The next part of an abc tune is the tune body. The tune body contains the music notes, measure bars, other music symbols and lyrics. Before we enter the music notes, let’s review how abc names the notes on the scale, handles accidentals (sharps and flats), defines the note length, and how rests are entered.
Before we will enter the music notes for the Soprano voice (the top set of notes.), observe the following figure, and “note” how abc differentiates between “A,,” “A,” “A” “a” “a’” and so on. They are all the note “A” but where in the music staff the “A” is depends on capitalization and if a comma or apostrophe (or multiple commas or apostrophes) follow the letter. It’s OK if you refer to this chart as you enter the notes. After you get some practice, you’ll start to remember without looking each note up. A rest is the letter “z”.
Figure 6 - abc note symbols
In the tune header we set the default length of a note to be a quarter note (“L:1/4"). So if we enter a note by itself (i.e. “C”) it will be a quarter note. If we want an eight note (½ the length of a quarter note) we simply enter “C1/2”. A sixteenth note is “C1/4” and so on. As a shortcut we can enter “C/” instead of “C1/2” and “C//” instead of “C1/4”.
Another shortcut provided by abc is for “broken rhythm” situations. It is common in music to have a dotted note followed by a ½ note. For example a dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth note. In such situations the following two abc music lines are the same:
C3/2C1/2 %dotted eighth note followed by sixteenth note
C>C %abc shortcut for dotted note followed by ½ note
Look at Figure 7 and notice the “broken rhythm”
Figure 7 - Note Length and Broken Rhythmexamples in the third staff.
The abc tune body, the place where the notes go!
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