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Using abc Notation for Writing Out Fiddle Tunes

abc Links I ~ Links to Informative, Tutorial & Documentation Web Sites

The abc notation system has largely become the standard method of presenting fiddle tunes in notation form  — especially when it comes to exchanging tunes over the internet. Here we look at links to useful web pages about or making use of abc notation. We also look at some of the important software used to convert notation into standard musical notation and to play tunes written in abc notation.


Informative, Tutorial & Documentation Websites

These websites are intended to provide information and documentation about abc notation and in some cases, to help you learn about abc notation and how to use it. Parts of this web site fits into this category.

  • The abc Notation Home Page. This is the official home page for abc notation, from Chris Walshaw who invented abc notation in the first place. It's got some of everything. Here are some very useful pages that are worth knowing about.
    • Learn abc. This page has links to other pages on the website (and some external pages) with explanations, tutorials, examples and other learning tools.
    • abc Standard Version 2.1 and Version 2.2. The abc Standard documents the current standard for abc notation. If you need to know something about abc, it's probably in here. Version 2.1 is the current standard for abc notation. Version 2.2 is a draft of the next standard. This web site follows the draft Version 2.2, as do abcm2ps and abc2svg to a large extent (with some further extensions).
    • abc Tune Search. Very useful for finding tunes in abc format.
    • abc Software. The most thorough presentation of available software I know of, for Mac, PC, web, Linux and more.
  • abc Plus Project . This is Guido Gonzato's amazing abc web site. There are two components to the web sitel
    • It contains links to some of the most useful abc software.
    • It contains his excellent book Making Music with ABC 2, which is a very useful source of information for most topics related to using abc notation. I find it to be a very useful reference.
  • abcm2ps & abc2svg Documentation. In addition to the commands available as part of the abc standard, most abc software uses abcm2ps to produce output suitable for printing. This page documents all the Postscript commands available. It can be confusing but here's where you can find out how to do the following plus lots more:
    • Make a tune a bit larger or smaller to fit better on the page.
    • Change the font for any part of a tune, including size and style.
    • Control which information is printed (e.g. notes, source, composer).
    • Adjust the spacing of notes, staff lines, adjust margins.
    • In fact it seems to be possible to do nearly anything if you look hard enough on this page. If you look on the abc Software Links page, I used Postscript commands to change the display of a tune: the fonts and scale of the tunes, as well as which fields should print.
  • Peter Yarensky's abc 2.2 Help File and Help Reference. The Help File is a PDF file I made up (originally for myself but modified for general use) documenting most features of abc 2.2 that I use with any regularity, and also a number of shortcuts and tricks to make things work more easily. The Help Reference is a short summary for quick reference.
  • John Chambers' abc Primer. It's a bit out of date in places I think, but overall still a very good introduction to abc notation.
  • John Chambers' In-Depth abc Tutorial. Also a bit out of date, but still very useful for learning more of the details of abc notation.
  • abcusers. The abc User’s Group on Yahoo. It’s an internet list for people who use abc notation and for the people who write the software. Activity ranges from minimal to several messages/day, usually low volume, and it can be interesting and useful.




Links to Related Pages



abc Codexx
Tune Links (16, indented)