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WIP .abc editors, compartibility and conversion

Discussion in 'Musical Instruments' started by ollj, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. ollj

    ollj Big Damn Hero

    Not all .abc editors can create .abc files that work well with all players or editors. Because .abc files have different versions, styles and options.

    Way too many .abc files crash starbound clients while they work fine in some editors/players and some editors refuse to load .abc files that work fine in Starbound.

    This thread explains some .abc compatibility and conversion issues. Showing advantages and limits of some editors and players:


    - Maerstro:

    Is a fast and OLD .midi and .abc player, but it should never be used to create .abc files. Fixing the messed up result of maestro to make it SOUND GOOD with starbound is just not worth it.
    While most conversions likely wont crash starbound, it just sounds very bad in starbound, missing a few notes and getting some tempo wrong.

    - Lotro midi player

    Is a newer midi2abc converter, not good, but fast and easy. It limits itself to .abc files with a 3 octave range to make them compatible with the limited instruments of lotro.
    This makes 60% of all songs sound pretty bad due to octave-wrapped sections. You can use midi editors to have more control about the 3-octave-range wrapping, making this the quick and dirty solution, good enough for 70% of all songs. There are no compatibility issues with starbound as it creates very explicit files using barely any shortcuts.


    - EasyABC

    It may be a simple midi2abc converter/player/editor but starbound is still not ready for it, and you have to make make them compatible manually. If you like to do many things manually this may be the better tool. But this just fails to load many older .abc files, being totally smug about it. Is just not backwards compatible enough with older .abc versions. It also ignores a lot of tempo instructions. It also fails by removing ALL z-breaks from the start.

    - MidiZyx2abc

    Is a great FREE midi2abc converter. Uses java so it runs on all its VMs. Sadly it writes "[cd]2" instead of "[c2d2]" and "-[cd]-", and maestro (and likely other players) totally refuse to play that for some reason while it works just fine for Starbound (after the .abc-header is made compatible).
    If you need more than 3 octaves on a single track, this converter is a good and EASY start. But some manual .abc editing is still needed and maestro likely wont like the resulting .abc file. cry me a river.

    - Harmony Assistant

    This is not free but you can still do a lot with an unregistered version. This is possibly the best .abc editor in existence. like "MidiZyx2abc" the resulting .abc files just need some changes to work in starbound. Sadly is uses many shortcuts and tries to get every detail the midi file into abc notation, and starbound does not understand ALL of those yet, resulting in a messy tempo under some circumstances.

    - notepad++

    There are other.abc editors, but in the end notepad++ is more than enough to edit any .abc file, even without any specific file format support. You can just view and listen to your file with any of the above tools.


    - fixing the .abc-header to work in starbound:

    T:Title %song title
    Z: %whatever, really
    L:1/8 %length
    Q:1/4=118 %tempo

    works fine for "Starbound", "Harmony Assistant" , "Maestro" and many others while all lines that start with


    should be changed into


    because they are often an advanced extra .abc formats that are still unsupported by many players, including Starbound (in some circumstances).


    K:C Maj

    must be changed into



    Some midi players/editors have problems with "|" , " / " , " \ " , "\[" "]2" , "]-". For some this is just bad style and unsupported, for others it works just fine.

    Maestro cant deal with "<" and ">" while those are just fine for Starbound and many others.

    I see no reason to keep any "-" command in any .abc file. it just causes compatibility issues and crashes in some circumstances while I still have to notice an audible difference.


    "(" note triplets, quadruples, quintets..., are just bad and incompatible with too many things. Quantizing the midi file to 1/16th notes is a compatible workaround approximation.


    Some midi files like to switch between M:2/4 and M:4/4 meters, resulting in a very incompatible .abc file. This can simply be fixed by Speedy Midi.


    Some midi files like to change their tempo, and there is nothing you can do about it.


    "V" allows multiple instrument tracks in a single .abc file. Starbound doesn't really like those yet. You have to separate/merge the instruments/tracks before converting the midi to an abc file, using "schwenks midi editor"


    - Speedy Midi

    Is a free and pretty bad midi editor, but its fast, free and it gets octave transposing, instrument copying, tempo-changes and quantizing done quickly. The midi files it creates may be incomparable with a few midi editors because it adds a header.

    - schwenks midi editor

    Is a free and pretty good midi editor. Great to merge instruments and tracks. It Just lacks some functions of Speedy Midi.


    - Neuratron PhotoScore

    Is a nice tool to convert images and .pdf files into midi files. Reading errors can usually be fixed quickly. Using a piano sheet version is generally the better choice for a single Starbound instrument than using an orchestral version as source.

    - Widi

    Is a nice tool to convert .wav files to midi, but a lot of manual work is needed and the resulting file should be quantized with some midi editor.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  2. Koirannue

    Koirannue Void-Bound Voyager

    I'm pretty sure M: works fine. Its pretty important unless all of your music is using the 4/4 time signature as that is what starbound assumes by default.
  3. ollj

    ollj Big Damn Hero

    I am absolutely sure that the "M:" still confuses starbound and other players and may even cause a crash for many files created with Harmony Assistant while just removing the M: from those files makes it work nicely and makes the file very backwards compatible.

    I came across many midi files that change their meter in the middle, and that is one of the first things that I change to a default meter for the whole song.

    A default 4/4 meter that is not even specified is just much more compatible.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  4. Koirannue

    Koirannue Void-Bound Voyager

    How strange, I've transcribed multiple songs and used lines such as "M: 7/8", "M: 5/4", and even "M: 7/8". All of them have played perfectly fine.

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