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Re: [abcusers] Why I like ABC

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  • Hudson Lacerda
    Why I like ABC? - It is an open and transparent format, readable by human beings and several pieces of software; - It is simple, compact, and easy to learn; -
    Message 1 of 14 , Mar 27, 2007
      Why I like ABC?

      - It is an open and transparent format, readable by human beings and
      several pieces of software;

      - It is simple, compact, and easy to learn;

      - ABC can be written in the body of e-mail messages;

      - I can combine hundreds of tunes in a single file and recombine them as
      wish with ABC tools;

      - There are very good free (libre) software for ABC (I don't use
      proprietary software);

      - ABC programs are very small and fast;

      - abcm2ps does pretty nice scores, usually without need of any manual
      adjustings;

      - Additional elements like annotations, guitar chords, grace notes, ties
      and slurs are associated to notes, bars, rests or spaces -- that way,
      they are correctly placed even when the layout is changed (unlike many
      GUI-based programs).

      - abcm2ps allows a lot of customisation and control of the output;

      - I can write extensions to abcm2ps for complex and uncommon notation
      (tablatures, special staves, special note heads, instrument-specific
      notation, microtonalism, polimetrical/politonal music, etc.);

      - abc2midi and abcm2ps can do many interesting things, like microtonal
      music (in a way that is not supported by nearly any other music
      software) and harmonic/rhythmic accompainment;

      - There are ABC programs for any plataforms and OSes (PC, Mac, Palm,
      pencil and paper...);

      - I can use ABC to obtain PDF and MIDI in the web, without installing
      any specific program;

      - I can edit my music with virtually any text editor;

      - There are very good text editors for ABC (jed, emacs, vi, flabc...);

      - Several ABC programs run via command line, my preferred way to do most
      tasks with a computer;

      - Command-line ABC programs can be used in bash scripts and makefiles,
      for automatic tasks (combining/transposing parts and pieces, compiling
      songbooks, preprocessing, etc.);

      - There are programs with graphical interface which support ABC;

      - I can use abcm2ps to prepare complex documents with musical examples,
      text, figures, etc. (I use it even for non-musical documents);

      - I can insert ABC directly inside LaTeX documents (abc.sty, available
      from CTAN);

      - Being a text-based notation, ABC is very suitable for computer-aided
      composition/analysis;

      - There are numberous pieces of (traditional) music in ABC format around
      the net;

      - ABC is fun to use.


      I use (mainly) abcm2ps, abc2midi, emacs with abc-mode by Matthew K.
      Junker, abctool, microabc, tkabc and runabc, on a Debian GNU+Linux OS.

      I have written microabc, abcm2ps Portuguese documentation, abcm2ps
      extensions, tkabc interface translation, as well as a lot of mail
      messages to Jef Moine and Seymour Shlien regarding to feature requests,
      suggestions, comments and bug reports.

      Cheers,
      Hudson
    • Mark Hall
      Thank you to all who replied, it is greatly appreciated. mjh ... From: Mark Hall To: abcusers@yahoogroups.com Sent: Monday, 26
      Message 2 of 14 , Mar 27, 2007
        Thank you to all who replied, it is greatly appreciated.
        mjh

        ----- Original Message ----
        From: Mark Hall <hallmark7328@...>
        To: abcusers@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Monday, 26 March, 2007 9:46:55 PM
        Subject: [abcusers] (unknown)

        Hello all,
        I am writing a thesis relating to 'abc', and I would like to know why you use 'abc' as apposed to alternative notation software? 
        Your responses and opinions would be welcomed and may be used with your permission. 
        Thanks, mjh


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      • RWW Taylor
        There has already been a lot of testimony expressed here regarding the merits of abc as a musical notation, provided mostly from a personal viewpoint. Perhaps,
        Message 3 of 14 , Mar 28, 2007
          There has already been a lot of testimony expressed here regarding the
          merits of abc as a musical notation, provided mostly from a personal
          viewpoint. Perhaps, though, a few more words could be added considering
          the question from a wider perspective, considering both the intrinsic
          advantages of the notation (as compared with alternatives) and the
          practical, situational advantages that the use of abc offers the
          contemporary user.

          First, it has to be noted that the simple fact that music written in
          abc is expressed as a string of standard text characters, to be found
          on any keyboard, is of tremendous importance — no special environment
          or device or software is needed to enter or display an abc
          transcription. As has been noted, a useful bit of abc can be (and, I am
          sure, often has been) scrawled on a cocktail napkin for future
          reference. Transcriptions expressed in abc can be compactly stored and
          cheaply transmitted, with assurance that the content can be read
          unambiguously at the receiving end. Stored abc transcriptions can be
          easily edited, searched and indexed with standard text-oriented
          utilities. Because abc piggybacks on the text-based infrastructure of
          our literate society we can be sure that the abc we write today will
          still be intelligible hundreds of years from now (assuming of course
          that there is still anyone around to read it).

