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MMD > Archives > October 2000 > 2000.10.21 > 02Prev  Next

Exchange Music Using E-mail ASCII Text
By Mickey Sadler

Robbie Rhodes comments in 97.01.01 MMD:

> [ ... The only reason the _music_ isn't discussed here is that
> [ e-mail, today, is good for only _words_.  Someday I hope we can
> [ have "Sound Bytes" in the Digest. Then we'll have a lot of fun!

Actually, there is a way to send "sound bytes" by e-mail.  It's the ABC
musical notation language (that I have written about several times).
See which is the home page for
ABC.  Here is a "sound byte" copied from the ABC page (I added the X:
line to conform to the standard.):

T:Paddy O'Rafferty
dff cee|def gfe|dff cee|dfe dBA|dff cee|def gfe|faf gfe|1 dfe dBA:|2 dfe dcB||
~A3 B3|gfe fdB|AFA B2c|dfe dcB|~A3 ~B3|efe efg|faf gfe|1 dfe dcB:|2 dfe dBA||
fAA eAA|def gfe|fAA eAA|dfe dBA|fAA eAA|def gfe|faf gfe|dfe dBA:|

When the above text is run through the proper program(s) the output
is high quality printout and/or sound.  Some programs just typeset the
music in PostScript format, some play using MIDI (and/or QuickTime
musical instruments) and some do both.  (I can run this posting through
BarFly on my Macintosh and it will display and print the music with no
other changes.) A lot of musicians just play from the text as read.

Although originally it was designed primarily for folk and traditional
tunes of Western European origin (such as English, Irish and Scottish)
which can be written on one stave in standard classical notation, it
has evolved and been extended to cover multiple voices and words.
See Steve Allen's coding of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, Movement 2 at and the discussion
of various versions of ABC.

Some of the software is freeware, some shareware and some commercial
programs support ABC.  It is available for Windows, DOS, Macintosh,
Unix etc.  The freeware usually has the source available under the
GNU GPL and usually has the compiler directives for various computers
(along with makefiles) if you want to make changes to the program.
(I am tinkering with replacing note-on-staff output with information
for punch-position-on-roll.  It may take me some time as I am not a
"professional programmer" and have a lot to learn.)

There is a large amount of music on the Internet coded in ABC.  Download
it (as ASCII text), run it through the proper program and you have
music!  How about old folk music on the crank organ? Add your own
accompaniment data (in ASCII text) and punch and play it on your
orchestrion! The thing that excited me about ABC is the ability to
exchange music using e-mail ASCII text.

I also think it would be great if some of the MMD experts would join
the abcusers mail list and join the discussions.  That way the
music-to-mechanical-music extensions could be added to the ABC

Mickey Sadler, Dublin, Ohio

(Message sent Sat 21 Oct 2000, 03:52:23 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  ASCII, E-mail, Exchange, Music, Text, Using

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