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ABC versus Standard Notation

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Jack Campin 20 Jun 18 - 08:23 AM
Will Fly 20 Jun 18 - 06:04 AM
Jack Campin 20 Jun 18 - 05:55 AM
Stanron 19 Jun 18 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,Jon 19 Jun 18 - 04:26 PM
Stanron 19 Jun 18 - 04:14 PM
GUEST,Jon 19 Jun 18 - 04:03 PM
Stanron 19 Jun 18 - 03:42 PM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Jun 18 - 03:34 PM
GUEST,Jon 19 Jun 18 - 02:49 PM
Stanron 19 Jun 18 - 02:46 PM
GUEST,Jon 19 Jun 18 - 02:27 PM
GUEST,Jon 19 Jun 18 - 01:54 PM
Stanron 19 Jun 18 - 01:43 PM
Jack Campin 19 Jun 18 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,Jon 19 Jun 18 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Rev Bayes 19 Jun 18 - 07:33 AM
The Sandman 19 Jun 18 - 03:19 AM
GUEST,Jon 18 Jun 18 - 07:39 AM
GUEST,Rev Bayes 18 Jun 18 - 06:45 AM
Howard Jones 17 Jun 18 - 03:40 PM
Jack Campin 17 Jun 18 - 01:33 PM
Jack Campin 17 Jun 18 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,Richard Robinson 17 Jun 18 - 11:13 AM
Howard Jones 17 Jun 18 - 06:38 AM
Johnny J 17 Jun 18 - 05:39 AM
GUEST,ripov 16 Jun 18 - 07:15 PM
Jack Campin 16 Jun 18 - 05:29 PM
GUEST,Richard Robinson 16 Jun 18 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,09 Jun 18 - 06:24 PM 16 Jun 18 - 05:04 AM
The Sandman 16 Jun 18 - 04:09 AM
DMcG 16 Jun 18 - 03:42 AM
The Sandman 16 Jun 18 - 03:28 AM
GUEST,Richard Robinson 15 Jun 18 - 11:00 PM
GUEST,ripov 15 Jun 18 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,Richard Robinson 15 Jun 18 - 12:26 PM
Jack Campin 15 Jun 18 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Richard Robinson 14 Jun 18 - 12:12 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 14 Jun 18 - 12:01 PM
FreddyHeadey 14 Jun 18 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Richard Robinson 14 Jun 18 - 11:48 AM
Jack Campin 14 Jun 18 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,Richard Robinson 14 Jun 18 - 06:42 AM
Howard Jones 14 Jun 18 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,Richard Robinson 14 Jun 18 - 05:44 AM
Johnny J 14 Jun 18 - 05:43 AM
Stanron 14 Jun 18 - 05:26 AM
GUEST,Richard Robinson 14 Jun 18 - 05:12 AM
Howard Jones 14 Jun 18 - 04:52 AM
Will Fly 14 Jun 18 - 04:26 AM
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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Jun 18 - 08:23 AM

Midlothian Libraries don't just block installation, they block any access to the Lilypond site. I just wanted to look at their forum and ask a few questions.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Will Fly
Date: 20 Jun 18 - 06:04 AM

My new Mac Book Pro also blocks Lilypond installation, as a program which has not been "approved", or is "suspect", or not from the Apple Store.

I got round that with the security settings on my Mac and took a look. Didn't really interest me, to be honest - I get excellent music printing results from the French program "Harmony Assistant", which reads and outputs ABC, midi and a whole host of other music formats.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Jun 18 - 05:55 AM

I tried to find out about Lilypond recently (to work what chance there was it might work for modal microtonal music) but found my library blocks lilypond.org as a malware site. Midlothian Libraries use ForcePoint for filtering, which is a subsidiary of the war criminal company Raytheon. It seems to have a thing about sheet music sites in general.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Stanron
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 04:40 PM

That works a lot better. The beaming is correct. There are some odd spaces, after both upbeats, and between the two repeat signs in the middle. I'll do a bit more reading tomorrow.

Stan


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 04:26 PM

Stan, it doesn't look as if abc2ly is maintained and it may be dropped.

