ABC Import plugin reloaded

• Jul 21, 2012 - 17:47

Since version 0.9.6, MuseScore comes with a plugin to import ABC notation. The plugin calls a webservice located at

Previously this webservice was relying on ABC4J, a java library to handle ABC notation. Unfortunatly, this library is no more developped and many people requested better ABC import (in particular multi staff and multi voices).

This is now history :) is now brand new and uses the ABC2XML python script by Prof.dr. Wim G. Vree and it should be a lot better! The beauty of building a plugin with a webservice, you don't even need to do anything to enjoy the new feature! Just try it.

To celebrate, I also put online a new version of the plugin for MuseScore 1.2. It's an adaptation by Stéphane Groleau of the original plugin. You can now paste ABC directly in the plugin. The plugin should now handle bigger ABC files better too.



Great! Thanks a lot.

Do you have any plans on doing something similar using Willem's xml2abc script to make ABC export from MuseScore possible? (or is this already available somewhere?)

In reply to by Nicolas

As I explain here I see lots of reasons for being able to export to ABC. Please note that they are not objective reasons for why one solution is better than the other - I simply point to things that may make some people prefer ABC (it will depend on the task too of course). I don't think I agree with your argument about ABC tunes being "stuck". One could just as well view sheet music in MusicXML format as being stuck. For example, I'm engaged in a Tune Wiki site (see for example that uses ABC. Not having ABC export in MuseScore means that it's more difficult for me to suggest using MuseScore to the people who wish to contribute new songs to the site. That's a shame I think since it's always good to have multiple alternatives.

I strongly believe that ABC export would make MuseScore more versatile as a program.

In reply to by Nils L

Just to make sure you're aware: you can already export MusicXML, then drag and drop the MusicXML into EasyABC and then save as ABC. Process takes all of a few seconds. A plugin would be nice to automate this process, but it's already amazingly fast and simple.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc. That's true (and of course I'm aware of it since I implemented EasyABC). It's a good solution for those who use EasyABC for editing music, but if one doesn't it means that one has to install a separate application just for doing the conversion from MusicXML to ABC.

To me this needlessly complicates the process of using MuseScore for people who wish to contribute tunes to online ABC tune collections.

Anyway, even if lasconic is not interested in adding ABC export, maybe someone else will be. I hope so.

(In any case, thanks again for the ABC import)

In reply to by Nils L

Duh! I didn't realize you were *that* Nils! Now that I can finally run it, I echo the comments of those on the ABC list - this is one fine piece of software. Great iob, and thanks!

The plugin framework for MusScore is in flux right now so I'm not personally ready to try writing anything new that may need to be rewritten before the release of 2.0. But when 2.0 stabilizes, I will see what I can do.

To me, though, there are tradeoffs. The downside of the EasyABC solution is that it requires a separate bit of software, but I have imagine that most people interesting in ABC export would be very interested in installing it if they haven't already. Whereas a plugin for MuseScore *also* requires a separate download, s ce most plugins are not installed by default. Furthermore, if it were to be written the way the current import plugin is written, it would also require an active Internet connection in order to use it. Only native ABC export would get around those limitations, but that would be a pretty huge undertaking, and we wouldn't get to leverage any of the fine work that has gone ito xml2abc.

So I'm not that sure there would really be *that* much of an advantage in having a plugin for conversion rather that the current manual method. But still, I'd be willing to do it once the timing is right.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks for the answer.

I was under the impression that there was some chance for plugins of this type to eventually make it into the official distribution. If that's not the case then maybe there isn't that much of a difference.

Btw. there are also advantages with xml2abc translation as a webservice. For example, users don't need to update software locally when the xml2abc script is improved.

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