About ABC Music Notation

From Australian Traditional Music Tunes
Jump to navigationJump to search

ABC notation is a shorthand form of musical notation. In basic form it uses the letters A through G to represent the pitch of notes, with other elements used to qualify these - octave, sharp/flat, the length of the note, key, ornamentation, barlines, repeats, etc. Header fields are used to give title, time signature, basic note length, key, etc. ABC is widely used by folk musicians around the world to notate and share tunes and songs. There is a large online user community and a huge number of ABC tunes available on the web. One estimate is 50,000! Both Ray Mulligan and Dave Johnson (founding Bush Traditions Inc members) use ABC extensively. For more details, see the Wikipedia ABC notation page, and the ABC Music Notation site.

For example, here is a simple tune in abc notation:


Which corresponds to, and can be used to create, the following visual score:


Reference Material

For some introductory tutorials on this notation, you can start with:

Once you have an understanding of this notation, you may find the following references useful:

Other Sites

You can search various collections of and notated tunes at:


There is a wide range of software available, for most computer and mobile platforms, supporting this notation. One good list is ABC Music Notation Software page. The creators of this site happily use ABCexplorer (Windows), EasyABC (Linux, Mac, Windows) and TradMusician (Android). And this site relies on the abcjs javascript package to render its abc content.

Or you can have a play with our ABC sandbox.