User Guide


You only need a web browser to get started with this. The text is all in spartan, browser-independent HTML - no frames, no cascading stylesheets, no colours, no prescribed fonts, no Javascript, no inline images: nothing that shouldn't work with any browser on any computer today and still work decades from now. You don't need any unusual fonts; you must have a fixed-width one (like Courier) for the ABC music files and the fingering charts, but the bulk of the text will display equally well in any normal font. You don't need a fast processor or a colour monitor (in fact you don't need a monitor at all, a text-to-speech interface will work for everything except the staff notation). You may need a sound card: adequate sound is built into all Macintoshes made in the last ten years, but Windows and Unix machines are of much more variable design.

Navigation and the HTML Files

Links from each chapter lead to tune files, which contain lists of lines like this:

The items following the title are links to the tunes in four different formats. The first two are graphic files (GIFs) of scores in both wide and tall formats, and the last two are sound files - MIDI and QuickTime "movie" files. The sound files are computer realizations, not human performances. For longer pieces there may be links to more than one page of score, and for multi-part pieces there are usually sound files for each voice as well as for the combination.

Preceding the list is a link to the ABC source for the tunes in the chapter.

The table of contents has links to the separate chapters and appendices. Each chapter has a list of links to tune files. And that's all. Nothing is more than two links from the starting point.

The index takes you to the appropriate entry in the list of tunes in each chapter.

The GIF, MIDI and QuickTime Files

The GIF scores are less dense than is usual on paper, to make them more readable on a computer screen. They can all be printed on A4 paper. Usually the wide format will look better, but I've provided the tall format for people who like to put tunes in plastic pockets in A4 folders, and this format will also usually fit on US Letter paper without scaling. I have made the staff lines grey; some printer drivers may have default settings that make them invisible, but these can always be changed.

The MIDI and QuickTime files sound exactly the same; some combinations of hardware and software make one usable but not the other.

The tempi in the sound files are not to be taken as gospel. None of these pieces was published with a metronome mark and their exact speeds are often subject to dispute, or may be varied depending on the dance or other occasion you're playing the tune for.

The sound files do not play the trills marked in the scores; I don't want to enforce my interpretation of how they should be done, so I've left this up to you.

Some Macintosh browsers can't play MIDI files directly off the CD-ROM; you will get an error message from a plug-in saying "invalid sound file". If you copy the whole thing to your hard disk the files will miraculously become valid again. Playback of QuickTime files is not affected by this bug, nor does any software other than browser plug-ins see a problem.

The ABC Files

Each chapter here contains a link to a file containing all its tunes in ABC notation. ABC is a way of writing music in ASCII text, widely used for exchanging folk tunes over the Internet. It can be played directly by computers and used to generate sound files or conventional staff-notation scores; implementations are free or cheap and run on almost every kind of computer system. If laid out legibly, it can also be read directly by humans, which makes it a convenient notation for the blind. The ABC homepage at serves as a starting point to find out what it can represent and what software is available to process it. If you want scores of higher graphical resolution or more compact format than I have provided here, ABC-to-staff-notation software can do it, and there are utilities to transpose tunes or convert them into other music notation formats. Using ABC also lets you add your own chords to the tunes.

The ABC files here were developed using Phil Taylor's integrated ABC editor BarFly for the Macintosh, and all the GIF, MIDI and QuickTime files were generated by it. BarFly allows extensions to ABC which are not yet supported by all the popular ABC implementations; in particular, multiple voices, used here for the duets and tunes with a bass part. Laurie Griffiths' Muse for Windows supports a similar range of ABC constructs. For single-line tunes, the only non-standard features are a few ornament signs ("T" for trill, "M" for mordent), and these can simply be removed without losing much of the tune. But there are serious bugs in some old implementations that were only intended to handle simple music: the original version of abc2ps makes an unusable mess of gracenotes, the Unix and Windows MIDI file generator abc2midi currently gets dotted notes in strathspeys wrong, and there are so many bugs and non-standard features in the widely-used old Windows program ABC2WIN that I suggest you avoid it and will not provide any support over problems arising from using it with my files. The player program ABCMus for Windows works well with these files, and with a bit of rearrangement of the multi-voice pieces, the freeware score generator abcm2ps for Unix and Windows can handle almost all of what I have here, providing much higher print quality.

You should configure your browser to launch your preferred ABC application whenever it follows a link to a file with a ".abc" suffix.

In many cases, the sound files and scores here don't correspond exactly to the ABC. This is because there are a few limitations to BarFly at present which sometimes prevent readable ABC notation from being displayed as readable score notation, and vice versa. Because these limitations are not likely to persist very long, I've made clear ABC my priority and written for imaginary software of the future with the bugs fixed. These scores were created from versions of the ABC files edited in ways that I would rather not have taken as examples of good ABC style. In a few other cases I've made minor edits, particularly to upbeats, so as to make the sound files play smoothly, while retaining the inconsistencies of the original in the ABC provided here.

I have taken great care to make the ABC files as readable as possible in source form; you need to use a fixed-width font when viewing the files to take advantage of this.

ABC also allows for bibliographic information and editorial notes to be incorporated along with the tune (an advantage over conventional notations). I've used this extensively.

Blind Users

All the HTML and ABC text here should be readable by the blind using Lynx or else a more common browser with text-to-speech or text-to-braille software; I've tested them with MacLynx, the Macintosh port. With that version I haven't found any very convenient setup that lets you play the sound files while reading the text at the same time, with the same sort of interaction that sighted users can achieve. This is not an important limitation, but if any blind user figures it out, I would like to be told how.

Structure of the Disk

The CD is dual-format: there are copies of the files in both the Macintosh HFS and Windows/Unix ISO file systems. There is no difference in content between the two, and the only built-in extras Mac users get are the window displayed when the disk loads and the file types (which by default will load the HTML into Netscape, the GIFs into Picture Viewer, the QuickTime files into QuickTime Player, and the ABC files into BarFly). The filenames stay within the 8+3 limitation of the oldest versions of DOS. The Windows version is autorun.

The filenames on both partitions are mixed-case. On Linux this will create problems unless the CD is mounted to allow for them by

mount -t iso9660 -o map=off <device> <mountpoint>

My Rights and Yours

This collection is copyright. Purchasers may copy these files to their own hard disk or more convenient access, but may not make copies of them for any other person. You may print copies of the scores for your own use (or if the CD has been bought by a band, for use among its members), but not for third parties. In particular teachers may not make copies for paying pupils without my written permission; ask me if you want to negotiate a class licence.

I will replace any defective disk if you send it to me, or replace any individual file by email if there's a problem with it.

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Jack Campin
11 Third Street
Midlothian EH22 4PU

phone: 0131 660 4760

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Old Scottish Flute Music
Copyright © 2003, Jack Campin