ABC Music Notation: Character Sets

byJohn Chambers
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Character Sets

The question of character sets has only partly been handled in ABC. The original abc2mtex program used TeX escape sequences to get more than the 7-bit ASCII character set. A lot of ABC programs accept many of these, at least the Western European (Latin-1) letters. This is done with the same sort of escape sequence.

Here is a list of escape sequences that are currently in use. Note that the final {} is required in TeX, but most ABC tools let you omit it, so you only need a backslash and the 1- or 2-char symbol.

TeX ABC char Description
\"A{} \"A Ä A-umlaut
\"a{} \"a ä a-umlaut
\'A{} \'A Á A-acute
\'a{} \'a á a-acute
\`A{} \`A À A-grave
\`a{} \`a à a-grave
\^A{} \^A Â A-circumflex
\"a{} \"a â a-circumflex
\~A{} \~A Ã A-tilde
\~a{} \~a ã a-tilde
\AA{} \AA Å A-ring
\aa{} \aa å a-ring
\AE{} \AE Æ AE-ligature
\ae{} \ae æ ae-ligature
\,C{} \,C Ç C-cedille
\,c{} \,c ç c-cedille
\"E{} \"E Ë E-umlaut
\"e{} \"e ë e-umlaut
\'E{} \'E É E-ecute
\'e{} \'e é e-ecute
\`E{} \`E È E-grave
\`e{} \`e è e-grave
\^E{} \^E Ê E-circumflex
\"e{} \"e ê e-circumflex
\"I{} \"I Ï I-umlaut
\"i{} \"i ï i-umlaut
\'I{} \'I Í I-icute
\'i{} \'i í i-icute
\`I{} \`I Ì I-grave
\`i{} \`i ì i-grave
\^I{} \^I Î I-circumflex
\"i{} \"i î i-circumflex
\~N{} \~N Ñ N-tilde
\~n{} \~n ñ n-tilde
\"O{} \"O Ö O-umlaut
\"o{} \"o ö o-umlaut
\'O{} \'O Ó O-ocute
\'o{} \'o ó o-ocute
\`O{} \`O Ò O-grave
\`o{} \`o ò o-grave
\^O{} \^O Ô O-circumflex
\"o{} \"o ô o-circumflex
\O{} \O Ø O-slash
\o{} \o ø o-slash
\ss{} \ss ß German sz-ligature
\"U{} \"U Ü U-umlaut
\"u{} \"u ü u-umlaut
\'U{} \'U Ú U-ucute
\'u{} \'u ú u-ucute
\`U{} \`U Ù U-grave
\`u{} \`u ù u-grave
\^U{} \^U Û U-circumflex
\"u{} \"u û u-circumflex

I don't have much information on which ABC programs actually implement all (or part) of this list. If you can document this for one program, send me a note saying what you've learned. Maybe I can put together a table of which program implement which characters.

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Copyright 2001, 2002 byJohn Chambers