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Guitar - Learning by Tab

GUEST,Jim 04 Nov 04 - 12:07 PM
Chris Green 04 Nov 04 - 12:16 PM
PoppaGator 04 Nov 04 - 12:53 PM
Mooh 04 Nov 04 - 01:27 PM
PoppaGator 04 Nov 04 - 03:41 PM
GLoux 04 Nov 04 - 04:45 PM
GUEST,KateG - my cookie got eaten, AGAIN 04 Nov 04 - 04:55 PM
Once Famous 04 Nov 04 - 05:01 PM
The Fooles Troupe 04 Nov 04 - 05:17 PM
PoppaGator 04 Nov 04 - 05:26 PM
Grab 04 Nov 04 - 05:58 PM
Ed. 04 Nov 04 - 06:19 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 04 Nov 04 - 09:17 PM
The Fooles Troupe 05 Nov 04 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,Jim 05 Nov 04 - 10:20 AM
Mooh 05 Nov 04 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,Russ 05 Nov 04 - 01:24 PM
GUEST,Russ 05 Nov 04 - 01:28 PM
PoppaGator 05 Nov 04 - 02:08 PM
freightdawg 06 Nov 04 - 11:04 AM
John in Brisbane 06 Nov 04 - 11:21 PM
Kaleea 07 Nov 04 - 02:00 AM
John in Brisbane 07 Nov 04 - 07:10 AM
*daylia* 07 Nov 04 - 07:26 AM
Chris Green 07 Nov 04 - 07:31 AM
Mooh 07 Nov 04 - 07:40 AM
Mooh 07 Nov 04 - 07:56 AM
John in Brisbane 07 Nov 04 - 10:37 AM
Chris Green 07 Nov 04 - 10:57 AM
Mooh 07 Nov 04 - 02:45 PM
Once Famous 07 Nov 04 - 04:34 PM
John in Brisbane 07 Nov 04 - 08:33 PM
Chris Green 08 Nov 04 - 11:55 AM
PoppaGator 08 Nov 04 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,Jim 08 Nov 04 - 12:36 PM
GUEST 08 Nov 04 - 12:46 PM
PoppaGator 08 Nov 04 - 04:56 PM
Mooh 08 Nov 04 - 07:55 PM
John in Brisbane 08 Nov 04 - 08:58 PM
Mooh 08 Nov 04 - 10:24 PM
*daylia* 09 Nov 04 - 08:48 AM
Mooh 09 Nov 04 - 09:25 AM
*daylia* 09 Nov 04 - 09:46 AM
Mooh 09 Nov 04 - 11:05 AM
*daylia* 09 Nov 04 - 01:40 PM
s&r 10 Nov 04 - 04:46 AM
s&r 10 Nov 04 - 04:48 AM
Amos 10 Nov 04 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Jim 11 Nov 04 - 10:26 AM
VirginiaTam 01 Feb 09 - 09:09 AM
Will Fly 01 Feb 09 - 09:28 AM
The Sandman 01 Feb 09 - 10:06 AM
wyrdolafr 01 Feb 09 - 10:14 AM
Will Fly 01 Feb 09 - 10:24 AM
VirginiaTam 01 Feb 09 - 10:53 AM
wyrdolafr 01 Feb 09 - 12:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Feb 09 - 12:41 PM
s&r 02 Feb 09 - 04:33 AM
Will Fly 02 Feb 09 - 06:08 AM
Stringsinger 02 Feb 09 - 12:26 PM
PoppaGator 02 Feb 09 - 01:45 PM
The Sandman 03 Feb 09 - 09:42 AM
soulkat9 03 Feb 09 - 11:13 AM
PoppaGator 03 Feb 09 - 01:02 PM
Will Fly 03 Feb 09 - 01:17 PM
Richie 03 Feb 09 - 01:29 PM
The Sandman 03 Feb 09 - 01:37 PM
Nick 03 Feb 09 - 01:38 PM
Nick 03 Feb 09 - 01:43 PM
PoppaGator 03 Feb 09 - 02:18 PM
Stringsinger 03 Feb 09 - 03:08 PM
Lowden Jameswright 03 Feb 09 - 03:24 PM
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Subject: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 12:07 PM

Picking up on some points made in the "When do you become a musician" thread:

Is it wise to start learning the guitar by reading tab? I know a few people who are doing this (with varying degrees of progress) and I am of the opinion it's not a good starting point. I'd be interested to hear differing view-points though, and accept I may be wrong here.

