So, I’ve been tinkering with learning music a bit lately. And I’ve found some bits of software that might be useful to folks who want to learn stuff too!
First up, there are two different notations of music I’ve been working with: Sheet Music, Tablature. And there are two different file formats I’ve been working with: TEF and ABC
Sheet music is just normal music notation. Sheet music is actually kind of difficult to work with digitally. It’s usually printed on paper, or in an image file, or a PDF. It’s rather hard to feed sheet music into a computer, but it’s pretty easy to generate sheet music with a computer. It’s also generic enough that you can use a piece of sheet music for many different instruments. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheet_music
Tablature is a way to represent how you play a particular song on a particular instrument. Guitar and Banjo tabs are extremely common. It’s a bit hard to read sheet music and play it on a banjo, because the strings on a banjo aren’t in order. So instead you take a piece of music, and write down what string you hold down on what fret to achieve each note in the song. You can get tab for just about any instrument. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tablature
TEF is a proprietary format that can be used to store and edit sheet music. Software to use it is expensive, and clunky. However, finding already existing TEF files is extremely easy.
ABC is an open source format that is human readable, and there is a lot of software than can read it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABC_notation
So, to get plain sheet music and tabs for banjo, I’ve found it useful to get them from http://banjotabs.org/ They have tabs specifically meant for banjo, which is the main thing I’ve been tinkering with. Sheet music is included. They are part of a network of sites that have tabs for many different instruments (http://riffspot.com/) including guitar tabs http://guitartab.fm/
You can get a lot of tabs and sheet music in TEF format (and some pdf and images) from http://www.banjohangout.org/ Most of the tabs here are too advanced for me, but still interesting. I’m contemplating doing their video lessons. They also are part of a network, and have one for guitar, and fiddle http://www.flatpickerhangout.com/ and http://www.fiddlehangout.com/
But a great source of music is at http://abcnotation.com/ They have a ton of music, in ABC format.
The best software I have found so far to open TEF is nothing. Really the only software you can use is TablEdit, which is costs over $50. They have a free demo, but honestly it’s not that great. http://www.tabledit.com/ The software feels old, clunky, and buggy. There however is an iPad version named TEFpad and TEFView, which is free. Except it uses in app purchases in order to make it so you can actually edit anything of decent size. It is also extremely clunky to use. HOWEVER! TEFpad generates about the best banjo tab I have seen. Interestingly, TEFpad can open ABC formatted files also.
The best software I have found so far to open ABC is ABCexplorer. The website isn’t much to look at perhaps, but the software is truly awesome. http://abc.stalikez.info/abcex.php/ It’s about the best way I’ve seen to create music without spending hundreds. You can use an onscreen piano keyboard, or type in the notes. And of course you can download tons of free ABC music from all over the web. Also, ABCexplorer is free. It can also do tab for some flute instruments, including my brand new Hall Crystal Flute.
There also is a great ABC viewer and editor for the iPad called Tunebook. It doesn’t do tab, but it lets you create and open ABC files.
So here is my current way of doing things. I find some piece of ABC music, tinker with it in ABCexplorer, and if I decide I like it, I move it to my iPad and open it either in Tunebook or TEFView. If I want to edit it, I use Tunebook, if all I want to do is play it, I use TEFView. Tunebook will let me edit it, and then I can open it up in TEFView. In TEFView I can view the music as sheet music, or banjo tab, or flute tab, or guitar tab, or whatever other tab I want.
Do you have any other useful tab or music sites or tools you use?