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How To Post MUSIC to DT

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gargoyle 22 May 99 - 05:16 PM
22 May 99 - 08:13 PM
Sandy Paton 22 May 99 - 08:23 PM
MMario 22 May 99 - 08:33 PM
Sandy Paton 22 May 99 - 09:11 PM
alison 23 May 99 - 12:17 AM
gargoyle 23 May 99 - 02:16 AM
Joe Offer 23 May 99 - 02:27 AM
Alex 23 May 99 - 02:54 AM
Penny S. 23 May 99 - 07:10 AM
gargoyle 23 May 99 - 02:23 PM
gargoyle 23 May 99 - 02:33 PM
John in Brisbane 23 May 99 - 10:28 PM
dick greenhaus 23 May 99 - 10:40 PM
gargoyle 23 May 99 - 11:48 PM
dick greenhaus 24 May 99 - 05:28 PM
gargoyle 25 May 99 - 01:56 PM
Wolfgang 26 May 99 - 10:25 AM
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Subject: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: gargoyle
Date: 22 May 99 - 05:16 PM

Once, promenently posted on DT, there were instructions on how to contribute tunes by either mailing muscial scores, or by preferably creating midi files.

It gave details on the format that was desired.

Sarendipitously, in the process of searching for instructions I found at the bottom of the "MC links" a mirror site for DT that has standard scores,ABC,whistle, and midi files. Digital Tradition Mirror Site

I would like to assure that the tunes I would like to contribute are in the desired configuration. I am sure the information is here somewhere.

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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
Date: 22 May 99 - 08:13 PM

well - according to the thread here
Dick says he isn't fussy and will take just about any format.

If you go to this location you get the instructions on how to use the software that gives the ABC and miditxt from a midi file


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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 22 May 99 - 08:23 PM

I looked at the linked sites and don't understand them at all. What about us old geezers who (1) don't read music, (2) don't play keyboards, even by ear, (3) don't have midi input devices anyway, and (4 are innocent of any cyber-sophistication? I guess I'll just have to send music around by making a cassette and using USPS, or inviting phone calls from the curious.

Ah, woe.

Sandy (cyber-klutz)

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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: MMario
Date: 22 May 99 - 08:33 PM

Sandy - you just described ME! Well, except #4 - it's my job, so I can't claim to be totally ignorant.

When I can find sheet music, I use Noteworthy Composer to enter it note by note, counting the bloody lines....then save as a midi file (you don't need a midi input device to save or download OR convert a midi file) and then use alan's software to create the stuff for posting. [This is the way I find out what stuff sounds like from the Levy sheet Music site]

Or you can SCAN it, and send Dick the file that results.

Or you can blackmail a friend or relative who reads music into transcribing it. the last method does not work very well.

I REALLY wish there were some talented person out there who would accept cassettes and transcribe them. I have a bunch of songs I'd love to be able to transmit. Of course then I would actually have to record them.


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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 22 May 99 - 09:11 PM

Didn't we have a lovely volunteer from Oz suggest that she might be willing to accept cassettes and enter them for the cyberidiots of the 'Cat? I have a memory of something like that causing our Joe Offer to cry "be still my heart!"


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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: alison
Date: 23 May 99 - 12:17 AM


Yes I have volunteered before, Philippa has sent me some GIF's in the past which I have put in, but I am willing to accept tapes too........

Of course then I'd be doing it by ear.. so it'll depend on the quality of the recording as to how accurate it'll be.

e-mail and I'll give you an address for snail mail.



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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: gargoyle
Date: 23 May 99 - 02:16 AM

I have a several dozen, never recorded (to best of my limited knowlege)tunes which have been passed down through several generations.

I would like be asured that I will be contributing them in the desired format.

For a truely, unique aspect to the DT.....perhaps there could be a "Music Star" aspect that would allow neophites to contribute their own "unique family tunes."

The BS aspects of the forum have gathered together an mixed conglogeration from across the globe. I believe that EVERYONE probably has a UNIQUE tune to contribute to the database. (Somewhere, the DT seems to have become lost.)