I've tried a more roundabout route: abc2musicxml then musicxml2ly here:

\version "2.18.2"
% automatically converted by musicxml2ly from kesh.xml

\header {
    source = "John B. Walsh Session Tunes"
    encoder = "abc2xml version 84"
    encodingdate = "2018-06-19"
    title = "The Kesh Jig"
    }

\layout {
    \context { \Score
       autoBeaming = ##f
       }
    }
PartPOneVoiceOne = \relative d' {
    \key g \major \time 6/8 | % 1
    \mark \markup { \box { A } } \repeat volta 2 {
       d8 s8*5 | % 2
       g4. g8 [ a8 b8 ] | % 3
       a8 [ b8 a8 ] a8 [ b8 d8 ] | % 4
       e8 [ d8 d8 ] g8 [ d8 d8 ] | % 5
       e8 [ d8 b8 ] d8 [ b8 a8 ] | % 6
       g4. g8 [ a8 b8 ] | % 7
       a8 [ b8 a8 ] a8 [ b8 d8 ] | % 8
       e8 [ d8 d8 ] g8 [ d8 b8 ] | % 9
       a8 [ g8 fis8 ] g4 }
    s8 | \barNumberCheck #10
    \mark \markup { \box { B } } \repeat volta 2 {
       | \barNumberCheck #10
       a8 s8*5 | % 11
       b4. d8 [ b8 d8 ] | % 12
       e8 [ g8 e8 ] d8 [ b8 g8 ] | % 13
       b4. d8 [ b8 g8 ] | % 14
       a8 [ b8 a8 ] a8 [ g8 a8 ] | % 15
       b8 [ a8 b8 ] d8 [ b8 d8 ] | % 16
       e8 [ g8 e8 ] d8 [ b8 d8 ] | % 17
       g8 [ fis8 g8 ] a8 [ g8 a8 ] | % 18
       b8 [ g8 fis8 ] g4 }
    }

PartPOneVoiceOneChords = \chordmode {
    \repeat volta 2 {
       \repeat volta 2 {
            | % 1
            s2. | % 2
            g4.:5 s8 s8 s8 | % 3
            d8:5 s8 s8 s8 s8 s8 | % 4
            g8:5 s8 s8 s8 s8 s8 | % 5
            g8:5 s8 s8 d8:5 s8 s8 | % 6
            g4.:5 s8 s8 s8 | % 7
            d8:5 s8 s8 s8 s8 s8 | % 8
            g8:5 s8 s8 s8 s8 s8 | % 9
            d8:5 s8 s8 g4:5 }
       s8 | \barNumberCheck #10
       s2. | % 11
       g4.:5 s8 s8 s8 | % 12
       c8:5 s8 s8 g8:5 s8 s8 | % 13
       g4.:5 s8 s8 s8 | % 14
       d8:5 s8 s8 s8 s8 s8 | % 15
       g8:5 s8 s8 s8 s8 s8 | % 16
       c8:5 s8 s8 g8:5 s8 s8 | % 17
       g8:5 s8 s8 d8:5 s8 s8 | % 18
       g8:5 s8 s8 s4 }
    }


% The score definition
\score {
    <<
       \context ChordNames = "PartPOneVoiceOneChords" \PartPOneVoiceOneChords
       \new Staff <<
            \context Staff <<
                \context Voice = "PartPOneVoiceOne" { \PartPOneVoiceOne }
                >>
            >>
      
       >>
    \layout {}
    % To create MIDI output, uncomment the following line:
    % \midi {}
    }


It looks a bit different but...


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Stanron
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 04:14 PM

Just to correct my last post, your pdf of the Kesh is fine but when I put the .ly file into frescobaldi the octave errors showed. Beaming in a jig usually shows two triplet beats. Ideally that should be corrected.

Grishka

I find ABC much simpler to use for accessing the great collections of folk tunes on line. I will experiment with Lilypond out of curiosity. For serious scoring, like notation plus guitar tab, I use Musescore.

Cheers

Stan.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 04:03 PM

Hi Stan, I guess that just highlights difficulties a non sight reader like me can have with these things. I just took it as right...

For a comparison, I've placed an abcm2ps to pdf conversion of the abc at http://www.jonbanjo.com/temp/kesh1.pdf.

I'd think the problems lie with abc2ly.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Stanron
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 03:42 PM

Hi GUEST,Jon

I've just noticed that the Lilypond version of the Kesh is not the same as the ABC. The Lilypond version is displaying some notes an octave low. I was trying to reset the beaming but ran into problems that might be due to the chord symbols. I'll come back to it all tomorrow.

