There seems to be a lot of documentation about ABC notation, the github repository, great tutorials, but also a lot of ways to get lost before getting to what interests us more as questions askers and answers writers: how to actually write ABC notation and how to use it.

Would a few answers to this post be sufficient to direct people with questions about how to use it? Would we have a tag?

More importantly, should we actually do it?


5 Answers 5


Really good point, actually. We will need a post on meta, and our about or FAQ needs a link to "how to use ABCjs" otherwise it will be inaccessible to many.

We will need:

  • a list of basic syntax
  • examples
  • advanced usage
  • links to further docs

The most basic and essential documentation is make it obvious that the capability actually exists. Right now, if I start writing an answer, I can see some icons telling me about formatting options, inserting images, etc, but nothing that tells me I can use ABC.

IMO The next "documentation level" beyond that should be something like this Lilypond Cheat Sheet: http://lilypond.org/doc/v2.16/Documentation/notation/cheat-sheet. Assumes that the user already knows what he/she wants to notate, and give simple examples of how to notate it.

If the "ABC cheat sheet" also has a link to more comprehensive documentation, that is probably enough - but it's important to give a link to what is actually implemented in ABCjs.

If ABC is being used for human communication, it doesn't matter much if Alice uses notation that Bob hasn't seen before, so long as Bob can make a reasonable guess at what it means, or just ignore it. After all, most humans (with the possible exception of Elaine Gould) use that strategy for reading any music notation! But computers don't "use their skill and judgement" in the same way that humans do.


First! The notation have to be indented in the post, with four spaces.

And here are a few links that helped me understand how to use the notation.

  • "First! The notation have to be indented in the post, with four spaces" - So does Music.SE needs to link to the functionality that the "computing" SE sites use for format computer code in questions and answers?
    – user19146
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 22:17

Maybe create a topic on the documentation beta? Special dispensation may be required to accomplish this task, as I do not see an tag on Stack Overflow, and a search only yields eleven results right now.

Of course, then there is the matter of linking to the topic in a manner that encourages Music site users to view it.


I added this meta question where we can add answers as documentation for ABCjs:

Documentation for ABCjs

This is inspired by Andrew's comment about how they did it ion Math.SE:


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