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As easy as ABC?
#1
I'm not sure if this is the right category for this discussion but we can restrict it to Scottish music if we wish... Smile 

There's a discussion elsewhere https://thesession.org/discussions/39461  which is a bit of an old chestnut but I thought it might be good to hear the views of people here.

In short, I use both systems but while I think "ABC" is a useful tool for simple melodies e.g. the "bare bones" versions (Though in many cases, these are enough)  of most traditional and other tunes,  it is less useful for more complicated and ornamentated arrangements. Apparently, there is still a lot of scope but, in my opinion, it makes the process too cumbersome for my liking and "staff notation" is much better when you require a learn more detailed arrangement.

What are your thoughts?
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#2
Hi JAJ, I too use ABC though I am much more a user of MuseScore now. ABC has the virtue of being very tiny as a file and there are thousands of tunes available in it, along with converters for turning it into standard notation. I feel it is a system which you need to be using regularly to remember all the symbols and language it uses. Because I use it less frequently now I have to revert to the manual to find out how to get particular things. I know it can do much more than I have ever needed of it and it lets you listen to the tune - handy if it's a new tune!

With Musescore, which is open source software, I find I can get what I need quickly and I can add in parts such as second and third fiddle quite easily. I use the mouse to enter notes on the stave and it is generally straightforward to use once you get a grip of the basic techniques. It also allows files to be saved in many playable versions such as midi, mp3, xml and others and gives you a great deal of control over the appearance of your finished score.

I agree with you that it seems to be much simpler and more useful to work with standard notation, especially where there are players with various instruments playing together, where using TAB would be of little use to those who do not read it, as would ABC.
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#3
What drives me crazy about the trad music scene is the fascism associated with how to learn. There are too many people who, in my humble opinion should know better, who proclaim that there is only one right way of doing something. There ain't. We're all different, and inclusivity is not a big part of what education is about, I'll be retiring tomorrow.

ABC, sol fa, staff, ear, osmosis, all going to get you the skeleton of a tune.

Listening, absorbing, immersing, practising will get you to the next step.
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#4
(26-08-2016, 12:32 PM)nigelgatherer Wrote: "What drives me crazy about the trad music scene is the fascism associated with how to learn. There are too many people who, in my humble opinion should know better, who proclaim that there is only one right way of doing something. There ain't. We're all different, and inclusivity is not a big part of what education is about, I'll be retiring tomorrow.

ABC, sol fa, staff, ear, osmosis, all going to get you the skeleton of a tune.

Listening, absorbing, immersing, practising will get you to the next step."

I couldn't agree more, Nigel.  Each of us learns a tune by whatever means we find is of most use to our learning and is also comfortable for us.  I play lots by ear and also use the dots whenever I feel the need. 

In our fiddle workshop the emphasis is on teaching by ear and for many members this is their only way as they are non-readers.  The score is available later in the process for anyone who wants the dots.  This process seems to keep the members happy and each has the option of ear, score or both.

It is by playing the tunes regularly and especially along with other players that we get the tune into our heads and can feel at home with it.
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#5
I've never considered ABC to be an alternative to staff notation (or tab or anything similar), moreso a computer programming language to allow one to type in the details of a tune, as simple or complex as you wish, this script to be used for the generation of staff notation (and/or tab etc.) with an appropriate "ABC program" (compiler).

Admittedly it's a clever "trick" to be able to play directly from an ABC listing, and good for you if you can, but I don't believe ABC was ever intended to be used in this manner.

With a tune in ABC format it can easily be transposed to any key to suit whichever instrument(s) and then printed out in whichever format is wanted, a task that is much more onerous (and prone to mistake) if working from a sheet of staff in the first place.
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#6
Chris Walshaw first thought of ABC as something to read and write directly on paper. The same idea goes back 2000 years - the ancient Greeks had an equivalent, developed by the Arabs and still used (with prettier calligraphy) for Byzantine chant.

I'm not going to commit anything to MuseScore until it can export to usable ABC. I'm not confident enough that it will carry on, and as a binary format, it's useless without the software.
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#7
Yes, there have been endless discussions and no satisfactory conclusions to this: each to their own, I say! Having learned to read and write music at an early age, I have never really needed to learn ABC, tho' I do have my own shorthand for writing a down a melody if pushed, but it's not proper ABC. If I should happen to have manuscript paper with me, I can probably notate on that faster than I can do my own version of ABC.
However, on sites such as thesession.org where ABC seems to be the default, if the notation is not given, I find the various ABC converters invaluable, including yours, Nigel, thanks!
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