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Author Topic: ABC v Dots  (Read 1450 times)

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Dick Sadler

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ABC v Dots
« on: January 29, 2019, 06:23:25 PM »

As an absolute beginner I can’t help but notice that  the various learning books teach the dots albeit by accident yet most tunes on this site are in abc or wanted in abc. Why is abc so strongly represented or is this just a false impression?
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malcolmbebb

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2019, 06:42:32 PM »

You might get more than one reply.

ABC is a compact, highly transportable method of notation that can be very easily edited, and can be very easily converted to dots using a variety of free software.
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Helena Handcart

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2019, 06:49:03 PM »

As an absolute beginner I can’t help but notice that  the various learning books teach the dots albeit by accident yet most tunes on this site are in abc or wanted in abc. Why is abc so strongly represented or is this just a false impression?

Fear not Dick, there will be a workshop on this very subject at Melodeon Playgroup*


* just as soon as Lester and I have finished putting it together.
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Fred

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2019, 06:52:42 PM »

ABC is a compact, highly transportable method of notation that can be very easily edited, and can be very easily converted to dots using a variety of free software.

100% this.
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Rob Lands

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2019, 07:02:59 PM »

My response would be that abc is music programme. While the expensive programmes use staves and dots. abc lets you use letters etc. Once you start using letters you can transfer information in the computer age more easily and I believe the files are smaller.  I write and read dots, use complex music programmes such as sibelius but tend to go back to abc for simpler stuff - by simpler I really mean single line.  There are many good things re speed but if you want to do a full score job it takes a little bit moe effort.
If you read dots then use dots, you will probably find them quicker to read but if your tune is within the range A-G,a-g you can read the letter. Beware tunes in A major Eb Major they aren't so easy to read written. So the more complex the tune the more dots have over abc.  I print out abc in dot form, I read abc in my head (if I can).
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2019, 07:32:50 PM »

I agree with the above.
Also, an ABC file put into the app also generates a midi file, so if your sight reading is not good (like mine ) the midi file helps you to hear what the melody should sound like.

Getting a little more involved, you can change the key with a couple of clicks. If that doesn't sound right -say in D - a few clicks can put it into G. Doing that by hand takes a long time!

We all tend to play the left hand basses slightly different, so just having the melody line allows you to do what you want.
It took me a while to realise how useful ABC files are, I recommend dipping you toe in and having a play around.
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

ChrisP

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2019, 08:06:59 PM »

Nobody has said it yet so I will. You don't learn off the dots, you learn by ear. The dots are to remind you the day after when you've forgotten yesterday's tune.
Normal music notation is what you normally use, and what you will clip into your ring binder for reference, or read from a book.
ABC is a simple, free, text based computer language that enables you to store tunes on your computer, phone, or as a couple of bars on your cheat sheet. There are many tens of thousands of trad tunes in ABC for you to surf and collect, then print the dots into your folder.
You don't read the ABC (well, you can), your favoured app displays it as dots or plays it as midi. It is very easily manipulated etc.
The first four bars of Irish Washerwoman look like this:-

X: 6
T: The Irish Washerwoman
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:BGG DGG|BGB dcB|cAA EAA|cAc edc|

The home site is here, where you will find what you need. Usually it's a choice between ABCexplorer (PC) or Easy ABC (PC & Mac)

http://abcnotation.com/

Lester

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2019, 08:43:51 PM »

Another bonus is, for instance, I have ~1000 tunes in my phone in my pocket. I can play directly from ABC but have access to both manuscript and midi. Try that with books.

Thrupenny Bit

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2019, 08:47:48 PM »

'Zackly Lester.
You can also beg, borrow and steal tunes and make up your own folders of tunes that you like, want to learn etc and make up your own personal tune book.
In your pocket!
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Andrew Kennedy

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2019, 09:33:20 PM »

Nobody has said it yet so I will. You don't learn off the dots, you learn by ear. The dots are to remind you the day after when you've forgotten yesterday's tune.

I'd beg to differ. I learn tunes from hearing them, certainly, but have got some of my favourites from tune books, and enjoy having a browse every now and then. If I want a sound file I just record it on my phone as someone plays it.
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ChrisP

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2019, 09:23:45 AM »

Nobody has said it yet so I will. You don't learn off the dots, you learn by ear. The dots are to remind you the day after when you've forgotten yesterday's tune.

I'd beg to differ. I learn tunes from hearing them, certainly, but have got some of my favourites from tune books, and enjoy having a browse every now and then. If I want a sound file I just record it on my phone as someone plays it.

Indeed so do I, and have a solid 4ft shelf full of tune books and 12,000 tunes in ABC on my website, but the OP is an "absolute beginner". I would argue that to be a native speaker you learn to speak before you learn to read. Shakespeare comes later.

