Output to abc format

• Jun 11, 2010 - 22:07

Great software BTW - I have one question, I hope it's not too trivial or obvious
- is there a way to output to ABC format from inside the program, or via some secondary route? Can one be added in theory, directly or as a plug-in?



In reply to by gcdev

You can output to MusicXML and from there, there are several software to do xml to abc conversion. For example, EasyABC can import MusicXML and output ABC. Also this python script can do it. Still I'm curious why someone would want to go this route. Why do you want to put your scores in ABC?

In reply to by lasconic

I can't answer for anyone else, but I can mention that my own usage would primarily be to share the score with blind musicians who can read ABC via screenreaders (and write it too). I also use ABC to embed the musical examples in most of my educational texts these days, using scripts to automatically convert those snippets into notation by invokving abcm2ps, with the original ABC code retained as metadata attached to the graphic so another script can reverse the process.. It's actually considerably easier for me to maintain a document of any size this way, as opposed to having to track hundreds of indiivdual MSCZ files with the examples, or find the hundreds of relevant passages within a single MSCZ file. And the end result is a document that is also readable to blind musicians. But since I recognize that most educators aren't goong to be so willing to create their own educational materials using ABC directly, I am still looking to develop a convenient path for people to develop their musical examples in MuseScore and have both the graphic and ABC renditions exported from MuseScore and imported into a text document, to faciliatw the development of blind-friendly educational materials.

ABC is not really common on the blind community, BTW. Nothing really is except Braille music, which requires special hardware to produce and is essentially "read omly" - even among the relatively small number of bkind musicians who know how to read it, there are no facilities to allow them to write it. And then no facilities to allow a sighted musician who does not know Braille to read their work. So it's kind of useless as a way of integrating a blind musician into a mainstream educational setting. ABC, however, has proven quite useful to me and my blond student.

But FWIW, I do agree that MuseScore should focus on MusicXML export and then hope that the conversion to ABC can be achieved with other tools. Or at some point, I might try to write a plugin to export ABC directly. It actually wouldn't be that hard, I don't think. Might not be able to handle every last score element, but for the type of purposes I care about, just communicating the basic intend of the music is good enough.

In reply to by lasconic

I use a site that has a lot of ABC notation and I was thinking of posting to the site some of my own scores. That's why I wondered if Musescore could export ABC. I did find the Easy ABC site after I browsed around here for a while and it is very effective. The funny thing is though I tried to re-import the ABC created using the Musescore plugin but I kept getting an error message "tag mismatch at line 4 column 7" (I tried a couple of different scores and got the same message) This indicates that the ABC produced by Easyabc is not compatible with the plugin used to import ABC to Musescore. I have had this error before when trying to import ABC so it is not unique to this combination.
I did manage an import from Easyabc by cutting and pasting between the two products.
Computer technology is a great reminder of the notice we had on our office wall years ago.
"when you are up to your neck in alligators and snakes it is easy to forget that the primary object of the exercise was to drain the swamp"

In reply to by gcdev

If you need a place to host your MuseScore scores, you may want to try http://musescore.com instead of trying to go through ABC. I will try to update the ABC plugin backend later this week. You should have better results then.

Regarding Irish Music, I can understand that ABC is popular among the musicians, but just to be sure, they don't read ABC while playing right? They play from actual music notation (if any, indeed)?

Thanks Marc for the testimonial, I read it several times now :) For me, blindness is the only "good reason" for an ASCII format to carry music notation nowadays. The link between images and mscz files could be maintained too and a click on snippet in a text processor file could launch MuseScore with the right file.

In reply to by lasconic

Yes, it's possible to link between images and mscz files too, but it's easier to be able to edit things directly in one place. Here is a list of reasons (some that I can think of right now anyway) why one might want to use ABC:

  • very compact and human-readable format
  • searchable using normal text search (or find in files...)
  • can be mixed with html or other markup (eg. markdown) easily
    eg. I have some plans on enabling users to generate epub3 files using html/markdown mixed with ABC fragments
  • easy to work with tune books and one can automatically create a corresponding book of incipits
  • accessible to blind (even if MusicXML can be exported to Music Braille that seems more like a read-only format - ABC is something one can create and edit oneself)
  • maybe more accessible to people with other kind of disabilities that makes it hard to operate an advanced GUI program
  • easy to send via mail
  • music entry is very quick (!!)
  • creating and editing ABC tunes is easier to learn for some than operating a fully-fledged UI program
  • has a large user base and there exists lots of tunes in ABC format
  • there are already multiple music search engines that index ABC files: http://abcnotation.com/search
  • since it's text based it's very well-suited for tune Wiki sites since users can modify/correct tunes and it is possible for others to follow the chain of changes.
  • features input directly via the web using the abcjs javascript library - one can write music on any computer.
  • music renderers like abcm2ps produce beatiful results
  • some MusicXML files are more reliably converted to ABC than opened using MuseScore (eg. files output by nwc2xml)


I have learned enough ABC that I am nearly on the intuitive or "dreaming in ABC"-type of programming with the notation.
However, last year I hit a ceiling where ABC had not advanced "w:" enough to actually line lyrics up with notes!
As a music teacher offering to one-off students original ideas with ABC notation- I found that frustrating.
Teaching students music theory through their own originals using lyrics to align the feel of melody, harmony, and rhythm is the shortest path to the students base intuition of music theory.
(Who ever sang, "Its only words..."?)
My question is, Does anyone know if that feature has finally ended up here in the ABC plug-in used for Muse Score?
Lastly- Does MuseScore actually line up lyrics well with notes?


Thank you very much.



In reply to by jpeek345

I'm guessing maybe you are using an older versaion of MuseScore, and hence an older version of the plugin? The version of the plugin that comes with MuseScore 1.3 uses Wim Vree's excellent converter, and it handles "w:" just fine in all cases I've tried. And MuseScore does indeed line up lyrics well.

Here is a sample ABC file:

C2 C2 C > D E2 | E > D E > F G4 |]
w:Row, row, row your boat, gent-ly down the stream.

And here is the result of the running the ABC import plugin in MuseScore:


Attachment Size
abc.png 5.12 KB

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