About This Package

Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention.
Who needs another program that displays music notation?
It turns out I did.

When I started to learn to play the fiddle, I joined a group in Nashville, NOTSBA, or The Nashville Old-Time String Band Association. I learned many Old-Time fiddle tunes from them, but my poor memory kept forgetting them. So I started recording and notating them. You can find some of my notations at their web site on the "Tunes We Play" page.

Of course this meant I had to carry my transcriptions with me all the time and finding the specific tune became unwieldly. I eventually organized them into a book, but even that became a bother.

So, I wrote a quick little program (html page, actually) that would display the chords, was compact, organized by key or alphabetically, and worked on my cheap ($79) tablet.

Now, another frustration emerged. Frequently I could find the tune notated in a songbook, so I was able to quickly set up the chords for a specific tune. Unfortunately the tune was notated in a key different from the key that NOTSBA played the tune in. Also, other jams may play the tune in another key. I'm just not that fast at transposing keys on the fly.

One alternative was to write the chord charts in many keys. Tried it. That got unwieldly really quick. So I wrote a program to transpose the chord charts at the touch of a button. This worked great as long as all I was doing was accompanying the tunes on the guitar or bass, but to play the fiddle I needed a way to remember how to start the tune.

Next step was to list the first few bars of the tune in ABC notation. Of course this meant I had to learn ABC notation, then learn how to play fiddle notes from the ABC list. And it didn't make sense to list the entire tune, so I had to depend on my memory for the rest of the tune.

Curses, foiled again by my bad memory.

So I took the challenge on myself to write a program to display music notation, and of course, to transpose it. This was a marvelous learning experience and resulted in this app.

My goals were to make it small, quick, and easy to use. I think I have met those goals, but some may find it lacking.

So, I showed it to my mandolin playing friend. Turns out he can't read music notation and, duh, he found it lacking. He asked me if I couldn't display the song in tab notation. I said "why not." Turns out tabs are pretty useful for many instruments (and for beginners), that's why there are so many tab selections.

Using ABC to encode the music limits what can be displayed on the score. This package is not intended to replace sheet music, but to be a quick reference, in the theme of a Fake Book. But it does allow me to keep the html (text) files small.

Finally, while you can run the program from the web site, it is really meant to be downloaded to your device. On a device (smartphone, tablet, laptop, PC) it runs very quickly and consumes less space than many programs or apps.


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