To me it's like painting by numbers – you might produce a good finished product as a one-off, and progress to creating others without ever becoming an artist or becoming creative in any way. One of the major stumbling blocks appears to be the lack of development of any rhythm, pace and timing, together with a general absence of essential building blocks for learning the instrument.

Other views (and experiences of learning by tab) please..


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Chris Green
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 12:16 PM

I would tend to agree. Tab is fine for pieces for which you know the melody to, but as a means of communicating rhythm, timing, tempo etc it's pretty useless. A lot of students that I've inherited who been taught exclusively tab can reel off Jimmy Page's solo from "Stairway to Heaven" but haven't got a clue about such basic things as keeping a steady beat, hearing chord changes, pitch (Christ, some of them even refer to top E as "the bottom string"!)

Phew, sorry! Got a bit carried away there - been teaching all day! As I said in my post in the other thread, reading tab is a useful skill, but if it's the only means of reading music you have you won't progress that far on the guitar!


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: PoppaGator
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 12:53 PM

There's no way I could possibly learned one-tenth of what I know about fingerpicking without using tablature. I realize that it does not seem to be for everyone, but it did -- and still does -- work for me.

If you can't develop "any rhythm, pace and timing" learning songs from tablature, either you're working from poorly-produced tabs, you don't understand how to read musical time (which is represented exactly the same way in tablature and in regular musical notation), or both. And, there certainly is a lot of bad tablature out there on the internet, which doesn't adequately represent time signatures, note values, etc. Try the tabs available from reputable sources like Stephan Grossman, Happy Traum, Oak Publications, etc. to see what I've talking about.

(To see some excellent tabs for free on the internet, check out the two songs Paul Brady has made available on his website, www.paulbrady.com. Mudcatter Brendy also has some beautiful tabs posted on his website -- unfortunately, I can't remember his URL, or even his real name!)

Also, of course, you need to know how the piece is supposed to sound. Ideally, you should have access to the very recording that was transcribed to produce the tabs, or a recording made *by* the writer *from* his/her tablature. I find that I have to alternate between tab-learning sessions and listening sessions to nail a decent rendition of a diffficult piece; if I work from tab too long at a time, without refreshing my memory of the original intended "sound," I sometimes tend to magnify my weaknesses and errors.

Learning from tablature *only,* without listening to how your playing compares to the sounds you're supposedly trying to reproduce, is indeed something like "painting by numbers." But if tab is used as one of several learning tools, it can be very helpful.

It's fairly common for a piece of tab to represent the most complicated repetition of a song's repeated verse or chorus, or perhaps the instrumental break. The learner is expected to be able to pick up the other simpler versions or repetitions on his/her own. When I first started out, I didn't appreciate this at all -- let me tell a story on myself to demonstrate that I *do* understand your doubts about how well one can learn from tablature:

Very early in my efforts to learn the guitar, I picked up an issue of "Sing Out!" featuring a transcription of Robert Johnson's intrumental break in "Kindhearted Woman Blues." The introductory text pointed out clearly that this was the break only and that you should be able to learn the simpler accompaniment to the sung verses once you had mastered the more-complicated break.

Well, I had never heard the song -- had indeed never even heard *of* Robert Johnson (yet) -- and I was a novice, learning to pick (barefingered) on a cheap but decent nylon-string classical guitar. I learned *something* from that tablature, all right, but needless to say it sounded nothing like Mr. Johnson's classic. What I came up with was a nice parlor guitar exercise: too slow, too rhythmically sedate, and WAY too pretty -- but nevertheless quite musical, and a major step in my development as a player. A step in the right direction, certainly, and something I would never have learned, even so imperfectly, without the help of that tab.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Mooh
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 01:27 PM

Tab is quicker to learn, and maybe more intuitive to play, but there's nothing like knowing all the conventions of standard notation like timing, note length, ending and dynamics indicators and such. The rock guitar folks will insist on tab, though any who stick with it for long end up knowing the important elements of standard notation or they kill themselves with frustration.

