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Discussions => Tunes => Topic started by: Lester on July 14, 2009, 04:10:32 PM

Title: ABC
Post by: Lester on July 14, 2009, 04:10:32 PM
Just found this on Mudcat from Chris Walshaw:

BBC Radio 4 is shortly to broadcast a programme about abc and its impact on the world of traditional music.

Entitled "From Dots to Download", the programme documents the use of abc music notation in the rediscovery of old manuscript tune-books from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The programme goes out on 21st July at 1.30pm and will be available to listen again for 7 days after the broadcast from:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lp15m

It features interviews with Chris Walshaw, inventor of abc, and members of the Village Music Project team and is presented by singer and musician, Tim van Eyken.

Chris
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: Graham Collicutt on July 21, 2009, 07:39:51 PM
Bump to top: listening now.

Graham
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: Ebor_fiddler on July 21, 2009, 11:05:47 PM
Very good - it's made me want to look at 3/2 hornpipes for enjoyment, rather than duty! Good old Tim!!  ;D :D
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: tiny on July 22, 2009, 08:11:14 PM
Yes, a good programme helped me to understand abc a little better and  how to use it. Can't read it at all though!
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: Rees on July 22, 2009, 11:59:18 PM
I thought Tim came across well on the wireless. He obviously grew up listening to Woman's Hour - very Radio 4.  ::)

Roll over Mike Harding. Ooops!  >:E
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: Steve_freereeder on July 23, 2009, 07:57:59 AM
Yes, a good programme helped me to understand abc a little better and  how to use it. Can't read it at all though!
Lizzy - you don't need to read ABC unless you really like beating yourself over the head with a cabbage stalk; there are free software translators available to convert the ABC into standard music notation and usually allows you to hear/download the tune as a midi file too.
Look upon the ABC format simply as a means of storing/sharing the music as a simple text file, then let the translator do the rest.

More info, including links to translators, here:
http://info.melodeon.net/info/abc
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: Lester on July 23, 2009, 08:09:41 AM
Lizzy - you don't need to read ABC unless you really like beating yourself over the head with a cabbage stalk;

Must be just me then! I cannot sight read manuscript but find sight reading ABC much simpler. May be it's because I have never been able to read music unlike Steve fo instance who, I assumed, learned as part of his orchestral other life?
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: Chris Ryall on July 23, 2009, 09:09:04 AM
Agree - I've got quite a few tunes from ABC - but only rarely and in extremis tried to read it directly! I really don't think it's meant for that.  

In essence Martin Chris Walshaw has designed a tokenised, flexibly parsed, extensible, machine readable language that describes 99% of folk music (if not (as yet) jazz or orchestral stuff) quite well.  He's a clever chap, and power to his elbow.

For another example of the same concept, right click this post and 'view page source'. Web HTML is another tokenised system (wrapping text, images etc) and will if valid show properly on any web browser. I note there are (http://truevision.sourceforge.net/logos/valid-xhtml10.png) 'valid HTML' icons bottom right of each melodeon.net page. don't try to read content in this way, but it's in there somewhere.

ABC is even more condensed and describes only musical notes and their relationships ( with some limited built in understanding of the 7 modes most folk music is written in), and then a few tags to give source etc.   Chris doesn't then care how its expression is actually implemented. and has indeed mostly left that to others.  So if you want it played somewhere between B/Bb on highland pipes - go to it!

For interpretting it I personally chose ABCnavigator2 from a whole bunch on offer. It works just fine, and outputs both midi music and dots - so that should suit most of us? D3R
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: ladydetemps on July 23, 2009, 09:10:18 AM
That was a really intresting programme. I like abc coz I can get the patterns from the dots and how to play it from the midi.
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: Steve_freereeder on July 23, 2009, 09:14:57 AM
Lizzy - you don't need to read ABC unless you really like beating yourself over the head with a cabbage stalk;

Must be just me then! I cannot sight read manuscript but find sight reading ABC much simpler. May be it's because I have never been able to read music unlike Steve fo instance who, I assumed, learned as part of his orchestral other life?
Whoops! No offence meant, Lester. Cabbage stalks all round I think.

The trouble with reading ABC as text is that (for me anyway) it doesn't give you an immediate visual impression of what the tune is meant to sound like. There is a sort of double shift involved where you have to (i) read the note in ABC and then (ii) locate that on your melodeon, concertina, Japanese nose-flute or whatever.

Standard music notation is just a frequency-time graph. You can see how the tune is meant to go. When the blobs go up, the pitch goes up and vice versa. All the different shaped stalks and tails are just fancy refinements of the horizontal time axis, to give added information of the duration of one note relative to its neighbours.

 
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: Chris Ryall on July 23, 2009, 09:29:58 AM
Standard music notation is just a frequency-time graph.

While that is almost true of the stave (AFAIR originally designed for Plain Chant) it is strictly non linear (unlike the Y axix in a graph) and its 'musical' spacings depend on which key was set up on the left edge.

Along your x-axis - only its bar lines are in any sense like a graph. The 'dots' are tokens describing time, plus occasional #/b tokens for good measure. The issue Martin Chris addressed is that a machine cannot read this notation. Be thankful he did this before XML was invented - uggh  :-\

I see  the post below disagrees. But actually he's just trained his brain in (music) pattern recognition. So much as we all have done to be able read this text.

Apologies - I know a Chris and a Martin Walshaw - AFAIK no relation
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: HallelujahAl on July 23, 2009, 09:32:34 AM
Quote
Standard music notation is just a frequency-time graph.
Dead right - and there's really nothing to beat it. Mind you I'm one of those geeks who enjoys nothing better than sitting down and reading a music score and make the thing play in my head. I can't do the same with ABC.
AL
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: Steve_freereeder on July 23, 2009, 09:40:48 AM
The issue Martin addressed is that a machine cannot read this notation.
I'm puzzled by your references to 'Martin'. Do you mean 'Chris' as in Chris Walshaw?
Title: Re: ABC
Post by: Lester on July 23, 2009, 10:27:38 AM
Whoops! No offence meant, Lester. Cabbage stalks all round I think.

The trouble with reading ABC as text is that (for me anyway) it doesn't give you an immediate visual impression of what the tune is meant to sound like. There is a sort of double shift involved where you have to (i) read the note in ABC and then (ii) locate that on your melodeon, concertina, Japanese nose-flute or whatever.

Think it comes down to how I learned to play many moons ago. I had (some say still have) no musical talent at all, I cannot hold a tune in a bucket when it comes to singing and had played no other instrument. I approached the learning of the meoldeon from an engineering view; Button number x play one note on the push and another on the pull etc, so if I know what notes to play and know the tune in my head all I need to do is press the correct button and bellow in the correct direction. I therefore took manuscript music and wrote the notes underneath, as I could not be bothered to learn to sight read the note position let alone the other intracacies, and plugged away.

So I was doing "Lester's version of ABC" from day one and have never known any different. Now I am too old to change and anyway Chris Walshaw has thought up ABC so why do I ned to change. YMMV