abc2midi - converts abc file to MIDI file(s)
abc2midi infile [refnum] [-c] [-v] [-ver] [-t] [-n limit] [-RS]
[-quiet] [-Q tempo] [-NFNP] [-OCC] [-o outfile]
The default action is to write a MIDI file for each abc tune
with the filename <stem>N.mid, where <stem> is the filestem
of the abc file and N is the tune reference number. If the -o
option is used, only one file is written. This is the tune
specified by the reference number or, if no reference number
is given, the first tune in the file.
refnum process the tune with reference number refnum
-c selects checking only
-v selects verbose option
-ver prints version number and exits
-t selects filenames derived from tune titles
-RS use 3:1 instead of 2:1 for broken rhythms
-quiet Suppresses some commong warnings.
-n X limits the length of the file name stem to X characters
sets the default tempo in quarter notes per minute if it was not
specified in the abc header.
-NFNP Ignore any dynamic indications !f! !ff! etc.
-OCC Accept old chord convention (eg +D2G2+ instead of [DG]2).
write output to outfile
* Broken rythms (>, <), chords, n-tuples, slurring, ties, staccatto
notes, repeats, in-tune tempo/length/time signature changes are all
* R:hornpipe or r:hornpipe is recognized and note timings are adjusted
to give a broken rhythm (ab is converted to a>b).
* Most errors in the abc input will generate a suitable error message
in the output and the converter keeps going.
* Comments and text fields in the abc source are converted to text
events in the MIDI output
* If guitar chords are present, they are used to generate an
accompaniment in the MIDI output.
* If there are mis-matched repeat signs in the abc, the program
attempts to fix them. However, it will not attempt this if a multi-part
tune description has been used or if multiple voices are in use.
* Karaoke MIDI files can be generated by using the w: field to include
* Nonnumeric voice id’s, eg. V: soprano, as proposed for the new abc
standard is accepted.
* Invisible rests specified by x are treated the same way as normal
* Decorations may be indicated using either the deprecated notation
(eg. !fermata!) or the standard version 2.0 notation (eg. +fermata+).
* No field is inherited from above the X: field of the tune.
ABC SYNTAX EXTENSIONS
* There are some extensions to the abc syntax of the form
%%MIDI channel n
These control channel and program selection, transposing and various
other features of abc2midi.
Each of these should appear on a line by itself. All of them are
allowed within the abc tune body. By using these in combination with
the part notation, one can, for example, play a part transposed or in a
The idea behind this syntax is that other programs will treat it as a
comment and ignore it.
%%MIDI channel n
selects melody channel n (in the range 1-16).
%%MIDI program [c] n
selects program n (in the range 1-128) on channel c. If c is not given,
the program is selected on the current melody channel. Most modern tone
generators follow the General MIDI standard which defines the
instrument type for each program number.
%%MIDI beat a b c n
controls the way note velocities are selected. The first note in a bar
has velocity a. Other "strong" notes have velocity b and all the rest
have velocity c. a, b and c must be in the range 0-128. The parameter n
determines which notes are "strong". If the time signature is x/y, then
each note is given a position number k = 0, 1, 2 .. x-1 within each
bar. Note that the units for n are not the unit note length. If k is a
multiple of n, then the note is "strong". The volume specifiers !ppp!
to !fff! are equivalent to the following :
!ppp! = %%MIDI beat 30 20 10 1
!pp! = %%MIDI beat 45 35 20 1
!p! = %%MIDI beat 60 50 35 1
!mp! = %%MIDI beat 75 65 50 1
!mf! = %%MIDI beat 90 80 65 1
!f! = %%MIDI beat 105 95 80 1
!ff! = %%MIDI beat 120 110 95 1
!fff! = %%MIDI beat 127 125 110 1
%%MIDI beatmod n
Increments by n (or decrements if n is negative) the velocities a, b
and c described above. The instructions !crescendo(! and !crescendo)!
are equivalent to inserting a %%MIDI beatmod 15 whereever they occur.
(Alternatively you can use !<(! and !<)!.) Similarly the instructions
!diminuendo(! and !diminuendo)! are equivalent to %%MIDI beatmod -15.
%%MIDI deltaloudness n
where n is a small positive number. By default the crescendo and
diminuendo instructions modify the beat variables a, b, and c by 15
velocity units. This instruction allows you to set this default to
For instruments such as church organ that have no greatly emphasized
beat notes, using this will force use of the ’b’ velocity (see %%MIDI
beat) for every note irrespective of position in the bar. This allows
dynamics (ff, f, etc) to be used in the normal way.