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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 May 99 - 02:27 AM

Ah, the fair Alison is still here. Be still, my heart!
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: Alex
Date: 23 May 99 - 02:54 AM

Gargoyle - I understand what you are saying. I was using and making contributions to the Digital Tradition before it ended up on Mudcat. We seem to be getting away from the original intent of DT which was a way of sharing and cataloging folk music. Unfortunately, not everyone who has the unrecorded music has access to the Internet, (or some of those who are on-line don't have access to MIDI, ABC formats, etc). The recent releases of the Lomax collections on CD show what a great job was done for the genre by a couple of guys going out nto the community and recording and saving this music for posterity. I saw the DT as the modern equivalent of the Lomaxes but it seems that the technology gets in the way of collection. If Alison is willing to transcribe these unknown tunes into a MIDI (or other machine-readable) format then she is to be applauded. We need more people with her skills to help preserve the music..

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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: Penny S.
Date: 23 May 99 - 07:10 AM

I'd just like to say that I've followed the recommendations to Noteworthy Composer Noteworthy Composer Site, and I've spent a busy morning putting down a tune I thought of yesterday and putting chords to it. It's a great program (OK I know a bit about notation and a small amount of harmony), and really easy to use. (So far - I haven't tried using my keyboard with it - no lead yet - nor converting to MIDI files). I had found the ABC format daunting, and was thinking of submitting something in the past in solfa (I didn't) for want of anything better. I'm thinking of getting Noteworthy for my school, as it is so much more reasonable than the one we have.

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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: gargoyle
Date: 23 May 99 - 02:23 PM

I have no doubt that I can produce midi or MP3 or wav files, from sheet or "by ear," and can change one style into another, however:

1. What format is desired?
A. Melody line only?
B. Piano, guitar, bagpipe, anything?

2. Is it acceptable to add chords?

3. Is only the "pure tune" desired or are theme and variation OK?

4. Is "human voice" permitted?

5. What is the OPTIMUM format that will assure the easiest entry into the DT? The format that will cause the least amount of work on the recieving end.

6. To what address should it be sent? Where is the real DT?

I was SO HAPPY to find the DT mirror site, because it is what this site was once moving towards. When it lost out on its bid for "tax exempt status" this site appears to have foundered in its "mission."

Perhaps this thread should be retitled, Desperately Seeking the DT's

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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: gargoyle
Date: 23 May 99 - 02:33 PM

There are wonderfully simple programs such as "Music Star" that will permit even a five-year-old to create a midi. There is no need for a "Roland" (although one could be used) the individual simply sets the time signiture, and mouse clicks on a keyboard on the screen, save the file and make corrections.

It should be relatively simple to setup such an area "on a website" that would permit the easy composition of tunes by even the "musically challenged."

Then again, perhaps no one but the "musically challenged" would like to contribute in such a fashion, and the contributions may be more bother than help.

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Subject: Mudcat User Guide for ABC Notation
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 23 May 99 - 10:28 PM

Here is my attempt to provide help for newcomers. Believe me, it is quite easy to learn, and a lot of fun as well. Any feedback is welcomed.



This document is meant as a user guide for beginners, not as a full reference specification.

For a complete reference please see the Official abc Notation Site

What Do I Need To Know About Music Before I Start?

Not a whole heap!

· What a treble clef looks like

· How to read the basic names of notes on the treble clef. Remember for notes on the lines - Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit. And in the spaces between the lines - F A C E

· How to read the length (duration) of a note. There is a Section below covering Note Length, but you may need a quick refresher from a basic music text on this subject.  This is probably the more tricky issue, but like the rest of music notation - fairly logical.

This document will give you some clues, but there are lots of Web sites that give a good grounding. I like (Lesson 1) and (Lesson 2). Don't be put off by the reference to Jazz Classes.

About abc Notation

It was designed primarily for folk and traditional tunes which can be written on one stave in standard classical notation. It is ideally suited for songs included in the Digital Tradition. You don't need any fancy hardware, just a word processor - and a small(ish) number of rules.

The abc Notation System - Basic Construction

Each tune consists of a header and a body. There should be no line spaces between any lines of the entire block of notation. A line space is the convention used to indicate that a different tune has started.

Header Fields

The information fields are used to notate things about the music, but not the music itself.

