ABC music notation has only been around since the 1990s, and is a very straightforward way of representing standard musical notation in plain text. Plain text files take up far less space on your hard drive than a collection of graphic pdf files. Yes, hard drives are very big nowadays, but plain text is still faster over the Internet than graphic files. This makes ABC music notation files much nicer for downloading and emailing your friends too, and is likely the biggest reason hundreds of tune-swapping websites have sprung up offering hundreds of downloadable ABC music books, not just individual music pieces.
1. Choose and install an ABC editing program compatible to your operating system (see Resources below). Many of these packages are free.
2 Get the manual. Whether or not you choose the program ABC-Edit, the ABC-Edit home page offers a very nice downloadable manual in pdf format, covering the standards for reading and writing ABC notation. This will help you understand what is going on
3.ABC editing programs read and write ABC file types, which end in the .abc extension. Actually, even a plain text editor like Windows Notepad will open and edit an ABC file. It just won't play it back or convert it to standard sheet music for you. If you have Windows set to hide the extensions on file names, you will not see the extensions, but the associated icon will not match ordinary text files. Don't let that worry you.
4. Find ABC music file sources online, and run wild like a kid in a candy store, downloading everything you ever wanted to learn to play that isn't copyright protected. Amazingly, there is more great music out there than you could ever play in several lifetimes, that is either traditional (meaning never copyrighted), or whose copyright has expired
5. Open one of these ABC files with your chosen software, select the piece you want to view, edit or print. You will see the ABC software give you the equivalent standard sheet music in another screen panel.
6. Print the sheet music. Some of these programs, such as ABC-Edit, will even convert directly to pdf for you so that you can email the pdf file around and not insist your friends install ABC software to read the music you send them. But even if your software doesn't have a built-in pdf function, there are a few pdf programs online that will install as a virtual printer on your computer, which you then just select from your regular print function in any program to create the pdf file you want.