The Lesession pages

Abc music notation tutorial, tune collections in abc, rauschpfeifes, and more ...

Abc Notation Tutorial Tune collections Rauschpfeifes Miscellanea About

TIAO - Text In, Abc Out

TIAO is an online form which takes any piece of text pasted into the text box, and generates an abc tune from it.

Please read this before using TIAO

I originally wrote TIAO in 1999 using VBScript, which therefore only worked on Internet Explorer. A mere 15 years later I mentioned it on chiffandfipple and megapop was inspired to rewrite it in javascript (which I'd always meant to do but never got around to).

Click here to use TIAO now.

TIAO is provided as is, without any warranty of any kind, whether express or implied.

This lack of warranty includes, but is not limited to, a total refusal on my part to take the blame if

Please credit TIAO and Steve Mansfield in the event that a useful tune is either completely created with or inspired by TIAO.

Back to top of page

Notes on TIAO

The HTML / VBScript version of TIAO was partly based on an (unfinished and undistributed) programme (C) Steve  Mansfield March 1999. The VBScript version grew, by a bizarre and frankly uninteresting chain of (il)logical leaps, out of a data-collection intranet form I wrote for Manchester Public Libraries in October 1999.

TIAO requires a VBScript-aware browser, so that's basically Internet Explorer version 4 or above. Users of Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc., or any linuxians, sorry, move along now, nothing to see here.

If you use try to use TIAO and either get lots of error messages, or else nothing happens at all :

  1. Sorry.
  2. Please email me and let me know what browser you were using, because ...
  3. If there's sufficient interest I'll convert it into Javascript and/or CGI.

TIAO generates 32 bar tunes conforming to standard traditional music forms, eg repeat marks at bars 8 and 16 to give two repeated 8-bar phrases.

If the source text is too short to provide the raw material for a complete 16 bars of notation, the tune will be written up to the end of the last completed bar. A very short source text may therefore result in a tune with abc headers but no melody. If the source text is too long (eg 16 bars have been written), the rest of the source text is discarded.

Version 2.2 differs from version 2.1 only in that frequency analysis (eg the relative frequency with which different letters appear in large pieces of text in English) is partly taken into account. I intend to improve the script when I get around to it to include more regard to frequency analysis, logical spacing / grouping of notes, more time signatures / tune 'types', a better way of calculating the key signature, options for different lengths of tunes (eg 24 bar, 48 bar etc), and more flexibility in the header fields.

I pronounce TIAO to rhyme with 'miaow', but it's up to you really.

Back to top of page

How do I use TIAO?

You can either paste text into the TIAO text area from any other programme, or type text directly into the box.

Select the type of tune you would like generated from the selection in the drop-down list.

Press the Make Tune button and the screen will refresh to display the abc notation tune TIAO has generated.

You can then either

Or ...

Please note that the first option is the better one, as the generated file can be used immediately it is pasted into the file or application.

Back to top of page

What is the point of TIAO?

It cannot be denied that the majority of tunes generated by TAIO sound, when played, like an explosion in a music shop. It is, on the whole, an entirely frivolous use of processor cycles and electrons.

However there are some (semi-) serious ideas behind TIAO.

TIAO uses the text entered into the text box to generate abc notation: note names (A-G and a-g) and rests (z) are transferred straight into the generated tune, whilst the other letters of the alphabet are replaced by note names according to the rules you can check in the source code. Therefore TIAO is not quite a random tune generator, but is instead a tune generator seeded by the text input : two different input texts will produce quite different tunes, and inputting the same text will result in a slightly different tune according to what type of tune is selected. 

Whilst a complete TIAO-generated tune may be fairly horrendous, brief sequences of melody nearly always occur somewhere in the sixteen bars generated : therefore a bar, or a sequence of notes, from a TIAO tune could be the inspiration needed for a new melody composed on the foundations of the TIAO sequence.

But mainly : at last! Something you can do with

Back to top of page

What is abc?

Abc is a text-based music notation system, widely used in traditional music circles. It was devised by Chris Walshaw, and one of the best places to start learning about abc is my abc tutorial page . There's lots more abc information at the abc home page at