Announcing ABC import plugin for MuseScore 0.9.5

A plugin to import ABC (v1.6) into MuseScore 0.9.5 is now available in the source code repository.

Installation instruction

  • Download the plugin by right clicking this link and save target as.
  • Save the file in the plugins directory of MuseScore. On Windows it's c:\Program Files\MuseScore\plugins
  • if you don't run Windows or if you didn't install MuseScore in the default location, edit the plugin file and change the "program" variable to the path to MuseScore executable.
  • Restart or start MuseScore

How it works?

In the plugins menu, select "ABC import" and pick a file containing an ABC tune. It has to be a complete tune and not just ABC notes like "Abc cde".

The plugin calls a web service to do the conversion from ABC to MusicXML. Then, the MusicXML file is opened in MuseScore. The webservice is not perfect neither is MuseScore musicXML import. But it gives good results and can save lots of time compared to transcribe the tune by hand.
You can try the webservice without installing the plugin at
The webservice uses ABC4J. ABC4J supports ABC 1.6 only.


  • If next version of MuseScore has the ability to access mscore path or import musicXML from the plugin framework, make the plugin more "crossplatform"
  • Add a progress bar during the conversion


I know that ABC can be exported to Lilypond format. As far as I can see, there is a growing compatibility with Lilypond in MuseScore. How about if there was also an option to convert ABC to Lilypond and then open the Lilypond file in MuseScore?

Just a suggestion... use it, or don't :-)

Lilypond import is not good in MuseScore. It has been removed for the next release.
Lilypond export is better. See discussion here :

Moreover MusicXML is designed as an open interchange format. Lilypond is designed to give a graphical output.

The result of the webservice described here can be use with Lilypond as well with musicxml2ly.

Music notation software should aim to have decent MusicXML import and export on board. This way, all software can speak with each other rather than making importers & exporters to every kind of file format. Once the standard is embraced by all software, the users will have freedom to move from one program to another.

How do you create notes on the drum set?

In MuseScore, read Drum notation. For other questions, please open another thread in the forum.

How do I install the plugin on Mac? I tried out, but couldn't find out.

I installed the ABC Import plugin by saving the .js file on my desktop. Then, in /Applications, I right-clicked the MuseScore icon and selected Show Package Contents. I then double-clicked the Contents folder, the Resources folder, and the plugins folder. You should be looking at a bunch of .js files. Just drag your downloaded plugin from your desktop to the plugins folder and drop it anywhere. If you press Control-Command-6 it will resort the files for you. Then just select Applications on the left side of the Finder window and you're done. If MuseEdit is open it will need to be closed and restarted.

As far as I can tell, the ABC import plugin does not work on MAC for the moment.
To open the incoming MusicXML file, it calls mscore.exe on windows from the plugin. So the plugin needs to be changed to run on mac as described here

I found a nice workaround. I paste the abc code here
and import the resulting MusicXML file in muse. Works fine.

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