Revert to emphasizing notes the the usual way. (default)
%%MIDI beatstring <string of f, m and p>
This provides an alternative way of specifying where the strong and
weak stresses fall within a bar. ’f’ means velocity a (normally
strong), ’m’ means velocity b (medium velocity) and ’p’ means velocity
c (soft velocity). For example, if the time signature is 7/8 with
stresses on the first, fourth and sixth notes in the bar, we could use
%%MIDI beatstring fppmpmp
%%MIDI transpose n
transposes the output by the specified number of semitones. n may be
positive or negative.
%%MIDI rtranspose n
Relative transpose by the specified number of semitones. i.e. %%MIDI
transpose a followed by %%MIDI rtranspose b results in a transposition
of a+b. %%MIDI transpose b will result in a transposition of b
semitones, regardless of any previous transposition.
%%MIDI c n
specifies the MIDI pitch which corresponds to c. The default is 60.
This number should normally be a multiple of 12.
%%MIDI grace a/b
sets the fraction of the next note that grace notes will take up. a
must be between 1 and b-1. The grace notes may not sound natural in
this approach, since the length of the individual grace notes vary with
the complexity of the grace and the length of the following note. A
different approach (which is now the default) assumes that the grace
notes always have a fixed duration. To use the other approach you
%%MIDI gracedivider b
where b specifies how many parts to divide the unit length specified by
the L: field command. For example if b = 4 and L: = 1/8, then every
grace note would be 1/(8*4) or a 32nd note. Time would be stolen from
the note to which the grace notes are applied. If that note is not long
enough to handle the grace then the grace notes would be assigned 0
%%MIDI chordname name n1 n2 n3 n4 n5 n6
Defines how to play a guitar chord called "name". n1 is usually 0 and
n2, n3 to n6 give the pitches of the other notes in semitones relative
to the root note. There may be fewer than 6 notes in the chord, but not
more.If "name" is already defined, this command re-defines it. Unlike
most other commands, chordname definitions stay in effect from where
they are defined to the end of the abc file. The following illustrates
how m, 7, m7 and maj7 could be set up if they were not already defined.
%%MIDI chordname m 0 3 7
%%MIDI chordname 7 0 4 7 10
%%MIDI chordname m7 0 3 7 10
%%MIDI chordname maj7 0 4 7 11
%%MIDI gchord string
sets up how guitar chords are generated. The string is a sequence made
of of z’s, c’s f’s and b’s for rests, chords, fundamental and
fundamental plus chord notes respectively. This specifies how each bar
is to be played. An optional length is allowed to follow the z’s, c’s
f’s and b’s e.g. czf2zf3. If the abc contains guitar chords, then
abc2midi automatically adds chords and fundamentals after encountering
the first guitar chord. It keeps using that chord until a new chord is
specified in the abc. Whenever the M: field is encountered in the abc,
an appropriate default string is set :
For 2/4 or 4/4 time default is equivalent to : %%MIDI gchord fzczfzcz
For 3/4 time default is equivalent to : %%MIDI gchord fzczcz
For 6/8 time default is equivalent to : %%MIDI gchord fzcfzc
For 9/8 time default is equivalent to : %%MIDI gchord fzcfzcfzc
The gchord command has been extended to allow you to play the
individual notes comprising the guitar chord. This allows you to play
broken chords or arpeggios. The new codes g,h,i,j, G,H,I,J reference
the individual notes starting from the lowest note of the chord (not
necessarily the root in the case of inversions). For example for the C
major chord, g refers to C, h refers to E and i refers to G. For a
gchord command such as,
%%MIDI gchord ghih
Abc2midi will arpeggiate the C major guitar chord to CEGE. The upper
case letters G,H,I, and J refer to the same notes except they are
transposed down one octave. Note for the first inversion of the C major
chord (indicated by "C/E"), E would be the lowest note so g would
reference the note E.
Like other gchord codes, you may append a numeral indicating the
duration of the note. The same rules apply as before. You can use any
combination of the gchord codes, (fcbghijGHIJz).
%%MIDI chordprog n
Sets the MIDI instrument for the chords to be n.
%%MIDI bassprog n
Sets the MIDI instrument for the bass notes to be n.
%%MIDI chordvol n
Sets the volume (velocity) of the chord notes at n.
%%MIDI bassvol n
Sets the volume (velocity) of the bass notes at n. There is no
corresponding melodyvol command since there are 3 velocity values for
melody, set using the beat command.
