The ABCenatrix

The ABCenatrix is a viewer, manager, and editor for tunebooks in ABC musical notation.

(Jump straight to Installation)

Why not use an existing program?

I wrote the ABCenatrix because there were few simple, usable tools to handle ABC tunebooks available for Linux. EasyABC, one of the best, has not been maintained in some time, and I was unable to make it work fully. Besides, its layout mixes functions for editing and viewing tunes, making it ideal for neither. Most of the others handle ABC only as a sideline, or else have disappeared completely or succumbed to bitrot.




Here are a few pictures of the ABCenatrix in action:

Viewing a tunebook

Viewing tunebook

Creating a filter

Creating a filter

Editing a tune

Editing a tune


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I've given the commands for Debian-based distributions, e.g. Ubuntu and derivatives, Linux Mint, etc. Other distributions offer similar packages through their package managers.

1. Install python and other dependencies

This is probably done for you already by your distribution, but it might be best to use Python 3, which some distributions don't have by default. You'll also need PySide, which provides the GUI1. Then, the ABCenatrix uses abcm2ps and abcmidi behind the scenes, as they represent years of refinement and are as up-to-date as any ABC tooling. Finally, you'll need pip, which you will use to install the last couple dependencies. As root, do:

apt-get install python3 python3-pyside abcm2ps abcmidi python3-pip

2. Install dependencies not available from package manager

The ABCenatrix uses PyGame and Mido to play and read MIDI output, but you can't get them from the package manager, probably. Instead, become root and issue:

pip3 install pygame mido

3. Finally, install the ABCenatrix

Download a tarball of the latest release. As a normal user, issue:

tar -xvf path/to/abcenatrix.tgz

(Obviously, you will need to use the path to your downloaded file, not the bogus one above.)

Change directory into the directory created by that command (usually cd abcenatrix). Then become root and issue:

python3 install

If all goes according to plan, the ABCenatrix will be installed.


You can run it by issuing abcenatrix from the command line or by a menu entry that should be created for you.


The ABCenatrix works on Windows, except for scaling the tune display. (Give me a moment on that.) I wouldn't call the process installation, exactly, but here's how you acquire working prerequisites and get the program running. (I'm working on a clean installation on Windows, but at least this way you can help shake out any bugs.)

1. Install python

Install the latest release in the Python 2.7.x branch from the Python website; it's 2.7.14 at the time of writing. When you get to what features will be installed, tell it to add Python to your PATH.

2. Install pip

Download the script. Open a cmd window, cd to where you have it saved, and run it:


3. Install other dependencies

Once you have pip, use it to install the Python dependencies for the ABCenatrix:

pip install pyside pygame mido

4. Get git

Download git (a source control tool) from here. Run the installer.

5. Get the latest version of The ABCenatrix

Open a cmd window and issue:

git clone

Then, cd into the resulting abcenatrix directory, and issue:

mkdir tools

Keep this cmd window open.

6. Get abcm2ps and abcmidi

Download the .zip file of abctools for Windows from here; at the time of writing, the version is Extract the zip file to the tools directory you just created.

7. Running

In the cmd window from step 5, type python abcenatrix. It should start up and run normally. Please report bugs at the ABCenatrix's Github page so I can do better at supporting it on Windows.


The best way to get the source is to download a tarball of the latest release. It should always be fairly clean and reasonably up-to-date.

The source code for the latest development version can be got from I try not to commit code that's actually broken, but new features may be in rudimentary form and not quite fit for public consumption; please be cautious about using code newer than the release tarball above.


1 Despite what it says on their website, don't try to install PySide on Linux using pip; I've never gotten it to work. Not even once.