Stan


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 03:34 PM

LilyPond is an old music typesetting utility and its input language. Nowadays it competes against other inexpensive methods of input, often found easier to use, and a file format MusicXML that is much more sophisticated (being relieved of the burden of easy editability by a human user).

ABC, in contrast, was designed as a music definition language. Typesetting is considered secondary, thus (last time I checked) it does not cater for many details of layout. It is well suited for sharing tunes and simple arrangements on Mudcat. When I want perfect sheet music from an existing ABC source, I import it to my wysiwyg software via abc2xml for a "final" touch.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 02:49 PM

Good luck. Let us know how you find it.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Stanron
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 02:46 PM

Jon

In the interval I have downloaded Lilypond and found a tutorial .pdf file. I have now downloaded frescobaldi as well and I can see I will have some experimenting to do.

Cheers

Stan


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 02:27 PM

Oh and yes,it is plain text input.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 01:54 PM

Hi Stanron.

My only sort of experience if you can call it that comes from times at folkinfo. I did go through times of wondering what other systems may offer as well as, eg. wondering whether our choice of abcm2ps for abc conversions was right, etc.

As such (and as a non sight reader) my only encounters have been to try to get a brief understanding as to where and for who it might be useful...

That lilypond file was a straight conversion from abc using the command line abc2ly program. From there, this time, I used frescobaldi which along with lilypond should be available on your (I can't remember which one but I'm pretty sure you are a linux user) distribution. That will allow you to preview and edit (although mine was straight copy/paste) as well as produce a pdf output without using the command line.

Hope that helps a touch.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Stanron
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 01:43 PM

Hi GUEST,Jon

That Lilypond file is interesting. Do you actually write the files in text form as you can do for ABC?. I can see a bit of how it works but the beaming is not what I would expect to see for 6/8 time. Although I can see notes, chord symbols abd bar lines I can't see how the beaming is done. Is there Lilypond tutorial stuff like the ABC tutorials?

I had it installed on a computer once but never figured out how to use it. All I knew was it was a Command Line program.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 11:10 AM

Another angle on the relationship between ABC and staff notation: there are many different dialects of staff notation, and you can use ABC as a common underlying coding for all of them.

Changing clef is a matter of a line or two in the header.

Changing between different conventions for bagpipe music (no key signature or two-sharps-and-a-natural; stem directions as in standard notation or as in pipe tune books) is even easier.

A bit further out, and Barfly can generate Gregorian chant notation from the same notes as it uses for conventional staff notation (though to take full advantage of that you will want to use Phil's added syntax for the special symbols in chant).

Generating non-staff notations like Curwen solfa or Byzantine chant notation is harder, but could be done if a sufficiently determined programmer took an interest. There are packages for some of these using TeX, and ABC to TeX was the original ABC implementation, so some TeX-head could surely do it.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 07:55 AM

I doubt Sandman will have used lilypond. Anyway, here is an abc2ly conversion of a version of the an abc of Kesh Jig taken from the Internet.

Original abc:

X:1
T:The Kesh Jig
O:Ireland
S:John B. Walsh Session Tunes
R:Jig
M:6/8
K:G
P:A
|:D|"G"~G3 GAB|"D"ABA ABd|"G"edd gdd|"G"edB "D"dBA|
    "G"~G3 GAB|"D"ABA ABd|"G"edd gdB|"D"AGF "G"G2:|
P:B
|:A|"G"~B3 dBd|"C"ege "G"dBG|"G"~B3 dBG|"D"ABA AGA|
    "G"BAB dBd|"C"ege "G"dBd|"G"gfg "D"aga|"G"bgf g2:|


Lilypond:

\version "2.7.40"
\header {
        crossRefNumber = "1"
        footnotes = ""
        origin = "Ireland"
        subtitle = "John B. Walsh Session Tunes"
        tagline = "Lily was here 2.18.2 -- automatically converted from ABC"
        title = "The Kesh Jig"
}
voicedefault = {
\set Score.defaultBarType = ""