Turns on guitar chords (they are turned on by default at the start of a
Turns off guitar chords.
Turns on a continuous drone (used in bagpipe music) consisting of two
notes. By default the notes are A, and A,, played on a bassoon at a
velocity of 80. This can be configured by the %%MIDI drone command
Turns off the continous drone.
%%MIDI drone n1 n2 n3 n4 n5
Sets the drone parameters where n1 is the MIDI program, n2 and n3
specify the MIDI pitches of the two notes in the chord, and n4 and n5
specify the MIDI velocities of the two notes. If you do not set these
parameters they are by default 70 45 33 80 80. A value of zero or less
indicates that the setting of this parameter should be left as it is.
%%MIDI drum string [drum programs] [drum velocities]
This sets up a drum pattern. The string determines when there is a drum
beat and the drum program values determine what each drum strike sounds
e.g. %%MIDI drum d2zdd 35 38 38 100 50 50
The string may contain ’d’ for a drum strike or ’z’ for a rest. By
default a voice starts with no drum pattern and ’%%MIDI drumon’ is
needed to enable the drumming. The drum pattern is repeated during each
bar until ’%%MIDI drumoff’ is encountered. The %%MIDI drum command may
be used within a tune to change the drum pattern. This command places
the drum sounds on channel 10 and assumes your tone generator complies
with the General Midi standard - if it does not, then you may hear
tones instead of drum sounds.
In both the gchord and drum commands, the standard note length of a
single note f,c,z or d is not set by the L: command. Instead it is
adjusted so that the entire gchord string or drum string fits exactly
into one bar. In other words the duration of each note is divided by
the total duration of the string. This means that, for example, the
drum string "dd" is equivalent to drum string "d4d4". You cannot
currently specify fractions directly (eg. C3/2) as done in the body of
the music, but it is still possible to express complex rhythms. For
example, to indicate a rhythm such as (3ddd d/d/d/d, you would write
the string "d4d4d4d3d3d3d3".
With version 1.54 Dec 4 2004 of abc2midi, notes in chords (eg. [FAc])
are not played in the same instant but offsetted and shortened by 10
MIDI time units. Thus the first note in the chord (eg. F) is played for
the full indicated time, the second note (eg. A) starts 10 MIDI units
later and is shortened by the same amount and the third note starts
another 10 MIDI units later and is shortened by another 10 units. This
introduces an "expressivo" option and avoids the heavy attack. (This
does not apply to gchords or multivoiced chords.) The amount of the
delay and shortening may be configured by the MIDI command
%%MIDI chordattack n
where n is a small number. If n is zero, then abc2midi should behave as
in earlier versions. The delay n is in MIDI time units where there are
480 units in a quarter note beat. The program may not run correctly if
n is too large and there are short chords.
%%MIDI randomchordattack n
Like above except that the delay is a random variable uniformly
distributed between 0 and n-1.
%%MIDI trim x/y
where x and y are two numbers. This command controls the articulation
of notes and chords by placing silent gaps between the notes. The
length of these gaps is determined by x/y and the unit length specified
by the L: command. These gaps are produced by shortening the notes by
the same amount. If the note is already shorter than the specified
gap, then the gap is set to half the length of the note. The fraction
x/y indicates a note duration in the same manner as specified in the
abc file. The actual duration is based on the unit length specified by
the L: field command. It is recommended that x/y be a fraction close to
zero. Note trimming is disabled inside slurs as specified by
parentheses. You can turn off all note trimming by setting x to 0, eg
0/1. By default, note trimming is turned off at the beginning of a tune
or voice command.
%%MIDI drummap note midipitch
Please see abcguide.txt.
COMPATIBILITY WITH DRAFT STANDARD 2.0
The proposed standard introduces a new copyright field using the syntax
%%abc-copyright (c) Copyright John Smith 2003
Abc2midi now inserts this in the MIDI file in the form of a metatext
copyright tag. Changes were made to the event_specific function in
store.c to process the copyright information. It is also copied into
the Karaoke track (if it is created) as as @T field.
abc2ps(1), midi2abc(1), yaps(1).
James Allwright <J.R.Allwright@westminster.ac.uk>
by Seymour Shlien <email@example.com>
This man page describes abc2midi version 1.85 June 25 2006.
Copyright 1999 James Allwright
abc2midi is supplied "as is" without any warranty. It is free software
and can be used, copied, modified and distributed without fee under the
terms of the GNU General Public License.
More complete documentation may be found in abcguide.txt which comes
with the abcMIDI distribution.
25 June 2006