From MusiCAD

MusiCAD can read and write most multi voice ABC tunes from other sources. Since abc-tunes are designed to be written manually you may sometimes need to edit an abc-tune a little bit to get rid of some anomalies/errors produced in hand-writing and/or differences in software.

Much more information regarding ABC notation can be found at

After opening an abc-file you can instruct MusiCAD to use a special template to create a uniform layout for all abc-read tunes.

Abc-files can be edited in source form within MusiCAD: [View|Textdisplay]


An abc-example is listed below.

T:Astleys Ride
af|: d2 d2 d2 cd|e2 e2 e2 fe|dcBA B2 c2|defg agfe|
d2 d2 d2 cd |e2 e2 e2 fe|dcBA B2 c2 |1 d4 d2 af :|2 d4 d2 z A
|:f2 f2 f2 ef|g2 g2 gabg|e2 e2 e2 de|f2 f2 fgaf|
d2 d2 d2 cd |e2 e2 e2 fe|dcBA B2 c2 |1 d4 d2 zA :|2 d4 d2 z2||

Resulting in:

Astleys ride.png

On abc-import the abc-key-fields are copied to corresponding MusiCAD text-fields:

A (author) Author
B (book) Info
C (composer) Composer, Arranger
D (discography) Info
G (group) Tuning
H (history) Info
O (origin) Country, Area
N (notes) Comment
R (rhythm) Style
S (source) Source
T (Title) Title, Subtitle, SubTitle2
Z (transcription notes) Arranger

When exporting a tune as abc-file, the reverse is performed, note however that there is no 1 to 1 correspondence between abc-key-fields and MusiCAD text fields.

A large part of the abc-2.1 standard is implemented with a few exceptions:

  • macro's (unlikely to be going implemented ever)
  • styles (unlikely to be going implemented ever)
  • multi-line-inline lyrics

ABC with multiple songs

When you open an ABC file that contains more than 1 music, you will get a list with the relevant music from which you can choose 1.


Standing behind each other:

  • Sequence number in the .abc file
  • Title
  • Information:
    • A if the melody contains chord symbols (or something that looks like chord symbols)
    • W if the melody contains a text block with lyrics
    • w if the melody lyrics is specified in.
  • number of parts in the music

After pressing [OK] MusiCAD translates the chosen music (as best as possible) into a MC-file after which you get this on your screen for editing.

For more information about the abc standard see:

Unsupported facilities

MusiCAD can read and write most ABC files quite well, including polyphonic scores. Not all facilities of the abc standard 2.0 are available such as:

  • abc macros
  • style sheets
  • symbol-lines (lines containing only symbols, starting with s: )


MusiCAD offers a number of features that are not supported in standard abc such as percussion and note shape.

MusiCAD note-shape

The extra 'decorations' below are used by MusiCAD when saving and reading abc.

MusiCAD capability Decoration short form
cue notes !sSmall! !.!
percussionsign X !sCross! !X!
percussion mark X with - (cymbal crash) !sDash! !x!
percussion mark X with O (hi-hat open) !sCircle! !O!
percussion mark / !sSlash! !/!
note shape triangle !sTriangle! !T!
note shape open diamond (flageolet) !sDOn! !Q!
note shape open diamond (flageolet) !sDClosed! !q!

With redefining in abc you can write down percussion relatively easily

   U: k=!sCross!
   U: o=!sCircle!
   U: q=!sDash!