversion to midi and staff notation, see  ABC Convert-A-Matic.

For a good overview of abc, see  How to interpret abc music notation


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Sep 03 - 12:40 AM

Mudcat ABC Tune Guide, too.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 25 Sep 03 - 01:54 AM

And for the full scoop: Chris Walshaw's abc page.

~ Becky in Tucson, just beginning to get the hang of it, since my converter got lost in the new hard drive shuffle...


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: pavane
Date: 25 Sep 03 - 03:32 AM

And don't forget my shareware program HARMONY, being enhanced with the help of Mudcat testers. Not only reads abc but can add chords to the tunes. Lots of other features including lyrics and MIDI.

Download from www.greenhedges.com


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 25 Sep 03 - 02:14 PM

Chris Walshaw's wonderful innovation has been enhanced and improved by many developers. The most generally useful ABC tools are found at the ABC Plus project site. I say most generally useful because the tools there support multiple voices, multiple staves, synchronized lyrics, chord symbols, standard MIDI instruments and a lot more bells and whistles that, for music engraving, compete with the best of the high-end programs.

The very best documentation I've found for learning ABC encoding is Typesetting Music with ABC by Quido Gonzato, Ph.D. This great PDF tutorial includes an active index and active links for easily moving around the 63 page document. Everything is explained with coding examples and the resulting output.

There is a lot of great information archived here in the threads too but Dr. Gonzato's reference has it all in one place for easy reference while working.

      - Mark


NB: If you use tools from the ABC Plus project, my advice is to skip the JED editing package. JED emulates EMACS and even though I use GNU EMACS for nearly all my editing, I found JED ugly and difficult to use. If you like EMACS, stick to the real thing. There is an ABC major mode for EMACS that includes a point-and-click capability that lets you encode the music rapidly using your mouse. If you're not familiar with a programmer's editor like EMACS, you can get by just fine with Windows NotePad.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: pavane
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 03:50 AM

HARMONY version 3.2.4 (soon to be released) lets you create music in three ways : Point and click with the mouse, type the notes at the keyboard, or let it generate a tune automatically!

Personally, I still find it easiest to write the abc in a text editor and import, though.

HARMONY now supports multiple voices, multiple staves, synchronised lyrics, MIDI instruments AND controls (so you can bend notes, etc), and will generate chords or harmony voices.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 06:18 AM

I've been staying off Mudcat, just trying to concentrate on folkinfo and generally cutting down on my Internet time but Pip has alerted me to this thread and I feel I ought to make a couple of comments:

I wouldn't argue with Mark Clark's suggestions(except I've never got my head round EMACS) but, on 4th August, Guido Gonzato announced to abcusers that he was taking a break and would no longer be working on abc standards. Irwin Oppenheim is now in charge of the abc2.0 draft. I haven't a clue where that leaves the abcplus project.

For my money, I'm hoping abc 2.0 does become the standard and in time irons out certain slight differences between abc programs (eg, the abc2ps on the Convert-a-matic does not alway yeild the same results as abcm2ps run at folkinfo - usually according to the best reference we have - 1.7 draft, abcm2ps is the one to trust BTW) it's certainly the way I'm thinking in terms of for the abc we hold at folkinfo. For the finer points in typesetting, I think (not that I understand a lot), I would be interested in both Lilypond and musicXML.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 01:12 PM

I certainly hope Mr. Oppenheim will continue with the level of effort and insight that Dr. Gonzato has provided. There is a great deal of ABC encoded music already available but a solid 2.0 standard will encourage musicians and composers to encode long and complex ensemble scores for everyone to share. ABC encoding began, I believe, as an easy way to share simple music containing a single melody line on a single staff. (That's the way it's used in the Digital Tradition database and here in these threads.) The idea is so beautifully simple and easy to master that, very quickly, people wanted to use it to share more complex scores.

The big software publishers (e.g., Coda Finale) probably won't include ABC translation as part of their products but it seems likely that they will adopt a standard notational exchange format like the XML-based MusicXML. At issue, I think, is whether an exchange standard should support all possible performance details for accurate MIDI and digital sound reproduction or merely the notational details needed to produce an engraved score. Once the ABC 2.0 standard is complete, we'll soon see utilities that address all the details of conversion between ABC and MusicXML. I think it's unlikely that MusicXML will become popular as a native format for music programs but it does have the potential to become the lingua franca of the music software community.

GNU LilyPond is a system for encoding music that was designed from the start to support complex orchestral scores. LilyPond's emphasis is in the creation of beautiful looking scores so every aspect of music notation is supported in some way. LilyPond is layered over Donald Knuth's TeX typesetting system and Leslie Lamport's LaTeX macro library so it has available to it what is perehaps the world's most sophisticated typesetting system. Thanks to this layering of tasks, it is possible with LilyPond to typeset any sort of musical document from simple lead sheets to symphonic scores to complete books where text and music lines are interspersed. And because of the underlying TeX/LaTeX foundation there is support for title pages, tables of contents, bibliographies, indices, graphics; in short, anything you've seen in a book, magazine, academic paper or commercial score.

