ABC Notation songs and software

Jim Damico
Jim Damico
@jim-bagsh
8 years ago
4 posts

Thanks John. I found that I could write ABC notation after a very short learning curve too. And all the free programs out that can print it out musically much better than I could by hand.

But it will do "voices" so you can have both a melody and harmony lines. Here's a link for a quick explanation on how to do it.

http://www.lesession.co.uk/abc/abc_extensions.htm#voices

No, the only downside I've found is there is no TAB feature (at least I haven't found it). You can do it by typing out the TAB like lyrics (1st verse is D string, 2nd verse is A string, 3rd verse is d string) but that's kind of tedious way to do it.

John Tose said:

On the whole I find it very easy to use and after a bit of practice to write tunes out in. So much so that if I was jotting a tune down in a notebook now I'd do it in ABC, then when I got home I'd type it into the program and it'd play it for me.

Brilliant. One downside is that it only works for a single melody line.

John Tose
John Tose
@john-tose
8 years ago
26 posts

I use ABC notation all the time. It's a great way to store a lot of music scores and pass them on as they use very little memory, it all being just writing. There are a lot of freely available software options depending on your operating system. I used to use ABC2Win but when we upgraded to Windows XP it wouldn't work properly so I use ABC Navigator instead. Only downside of that one is that it doesn't include a beginners guide to writing ABC. For the uninitiated the ABC above for Little Liza Jane - you would highlight it, and copy the whole thing into an ABC file on your computer, then using your ABC program when you open it it transforms it into a nicely laid out score. The program will even play it back to you, including endless repeats and at whatever speed you want, which is great for learning new tunes. ABC Navigator uses a quite pleasant concertina-like sound.

On the whole I find it very easy to use and after a bit of practice to write tunes out in. So much so that if I was jotting a tune down in a notebook now I'd do it in ABC, then when I got home I'd type it into the program and it'd play it for me.

Brilliant. One downside is that it only works for a single melody line. So great for folk music, but not if you want a score that includes a harmony line. Another is that ABC written on one program might not be entirely compatible with another, so if you've downloaded a song, you might have to change it a bit to work on your program. Looking at Liza above, I can see in fact that it wouldn't play properly on ABC navigator - it wouldn't like the unfinished bars at the end of line one and 3. Easy to fix though.

Just do a search for ABC notation and you'll find useful `how to' guides.

Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
8 years ago
242 posts

I've never seen this, before. How do you interpret it?

Jim Damico
Jim Damico
@jim-bagsh
8 years ago
4 posts

I've just recently joined FOTMD but was wondering if many have any experience using ABC notation?

I know that there are literally thousands (if not more) of traditional songs written in ABC notation and there a quite a few programs (mostly free) that can be used to write, edit, play and print.

For example, Little Liza Jane would be written like this:

T:Little Liza Jane
S:Friends
Z:Nigel Gatherer
L:1/8
M:4/4
K:A
ef | a2 f2 e3 e | fecB A2 ef | a2 f2 e2 c2 | f6
ef | a2 e2 e3 e | fecB A4 | cBAF E2 F2 | A4 A2 :|
z2 | Bccc c3 A | B2 A6 | Bccc cB A2 | F6
E2 | F A3 B3 A | B c3 B3 A | cBAF E2 F2 | A4 A2 :|]

And although they haven't added the ability to do TAB yet, there is a way to add it using lyrics (3 lines of lyrics using finger numbers instead of words or syllables).


updated by @jim-bagsh: 01/21/17 01:59:51AM