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ABC versus Standard Notation

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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
Jack Campin 14 Jun 18 - 04:19 AM
FreddyHeadey 14 Jun 18 - 04:18 AM
GUEST,Grishka 14 Jun 18 - 04:09 AM
Howard Jones 14 Jun 18 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,Mark Bluemel 14 Jun 18 - 03:39 AM
The Sandman 14 Jun 18 - 03:30 AM
Jack Campin 13 Jun 18 - 12:25 PM
Stanron 13 Jun 18 - 10:31 AM
Jack Campin 13 Jun 18 - 10:19 AM
Stanron 13 Jun 18 - 10:11 AM
Jack Campin 13 Jun 18 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Richard Robinson 13 Jun 18 - 09:11 AM
FreddyHeadey 13 Jun 18 - 09:03 AM
Howard Jones 13 Jun 18 - 03:21 AM
The Sandman 12 Jun 18 - 04:11 PM
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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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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 04:19 AM

Most Irish tunesters seem to use ABC via TheSession, whose implementation is only slightly different from the other common ones. (The main difference is in the admin's weird categorization system, which doesn't recognize a lot of important rhythm types and won't allow you to name the composer). It doesn't require a lot of internet connectivity to get a tune coded up, debugged and distributed - I did that Hungarian tune using this iPhone 4, a scrap of paper, a few small instruments and a village school's wi-fi, and emailed it to a friend in Spain the same day. I don't even have home internet at the moment and it makes very little difference.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 04:18 AM

"ABC" that is used at workshops in Ireland

Could anyone give an example of what you'd be presented with?

~~~~~~~~~
The FB link to Willie's Gane to Melville Castle is "not available" to me.
Maybe it is set to friends or a closed group?


~~~~~~~~~
Given the facilities of only a pen \ paper \ straightedge I'd plump for a music stave.

But I can see that on the back of a bus ticket abc would be handy.

On occasion I've tried Tonic Sol Fa.
But there are already threads
thread.cfm?threadid=95820&messages=57


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 04:09 AM

Sandman or someone else, would you please point us to a website about "ABC that is used at workshops in Ireland"? Do we need another thread "ABC versus ABC" (or perhaps "ABC versus abc", as the English inventor seems to spell it)? And must ABC code be converted at the Irish border after Brexit ;-) ?


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 03:55 AM

This discussion was started to discuss the standard ABC, so if Sandman is referring to something different we are clearly at cross purposes. And whilst ABC is intended as part of a package of software resources the text language itself does not require a computer, so to criticise it for not being much use to people who don't have access to a computer is completely wide of the mark.

If you're writing music by hand on paper then of course conventional notation is probably the best way. Even so, ABC is handy when you don't have ruled manuscript paper to hand, and it takes up a fraction of the space of the equivalent notation so is much better for jotting down tunes on a beer mat or the traditional back of a fag packet.

Standard ABC (I don't know about the Irish version) represents all the conventions of notation in text form, so to use it requires an understanding of notation. It is simply a different way of representing exactly the same thing, and which you use is a matter of choice. I don't understand your claim that it is "less accurate" as everything in ABC is exactly equivalent to the same score written in notation.   The two are entirely complementary, and which you choose will depend on what you want to use it for.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Mark Bluemel
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 03:39 AM

Someone suggested the Irish workshop context as at the root of the disagreement 5 days ago...


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Jun 18 - 03:30 AM

All this is dependent on having online facilities, and is not of much use to people with no money and who do not have access to internet technology and internet facilities who will continue to learn orally.
To clarify my earlier remark.,
I was referring to ABC[ AS USED IN WORKSHOPS IN IRELAND].. which has been my experience of it so far to date, which is in my opinion less efficient than old fashioned standard notation. Jack , we are talking about two different ABC systems


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Jun 18 - 12:25 PM

Example of how ABC slots in to other versions of a tune in an online discussion. Somebody else quoting bit of ABC I wrote years ago; what this gives you, in the context, is something you can edit yourself to add chords or a bass line, or transpose it. This short discussion thread also includes links to videos, scans from books and historical info. If you've any interest in this particular song, Alastair and his FB followers have put everything you'd want to know together in one accessible place; the ABC is only part of the picture but adds a handy extra.

