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Thread: Notation/Tab Softwares

  1. #1

    Default Notation/Tab Softwares

    Someone in another thread mentioned the "TablEdit" software, but I am taken back by the $60.00 price tag. That just seems too high for a small program. Nevertheless, I have been looking for something like this for a long time, and haven't found anything comparable.

    10+ years ago I used software called "Finale Notepad", and with it I was able to scour the internet for MIDI files to popular songs that I'd like to learn, import it into Finale which converted it into standard notation for me, and press 1 button to transpose them into a key that would be easy to play (was playing a diatonic flute at the time). I'd love to find a free/low cost program that would do this for me today.

    So, what software does everyone here use for reading/editing MIDI, ABC, TAB, etc files? Is there anything available for less than $60?

  2. #2
    Registered User peterleyenaar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    TableEdit is free for the basic version, if you want to edit, write scores or tab, you have to get the piad version.
    BTW, it may be a small program but it is outstanding with very many features, it has helped me a lot

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    If you're on Windows, check out MuseScore 2 (free, open source). I use it for importing ABC or Midi files into a sheet music score, when I want to edit a fiddle tune to correspond to a local version, or in a few cases to transcribe something from scratch. There is an experimental PDF import that kinda works, but may need some hand-edits.

    I use it only in standard notation mode. It has a tablature function, but I haven't used it so I don't know how well it works. Maybe someone else here can comment on that.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    If you're on Windows, check out MuseScore 2 (free, open source). I use it for importing ABC or Midi files into a sheet music score, when I want to edit a fiddle tune to correspond to a local version, or in a few cases to transcribe something from scratch. There is an experimental PDF import that kinda works, but may need some hand-edits.

    I use it only in standard notation mode. It has a tablature function, but I haven't used it so I don't know how well it works. Maybe someone else here can comment on that.
    I'm on Linux, and am excited to see a FOSS option that will run natively. I'll check it out, thanks for the suggestion. I imagine most of this type of software can be emulated in Wine, so windows or linux software will work equally well for me.

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    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    Tabledit is not without its quirks, but as I noted in another thread, it is the best $60 I ever spent on my mandolin habit. I use it daily, often extensively on any given day. If one judges solely on the basis of its user interface, it does have strong competition (like MuseScore, which is free). But .tef files available on the internet seem to outnumber .mscz files by about 50 to 1. I have both, but I can't remember the last time I used MuseScore.

    If you get into Irish/Scottish/Celtic music, you will find a lot of abc notation. While TablEdit does read abc files nicely, it is sometimes convenient to have an abc editor. I use EasyABC, which is freeware.
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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    I’ve been using Notion, by Presonus for a couple of years now on the iPad and use sibelius on the PC.
    Imreally like the versatility of Notion. https://www.presonus.com/products/Notation-Software
    Eoin



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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    A cheaper way is usually my quest too but I didn't have the energy to investigate and don't regret the purchase against what all I've used it for. A little learning curve to use but wasn't painful.

    I've learned a lot having it. I use it to play and edit tabs (usually lowering the difficulty level ) from mandozine.com. Also have used it transcribe solos, write out my own versions of tunes, enter in tab I've found and change key, and even change guitar tab to mandolin with some edit required. The playback feature is useful to hear the tab and also to hear if you did it correctly.

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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    I’m glad to hear the positive endorsement for notion. I just got it a few weeks ago. Are you using hand writing with stylus or mostly punching stuff in manually?

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    Just putting it in click & drop using one of those pens with a rubber cap as stylus.
    I tried it for a while before I upgraded the sound library beyond instslling their guitars and mandolin.
    Eoin



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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    I've been using musescore- it's very capable and the forum is very supportive. It imports Midi qute well - but the pdf import is very hit and miss. Guitar Pro will also import .tef files, and feels a more polished program - though it's equally epensive as Tabledit. I've been importing using a demo version of guitar pro and exportmg musicxml files for musescore.
    For abc notation (which i find bizarre) use http://www.mandolintab.net/abcconverter.php online - and crete either pdf or midi - the midi imports well into musecore. easyABC is fine if you're happy instlling python libs....