In a perfect world, learn standard notation first. In an imperfect world, learn them simultaneously, or go back and get standard notation in your head. It's particularly helpful if you're working with other readers.

What I don't get is why so many publishers won't put timing in the tab...sure would help.

Just my 2 cents.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: PoppaGator
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 03:41 PM

I'm not familiar with rock-guitar tab, and most of the tab I know well dates back 30-40 years to the folk-revival period, and always included time signatures, whole-, half-, quarter-, and eighth-notes, etc., repeat marks, and also indications of hammer-ons and pull-offs similar to standard notation for grace notes and slurs, etc.

Tab that I consider "good" includes *ALL* the features of standard musical notation EXCEPT that the staff consists of six lines representing strings rather than five lines and six spaces representing tones.

I learned most of the fundamentals of sheet music years before I took up the guitar, from choir instruction in Catholic school and from a few piano lessons. I also took one summer's worth of classical guitar lessons a little later, which involved reading music. Not enough knowledge to sight-read -- not even close -- but enough to slowly reconstruct a passage correctly, and enough to interpret tablature that included standard indications of time.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: GLoux
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 04:45 PM

For me, tablature is a tool that I've used from time to time to learn some things that were too complicated to me to figure them out by ear, typically country blues finger picking. I certainly didn't start learning with tab, and probably wouldn't recommend it to a starter.

Why?

Well, I have a couple of friends who taught themselves (in this case, clawhammer banjo) with tab from the start. To this day, they can't learn a new tune without tab. If they want to learn a new tune they've heard, they will make their own tab notation and then learn from that. From my perspective, they don't use tab as a tool, they use it as a box that they've trapped themselves in.

Hope this helps,
-Greg


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: GUEST,KateG - my cookie got eaten, AGAIN
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 04:55 PM

Tab has a long and honorable history as a method of transcribing tunes for fretted instruments. There is a lot of baroque music for lute, for instance, that has only survived in tablature. The advantage of tab over standard notation is that it not only tells the pitch and time, but which of several string/fret combinations the desired note is found on so that the passage is playable.

As a mountain dulcimer player, I find tab very useful for playing pieces in different tunings, when the notes aren't where I normally find them.

That said, I still regard it as just a tool and I find it virtually impossible to use unless it is paired with conventional notation. I find I need notes to get a sense of the shape and sound of a tune, while I use tab to learn one way to play it. Notes for "what", tab for "how", but neither superceed listening.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Once Famous
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 05:01 PM

I have found tab to be completely worthless.

Use your ears.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 05:17 PM

I once tried to learn Guitar using Tab, but I found I just couldn't drink enough of it....


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: PoppaGator
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 05:26 PM

They still market Tab down under? Here in the land of Coca-Cola, it has long since been completely replaced by Diet Coke.

Tab was the brand name of the diet cola produced by Coca-Cola years ago (60s-70s, plus or minus a half-decade either way). To my memory, it had a *strong* artificial-sweetener aftertaste, and was rarely if ever consumed by any self-respecting male. Strictly for chicks.

I know a few women who eventually came to *like* the vile stuff, and now occasionally rejoice at finding an old six-pack or two at a yard sale.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Grab
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 05:58 PM

Guest Jim, are you saying that tab specifically causes this? Or is it sheet music in general? Thing is, the tab/dots gives you the basic melody, and it's what you do after that which makes you a good/average/poor musician. Remember that *every* musician in a symphony orchestra, including the soloist, is playing off sheet music (or has memorised sheet music). Anyone claiming they lack expression and musical feeling?

For learning guitar from scratch, sure, you want to accompany yourself singing or strum along to CDs or something. That gets you the feel of playing the instrument. Tab or dots (or any other sheet music) will come into play later when you're doing complex breaks or learning instrumentals.

Jim, your point seems to be that you can't learn that feel through tab. But no-one ever said you could! Sure, if your friends *just* played off tab and did nothing else, they'd wind up crap. But they'll be listening to music themselves to hear how it should go, jamming along to CDs, maybe playing with other people, right? Tab or other sheet music is just one element.