\time 6/8 \key g \major   \repeat volta 2 {   d'8 \bar "|"   g'4. ^"G"^"~"   
g'8    a'8    b'8 \bar "|"   a'8 ^"D"   b'8    a'8    a'8    b'8    d'8
\bar "|"   e'8 ^"G"   d'8    d'8    g'8    d'8    d'8 \bar "|"   e'8
^"G"   d'8    b'8      d'8 ^"D"   b'8    a'8 \bar "|"       g'4. ^"G"^"~"   
g'8    a'8    b'8 \bar "|"   a'8 ^"D"   b'8    a'8    a'8    b'8    d'8
\bar "|"   e'8 ^"G"   d'8    d'8    g'8    d'8    b'8 \bar "|"   a'8 ^"D"
g'8    fis'8      g'4 ^"G" }    \repeat volta 2 {   a'8 \bar "|"   b'4.
^"G"^"~"    d'8    b'8    d'8 \bar "|"   e'8 ^"C"   g'8    e'8      d'8
^"G"   b'8    g'8 \bar "|"   b'4. ^"G"^"~"    d'8    b'8    g'8 \bar "|"   
a'8 ^"D"   b'8    a'8    a'8    g'8    a'8 \bar "|"       b'8 ^"G"   a'8   
b'8    d'8    b'8    d'8 \bar "|"   e'8 ^"C"   g'8    e'8      d'8 ^"G"
b'8    d'8 \bar "|"   g'8 ^"G"   fis'8    g'8      a'8 ^"D"   g'8   
a'8 \bar "|"   b'8 ^"G"   g'8    fis'8    g'4 }   
}

\score{
    <<

        \context Staff="default"
        {
            \voicedefault
        }

    >>
        \layout {
        }
        \midi {}
}


I've put the resulting pdf at http://jonbanjo.com/temp/kesh.pdf


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 07:33 AM

Presumably to ask a third time would be bullying, and as I don't wish to be sued, I shall presume that no answer will be forthcoming.

> they would never dare to say to someones face

You've clearly never met Jack in person.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Jun 18 - 03:19 AM

None of the above excuses ill mannered ignorant[ unknowing] post from Jack Campin
"I think price is key to the way Dick sees things. ABC is very good for distributing music free, and not designed for payment at all. Dick doesn't do the giving-stuff-away thing; he's always used Mudcat as far as possible as free advertising (it's probably never put a single bum on a seat and driven quite a few folks away from his gigs, but he's never going to see that). Which is why we are never going to see a scan of anything Dick has written down."
the above is a n example of how to not use the internet as a tool of communication, an example of somebody saying things on the net that they would never dare to say to someones face, in time, people will be proseccuted fort this particular kind of internet abuse and bullying, may that day come very shortly, those ilmannered remarks are unnecessary and only reflect badly on the person that spouts them


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 18 Jun 18 - 07:39 AM

Well here is my view on Lilypond, not that I've looked at in a while...

It probably is a great system to those who are more focused on complex scores and getting the best quality "typesetting".

But it's overkill for the purpose of sharing folk songs and tunes.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes
Date: 18 Jun 18 - 06:45 AM

I am still curious to know what The Sandman thinks of Lilypond, though I see my observation appears to have been borne out.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Howard Jones
Date: 17 Jun 18 - 03:40 PM

As I'm not a very fluent reader, if I want to learn a tune from a book I usually copy it out in ABC and play it back to learn by ear.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Jun 18 - 01:33 PM

What I would expect to happen to Irish paper ABC is that it would evolve extra features, becoming something very different. That's happened with ABC I've written myself: it's quicker to write a triplet or phrasemark over the line (as in staff notation) rather than in it.

There have been many text-based notations over the millennia and they've all done that. A harpist friend of mine says the notation system of the Ap Huw MS is perfect for her instrument and brilliantly readable - if you're not an early harp wonk it looks like feeping creaturism to the max.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Jun 18 - 12:59 PM

I suspect ABC has competed more with not-very-good sheet music paid-download sites than with physical books.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Richard Robinson
Date: 17 Jun 18 - 11:13 AM

And again, I reckon the eyes/ears thing is as Howard says, complementary rather than opposed. Having (to some extent) taught myself to pick up tunes on the fly while playing along, I sometimes find myself getting the sense of a tune and most of the notes, with a few bits I can't quite get straight in my understanding. And at that point, a quick look at the dots will probably show me what I'm not getting, quicker than going for the slow-down software. Which, again, is complementary to the other techniques ...

I wonder, does anyone have any info concerning the effect of ABC on book sales ? I'd like to think this is, again, complementary, but I don't know.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Howard Jones
Date: 17 Jun 18 - 06:38 AM

Text-based shorthands have been used for a long time, and Chris Walshaw's computer abc language derives from other text systems which were already in use, which he refined into computer software.