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  12. #11

    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    Quote Originally Posted by sportsnapper View Post
    I've been using musescore- it's very capable and the forum is very supportive. It imports Midi qute well - but the pdf import is very hit and miss. Guitar Pro will also import .tef files, and feels a more polished program - though it's equally epensive as Tabledit. I've been importing using a demo version of guitar pro and exportmg musicxml files for musescore.
    For abc notation (which i find bizarre) use http://www.mandolintab.net/abcconverter.php online - and crete either pdf or midi - the midi imports well into musecore. easyABC is fine if you're happy instlling python libs....
    Thanks for the feedback. Musescore sounds like it will work, I just wish it supported more filetypes. I guess I can do the same workaround as you with using demo versions of guitar pro and tabledit. I already have python installed, so easyABC will work for me too.

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    Spencer Sorenson Spencer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    I have used Tabledit for 15+ years, I think when I started it was 20 dollars or so. Since that I have not paid anymore, obtained untold upgrades for my PC, got permission to use it and upgrades on a number of Mac OS X versions, without any additional cost. I also had a problem regarding password that was resolved very efficiently. So it is a one time investment. I haven't used many other programs, but have never found the need to. I have found it extremely useful for converting notation to tablature, and resolving timing problems, a real benefit for practicing and with the Mandozine library of tunes it is a wonderful learning resource at any level. Get the free basic version and play with it a bit, that way you get an idea of how it works before you invest in it. It takes a while. So if you can afford the price, I feel it is a real good investment.

    Spencer

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  15. #13
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    Another tabledit user here, the licensing fee has been worth it for me. I use it for importing ABC in addition to all else, so though I have other programs (including Musescore) TablEdit is the only one I need and use. I'm glad to hear that there are other programs that will import .tef files for those who don't want TablEdit, because there are a lot of .tef resources out there.
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  16. #14

    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    After digging a little deeper into this, I'm finding that there really isn't a very good/clean way to convert TEF files into MusicXML without purchasing TablEdit and saving as MusicXML. I think it is ashame that the MandolinCafe library of tabs is in a proprietary format.

    Certainly these tabs ought to be provided in an open format (MusicXML) in addition to the TablEdit format. I'm willing to do the work to convert the collection over; Is it possible to "barrow" someone's copy of TablEdit to do this? Does anyone else agree that this would be a worthwhile pursuit?

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  18. #15
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    While I have no objection to making MusicXML versions of the MC .tef files available, I would dearly love to see .tef versions of the ascii files. I hate trying to read those things in a text editor. While it is possible to import them into TablEdit (and maybe other software, IDK), it takes me a lot of fiddling and editting to get it in and then find I don't care for the version of whatever tune it was. That would be a project I would be willing to help out on, but I am not willing to be the Lone Ranger on it.
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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    Quote Originally Posted by JerseyPicker View Post
    I think it is ashame (sic) that the MandolinCafe library of tabs is in a proprietary format.
    While this may be one way to look at it, the actual case is that the Mandolin Cafe simply allows users here to upload TablEdit files if they desire to do so; it's a service offered that's much appreciated. It's true that proprietary formats (like Tabledit, Apple device books, etc. etc.) can become popular, and there will always be folk who cry about stuff being in a proprietary format that they don't prefer to use, I take the view that communities of folk who prefer to work and share in those formats provide a great service to one another by sharing.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
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  20. #17
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    If you're on Windows, check out MuseScore 2 (free, open source). I use it for importing ABC or Midi files into a sheet music score, when I want to edit a fiddle tune to correspond to a local version, or in a few cases to transcribe something from scratch.
    I just downloaded it (MuseScore) , and I have to say the instructions are pretty lousy. Doesn't even tell you how to determine the octave of note you want to input.

    I didn't see anything about how to import ABC, which is one feature that is of interest to me as I have 700 or 800 originals saved in ABC, PDF and midi formats. ABC is so straightforward and I've become so adept at it that I can read straight from it or write the code very fast. - I just want something to convert the ABC into a professional looking page for printout* (and generate a midi for audio reference) if/when the mandolintab.net converter is down or my web connection is down/slow.

    * Fastest is just hand notation, which is how everything starts out anyway, but it's faster to then write it out in ABC to print out as a PDF than to go through the hassle of doing pro looking notational calligraphy.

    I used to use MuseEdit years ago, but that program is so old that it won't run on anything beyond XP! Hated Finale(98)
    , a real pain to use.

    So how do you import ABC into Musescore? Thanks.