Willie's Gane to Melville Castle


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Stanron
Date: 13 Jun 18 - 10:31 AM

Jack Campin wrote: I'd like to see what Sibelius and a scanner could make of the Janacek sketch I linked to.


I vaguely remember it having it's problems. It would probably come up with three blind mice.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Jun 18 - 10:19 AM

I'd like to see what Sibelius and a scanner could make of the Janacek sketch I linked to.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Stanron
Date: 13 Jun 18 - 10:11 AM

"For me the snag with being given a piece of paper(\pdf) with the dots is its lack of adaptability."

With the right hardware and software any sheet music can be made to play. It's years since I had, or had access to, a scanner but Sibelius can take a scan of a score and turn that into a Sibelius file, which you can then play, edit, save and export as midi.

It's years since I did it and I can't remember how well it worked. It's probably cheaper to learn to read the dots.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Jun 18 - 10:07 AM

One advantage isn't just reformatting but editing. The way I align ABC by time value - corresponding beats of parallel phrases occur in the same column of monospaced text - means that if two phrases share exactly the same notes for a stretch, I'll see it.

That may mean I can represent the same sequence of sounds more economically by introducing a repeat - and when generating the staff notation, less dots means you can make them bigger. If you're writing directly in tadpoles on paper, you probably won't do the edit even if you can see how it's possible, because it means starting all over.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: GUEST,Richard Robinson
Date: 13 Jun 18 - 09:11 AM

Ye, the ability to re-format a tune for increased readability can be very handy.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 13 Jun 18 - 09:03 AM

I'm most impressed by you folks who can read abc from the page and turn it in to music in your head fluently.
I've always assumed it was there as a simple text form for sharing a tune when pdfs or photos were not an option.

I think I've found it most useful via mandolintab when I've wanted to create a midi in a different key.
Or change the line breaks.
Or change the font size.

For me the snag with being given a piece of paper(\pdf) with the dots is its lack of adaptability.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: Howard Jones
Date: 13 Jun 18 - 03:21 AM

As someone who is not good at reading notation, I have found my understanding of it has greatly increased as a result of learning ABC.

Apart from a few instructions to the computer, nearly everything in ABC corresponds directly to something in notation. Being able to play back what I have written to check that I have got it right is a huge help. Of course the same can be said of any music notation program, and ABC happens to be the one I use. However I believe that having to think about the musical syntax to write it out in ABC has probably given me a greater understanding than I would get from simply dragging and dropping notes onto a stave.

For me, ABC complements notation. It is a quick and easy way of writing out a tune so I can print it off as notation. It is the most efficient way of jotting down a tune on a scrap of paper when no manuscript paper is to hand. If I am struggling to make sense of a written score I can quickly copy it in ABC and play it back. I have access to a huge online library of tunes on the internet, and compared with other file types the ABC files take up very little memory. However my hard copies of music are all in notation, not raw ABC.


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Subject: RE: ABC versus Standard Notation
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Jun 18 - 04:11 PM

"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."
   You are making a lot of assumptions
"dick doesnt do the giving away things free",quite wrong I have given my time for free running a festival for 7 years.
2.At the moment i have loaned out two instruments for free to pupils
3. you have never been to any of my gigs and therefore base your remarks on no knowledge whatsoever
4.I give away my time for free running a session every week.
5. I have no problem about trad music being given away for free, I do believe that Composers have the right to be asked before their music is given away, that is Ethical,JACK SOME OF MY OWN COMPOSOTIONS ARE AVAILABLE ON YOU TUBE AND GIVEN AWAY FOR FREE
If you continue to libel me,I will get in touch with the mods on this forum and ask for your libellous remarks to be removed, you have been warned you have overstepped the mark


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