Rob Lands

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2019, 12:38:49 PM »

Interesting. While I do learn tunes by ear it is so much easier learn a new one from dots.  That dot system is so clever - pitch, duration, dynamics there in front of you. My sight reading with an instrument is reasonable, with voice not as good as it used to be.  I could make a stab at a tune in abc on an instrument but I really cannot imagine sight reading with voice, those staves don't half help. Playing from abc is like having one hand tied behind your back.
However as been said abc, file are really good for storing music and with the relevant app producing the dots.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2019, 12:54:47 PM »

I identify notes accurately, it's duration that confuses me. The more ABC I use, the more it sinks in.
I agree with Chris, I learn by listening, the dots help me make sure I don't misunderstand a phrase or series of notes.
I have always found the process by which I learn a really interesting concept, and a quite miraculous process.
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Steve C.

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2019, 01:01:05 PM »

Best thing about ABC, or at least one of (and the website software, like Montreal or Mandolintab) is ability to easily transpose keys.  See a tune in F that you would like to play in G?  Easy as pie.  See a tune that is in G but too high/too low for your buttons, transpose it an octave up/down.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2019, 01:12:24 PM »

Yes Steve, totally agree. Iit saves making mistakes and time if doing it longhand.
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Barlow

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2019, 04:16:53 PM »

ABC or Dots?

It's an interesting question. I've been a disciple of Sibelius since it was on 3 1/2 floppy discs and have to admit to almost sneering at ABC notation. My loss there.  I have since found it an amazing tool, the ubiquity and simpleness of ABC, especially in the folk world, makes it a must to learn.

But the question ABC or Dots? is maybe a bit like comparing "Daddy or chips"   (I perhaps could have found a better analogy but it will do)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofqE5n5W5-I
« Last Edit: January 30, 2019, 04:20:10 PM by Barlow »
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Dick Rees

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2019, 04:58:18 PM »

ABC or Dots?

It's an interesting question. I've been a disciple of Sibelius since it was on 3 1/2 floppy discs and have to admit to almost sneering at ABC notation. My loss there.  I have since found it an amazing tool, the ubiquity and simpleness of ABC, especially in the folk world, makes it a must to learn.

But the question ABC or Dots? is maybe a bit like comparing "Daddy or chips"   (I perhaps could have found a better analogy but it will do)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofqE5n5W5-I

Point taken! 

I'll use anything and everything to keep moving forward.  I try to always have pencil, note paper and manuscript paper in my instrument cases.  How I jot things down, which system I use comes down to expediency.

But for reading I prefer dots for the sheer amount of information conveyed visually as has been mentioned previously.  Phrasing, slurs, grace notes, stacatto/legato...give me dots. With dots it's easier for me to look ahead to anticipate what's coming up.  For archiving and digital sharing, ABC is quite nice, so...

Horses for courses?  ABC for the notes, dots for the Music. 

When I started to keep written notebooks I thought that the ability to read music was all I needed, but soon discovered that WRITING the music required a different level of ability.  I find it quite satisfying to be able to convey the nuance of a piece in a readable format, a hard-won accomplishment. To do so required sharpening my focus, listening on a deeper level and an expanded sense of harmonic relationships.

Anything that helps you move forward is totally legit.  On a personal level there really is no better or worse...but I'll be happy to have a friendly (and likely lengthy) discussion about it any time.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2019, 05:19:52 PM by Dick Rees »
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Howard Jones

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2019, 05:08:34 PM »

If your question is whether it's better to learn to play direct from ABC or from dots, I'd say definitely the dots. That offers you so many more possibilities, including the ability to play from published tune books.  Because ABC uses plain text rather than incomprehensible computer code it is possible to play directly from it, and some people do.  However for most people it simply a way of writing a score on a computer, which does the hard work of converting it to dots.  Like other music computer programs, the score can then be printed out, played back as MIDI, transposed, etc. 

Because it is text large collections of tunes take up very little storage space (admittedly less an issue than it was in the early days of computers) and are easily shared on forums like this. It is also easy to search for tunes online using various search tools.  It is also free!  It is surprisingly versatile, however there are other score-writers which are better suited to writing complex music.



Dick Sadler

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2019, 07:14:10 PM »

Well, Howard seems to have summarised the position quite well enough for me. So thank you all for your replies and thoughts. Overall I think I came out of this conversation quite unscathed for a very first initial and naive comment.
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george garside

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Re: ABC v Dots
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2019, 07:58:36 PM »

I have hesitated about commenting on this thread  as I don't use or know how to use ABC and I havn't a clue about the digital stuff. I do on occasions read the dots but am far from being a good sight reader  ( particularly if I havn't the slightest idea of how a tune goes).

However I do find an advantage to being a poor reader as it enables me to read any particular tunesworth of dots and play in any key irrespective of the key the dots are written in.  I do this by simply ''reading'' the difference between notes (eg 2 higher , 3 lower, 2 of the same, 1 higher etc etc. To do this you have to be fluent at whatever scales you box can manage or at least those you are likely to want to play in.  I think the French have a word for doing this ?solmonisation or something like that??.


apologies if this has little or nothing to do with this thread


george
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