    Niles H

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    ABC import is done with a plugin. Click Plugin from the top menu, and ABC import should show up there. You get a window where you can either drag in a file, or just paste from the clipboard. Works pretty well most of the time, at least with simple ABC like those on thesession.org database. If the plugin wasn't installed with your musescore distribution, then try this link:

    https://musescore.org/en/project/abc-import

    This does require an Internet connection because it offloads the conversion.

    BTW, I agree that musescore isn't especially intuitive. It took me a while to get comfortable with it, and there's still a lot I don't understand. It's the kind of thing that feels like it was designed by and for programmers, not musicians. But the main functions of larger commercial notation programs are there. It just takes a while to find them. There is also a good user forum for asking questions.

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    I agree abc would be way more efficient and of wider use.

    In case it helps anyone, I’m using Tunebook SD on my iPad for my ABC conversions

    I just cut & paste the abc into the bottom bit and it instantly ptoduces the notation as shown.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    If I need to manipulate it to produce a score or add parts I can click the “Share File” button
    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	164775 and choose which programme to use Click image for larger version. 

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    I often export as midi, which gets good enough results from both Notion and Sibelius, to get a start before getting more complex arrangements built.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This plus iClip Stage is what I’ve come down to as my basic setup, having paid for many full versions of other software including Sibelius, Tabledit and MuseScore, (plus OnSong and iRealPro which I still dabble in, but haven’t really found a big use for.)
    Last edited by Beanzy; Feb-09-2018 at 12:15am.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

  23. #20

    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    ... having paid for many full versions of other software including Sibelius, Tabledit and MuseScore, (plus OnSong and iRealPro which I still dabble in, but haven’t really found a big use for.)
    Hope someone didn't try to charge you for MuseScore, that would be some sort of scam I'd think. The MuseScore software is free. Last I checked, they accept voluntary donations but it's not required. But as with anything else, there are going to be scam sites that try to sell people something that's free.

    Unless you were referring to their subscription thing? Meh, I don't know what they were thinking when they came up with that subscription idea, I just ignore it. I only use the actual MuseScore app that's installed on my computer, I have no need to put stuff on their website. (YouTube is all I can keep up with, I don't need any additional accounts to try to keep track of.) Once in a while I do make my own screen-capture videos of MuseScore playback, to eventually turn into play-along scrolling-tab videos (example) for YouTube, but I'm *not* using their subscription thing to do that, instead I'm using 3rd-party screen capture software (Bandicam) and 3rd-party video editor (Adobe After Effects) to make the videos.



    FWIW:
    A MuseScore 2.1 tutorial I made last year. It covers all the basic stuff (or so I thought at the time, anyway) in one 23 minute video, including converting standard notation into tab (at 14:08), transposing keys (at 3:37), adding lyrics (at 4:51), adding chord-names (at 2:43), and a bunch of other stuff, pretty much the basic stuff I use for making lead-sheets and fiddle tunes and mandolin tab and songs with lyrics. On the YouTube page if you scroll down below the video and click "Show More" you'll see a complete index of all the topics that are covered in the video. There are other sort of more-advanced things that, in retrospect, I probably should have put in the video, for instance I didn't mention MIDI or ABC (I wasn't using those at the time, I didn't know). Heh if MuseScore 3 ever comes out I guess it will be time to redo the video (again).

  24. #21
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    Small donation. I tend to do that if I’m going to use stuff ‘in anger’ as the saying goes.
    I just have images of some poor bugger tapping away into the night to build their dream, so stick something in the jar.
    I just found it not very useful by comparison with the rest so stopped using it.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    Small donation. ...
    Same here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    ... I just have images of some poor bugger tapping away into the night to build their dream, so stick something in the jar. ...
    Lol yeah me too, depending on the project.

    I'm more inclined to donate to projects that have developers who treat users nicely. So far anyway, most of what I've seen of MuseScore, is in that category.

    Contrasted with some of the other OSS projects I've run across (mostly back during my Linux days) where the typical developer attitude was all too often some snarky thing like "Well if you don't like it, then go write and compile your own version." Ugh. Not helpful, and not a good way to get people to donate to the cause or even to report bugs. Not all of us are cut out to be programmers (I tried, didn't get very far with it).

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    ... I just found it not very useful by comparison with the rest ...
    "Comparison", well that's where I'm lacking, I haven't tried most of the rest of the notation apps (too expensive).