Learning by ear has many advantages but you sometimes need a reminder of how a tune goes. Music readers can use incipits, but if you don't read then just jotting down the name of the notes can be a useful reminder of how a tune which you've heard before goes - you already know other things like rhythm and speed. A text system can be refined to include other information, until you achieve something with the complexity of Walshaw's system which can reproduce very nearly everything standard notation can.

Conventional notation allows you to learn tunes you haven't heard before, so there are obvious benefits from learning that. However it does involve an extra level of interpretation. A player who sees "A" written as text only has to remember the fingering for "A". Reading from notation they first have to recognise the tadpole as "A". Of course with practice that becomes automatic, but I can see that in a workshop in particular that might be an additional barrier to what the tutor is trying to get across.

I certainly agree that it is advantageous to learn conventional notation, but other systems, including tablature and text, have their uses. Walshaw's abc in particular is simply another way of representing the information contained in notation in text form, which can then also be interpreted by a computer and rendered as notation and sound. And to hammer home the point which has already been made many times, despite the title of this thread notation and ABC are complementary, not "versus".


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Johnny J
Date: 17 Jun 18 - 05:39 AM

Jack says

"Though I didn't know about the Irish harp tutoring culture. "

It's not specific to harp music, as far as I'm aware, but traditional music in general. Michelle is a multi instrumentalist and also plays fiddle, concertina, accordion etc


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,ripov
Date: 16 Jun 18 - 07:15 PM

Thanks Richard. No, not all can learn by ear. Even after 60-odd years I can only do it if the tune is familiar, otherwise I need the dots. To learn a tune I normally write it down in notation and play it over and over, then take the dots away and find I can't remember it! In a session I can play along generally with whatever is played, but often I am "sight-hearing", in other words I play a note as soon as I hear it played by the others.

I don't see why some have referred to needing a computer to use ABC. As has been said, you can write a tune down in abc on a piece of paper, and then play it on an instrument. No pc involved.
You can give the piece of paper to someone else to play. No pc involved.

The pc comes in either for dissemination over the web; or for transcribing into notation - although that's fairly easily done by hand, or to another format, midi, sib, nwc etc, which the pc makes very much easier; but you will only need to do this if you have a pc or synth to start with.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Jun 18 - 05:29 PM

I have a few hundred pages of pencilled ABC in school notebooks - transcriptions from sources in research libraries - testifying to "less technical usage". Though I didn't know about the Irish harp tutoring culture.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Richard Robinson
Date: 16 Jun 18 - 11:41 AM

ABC depends on "gadgetry" ? So does this conversation.

Playing by ear is not "inclusive for everyone", some people are not comfortable with it at all. I've been in sessions where people insisted of fiddling with "print technology" because they think they're helpless without the dots. It *is* a nuisance, when the other players don't need to wait for them to find the right bit (whether it be a pile of paperwork or a little electric box). I was brought up to play from "the music" (meaning dots), I had to work hard to get the hang of using my ears, (decades later, I'm still not reliable at recognising intervals). I think most people are more comfortable with one than the other, not many people are equally capable of learning a tune with their eyes and their ears.

To my mind, the bottom line is that I don't see how anyone's going to play a tune unless they know it, have it in their mind, their memory, their fingers - are familiar with it. *How* they do that is up to them, and best kept out of other peoples' way (apart from when we're swapping hints, like now). A learning technique is not necessarily useless just because some people don't have a use for it. The point is to learn the tune and play the damn thing. Pass it on.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,09 Jun 18 - 06:24 PM
Date: 16 Jun 18 - 05:04 AM

I am glad my suggestion, way up the thread, that some of you were at cross-purposes with The Sandman seems to have been helpful.

It is interesting that The Sandman had not come across what he refers to as 'ABC technology' and that Jack Campin had not come across the less technical usage that The Sandman was referring to.

Can I suggest to The Sandman that the limited functionality of the ABC he dislikes may actually be a deliberate choice. If workshop is primarily 'by ear' then *not* having standard notation, with it's poor representation of the rhythm being taught, may be an advantage.