As for whether tab itself is any use, it certainly has its place. The purpose of tab is to say what note you're playing by giving a fret position on a string. Classical guitar score does exactly the same thing, only it just gives the note and the string, and expects you to be able to work out the fret position on the fly. Whilst this certainly improves your score-reading, tab is clearly a more logical way of representing this. If you're playing piano or recorder or something where there's typically only one way of getting one note, then score is great. But on a guitar or other fretted instrument, you've got a choice of up to 5 strings for the note, and the choice of hand position for one note will affect the notes you can reach afterwards and which movements between notes are legato. In other words, you choose your hand position to get different phrasing. If you want to communicate to someone else how you did that, tab is simply the most practical way of doing it.

The main thing tab lacks though is a good way of showing timings and dynamics. Nearly all books these days show combined tab and score, with the score really just being there to show timing (crochet, quaver, etc) and dynamics. Personally I find that the best way to show guitar music.

I know some people only ever learn music by ear. Mostly those people only ever play a crippled approximation of the tune. If you're going for your own take on a piece then great, but surely it's good to know what was there first before you decide what to leave out and where to go your own way?

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Ed.
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 06:19 PM

Where TAB is far superior than standard musical notation is in terms of giving the player 'positions'

Whereas the piano only gives one way of sounding the D above middle C, the guitar offers several options. If a fairly inexperienced guitarist was just provided with the dots, s/he would probably struggle to play a piece in the open position, when it might be much easier half way up the fretboard (or with a different tuning). TAB tells the player that important information.

TAB certainly isn't the be all and end all, but it definately has it's uses.

Ed


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 09:17 PM

As someone who has tried and failed to understand standard notation, i find tab very useful. Timing and rythym, i can pick up from listening to the song- most of the time i don't need tab for the notes, either, but it's just handy if i get stuck!


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 07:41 AM

TAB?

T.A.B. is The Totallisor Agency Board which handles all racing betting in Queensland.

I've never thought of trying to learn the guitar via TAB, but I suppose one might learn a few 'racy' songs....

And the Winner is .....

Beedlebaum!


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 10:20 AM

I'm very grateful for contributions and insight into tab from some obviously accomplished and experienced musicians – thanks to all. After almost 40 years playing guitar I'm trying to get my head, hands & fingers around tab for the 1st time myself, and finding it quite useful. I'm not a good copier though, so I find myself using it as a general "roadmap" that prompts me to venture off down my own side-roads.

My concern was specifically related to beginners who often ask me for advice and keep asking "How'd you do that!" or "What's that chord?!" – leaving me a bit flummoxed sometimes because I've never had any formal training, can't read music and don't know much about music theory or the science of chord construction. Often I've no idea what chord I'm playing – I know it just feels and sounds right. Playing by instinct has been fine for me but now I'd like to be more informed when trying to communicate some ideas to beginners.

One particular observation I've made about "Tab learners" is they often play melody using fingering that appears uncomfortable and convoluted, whereas often more natural and simpler fingering should (in my opinion) come from within the chords. They might, for example, use the 1st & 2nd fingers to play notes E and G rather than hold the full C Chord and just pick those 2 notes with 2nd & 3rd (or 4th) fingers. Every movement along the fret-board seems like a totally new journey to them without any of the anchor and reference points that a knowledge of chords would provide.

If anyone has learned, from scratch, using tab and feel that it is a good way to go I'd be interested to hear your views.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Mooh
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 10:25 AM

At least one of the rock guitar magazines (Guitar World) publishes several full song tabs every month. As tabs go, they're not bad, but even with timing inserted in the staffs, without standard notation I can't keep my eyes in the right place on the page. This wouldn't be a factor at all except I allow some students to bring tabs in once in a while...I like the idea that all instrument skills are transferable skills.

There has been an explosion of tabs in the altered guitar tuning world because the confusion of reading standard notation for every new tuning is more than a little daunting.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 01:24 PM

I confess that I have created my share of TAB but I now eschew it for the following reasons:

TAB can result in TAB slaves, people who can ONLY play from TAB.
I have friends who have been playing songs for YEARS who insist on pulling out the TAB every time.

TAB can result in TAB true believers, people who think that the TAB is THE way to play the song.
I got tired of people who used my TABs complaining that the way I was playing wasn't like the TAB.

