ABC Music Notation: Comments

by John Chambers
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ABC uses the percent (%) character to mean "Ignore the rest of this line." You can use this to add any text you want to an ABC tune, and it will be ignored by ABC software.

One simple use of this is to put a line with just a % into a tune as a separator. You may have noticed that, since an ABC tune ends with the first blank line, you can't have a blank line inside a tune. But sometimes you want one to make things more readable. A line with just a % will do the job.

Another way in which % is used is as a sort of "escape" to pass non-ABC information to particular ABC programs. There are several ABC tools that use this, mostly in the form of lines that start with %%.

You can give formatting information to abc2ps with %% lines. The same information can be given in the command-line arguments, or in a file whose name ends in .fmt, but these can only set global formatting options. If you want to make changes, it is often convenient to embed the commands in the ABC itself.
You can specify such things as instruments and loudness in %%MIDI lines.

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Copyright 2001, 2002 by John Chambers