Many people pick up rhythms be ear much faster than they can find the notes so being told what some of the notes are helps move things along in a workshop.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Jun 18 - 04:09 AM

if it is necessary to use a computer to use abc as described [rather than the written scribble used in workshops in ireland ]it is dependent on being part of the consumer society and having money to buy the technology, whereas a standrd manuscript book is much cheaper, so by its nature having to buy the technology makes it to some extent exclusive, however now that i know what is being refered to as ABC TECHNOLGY i would agree that it can be useful under certain circumstances.
Personally i have had no need to use it, but some people like gadgetry and modern technology, and enjoy using it, why not ,if you have the money and do not find standrd notation useful in all circumstances. ,personally i am content to use standrd notation as i have been doing for many years.
FOR ME IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO IMPROVE MY EAR PLAYING ABILITY , AS IN TRAD SESSIONS this is the norm of playing music,further more i disapprove of people taking their gadgetry into sessions and trying to play tunes from technology rather than trying to pick the tune up by ear, this music IMO[when you are in a trad session is about listening to how others are playing] NOT LOOKING AT A SCREEN


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: DMcG
Date: 16 Jun 18 - 03:42 AM

But, Sandman, notation of any kind and by ear are not mutually exclusive. Notation is a permanent record, whereas things learned and played by ear are ephemeral. You may forget a section, for example.

Personally, when it comes to playing an instrument, I find written notation easier than by ear, though the opposite is true when singing. It is because I have developed a stronger relationship between 'that visual position on the stave to the key press' than I have 'that sound to the key press'.

The analogy with printed literature is extremely close. Sometimes, if you are telling a child a story, it is better to do so directly from memory, alert to how the child is reacting. Sometimes, it is better to read a book with them.

As I said way back in post #2, it is a bit of a silly argument because it is really all about fitness for purpose: depending what your exact purpose is at that instant, the best approach will vary. Choosing one or the other doesn't make much sense to me.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Jun 18 - 03:28 AM

"Point is, it's a more-or-less workable compromise between humans and computers, a workable way for us to describe tunes to them"
yes, but is dependent upon access to a computer, so to some extent is exclusive,and is dependent upon people having wealth to buy the technology.
yes i do look up tunes on the web and use standrd notation, each to their own, but after many years playing i reckon the best way of learning trad tunes is by ear, [if you can sing the tune you will know it]
playing by ear is inclusive for everyone


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Richard Robinson
Date: 15 Jun 18 - 11:00 PM

Point is, it's a more-or-less workable compromise between humans and computers, a workable way for us to describe tunes to them.

The back-of-the-envelope thing can be a handy trick in its own right, given that you know ABC already. If I was scribbling a lot of tunes, I might possibly think it worth learning for that (ISTR, the last time I wrote ABC by hand was on a sheet of manuscript. I find it quicker & simpler for easy tunes, but anything where the notation involved a significant amount of extra markup I'd probably go for the tadpoles). But very possibly, without computers it would have remained Chris W's idiosyncratic back-of-the-envelope sol-fa.

Mechanically generated midi isn't very musical, but that's because the notation (either as tadpoles or as mapped onto ABC) doesn't describe enough of the musicality in the first place.

Apart from the advantages already mentioned, ABC also has ... what else is anyone going to run a tunes webserver off ? People who say they don't see the point - I wonder have many of them looked up a tune on the web ? and what are the chances that what they found was fueled by ABC ? I'd guess pretty high. If the users don't even have to know that, that's a bonus.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,ripov
Date: 15 Jun 18 - 08:20 PM

Thanks for the Janacek, Jack. I think i've heard our horn section playing that actual version!! And I'm still giggling even after reading the rest of the thread!

I learnt notation nearly 70 years ago, so found it difficult to understand the purpose of ABC, other than for transmitting tunes via text on forums like mudcat, where its advantage is that no provision for images is needed. And as it used so widely it's worth the effort of learning.

I see it as having the same relationship to notation as the guitarists "G7" type notation has to a figured bass. ie it refers to actual notes, rather than intervals.
Does this make it harder to transpose, particularly at sight? or do you get used to eg thinking "Bb" when you read "C". Although as guitarists transpose (but only upwards) by using a capo, and mentally playing (so I believe) the original chord, is this mainly a question for melody players?.