TAB can result in TAB dependency, the inability to learn a song any way other than TAB.
I remember a plea for TAB on another forum. The person was begging for TAB for a song he had wanted to play "for years". In spite of a love for the song and listening to it "for years" he was convinced that he couldn't learn it until he had TAB.

Note the word "can". I am not claiming that any of these results are inevitable, but these sorts of experiences convinced me that TAB was more trouble than it was worth.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 01:28 PM

Oh, and by the way....

Back before I gave up using TAB myself (which was before I stopped creating it), I realized that when I played the tunes I had learned from TAB, I always sounded like someone who was playing a tune he had learned from TAB. That wasn't the sound I was looking for.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: PoppaGator
Date: 05 Nov 04 - 02:08 PM

"If anyone has learned, from scratch, using tab and feel that it is a good way to go I'd be interested to hear your views."

Tab was "a" (if not "the") primary learning resource for me from the beginning. But I must note that, from the beginning, I've been primarily interested in country-blues/ragtime style fingerpicking, and have eventually used this basic approach as the key to how I play *everything*. Someone earlier in this discussion said something to the effect that "tab isn't much good except for country blues fingerpicking," and he/she was probably onto something.

Now, by "country blues," I would include lots of stuff that isn't really all that "bluesy" by hard-core standards, like for instance "Freight Train," "My Creole Belle," etc.

Some of the most amazing and useful licks I've learned from tablature have been little phrases that sound much more complicated than they actually are -- when the treble/melody part is juxaposed against the alternating bass, it somehow sounds as though you're playing more notes than you're actually hitting -- which is why you need tablature in the first place, to get in on the secret.

Also, within this particular sub-genre, a tab-reader is helped by the fact that the bass notes (thumb part), alternating or not, is almost always played on a very steady regular beat. This makes it relatively easy to "read" the rhythm correctly, even when the tab is not well-written in terms of conveying time (i.e., where quarter notes and eighth notes, etc., are not indicated as they should be.). Without that steadying influence, I can see how tab transcriptions of, say, Jimmy Page solos would be easy to misinterpret.

Of course, any teaching/learning tool used all by itself, without listening and "feeling," will lead to wooden, uninspired playing. I think it's just as unfair to single out "tab" as a pernicious influence as it would be to condemn regular sheet music, or chords-only presentations (as in "Rise Up Singing"), or any other single isolated approach.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: freightdawg
Date: 06 Nov 04 - 11:04 AM

Very cute, Foolestroupe.

I was taught to play the guitar reading standard notation only. When I pick up a piece of classical music it (usually) only comes in standard notation, and for some reason I tend to do better reading the standard notation for the classical pieces (there is also some notation for positions higher up the neck, barre chords, etc. with classical pieces.) However, when learning a new bluegrass tune or with a semi-complicated run or riff in a country tune it is very helpful to have the TAB underneath to show exactly what is going on with fingerings, position, etc.

As has been mentioned several times above, the real value of a TAB notation is to give an inexperienced guitarist a different way to visualize the fretboard and how to fret certain notes or chords. IF, and I repeat IF the guitarist then takes that knowledge back to the standard notation to see how the composer/writer indicated that fingering using standard notation, then s/he has learned a valuable lesson. If there is no effort to do that then the guitarist stays locked in a system that is valuable and instructive, but is still one step below (no pun intended) the value of being able to read the standard notation. IMO, TAB should not be criticized as a lousy way to learn guitar, nor should it be praised as the only way to learn guitar. It is a valuable tool when used correctly, and a really confining crutch if used exclusively.

Freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 06 Nov 04 - 11:21 PM

For a number of years I've been an advocate in this Forum of TAB for beginners, IF THEY FIND IT USEFUL. This applies to guitar, mando, whistle, harmonica, lap dulcimer in particular, because there are free programs available to produce the TAB using ABC Notation.

In general they won't produce blistering guitar solos in second or third position, but will give early players the ability to pick out (say) every song in the Digital Tradition in the key in which it's published. MOST will display the TAB below the standard dots and will clearly associate each note with the lyrics in order to engender a better feel for the rhythm.

I've written a number of tutorials on this subject in the past and with some newer software (particularly for stringed instruments in just about any string tuning) it's probably worth reviewing.

