tx2Mus → ♪♩♬
tx2Mus is a musical scripting language for converting note names to printed staff notation.
For help, see tx2Mus script guide below. For writing harmony, see tx2muSATB.

Clef:      Tonic:      Key:       Meter:      Default Rhythm:

m.1  m.2  m.3  m.4  | m.5 etc.

Name:     Title:     Course:


     tx2Mus → ♪♩♬ script guide

      All notes must be followed by a space. Illegible notes (i.e., gibberish) will appear as a ! on the score. Each input box is a separate measure of music and will automatically appear between the appropriate bar lines on the staff. Click on a box to enter it or jump between boxes using [Tab] and [Shift-Tab]. If you need to transcribe more than 4 measures, you can create additional bar lines by typing the vertical line character | . If the melody becomes too long to fit on a single line, you can insert a $ to force a new staff system. Drag the lower-right corner of any text box to enlarge it.

      Note names are entered as letters of the alphabet (e.g., c, D, e, etc.) and are assumed to diatonic within the key signature. For chromatic notes, you can manually add an accidental sign––#, b, or = (for natural sign)––after the note name. Capital letters (from C to B) are in a lower octave; small letters (c to b) are an octave higher. If you need to extend beyond a two-octave range, add , (comma) for an additional octave lower and ' (apostrophe) for an additional octave higher. The exact register is determined by the clef: middle C (C4, 262 Hz) is C in treble clef, c in alto clef, and c' in bass clef. When used in combination with accidentals, the octave transposition goes last (e.g., d#' or Bb, ).

      By default, the duration of a plain pitch will appear as a quarter note. Tags, such as slashes, dots, and numbers, can be added to the end of the full note name to modify the duration. Similar to regular music notation, an eighth note looks like it has a flag (e.g., F/), a sixteenth note has two flags (c//), and half notes and whole notes look kind of like their symbols (Dp and eo). Adjacent flagged notes (8ths and 16ths) are automatically beamed together. If you want to force a beam break, add an extra space between the notes. The following is a complete list of available duration tags:

      / or j = eighth note: f/   Cj      // or k = sixteenth note: G//   Bbk
      p = half note: cp   F#P            o = whole note: Bb,O   do
      For dotted notes, just add a dot at the end: D. B/. c#//. Fp. abO.
      For tuplets, add a number at the end: G/2  d3  F/4  b//5  A#6  ck7  Just tag the middle-most note in a string of beamed tuplets.
      For rests, use z plus tags: z  z/  z.  zp  z//3

The letter z represents a quarter rest. The letter q can be used to designate unpitched rhythms and will appear above the staff with a staccato mark. Both of these can be modified with any of the flags, dots, or tuplets above. To insert a tie, type a hyphen - (with a space before and after it). The default note length can be changed using the pull-down menu. This will automatically adjust all of the duration values relative to the new default. For example, if the default note length is an eighth note, then plain notes will appear as 8ths, a single flag will appear as a 16th, p. will be a dotted-quarter note, etc.

      Use pull-down menus to select the Clef (None, Treble, Alto, Bass), Tonic and Key (number of sharps or flats in key signature). Please note that the key signature is modally agnostic. It is neither major nor minor; it will display any combination of tonic and accidentals you select. (It is up to you know how many sharps are in E major or flats are in F dorian.) As stated above, the default octave registers automatically adjust depending on the clef. When no clef is selected, a one-line, percussion staff appears for notating rhythms only. Rhythms may be entered using q as described above. Alternatively, pitched notes will automatically appear as a generic note when there is no clef, but will return to their normal pitches when another clef is selected. Thus, if you want to temporarily view the rhythm only for a melody, just remove the clef.

      You may select a Meter with the pull-down menu. Time signatures are displayed in Key/Beat format: the top number is the number of beats; the note symbol is the actual beat unit; the placement of the beat on the staff shows the tonic ('do'). This type of time signature is based on a proposal in Jean-Philippe Rameau's 1722 Treatise on Harmony, and is similar to that used by Carl Orff. It provides a much clearer representation of compound time (e.g., 6/8 = 2 beats with a dotted-quarter as the beat unit) and avoids any confusion between keys which share the same key signature (e.g., Bb major and G minor both have 2 flats). Please note, however, that the time signature is only a display; tx2Mus is not 'meter-aware.' In other words, it does not check to see if you have the correct number of beats in a measure (the same as a piece of staff paper). Furthermore, the beat unit for a given meter is completely independent of whatever default note length is selected for indicating rhythms.

Class Use:
      This website was created primarily to facilitate online melodic and rhythmic dictation in music theory and aural skills courses. As such, input boxes are provided for entering your Name, a Title for the transcription (e.g., Quiz #2, question #5), and the Course you are in. You may provide any additional comments or questions in the Comment box. To submit a finished dictation to your instructor: click the [Copy Answer] button to select and copy the compiled tx2Mus notation, and paste it into the appropriate answer box in your online quiz. It is of course, also possible to email the copied ABC notation to someone. If you wish to have a copy of the actual printed music notation, you can [Pop up] the score alone into a separate window to print or take a screen shot.

Accepting the reality that melodic dictations are not always perfect, there are some workarounds to show your best guess. If you know the pitch, but aren't sure about the rhythm, type ? after the note name. This will display the note on the staff as a grace note with a question mark above. If you know the rhythm, but aren't sure about the pitch, you use q as a generic note. If you know that a note goes someplace, but you have no idea what it is, use an asterisk * (or x). This will display a grace note above the staff as placeholder. Finally, if you draw a blank on an entire measure, you can literally leave the box blank and jump to the next measure. Finally, remember that you still do your dictation on regular staff paper and then type it in after you have it all worked out.

Instructors: To view an answer from a student: copy all of the tx2Mus answer text, click on the Answer box on this page, select all (Cmd-A), and paste. It should automatically recreate the musical score. If you are delivering dictation exams within an online course mangagement system, you may prefer this more streamlined tx2Mus quiz interface. You can make a customized link to embed within each quiz question that pre-fills the clef, key signature, meter, starting note, etc. Enter everything you want up above. You can include a brief description or instructions in the Comments box. Click on the [Custom Link] button below. If you are comfortable with some programming, there are also scripts which can control the number of times a dictation excerpt can be played, as in this quiz question example.


Substitute Letters:
      For convenience, particularly with mobile device keyboard layouts, there are some alternate letters that can be used for several of the symbols. To avoid typing slashes, j and k are alternates for 8th and 16th notes. As with q, unpitched rhythms can be designated by using these symbols without a note name. For accidentals, s, , and n, are substitutes for sharp, flat, and natural. For transposition, i is 8ve higher, U is an octave lower. Use t for ties. To add a bar line, use l. (Double bars are available with [ and ].) If your keyboard is in Caps Lock mode, the capital letter for most tag symbols will function as well (e.g., Q, J, K, P, O, Z, S, B, N, L, T).

ABC Notation:
      In the background, your tx2Mus script is converted into a language called ABC notation. Although not well known to most Classical musicians, ABC notation is extremely popular as a system for the transcription of traditional folk songs and fiddle tunes. It has the advantages that it is text based so it is easy to send a tune to someone else, it is straight-forward enough so that simple melodies can be read and performed directly from the ABC version, and it is sophisticated enough that it can be used to render complicated music in printed staff notation. For more instruction on using ABC notation, see this ABC Notation Primer. The note rendering on this website is driven by abcjs, an open source ABC notation editor.

© 2020 - David Loberg Code - code{at}wmich[dot]edu