The advantage of notation I find is that it shows the pattern of the notes; and is easily transposed, either by mentally shifting the whole pattern up or down, or by changing the clef; and so is an natural development of the cryptic markings over the text in plain chant (which I think continued in baroque music as representing ornaments)
But neither format is so prescriptive that it leaves no room for individual interpretation.
While writing on the back of whatever is now used instead of fag packets is mentioned, It is self-evident that mudcat members have pc's, and so probably printers. And so no excuse for not having a bit of MS paper in the instrument case or back pocket!

As an aside - Transposing in midi is a simple procedure (if you can code - I can't), just change all the pitch values by the same amount. Changing mode is a bit more difficult. And despite midi's bad name as having a "mechanical" sound, this is only when it's produced by transcription from notation. Files produced by live performances will replicate the nuances of the performance almost exactly. I don't think I'd consider trying to read a midi file on the fiddle though.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Richard Robinson
Date: 15 Jun 18 - 12:26 PM

Beethoven's never-to-be-forgotten 10th "Cake" Symphony ...


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Jun 18 - 09:25 AM

I'd never heard of anyone using ABC the way Johnny J describes Irish harp teachers doing, but it occurred to me there is a precedent.

The oldest music notation we have is clay tablets in Sumerian cuneiform from about 3000 years ago. They seem to be instructional notes about how to play the harp or lyre, and the notation is letter-based, much like ABC.

Seems to have worked for them.

The extra feature they figured out that the Irish haven't yet got round to is that if you bake your class notes in an oven they last longer.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Richard Robinson
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 12:12 PM

The session thread ... "Why bother with this horrible ABC nonsense when you can listen to mechanically-generated midi ?" *laughter*


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 12:01 PM

I was thinking mainly of Bagpipe Music Writer, which I once saw described as "gnarly" by one of its users.

One
of
its
main
problems
was
that
everything
was
laid
out
like
this.

MusicXML isn't much better.   Seems that no two implementations are even close to agreeing on a common standard.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 11:59 AM

Thanks.

I see a similar thread on TheSession
https://thesession.org/discussions/34648

btw
a link to "a brief history of abc" by Chris Walshaw
http://abcnotation.com/history


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Richard Robinson
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 11:48 AM

"even the structured ASCII ones"

I think there is also a whole history of academic attempts at music description languages. I'm not aware of any that have been used in anger (unless possibly the Nottingham Music Database counts ?)

As opposed to ABC, which can be used in (relative) peace&quiet ... I mean, for purposes of making music. Some of them may have been useful in their own terms.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 10:56 AM

ABC is most efficient when writing out single-line unharmonised melodies, so it is ideal for folk tunes (which is what it was designed for). It can handle more complex music but rapidly becomes unwieldy, and there are better alternatives if that is the sort of music you want to write.

The problem with most such more expressive alternatives is that they aren't as easy to distribute widely as ABC. Some are binary, which creates its own problems, but even the structured ASCII ones have pitfalls. Of the ones I can think of right now:

Bagpipe Music Writer and PiobMhor: OS-dependent.

Guitar tab: never really recovered from OLGA getting shut down - the sharing community isn't what it was.

Diatonic accordion tab: seems to be the perserve of a few sites who keep the display code to themselves.

MuseScore: has a centrally managed code base, which is great for keeping online and standalone versions consistent, but what happens if the mothership fails? And the public archive of music is small and rather crap.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Richard Robinson
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 06:42 AM

I don't think the ABC/tadpole distinction is nearly as significant as the gap between those who are more comfortable reading (either) notation and those who are more comfortable using their ears. But that may be a separate thread ...


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 06:01 AM

Where "raw" ABC is concerned it's true that there can be variations. Most users are self-taught so we have had to find our own way of doing things, which may not be best practice. Simply deciding whether the note length should be 1/4 or 1/8 makes a difference to how it is written, and people can get very confused over modal key signatures. You do see some pretty horrible examples (perhaps including some of mine). I wonder how many users who can sight-read their own ABC are able to handle text written by others. However the software usually manages to make sense of it and produce meaningful notation, which for most of us is the purpose of it.

I can see that because of these inconsistencies there might be some difficulty using ABC text as a teaching aid (although for someone who doesn't read music at all then seeing "A" written as text rather than as a tadpole is more understandable).

