ABC resources

On this page, you can find links to ABC resources on the web. There are other websites that do something similar. For example, there are "specialised" websites that focus on a specific ABC aspect (a tutorial, a directory of ABC tunes or ABC software). Instead of repeating their efforts, we'll point you with to those websites.

If you have a link to add, don't hesitate to let one of us know.

First of all, the place where it all started: Chris Walshaw's ABC homepage.

Also, take a look at Guido Gonzato's ABC Plus project. Its focus is on classical music (with multiple voices, etc.), ease of use and lower level details (e.g., typesetting, MIDI creation). There's lots of very useful information and applications there...

The ABC community

If you're interested in ABC, if you have questions about the use of ABC, if you want to be informed about updates to the ABC standard or ABC applications, if you want to be involved in the discussions about the standard or applications, or if you just want to keep in touch with the on-line ABC community, subscribe to the abcusers mailing list.

Note that the abcusers mailing list has recently moved from its old home at to Yahoo groups!

Learning about ABC

There are several excellent ABC tutorials available on the web:

Finding ABC software

Frank Nordberg maintains a searchable database of abc applications. There's also a comprehensive list of software at Chris Walshaw's homepage.

The first ABC applications, and indeed, a lot of the bleeding-edge tools available now, are command-line applications written primarily for the UNIX operating system. These applications are cross-platform, so they also run under the Windows operating system, but beginning users may want a graphical user interface. Are you one of those? Take a look at the list of graphical ABC applications below.

Graphical ABC applications

A list of cross-platform, Windows and Mac ABC application with a graphical user interface:

Creating printable sheet music

The preferred way to create beautiful, publishing quality sheet music with ABC, is to convert it to PostScript. If you don't know what PostScript is, take a look at this page. Basically, it is a page description language to describe images in a device independent manner, optimized for printing graphics and text. There are several applications that convert ABC tunes to PostScript.

PostScript is supported by default on most UNIX-type systems and MacOS, but Windows users will have to download and install the GhostScript tools.

Because of this lack of PostScript support on the Windows platform, you may want to publish your tunes in a format that is more widely used. The obvious choice then is the Portable Document Format (PDF) that can be read by Adobe's Acrobat Reader. There are no applications that produce PDF from ABC directly, but the conversion from PostScript to PDF is very easily done with the ps2pdf utility (installed on most UNIX systems and included in the GhostScript tools).

Abc to PostScript conversion applications:

Playing ABC tunes

The graphical ABC editors mentioned above have an option to play your tunes in ABC. However, abcMIDI is a dedicated command line application that converts ABC tunes to the MIDI format. If you use an ABC to PostScript converter to produce printable sheet music, then abcMIDI is the ideal choice for listening to the tunes you've transcribed.

Authoring ABC tunes

Because ABC is a text format, you can write ABC tunes with any text editor you like, even a basic one like Windows Notepad. However, there are more powerful editors that support ABC and you may want to use one of those. A few suggestions:

Finding ABC tunes on the web