          Further qualities of abc that argue for its continued use (some of
          which have already been noted in earlier posts) are:

          * abc provides a natural, readable translation of traditional music
          notation. The correspondence between the graphic elements used to
          portray a score via "dots" and the symbols chosen in abc to correspond
          to these elements is direct and intuitive. A musical bar is represented
          by a character that looks like a bar; there are very few, if any,
          arbitrary choices of characters to represent a musical idea in abc.
          Anyone who can read standard musical notation and is comfortable with
          the naming of pitches with alphabetic characters can immediately grasp
          the correspondence. It is even reported to be possible, with practice,
          to be able to visually apprehend a written-out abc transcription to the
          point of being able to directly play off the music it represents
          (though probably few individuals are likely to ever get that
          practiced!).

          * abc is concise. The critical information about a tune setting is
          noted immediately, in just a few lines. The details of an actual line
          of music can be captured with extreme economy, in mere seconds.

          * abc is capable. As the idea of abc has grown and spread over the last
          thirty-odd years, ever-more-refined ideas have been worked into the
          basic concept, to the point where (as is attested to by the
          correspondence on this list) notational challenges that it was surely
          never dreamed that abc might ever need to meet have been incorporated
          into the understood range of the notation. Another way of putting this
          is to say that abc is extensible, capable of growing to meet
          newly-perceived needs.

          * This is possible only because abc is an open notation — no-one owns
          abc. Any user can do whatever he or she wishes with the notation; the
          only test of what modifications or additions to the understanding of
          abc may occur is public acceptance.

          * abc has been accepted. Unlike other music notation systems that have
          never gained more than local, marginal use, there is at this point no
          question about whether abc will take a permanent place in the set of
          notational tools our society uses to store and carry forward our
          accumulated cultural heritage. No longer just the parochial plaything
          of a small community of enthusiasts, abc has become widely enough known
          and used to serve as the basis for major public projects that would
          never have been undertaken without its availability, and it is becoming
          increasingly important for anyone involved with the distribution of
          bodies of transcribed music (especially copyright-free bodies of music)
          to pay attention to abc.

          * abc is supported. As others posting here have noted, there is a very
          wide range of excellent software utilities available to anyone wishing
          to work with abc transcriptions, in almost any current operating system
          environment. This has been true for a long time, of course, but the
          fact that vigorous development in this respect continues and that
          support for the abc user has been extended to at least one open
          internet utility is highly significant. It is really inconceivable at
          this point that abc will be left an "orphan", as has happened to so
          many other beautiful schemes that have appeared to great fanfare, only
          to fade away again, over the several decades now since the computer
          revolution started shaking our society.

          In short, it appears that you can at this point safely put at least a
          reasonable number of your eggs into the abc basket.

          /RWWT
        • jcolburn@soltec.net
          ... Oh, I do. When I learn a tune, I often take it down in ABC as I m listening to it, then, when I have my instruments handy, work it up off the ABC. Jerome
          Message 4 of 14 , Mar 28, 2007
            Quoting RWW Taylor <rwwt@...>:

            > It is even reported to be possible, with practice,
            > to be able to visually apprehend a written-out abc transcription to the
            > point of being able to directly play off the music it represents
            > (though probably few individuals are likely to ever get that
            > practiced!).

            Oh, I do. When I learn a tune, I often take it down in ABC as I'm listening to
            it, then, when I have my instruments handy, work it up off the ABC.

            Jerome Colburn
            jcolburn at soltec dot net
          • Gary Lawrence Murphy
            Somthing that may not be totally obvious but is nonetheless important, abc, being text tokens, is easily open to analysis through common text-processing tools
            Message 5 of 14 , Apr 6, 2007
              Somthing that may not be totally obvious but is nonetheless important,
              abc, being text tokens, is easily open to analysis through common
              text-processing tools (you don't have to be an expert MIDI-protocol
              programmer to write abc analysis or abc generator software) and can
              be stored, searched and retreived with common database tools.

              just try putting your MIDI or Cakewalk files into a spreadsheet :)

              --
              Gary Lawrence Murphy <garym at teledyn.com> =============================
              www.teledyn.com - blog.teledyn.com - justus.teledyn.com - sbp.teledyn.com
              ======================= The present moment is a powerful goddess (Goethe)
            • Jim C
              I ve been trying out ABCEdit and I like it much better now that it types out what I type in. I do have another question. When I press F1, it plays the tune
              Message 6 of 14 , Apr 6, 2007
                I've been trying out ABCEdit and I like it much better now that it types
                out what I type in. I do have another question. When I press F1, it
                plays the tune and I can play along with it, but it stops after one time
                through the tune. How can I get it to repeat so I can practice with it
                and not go to a jam and stop once through the tune to press the F1 key?