    Except for TablEdit, I bought the full version of that a few years ago. About the only time I use TablEdit anymore is to create tef files for other people who prefer that format.

    But for my own music-writing, nowadays I prefer the tablature-equipped Version 2 of MuseScore - once I finally figured out how to use the darn thing, that is.

    A year or two ago I did test-drive a couple of demo versions of something, don't remember what (not the full versions of Sibelius or Finale or whatever, couldn't afford those), all I remember is that they seemed like stripped down feature-removed marginally-useful apps that didn't have much flexibility as to formatting etc. Guess I'd already gotten accustomed to the tons of formatting & page-layout options in MuseScore, and once you get used to that, anything 'less' seems restrictive.

    I've become a "slow learner" in my old age, and at first I had a tough time figuring out how to do anything in MuseScore - that's when it was still back on version 1.x a few years ago. My difficulty in figuring it out was what eventually prompted me to make tutorials for it, thinking maybe that would save someone else the trouble of having to start from scratch in understanding the basics.

  27. #23
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    I know what you mean about slow learner, I often make repeated errors travelling through menus and options in all sorts of programmes. But there are so many capabilities and rabbit holes to dive down,I think it’s just that we’re involved in learning much more complex stuff where the craft is often a few steps removed from the intuitive. I really realise the power of this music and publishing software when I think what this kit can do by comparison with where I started with scalpel in hand, doing cross-fades with a scalpel & sticky tape, timing the fade with a ruler. Then the music scores were done with another scalpel chopping out titles and pasting them on the header with cow-gum. & I’m only 52! So it’s been a pretty quick development window to getting it in the hands of amateurs for the price of a weeks coffees or nights beers.
    Eoin



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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    If you're on Windows, check out MuseScore 2 (free, open source). I use it for importing ABC or Midi files into a sheet music score, when I want to edit a fiddle tune to correspond to a local version, or in a few cases to transcribe something from scratch. There is an experimental PDF import that kinda works, but may need some hand-edits.

    I use it only in standard notation mode. It has a tablature function, but I haven't used it so I don't know how well it works. Maybe someone else here can comment on that.
    the tab converter seems to work pretty well. I don't read tab or ABC but have used it to convert stuff I've written for others.
    MuseScore does seem to be geared more towards users who are actually writing stuff rather than converting midi files and the rest to traditional notation or whatever crib is popular that day. I found the learning curve for the most part short and at this point can input stuff pretty much as fast as I can type. It's quite helpful to have a keyboard with a number pad on the side as well as on the top row.
    Plus it's free.

    I've never seen the point of learning some complicated system of ABC's, numbers on lines, or whatever. If you're going to take all that time to figure that out why not just read standard notation? meh, to each his own. You want to walk uphill both ways go right ahead.

  30. #25
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation/Tab Softwares

    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Monkey View Post
    I've never seen the point of learning some complicated system of ABC's, numbers on lines, or whatever. If you're going to take all that time to figure that out why not just read standard notation? meh, to each his own. You want to walk uphill both ways go right ahead.
    I've heard two rationales for ABC notation that make some sense, and I've also seen the practical side of it. First, it was developed (in the 70's, I think?) as a way for "folk" instrumentalists, and especially players of Irish trad, to quickly jot out a tune on a napkin or something and pass it along, without needing lined scores.

    Then, when widespread use of computers and the Internet arrived, ABC was an ideal storage medium for things like "fiddle tunes" because it's plain ASCII text. It's highly compressible in databases like the one at thesession.org. Easy to store, retrieve and display. Also very easy to edit, compared to graphics-based notation or proprietary formats like Finale or Sibelius.

    I don't read ABC myself, but my fiddler Significant Other does. We both read standard notation as well, but I'm much slower at it. She can take an ABC file from thesession.org and make a few quick edits in Notepad to adjust a fiddle tune to the local variant. Then she runs it through an ABC/Standard Notation converter, and has sheet music printed out faster than going into an actual sheet music program. So ABC has its uses, for those who are fluent in it.

    I use MuseScore because I haven't learned ABC, so I'm more comfortable working in standard notation. MuseScore is also good for transcriptions, because I can compare a slowed-down audio recording with Midi output from the notes I'm inputting. I don't have my S.O.'s ability to just hear the note in her head when looking at notation, to know if it's right or not.

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