If you are completely musically illiterate then I would certainly recommend learning notation in preference to ABC. However if you have even a basic grasp of notation then ABC is a useful tool. Like any tool, it needs to be used appropriately and if it is used for purposes for which it isn't suited then it might cause problems.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Richard Robinson
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 05:44 AM

Maybe at least some of this comes down to how people feel about their ability with a pen & paper ? Personally, my handwriting / musicwriting has always been messy (and then got a lot worse following an incident involving a deer, a motorbike and a handful of little broken bones), so I find a text editor much, er, handier than doing it by hand, and scribbling ABC onto a scrap of paper more likely to be legible in a couple of days' time than something involving 5 not-very-parallel lines.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Johnny J
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 05:43 AM

" "ABC" that is used at workshops in Ireland "

I went to a four day harp course with Michelle Mulcahy two or three years ago. Michelle is a brilliant multi instrumentalist and musician.

She taught us using a combination of "By ear" and handwritten ABC. I learned that doing things this way was quite common in Ireland.
While I coped with this system, I wasn't too comfortable with the ABC aspect. However, because she was still teaching us "by ear" and on hand to explain things, I managed.

When I went home at the end of each day, I transposed the ABC to "dots" and this also made things easier to follow. The one issue with this was that the "abc" wasn't exactly the same and I had to tweak and "correct" parts of it while typing it into the converter on my computer...

So, in a sense, I see Dick's point. While ABC is a useful tool, it would be much better if everyone used a *standardised* system when it comes to musical education and other more "official" purposes, e.g. transmission and/or storing versions of tunes on computer databases and so on. Of course, if you are just jotting things down for your own use or to pass on to a friend in the pub that's a different matter. You can do what you like.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Stanron
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 05:26 AM

I'm not disagreeing with anyone here but you can use lined paper to produce rough manuscript. Take three lines and hand draw lines in between them and you get a serviceable score. You can link two of these together if you want treble and bass clefs like a standard piano score. It worked best, if I remember correctly, with a propelling pencil and eraser.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Richard Robinson
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 05:12 AM

At its most complex, it can be horrible, yes. If somebody was mainly interested in complex cases, I doubt if they'd even think of using ABC (and I wouldn't recommend them to). There are some things I've typed up as ABC that would have been much more pleasantly done using standard notation. But then I'd have needed 2 different systems for handling my stuff, given that most of what I want is much easier as ABC.

"Given the facilities of only a pen \ paper \ straightedge" ... If I had manuscript paper handy I'd use it (and then type it up as ABC when I got home), if I only have the back of an envelope I use ABC rather than draw the 5 lines.

Standards ... "the nice things about standards is that there are so many to choose from". 2.2 is still draft, after 5 years ? I tried to get involved in one or two threads of that discussion, but retreated, baffled. Is there very much ABC out there that conforms to any standard other than its own ? I don't think I've seen much, but I may be behind the times.

I think Will's right about learning to read. The concepts are the same either way, but seeing them in pictures would probably be easier (for a majority of people), ABC's more of an abstraction. Not hard once you're familiar with the ideas, but probably an extra step if you're picking the ideas up in the first place.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 04:52 AM

Will,

What you've linked to is part of the technical standard, it's certainly not necessary to understand that in order to use abc. This is far more understandable:

Steve Mansfield's ABC tutorial

Like everything, it takes a bit of effort to learn, just as notation does, and some understanding of music notation which is what it represents.

I'm sure many people use it as I do, as a keyboard-entry method of creating notation which I can then play back, print or save as a pdf using either a software package such as ABCExplorer or a web converter.   I find this quicker and simpler than drag-and-drop which other software packages use (some also offer keyboard entry, but I prefer ABC as it is the de facto standard for sharing folk tunes). Being able to play it back helps me check that I have written it correctly and so helps improve my understanding of notation.

ABC is most efficient when writing out single-line unharmonised melodies, so it is ideal for folk tunes (which is what it was designed for). It can handle more complex music but rapidly becomes unwieldy, and there are better alternatives if that is the sort of music you want to write.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 04:26 AM

ABC at its simplest is a handy device for transmitting tunes in text form across the internet, for jotting tunes down at a pub session, etc.

At its most complex, I personally think it is less intuitive to understand than standard notation, and this page is worth a look:

http://abcnotation.com/wiki/abc:standard:v2.2

If I had to read this to learn music, I think I'd prefer the very visual appearance of standard notation. One of the problems of alternative systems like ABC and tablature is that they can start off very simply and then become gradually more complex - so much so that the advantage of their original simplicity is lost.


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