Mandatory Header Fields

X:tune no.                        X:1

T:title                               T:John Brown's Body, T:Dick's Mazurka

M:meter                          M:3/4, M:4/4

K:key                              K:A, K:F#

Optional Header Field

L:default note length         L:1/4, L:1/8

Some additional notes on header fields:-

X:1  This should always appear as the top line

T:tune title. (I am not aware of any real restrictions here).

M:meter.  Apart from the normal meters, eg. M:6/8 or M:4/4, the symbols M:C and M:C| give common time and cut time respectively. If there is no specific indication as to the correct meter just use 4/4.

K:key.  The key signature should be specified with a capital letter which may be followed by a # or b for sharp or flat respectively. To help you figure out which key the tune is in please refer to the Section below What Key Is It In?

L:length - Default note length; i.e. L:1/4 - quarter note, L:1/8 - eighth note, L:1/16 - sixteenth, L:1/32 - thirty-second. The default note length is also set automatically by the meter field. Do not bother with this field if you are very new to abc Notation.

What Key Is It In?

Key Number of

Sharps (#)

Number of

Flats (b)














































No dramas here, just look beside the treble clef sign - and count them up, Then look up the table above.

The Body

Reading The Notes

The following letters are used to represent notes:











               -C-(Middle C)




In fact the full range includes the notes C, D, E, F, plus e',f',g',a' and b'. These notes are quite legitimate to use as abc Notation, but are typically outside the range of normal song tunes. The notes in bold below represent the range of notes you are likely to come across in folk tunes:

Bass Range and Large Quadrupeds     C, D. E, F, G, A, B,  
Middle Range C  D  E  F  G  A  B
Higher Range c   d   e   f   g   a   b
High Sopranos & Small Animals c'  d'  e'   f'  g'   a'  b'

Normal Sharps And Flats

You have already given instructions in the Header Field as what key the tune is in. There's no need to be too clever beyond this! If you read from the sheet music that the note is on the line associated with f just type in f in your abc Notation. If there's no special symbol before the note to indicate that it is different in any way, then press on.


The symbols ^ = and _ are used (immediately before a note) in abc Notation to generate respectively an accidental sharp, natural or flat. Please note that _ is an under-score symbol rather than a hyphen.








Rests are generated with a z and can be modified in length in exactly the same way as notes can. (See below). ABC software appears to only like the lower case version of z, so please don't use capital letters for this symbol.  (Sorry, but it is not possible to display here what these symbols actually look like). (Lesson 1) gives a good pictorial of the various types of Rests and their note value.

Note Lengths (The Slightly Tricky Part)

Throughout this document note lengths (as well as rest lengths) are referred to as sixteenth, eighth, etc. You may know them by another term:

In This Document Alternative Name What It Looks Like
Whole note Semi-breve An open circle
Half note Minim An open circle with a plain, vertical stick attached
Quarter note Crotchet A filled-in circle with a plain, vertical stick attached
Eighth Note Quaver A filled-in circle with a vertical stick and one wiggle attached (or one hat)
Sixteenth note Semi-quaver As above with two wiggles attached (or two hats)
Thirty-second note Semi-demi-quaver As above with 3 wiggles (or three hats)

Each meter (M: in the Header Fields) automatically sets a default note length. And a single letter in the range A-G, a-g will generate a note of this length. For example, in 3/4 meter the default note length is an eighth note and so the input DEF represents 3 eighth notes.

Notes of differing lengths can be obtained by simply putting a multiplier after the letter. Thus in 2/4, A or A1 is a sixteenth note, A2 an eighth note, A3 a dotted eighth note, A4 a quarter note, A6 a dotted quarter note, A8 a half note, A12 a dotted half note, and so on,.

To get shorter notes, either divide them - eg. in 3/4, A/2 is a sixteenth note, A/4 is a thirty-second note. Note that A/ is shorthand for A/2.






Default Length Eighth Note Sixteenth Note
ThirtySecond Note

Sixteenth Note

Eighth Note

Quarter Note

Dotted Quarter Note

Half Note

Dotted Half Note

Whole Note


A/2 (or A/)

A or A1(Default)






A/2 (or A/)

A or A1 (Default)







Dotted Notes (Useful)

Remember in classical music notation that a dotted note, (a note with a dot immediately to the right of the head of the note), has a note length that is 50% greater than the normal note with no dot. Hence, a quarter Middle C note in 3/4 meter would be written as C2. The same dotted quarter note would be notated as C3.