                Here is FLowers of Edinburgh


                X: 48
                T:Flowers of Edinburgh
                R:Reel
                O:Scotland
                O:Ireland
                M:2/4
                L:1/16
                K:G
                "G"GE|D2DE G2GA|BGBd cBAG|"D7"FGFE DEFG|ABAF E2GE|
                "G"D2DE G2GA|"G"BABd "C"efge|"D7"dcBA GFGA|"G"B2G2 G2:|
                |:"G"Bd|"G"g2gf gbag|"D7"f2fe fagf|"C"edef gfed|"Em"B2e2 e2ge|
                "G"dBGB d2dd|"C"edef "Am"g2fe|"D7"dcBA GFGA|"G"B2G2 G2:|
              • Phil Taylor
                ... I know that abcEdit uses abc2midi to generate a midi file, but I don t know what program it uses to play that file. That s where you need a loop setting
                Message 7 of 14 , Apr 6, 2007
                  On 6 Apr 2007, at 16:24, Jim C wrote:

                  >
                  > I've been trying out ABCEdit and I like it much better now that it
                  > types
                  > out what I type in. I do have another question. When I press F1,
                  > it
                  > plays the tune and I can play along with it, but it stops after one
                  > time
                  > through the tune. How can I get it to repeat so I can practice with it
                  > and not go to a jam and stop once through the tune to press the F1 key?

                  I know that abcEdit uses abc2midi to generate a midi file, but I don't
                  know what program it uses to play that file. That's where you need a
                  loop setting to make the tune repeat easily. Another option might be
                  to use the Part fields to specify a repeating playing order like this:

                  X: 48
                  T:Flowers of Edinburgh
                  R:Reel
                  O:Scotland
                  O:Ireland
                  M:2/4
                  L:1/16
                  P:A16 % Play it 16 times!
                  K:G
                  P:A
                  "G"GE|D2DE G2GA|BGBd cBAG|"D7"FGFE DEFG|ABAF E2GE|
                  "G"D2DE G2GA|"G"BABd "C"efge|"D7"dcBA GFGA|"G"B2G2 G2:|
                  |:"G"Bd|"G"g2gf gbag|"D7"f2fe fagf|"C"edef gfed|"Em"B2e2 e2ge|
                  "G"dBGB d2dd|"C"edef "Am"g2fe|"D7"dcBA GFGA|"G"B2G2 G2:|


                  Phil Taylor
                • John Chambers
                  Actually, this is the main reason that my ABC Tune Finder site only deals with ABC so far. It s the only online music format I ve found that 1) has enough
                  Message 8 of 14 , Apr 6, 2007
                    Actually, this is the main reason that my ABC Tune Finder site only deals with
                    ABC so far.  It's the only online music format I've found that 1) has enough music
                    available to be worth the effort of programming, and 2) can be parsed easily
                    without a huge effort.  I've looked around for other usable formats.  I've considered
                    adding Lilypond and Rosegarden to the list, because they both have published
                    syntaxes that don't look to horrible.  But so far, neither seems to have enough
                    music online to be worth the effort (more than for ABC) to write the parser. And
                    getting converters to all the formats that I currently deliver is also questionable.
                    Similarly, neither of the XML music encodings seems yet to be in use enough
                    to make the effort worthwhile.

                    Of course, this is just a comment from one programmer writing one package
                    that a few people find useful.  Others' mileage could vary a lot.  And some people
                    do seem to find the fancy proprietary encodings worthwhile for their own uses.
                    They just aren't very useful if you want to share your music with others or write
                    your own software to do something with the music.

                    On 4/6/07, Gary Lawrence Murphy <garym@...> wrote:

                    Somthing that may not be totally obvious but is nonetheless important,
                    abc, being text tokens, is easily open to analysis through common
                    text-processing tools (you don't have to be an expert MIDI-protocol
                    programmer to write abc analysis or abc generator software) and can
                    be stored, searched and retreived with common database tools.

                    just try putting your MIDI or Cakewalk files into a spreadsheet :)

                    --
                    Gary Lawrence Murphy <garym at teledyn.com> =============================
                    www.teledyn.com - blog.teledyn.com - justus.teledyn.com - sbp.teledyn.com
                    ======================= The present moment is a powerful goddess (Goethe)

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