Of course the power of LilyPond comes at a price. Not a price in cash outlay, it's all free, but a price in terms of the effort and level of computing knowledge needed to install, maintain and use the software. You can't beat LilyPond for engraving beautiful music but you're probably not going to use it to share fiddle tunes.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 01:54 PM

I could be wrong on this Mark but I seem to remember reading somewhere that abc started when Chris Walshaw was on holiday in somewhere like France and was a shorthand human readable notation he invented.

I think a slight correction to your post: To the best of my knowledge, the dt still uses Songwright, not abc as the basic storage and notation format. I believe the MIDI here is conversions from the that. Again I could be wrong but I think folkinfo is probably the only (at least within folk) website that to date has decided to adopt abc as the raw data held in the databae for both music and lyrics (millions of tunes out there elsewhere).

Jon


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 02:17 PM

Here you go Mark, on the origins and original designs of abc (from Phil Taylor, found in the abcusers archive):

[..]Chris Walshaw invented abc when he was on holiday in
France, encountered some French musicians with interesting tunes, and
lacked manuscript paper to write them down. So he just wrote the names
of the notes along with a multiplier for the length as necessary, and a
bit of header information required to read the rest. Later, faced with
a pile of scraps of paper with tunes written in text he wrote the first
version of abc2mtex as a way of converting this material to conventional
musical notation.[...].


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: tuggy mac
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 02:24 PM

i CANT EVEN SPELL a b c, lET ALONE READ EM!


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 02:37 PM

Don't worry about it "Mr mac". I can't read them (to read music) either. I recently started Pip, my mother, going on abc. Unlike me, she is a sight reader of music. She is finding translating the dots to note names (I mean abc can does use upper and lower case letters) quite natural and is getting into the note lenghts.

Quite weird really, me "teaching" a music reader but I've got a little more experience on the computer side of things and can figure bits out more easily when something looks wrong.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 26 Sep 03 - 08:33 PM

I should add to my last post that the guide we opted for is the one by Steve Mansfield, reccomended by Malcolm Douglas above and that the program we are trying is the x-platform, java based skink.

I'd be intereted in thoughts from others on this: I'm capable of things like trying to read an abc music standard and work out whats wrong when attempts are made at writing music but find my limitations make me use a route like Noteworthy/ABC2NWC if I need to copy a score. On the other hand, I feel someone like Pip who can just rattle off note names, etc. and sight read would be quicker in the long term with a program like Skink or prehaps the Mac Barfly where you just type note names, i.e. just enter notes as text directly into abc.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 27 Sep 03 - 12:16 AM

The truth is I almost never read an ABC file. I run it through abcm2ps and display the music using GSview, a free (for home use) PostScript display program that will also create Adobe PDF files for you. With that setup, you don't need a PostScript printer and you have the ability to share scores over the Net without the recipient having to learn ABC.

If I'm creating my own ABC file, I find it easy to just type the ABC code while looking at the original score. I'm not good at hearing a melody in my head and coding it directly as ABC but I can create a MIDI file using a synth keyboard and translate that to ABC as a skeleton to start working on.

A lot of the ABC files I create are Eastern Orthodox liturgical pieces in four-part harmony. It gets me into some of the more exotic ABC extensions so a program like Five Line Skink won't handle a great deal of what I do. I really depend on the abcm2ps program.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 29 Sep 03 - 12:57 AM


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: treewind
Date: 29 Sep 03 - 06:29 AM

A vote for abcm2ps here. I edit with vi, which has syntax colouring for ABC. The syntax highlighting's a bit broken but v.useful all the same.

I'm pondering a way to make the whole edit/abcm2ps/ghostview/print set more accessible to Windows users. If it could be done as a single installation from one file on a CD, with a bit of VB to tie it all together and look like a single application, I'm sure it would get more use. As it is, many Windows people are using ABC2WIN which breaks the rules terribly. I once spent a whole evening hand-editing a tune collection file from the Village Music project (all done with ABC2win) so it rendered properly.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: ABC Files and how to read them?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 30 Sep 03 - 01:12 AM

I use vi for editing configuration files and such but I usually use GNU EMACS for ABC encoding; it uses syntax coloring as well. The ABC major mode has the scripting (in elisp) needed to offer an integrated environment. I run Cygwin, bash and rxvt, and I can run Xfree86 if needed to get xdvi, all over Windows XP Pro.

I certainly agree that abcm2ps is best of the ABC typesetting programs.

      - Mark


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