Posts Tagged ‘abc’

Format files for abcm2ps

I never thought I would pick up Postscript programming, but that was just I did for the past couple of weeks, so that I can extend the abcm2ps music notation software. I wrote 3 format files in a row (interspersed with lots of fumbling around and googling for answers to my Postscript problems – I still haven’t figured out the font encoding stuff) – one for classical guitar notation, one for jazz charts, and one for adding guitar chord diagrams (much easier way than the examples provided with abcm2ps). They can be found in my software section.

Postscript is an interesting language. It’s quite low-level – to write programs in it you must think like a stack. Brings back memories of when I was teaching assembly language during college. It’s quite an educational experience.


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Okay, my abc2harp Perl script should be ready to face the world now. Licked some more bugs since the previous update. I’m sure there are yet more undiscovered bugs (there always are), but it’s pretty functional. Hope some of you will find it useful and let me know what you think of it.

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abc2mma updated

Spotted a stupid typo in abc2mma where I confused the bitwise and logical operators while handling triplets and such. It’s been fixed and the version bumped to 0.51.

My abc to harp tab script is coming along nicely. It can handle different harp keys, but I think I won’t deal with harp positions as yet. Should be able to release soon after more thorough testing.

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Released a beta of my abc2mma Perl script for generating MMA files from ABC music notation. I wrote it to create backing tracks for practice. Free for personal and non-commercial use.

I’ve recently started on an abc to harp (harmonica) tab generator too. It’s functional for C diatonic harp right now. I want to try to get it to do any key harp or harp position with any key signature before I release that (should be an interesting exercise). ^_^

I also hope to find time to revamp this website. I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while and it’s high time I do it too. Well, ok, one thing at a time…

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Free music typesetting

I’ve been trying out various music typesetting (i.e. score notation or engraving) software for some time now, both free and demos. I knew of Lilypond since a long time back, but it was designed to run under a Linux environment and takes advantage of many other tools that Linux provides. It is supposed to be able to produce some really elegant scores rivalling the professional typesetters. It is not Windows-friendly however. I had to download almost the entire GNU package in order to use it, about 150Mb I think. And uninstalling is also a mess. I had to manually remove some file type bindings. Not a good option unless you are a Windows user who uses GNU tools regularly.

Then I discovered the ABC notation. I was unsure of its ability to support classical music, due to its popularity among folk musicians, until I discovered the ABC Plus Project which addresses specifically this topic, and which is a great resource.

The Lilypond authors said they came up with their own language because other formats out there are not strict and formal enough. ABC certainly does not have a very formal syntax, but it serves my needs in just about 2.5 Mb of binaries. The scores it produces also looks quite professional. I may have to do further research to get it to support some features of classical guitar scores (like barres, strums, which strings to use), but it seems to be extensible.

btw, both notation systems uses text, not graphics, for entry. If you want a “user-friendly” environment, go look for the commercial software such as Finale or Encore. I used Encore in the past (Windows 3.1 era). Now I just want something open, free, fast and easily portable.

ps – I’m on leave from work today. There’s a breeze blowing, but man, it’s still rather hot…

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