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Information fields


Any line beginning with a letter followed by a colon (:) is interpreted as an information field. These fields carry information like title, meter, key, clef etc.

Most of the information fields are used in the header, but some may also occur in the tune body. If you need an information filed inside of a line (e.g. a clef change) you must enclose the field in brackets (e.g. "[K:bass]").

The following table summarizes names and scopes of all information fields.

Field Meaning Scope Example
A: area header A:Hintertupfingen
B: book header B:Manuscript Siena
C: composer header C:P.D.Q. Bach
D: discography header  
E: layout parameter header, body (see sec. Format fine tuning)
F: file name header F:
G: group header G:Passiontide
H: history header H:bla fasel....
K: key and clef header (last entry), body K:D treble
L: default note length header, body L:1/8
M: meter header, body M:3/4
N: notes header N:see also EKG 280
O: origin header O:Jiddish
P: parts header, body P:A
Q: tempo header Q:"Andante"
S: source header S:Zupfgeigenhansel 1908
T: title header T:Yesterday
V: voice header, body V: Vc clef=bass
w: lyrics body w:Ye-ster-day all my troub-les
W: words body W: 2. Yesterday life was such an
X: reference number header (first entry) X:1
Z: transcription note header Z:from photocopy

Particular fields

Tune title. Some tunes have more than one title and so this field can be used more than once per tune - the first time will generate the title whilst subsequent usage will generate the alternatives in small print. The T: field can also be used within a tune to name parts of a tune - in this case it should come before any key or meter changes.

Key and clef. See section key and clef for more details.

Default note length. Examples are "L:1/4" (quarter note), "L:1/8" (eighth note), "L:1/16" (sixteenth). If not specified, the default note length is calculated automatically from the meter field: the time signature is converted to its decimal value; if the value is 0.75 or higher, the default is L:1/8; if the value is less than 0.75, the default is L:1/16. Beware however that it is generally not a good idea to use implicit defaults.

Meter. Apart from the normal meters, e.g. "M:6/8" or "M:4/4", the symbols "M:C"and "M:C|" give common time and cut time respectively. The denominator can be ommitted, in which case "4" is assumed for the denominator and only the numerator is printed in the music; this is most often used for triple time "M:3".
To avoid the printing of a meter notation you can specify "M:none", which implicitly assumes 4/4 for the calculation of the default note length. "M:none" is the default meter value.
In case the printed meter specification differs from the mathematical meter (eg. "C|" is used for 2/2, 2/1 or any other even time), you can add the parameter display, eg. "M:2/1 display=C|" which will print "C|", but use 2/1 for internal bar numbering. Note that this is incompatible to the abc standard; for a compatible way, use the format parameter %%meterdisplay.

Parts. Can be used in the header to state the order in which the tune parts are played, i.e. "P:ABABCDCD", and then inside the tune to mark each part, i.e. "P:A" or "P:B".

Tempo. Prints out tempo denotations. General form is Q: w1 w2 w3 ... where each word is either string in double quotes such as "Andante" or "Bossa Nova" or a metronome mark such as C or C=120 or 120. Strings are printed directly, metronome marks are translated to the form note=100. When you only need metronome marks for abc2midi, but do not want them printed, use the format parameter %%printmetronome.

Group. To group together tunes for indexing purposes.

History. Can be used for multi-line stories/anecdotes, all of which will be ignored until the next field occurs.

Voice. See section Scores for details on how to specify and address different voices.

next up previous contents index
Next: Music Up: abctab2ps User's Guide Previous: General structure   Contents   Index
Christoph Dalitz 2011-04-26