(One little tip - occasionally it MAY be necessary to use a note length of 1.5. Apparently abc doesn't like decimals, but is quite happy to accept a note such as C3/2).

Repeat/bar symbols (Useful)

Bar line symbols are generated as follows:

| bar line

|] thin-thick double bar line

|| thin-thin double bar line

[| thick-thin double bar line

:| left repeat

|: right repeat

:: left-right repeat

Tied Notes (Useful)

Conventional printed music often ties two notes of identical pitch together. In these cases individual notes are printed on the page - but the note is only struck once when it is played, and the durations are added together.

You can tie two notes together either across or within a bar with a - symbol, eg. abc-|cba or abc-cba. (Notice that in both cases that the two c notes would have appeared on the original sheet music with a horizontal looped line joining the heads of the notes).

Guitar chords (Useful)

Guitar chords can be inserted in the melody line by enclosing the chord in inverted commas, eg. "Am7"A2D2 .

Comments Symbol (Useful)

A % symbol will cause the remainder of any input line to be ignored.  And don't forget that blank lines in abc Notation are meant to symbolise a gap between tunes.


First and second repeats (Nice To Know)

First and second repeats can be generated with the symbols [1 and[2,

eg. faf gfe|[1 dfe dBA:|[2 d2e dcB|]. When adjacent to bar

lines, these can be shortened to |1 and :|2, but with regard to

spaces | [1 is legal, | 1 is not.

Broken rhythms (Nice To Know)

A common occurrence in traditional music is the use of a dotted or broken rhythm. For example, hornpipes, strathspeys and certain morris jigs all have dotted eighth notes followed by sixteenth notes as well as vice-versa in the case of strathspeys. To support this abc notation uses a > to mean `the previous note is dotted, the next note halved' and < to mean `the previous note is halved, the next dotted'. Thus the following lines all mean the same thing (the third version is recommended):


a3b cd3 a2b2c2d2


a3/2b/2 c/2d3/2 abcd


a>b c<d abcd

As a logical extension, >> means that the first note is double dotted and the second quartered and >>> means that the first note is triple dotted and the length of the second divided by eight.

Similarly for << and <<<.

Changing key, meter, and default note length mid-tune (Nice To Know)

To change key, meter, or default note length, simply put in a new

line with a K: M: or L: field, eg.

ed|cecA B2ed|cAcA E2ed|cecA B2ed|c2A2 A2:|


AB|cdec BcdB|ABAF GFE2|cdec BcdB|c2A2 A2:|

Slurs (Nice To Know)

Slurs can be put in with () symbols. Thus (DEFG) puts a slur over the four notes. Spaces within a slur are OK, eg. (D E F G), but the open bracket should come immediately before a note (and its accents/accidentals, etc.) and the close bracket should come immediately after a note (and its octave marker or length). Thus (=b c'2) is OK but ( =b c'2 ) is not.


See the ABC Homepage mentioned at the start of this paper.  There isn't too much that abc Notation can't do.

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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 23 May 99 - 10:40 PM

As has been said, we'll accept most formats. A couple that work well, but seem to be ignored are: photocopy the written music and mail it to me. Record it on a cassette and ditto. Shape notes and fa-sol notation also work.

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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: gargoyle
Date: 23 May 99 - 11:48 PM

dick - THANX -

I realize you will take all forms. However, what is YOUR prefered form?

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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 24 May 99 - 05:28 PM

Well, the easiest form for me is SongWright, followed (in no particular order) by ABC, printed music, gif, tiff or jpeg files. A problem with MIDIs is dealing with initial measures that aren't complete; another is that of too-accurate recording of not-accurate-enough timing during recording. Single melody lines are desirable; so is a great deal of restraint in adding ornamentation.

Any format, though, is vastly preferable to npone at all.

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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: gargoyle
Date: 25 May 99 - 01:56 PM

Thank you. Some guaranteed oral tradition (passed down from family a mother and uncle)tunes and lyrics will be coming your direction. I will see that they are done in Song Write

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Subject: RE: How To Post MUSIC to DT
From: Wolfgang
Date: 26 May 99 - 10:25 AM

what a splendid work you did, thank you! Even I might understand it now.


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