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ABC notation method

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Jun 30, 2020 - 2:35:34 PM
8257 posts since 3/19/2009

Soppinthegravy's post about notation made me think of this........The abc notation method is a way of notating a tune all on ONE LINE... I find it invaluable when I want to quickly jot down a tune so I'll remember it  later.. Most of my tunes on my phone's tune list  are in abc form so that in a jam, I can quickly recall how they start.  It is easy to learn the basics..I used to have to quickly write 5 lines and then try to get notes into them, but that all changed when I discovered ABC.... Do you use it???             Here is a link about it if it is new to you.....http://abcnotation.com/

For us OT musicians it is usually only necessary to notate in abc, the first few measures of a tune in order to 'get it in our heads'...  soze ya don't need to be an expert at it.

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 06/30/2020 14:48:27

Jun 30, 2020 - 3:52:09 PM

3021 posts since 6/21/2007

I use ABC when I find something I want to learn/look at, but not in the way you do. I usually find the ABC document and copy/download it to the computer, changing the suffix from "txt" to "abc" then import it into Tabledit. Presto, a tab I can read.

I have looked at the ABC documents, but there is so much arcane info that I have trouble processing it, even though I spent years working with OS level code and machine-code outputs.

Jun 30, 2020 - 4:18:21 PM

8257 posts since 3/19/2009

The finer points can be daunting, yes. I've never needed to translate..

Jun 30, 2020 - 5:36:13 PM

3021 posts since 6/21/2007

What I like about it is the fact that I can export a Tabledit file to ABC and keep a very large file of tunes in a very small amount of memory.

Jun 30, 2020 - 6:30:02 PM

1696 posts since 8/27/2008

I don't even know what ABC notation is. I've heard of it but thought it was something that was used in the early days of notation using ASCII text. I use notation software and save files as .jpgs which seems basic to me. I never found out what ABC is. When I go to sites offering downloads in either form I choose .jpg. Why is ABC offered and is it something I should know?

Jun 30, 2020 - 6:44:20 PM

8257 posts since 3/19/2009

Brian, here is a link  http://abcnotation.com/

ABC notation is a quick way to notate tunes without having to draw 5 line, basically..An entire tune can often be put on just a few lines.. You can put in as much detail as you like.. I just use the basics.

Jun 30, 2020 - 7:28:10 PM

151 posts since 3/1/2020

I see how it works, but it doesn’t seem nearly as practical as traditional notation.

The example on the linked site is problematic because it’s a 4/4 tune, but the format is such that it counts eighth notes instead of quarters. That means the emphasis on the fort and third beats gets lost. I also don’t see an example of how t deal with accidentals or any kind of embellishments like trills or turns.

Jun 30, 2020 - 8:10:32 PM
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2497 posts since 9/13/2009

Irish session players have used abc/midi for a long time; including as stated as alternative notation. A small little notebook to use as shorthand to jot down a tune; and as jog memory reminder, sometimes just looking at the first line of a part.  As well, abc is just simple text file, took little space, could be typed stored/sent on phone, and played back on midi on computer, or devices... to remind of the sound; could be sent over internet (dial up modem). There was even phone apps that could play abc/midi. 

Basic abc does have an issue with conveying timing detail, accent and phrasing, though does have capacity for quite a bit more info you can write in; much like standard notation. Some point might be easier to just use standard notation? Most abc files were not very detailed... the playback sound leaves something to be desired (that can be changed as well) - but often not the point, just need enough to get the idea. 

Of course mini recorders, and nowadays, smartphones seem to make it moot; easy enough to record and store enormous amount of sound files. easier than transcribing on the fly. And folks at sessions just have access to huge library of actual sound recordings on their device (or via internet) for memory jog.

Jun 30, 2020 - 8:41:39 PM
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2497 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

I see how it works, but it doesn’t seem nearly as practical as traditional notation.

The example on the linked site is problematic because it’s a 4/4 tune, but the format is such that it counts eighth notes instead of quarters. That means the emphasis on the fort and third beats gets lost. I also don’t see an example of how t deal with accidentals or any kind of embellishments like trills or turns.


It's just a different notation method. The sessiun.org and ibibllio.org has tons of tune examples. Not hard to read or write once understand it. The lines and breaks are just visual.  Just like standard notation, not everyone writes it out well, in easy to understand meter. (sometimes reader just has to have good idea of intended sound to interpret).

It's practicality, as mentioned in previous post is small text files, portability, transfer... and abc files translate to midi instructions. Note that the time signature, spacing, lines and breaks of melodic line is irrelevant to midi... it doesn't automatically accent anything... just plays via sequential order and quantitized values.

It can do accidentals easily, and has advanced notational features... for accents, trills, turns, and many other aspects.  Many programs can convert abc files into standard notation... or vice versa. (including online like at thesessiun,org).

However, like TAB, it does lack the sight reading visuals of standard notation, like the visual melodic contour.

Jul 1, 2020 - 4:33:23 AM

4653 posts since 9/26/2008

I use ABC to jot down tunes to play on my flute (Irish tunes) when I hear one that isn't already on The Session. My notes make sense to me and that's as far as I ever went with learning it.

Jul 1, 2020 - 4:37:17 AM

8257 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

I see how it works, but it doesn’t seem nearly as practical as traditional notation.

The example on the linked site is problematic because it’s a 4/4 tune, but the format is such that it counts eighth notes instead of quarters. That means the emphasis on the fort and third beats gets lost. I also don’t see an example of how t deal with accidentals or any kind of embellishments like trills or turns.


What I have done is to use the basic idea of letters for notes and then notated my own variations... When putting the essence of a tune (the essence is all I use) onto my phone tune list, I'll use a space to indicate a measure, and a backslash to indicate a major phrase,   an apostrophe between two notes to indicate a slur... Those are not normal ABC items, but they work for me... There  is no way to get five lines and four spaces onto my phone list...laugh

Jul 1, 2020 - 4:38:02 AM

8257 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

I use ABC to jot down tunes to play on my flute (Irish tunes) when I hear one that isn't already on The Session. My notes make sense to me and that's as far as I ever went with learning it.


Exactly... and as I recall, a lot of the Session tunes are shown in ABC..?

Jul 1, 2020 - 4:57:34 AM
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211 posts since 6/21/2012

Yeah, they are all available in ABC. I like to use an app that transposes ABC to standard notation on the fly when I'm doing transcriptions.

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