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16242 ABCs
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Searching using Notes (ABCs and Down-Ups)

How to find tunes if you know the notes

There are several ways you can search TUNEdb using the notes within a tune.

  • You can search using the notes in ABC Format. This lets you search for any notes anywhere in a tune. For example you could enter FAABAG to find any tunes containing those notes. Optionally TUNEdb will also transpose the tune for you (though you must be able to tell TUNEdb what key you are starting with). You can further narrow down the search by selecting the key signature and/or tune type.
  • You can search using TUNEdb's (pat. applied for) Down-Up Format. This lets you find tunes using only the direction notes, either down or up. For example you could find a tune by entering U-UDD, or just UUDD. This technique will of course match tunes whatever key they are in, however you can use the key signature option to narrow down the search to a specific key. You can also enter the tune type.

Searching Using ABC's

You can enter a group of notes which you think appear either just at the start of the tune or anywhere in the tune. TUNEdb will first attempt to match your notes exactly and then, if it doesn't find a match it will widen the search further.
  • You must enter at least three notes.
  • Enter only letters in the range A to G.
  • Note searches are NOT CASE SENSITIVE (or rather OCTAVE SENSITIVE) - TUNEdb ignores the octaves when matching tunes with your search criteria. For example cAA is the same as Caa as far as TUNEdb is concerned. There's also no point in entering the commas and apostrophes that ABC uses to indicate the lowest and highest octaves.
  • You should not enter note lengths. TUNEdb ignores note lengths when matching tunes with your search criteria. For example c2AA is the same as cAA.
  • Don't bother entering the ABC symbols for sharps, flats and naturals as these are ignored in TUNEdb searches.
  • You can enter searches that span bar lines (measure lines).
  • Don't bother entering rests (Z or z). They are ignored in TUNEdb searches.
  • Other note length indicators such as dotted rhythms are also ignored in TUNEdb searches. Do not bother entering < or > when searching as TUNEdb will not take any notice.
  • For searching purposes triplets are converted to the first and last note in regular time. Thus (3abc is exactly equivalent to ac.
  • Grace notes and quitar chords are ignored in TUNEdb searches.
  • Repeats, bar (measure) lines, part numbers, key changes, meter changes are all ignored in TUNEdb searches.

Searching Using Down-Up Format

This lets you find tunes merely by the direction in which the notes move. Every tune starts with the first note ( very philosophical ) then it will either stay on the same note, or go upwards or downwards. So after the first note a tune may go Up, then the next note may be higher or lower so again we can say it goes Up or Down. For example a tune may go Up, Up, Down, Up, Down. To search for it all we have to do is to enter UUDUD.

What about if the note stays the same ? Well you can enter a - to indicate the next note is the same as the previous. For example UU-DUD.

The advantage of this that you don't need to worry about note lengths, what key the tune was in or the exact notes being played. All you need is to know whether each note goes up, down or stays the same relative to the previous one.

Return to Search by ABC's

About TUNEdb's transpose option

This lets you find tunes in different keys.

For example - enter DBGD, identify the key signature as G major and take the No option to the 'Transpose While Searching' prompt. this will find the Fox Hunter's Reel in G major.

Now leave the notes as DBGD and the key signature as G major but click the 'Yes' option. This will find the Fox Hunter's Reel in both G major and A major.

To use this type of search just enter the notes in ABC format as you normally would. You must then select a key signature (if you leave this option at "ANY KEY" TUNEdb will return an error message). This key signature is the 'home' key. In other words the notes you entered should find the tune you want provided it is held on TUNEdb in the 'home' key. Now if you take the transpose option TUNEdb will not only look for the notes you entered in the 'home' key, it will also transpose those notes into other keys and look for them as well.

Help on Key Signatures and Modes.

Return to Search by ABC's
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