The purpose of this page is to help you to copy abc code for a tune and display it on a screen or print it out, preserving the formatting so it looks like the tunes in the PDF documents on this web site.
Important Note #1: There is some explanatory material on this page. You can probably skip the first part and still use the header, but if you read it you'll know better what you're doing and why.
Important Note #2: If you don’t know much about how abc notation works, you might find this material easier to understand if you read the Introduction to abc Notation page. It explains the workings of the different parts of the abc document, and provides links to web sites with further information.
You might find it useful to read the other tabs on this page if you have any questions about the document header.
Important: Text may appear to be cut off or poorly formatted on small/medium sized screens but it will look fine after being pasted into an abc document.
In transcribing a tune we are concerned with two types of information: the actual tune (melody, chords, etc.), and how we want the resulting musical notation to look. This corresponds to the two parts of a tune in abc notation.
The Tune Body contains code for the music, and the Tune Header describes important qualities of the tune (title, composer, meter, key, etc.). From this the abc reader software can generate standard musical notation for the tune, and it can play the tune. But the notation may not look like you want it to look. The fonts might not seem right, the margins may not be as you want, etc.
This is where the File Headers come in. File headers contain formatting commands to specify aspects of the appearance of the tune notation: font and font size for the title, composer, chords and more. They may specify the size of the noteheads, space between staffs, margins, and nearly everything else you might want to format.
Here’s where we run into problems. Both the Document and Tune File Headers are part of an abc document but not part of any tune. These days one of the easiest ways to find a tune transcription is to use one of the abc search web sites (e.g. JC's ABC Tune Finder or the search page of The abc Home Page). But they only find the Tune Header and Tune Body. Because they aren’t part of any specific tune, the File Headers get lost. In addition to important formatting commands, these headers often contain information necessary for the tune to be processed correctly (e.g. abc version number, user-defined symbols).
It's pretty easy. The Document File Header is reproduced in the next tab. To copy a tune, do the following. I'll assume you're using EasyABC on a Mac, but the steps will be very similar for most modern abc software on a Mac or Windows computer.
That's it — you're done!
If you're planning on using a web-based application, you might find it easiest to create your abc document first and then paste the code into the appropriate place.