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Information - An Introduction to ABC Notation
By Lester Bailey

Speed the Plough, written in ABC:

X: 1
T:Speed The Plough
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:G
GABc dedB | dedB dedB | c2ec B2dB | A2A2 A2 BA|
GABc dedB | dedB dedB | c2ec B2dB | A2A2 G4 :||
g2g2 g4 | g2fe dBGB | c2ec B2dB | A2A2 A4 |
g2g2 g4 | g2fe dBGB | c2ec B2dB | A2A2 G4 :||

Those who have met me will know I am a great advocate of ABC for finding and learning tunes. There are thousands of tunes available on the net and by loading mostly free software on you PC you can display the tunes as manuscript for clever people, or get your PC to play the tune for ear players.

Rather than reinvent wheels I have added links to the ABC resources I have used to hopefully help newcomers

What is ABC

ABC notation is a simple but powerful ASCII musical notation format. Devised by Chris Walshaw, ABC is widely used for the notating and distribution of tunes, particularly on the internet.

Chris's ABC pages can be found here

One of the best resources for explaining ABC and how it works is Steve Mansfield's LeSession ABC Tutorial.

What software should I use

These applications are ones I have tried and is in no was exhaustive the ABC Notation site has a more comprehensive listing.

Windows

EasyABC - Free application that is my current choice, especially good as it is available for both Windows and Mac so I use it on all my various computers

ABCexplorer Another free and very popular application

Mac

EasyABC - Free application that is my current choice, especially good as it is available for both Windows and Mac so I use it on all my various computers

Barfly If you are running a pre-Mountain Lion version of OSX this is very good but it will not run on any later versions of the OS.

iOS - Apple Phones and Tablets

TuneBook iPhone/Pad app to display ABC, manuscript and play tunes.

Android Phones and Tablets

TradMusician A new app that allows you to open tunebooks from DropBox and displays the ABC, shows the manuscript, plays the tune

Zap's ABC Another ABC app for android, I personally prefer TradMusician.

Where do I get the tunes

The main site I use for Tune Finding is the aptly named JC's Tune Finder. John Chambers has written a web crawler that seeks out ABC files and a search engine to take you to the results. Once a tune is found it will be presented as either text (to copy into ABC Nav), MIDI to play on your PC or as manuscript.

I also use Folk Tune Finder which has the ability to search its database by you entering snippets of tunes.

Those of you into Irish music could also try The Session which has a vast store of ITM (mind you JC's searches The Session as one of its resorces)

ABC Convert-A-Matic

If you can't be doing with all this technology and stuff but would like to print out an ABC tunethe following online tools are available

Mandolintab.net
ColinHume.com
Montreal Session

Just cut the ABC from where you find it and paste it into the tool of your choice.

Updated - 16th Feb 2015

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