Creating PDF Tune Transcriptions Using ABC

Michael Eskin, headshot photo

While some tune collection websites like thesession.org do provide ways to download PDF versions of tune transcription notation, if I'm working on my own arrangements of a tune, or creating tutorial handouts for my classes, or using ABC features not supported by these websites, I often need to generate my own high-quality PDF tune transcriptions.

To accomplish this, I use a text editor and the ABC converter web page at:

http://mandolintab.net/abcconverter.php

open in a browser tab:


Screen shot of mandolintab.net ABC Converter


The text editor I prefer, SublimeText, is available at:

https://www.sublimetext.com/

but any text editor (VSCode, TextPad, Notepad) will work just fine.

Full information on the ABC notation standard is available at:

http://abcnotation.com/wiki/abc:standard:v2.1

For any descriptive text above the notation in my transcriptions I use the ABC

%%center

text annotation command.

For my B/C box tune transcriptions with bass and chord indications, I like to use the existing ABC chord notation system combined with a standard of using upper case for the bass button and lower case for the chord button.

I often may start with a prototype version of a tune from thesession.org:

https://thesession.org/tunes

I edit the ABC notation in SublimeText, save it, select all and then copy and paste it into the mandolintab ABC converter web page.

I then have the web page render it, fix any issues there in their limited editor, render it again, copy and paste all the text from the web page editor back into SublimeText.

I then save the file with any changes, and repeat this cycle until I have a final version that I'm happy with.

At that time, I can export a PDF from the mandolintab ABC converter web page.

I then launch the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader, do a .jpg screen capture of the rendered notation using the "Snipping Tool" built into Windows, and use that to create the preview image for Facebook posts and other purposes.


Examples


Example #1 - B/C box tune transcription including bass and chord information


ABC version:

X: 1
T: If I Had A Wife
R: slide
M: 12/8
L: 1/8
N: For B/C Box with only push C bass and chord buttons
N: Upper case - Bass button / Lower case - Chord button
K: Gmaj
%%center For B/C Box with only push C bass and chord buttons
%%center Upper case = Bass button / Lower case = Chord button
"G"B2"g"A AB"g"d e2"g"d d2"g"B|AG"g"A B2"g"A "C"G2D "D"D2"d"A|
"G"B2"g"A AB"g"d e2"g"d d2"g"B|1 "D"AG"d"A B2"d"A "G"(G2"g"G) G2"D"A:|2 "D"AG"d"A B2"d"A "G"(G2"g"G) G2e||
|:"G"d2"g"g gf"g"g ag"g"e dB"g"d|"C"e2a aba g2a "D"bg"d"e|
"G"d2"g"g gf"g"g ag"g"e dB"g"d|1 "C"ef"c"g "D"ab"d"a "G"(g2"g"g) g2e:|2 "C"efg "D"ab"d"a "G"(g2"g"g) g2A||


Notation generated by the mandolintab converter:


Download the exported high-resolution PDF here:

if_i_had_a_wife.pdf


Example #2 - Tin Whistle class handout I created using ABC:


ABC version:

X: 1
T:34 Variations on the First Six Notes of Jimmy Ward's Jig
T:http://michaeleskin.com/handouts/jimmy_wards_variations.pdf
Z:This version 25 December 2020 by Michael Eskin
C:Michael Eskin
R:Jig
M:6/8
L:1/8
K:G
"^1. Basic form"
|GGG GAB|GGG (GAB)|
"^2. Hold first note 3 beats
|G3 (GAB)|(G3 {A}GAB)|(G3 {F}GAB)|
"^3. Hold first note two beats, tongue second group"
|G2G (GAB)|(G2{A}G) (GAB)|(G2{F}G) (GAB)|
"^4. Hold first note two beats, cut second group"
|(G2{A}G {A}GAB)|(G2{F}G {A}GAB)|
"^5. Hold first note two beats, tap second group"
|(G2{A}G {F}GAB)|(G2{F}G {F}GAB)|
"^6. Full roll on first group"
|(G{A}G{F}G) (GAB)|(G{A}G{F}G {A}GAB)|(G{A}G{F}G {F}GAB)|
"^7. Full roll on first group with slide-in from F#"
|(F/2|G{A}G{F}G) (GAB)|(F/2|G{A}G{F}G {A}GAB)|(F/2|G{A}G{F}G {F}GAB)|
"^8. Compressed full roll on first group"
|(G2{A}G/2{F}G/2) (GAB)|(G2{A}G/2{F}G/2 {A}GAB)|(G2{A}G/2{F}G/2 {F}GAB)|
"^9. Compressed full roll on first group with slide-in from F#"
|(F/2|G2{A}G/2{F}G/2) (GAB)|(F/2|G2{A}G/2{F}G/2 {A}GAB)|(F/2|G2{A}G/2{F}G/2 {F}GAB)|
"^10. Double-cut roll"
|(G2{cB}G) (GAB)|(G2{cB}G {A}GAB)|(G2{cB}G {F}GAB)|
"^11. Left-hand cran"
|(G2{cGBGcG}G) (GAB)|(G2{cGBGcG}G {A}GAB)|(G2{cGBGcG}G {F}GAB)|
"^12. Melodic variations"
|(GAG) (GAB)|(GFG) (GAB)|(GDG) (GAB)|(GE/2F/2G) (GAB)|


Notation generated by the mandolintab converter:


Download the exported high-resolution PDF here:

jimmy_wards_variations.pdf


Creating Incipt Cheat Sheets


To create two-measure incipit cheat sheets from ABC tune collections, I use EasyABC

Click here to download a 1320 tune PDF-format cheat sheet created with EasyABC:

1320 Tune Incipit Cheat Sheet


Tip Jars


If you find this useful, please consider
tossing a few bucks into one of my virtual tip jars:

PayPal
https://paypal.me/MichaelEskin

Venmo
@MichaelEskin

Zelle
6193681854