I might add that I don't use TAB myself because (1) I'm too lazy and (2) I'm cursed with a good ear. I won't contribute to the debate above except to say that TAB is just one way of expanding people's ability to play and enjoy our treasury of folk songs and tunes.

Please PM me for specific details, but will advise in advance that I'll be unavailable-ish until about 20 November.

Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Kaleea
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 02:00 AM

After teaching Music for many years, I have learned that the more doors there are to the barn, the easier it is to get in. The more ways you use to teach an abstract concept, such as Music. the more likely it is that the student will understand. In teaching Guitar I use notes, tab (with fingering for BOTH hands), recording tapes of tunes/songs/the lesson, by "ear," look at my fingers, feel the beat, point to strings, word my explanation differently, whatever the student needs to learn!! Some will get it better from the tab, some from the notes, some from listening, etc. On any given tune/song teaching material I give to a student, I include notes, tab, chords, diagrams, & anything else I can think of, because everybody learns in a different manner. Lots of folks are quite intimidated by those notes & funny looking symbols & close off their minds. When I assure them that they don't have to be able to use standard notation, many of my students will learn notes anyway, just because it is in front of them with explanations & lots of information, & over time it sinks in. If the student really wants to learn, it's MY fault if he/she doesn't.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 07:10 AM

Thanks heaps Kaleea - I'm going to frame your words and keep them in my music room.

Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: *daylia*
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 07:26 AM

Here's an example of guitar tab that does give some indication as to rhythm JS Bach's Air on the G String.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Chris Green
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 07:31 AM

Having read all of the above with interest, I guess the main reason that I have reservations about teaching only tab (as opposed to dots, chords etc) is that the guitar is the only instrument to which tab is applicable. Dots, however, are used by every other instrument under the sun and a knowledge of how they work makes communication with musicians who are not guitarists much quicker and easier. However, as I said above, and several of you have also opined, the more skills you have on the guitar, the better a guitarist you'll be!


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Mooh
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 07:40 AM

daylia...Yeah, but I find that harder to follow than simply putting standard notation type timing in the tab. Surely folks can except at least some part of SN? A large contributor to the tab explosion, and its resistance to timing notation has been the internet. Its a two edged sword. Without a recording, most internet tab is useless, imho. At least standard notation can be tabbed, the reverse rarely.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Mooh
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 07:56 AM

My last post sounded to argumentative, sorry!

Anyway, I am pretty sure the first tab I ever saw was at Christmas 1975 when I received a copy of a Led Zeppelin songbook and the only tab in it was (okay, remember it was 1975 and I was 17) Stairway To Heaven. It still is one of the better examples of how tab should be presented, but it sure looked bewildering to my school of church music eyes! What the...! I know I worked backwards with it, reading the tune in standard notation and then applying the tab and going "Aha!".

One thing I've noticed lately is that with my diminishing eyesight standard notation is easier to focus on than tab...for me.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 10:37 AM

Hi duellingbouzoulis, I have no problems with your conclusions but don't quite understand how you get there. Pardon my paraphrasing that 'guitar is the only TAB instrument' and 'western style dots are universally exploitable'. In particular I'd suggest that most blues harp is probably learned better from TAB, and at the other end of the continuum the overwhelming majority of millions of players East of Suez have never seen Western notation - nor in many cases can it help them much.

My definition of folk is pretty broad and I'm really pleased that here we have such ready access to 'eastern music'. If I'm being a pedant please forgive me, but more and more Festivals are giving time to cultures other than my family roots - and that's quite fantastic.

Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Chris Green
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 10:57 AM

Hi John - Sorry, I didn't make myself very clear! I work as a guitar tutor for schools teaching kids aged mainly between 8 and 16, and was approaching the question from that angle. Obviously, guitar is not the only tab instrument, but the process of tabbing (as I know it) is limited to instruments that have strings and frets. I find that students who only learn tab find it well-nigh impossible to communicate musical ideas to players of other instruments and was therefore suggesting standard notation as the most convenient common musical language. However, if one of my kids asks to learn a famous rock guitar solo I'll tab it rather than dot it, as its far less confusing!

As far as blues harp goes, I wasn't aware that tab actually existed for it! How does it work?

Sorry if I sounded a bit pontificaty (is that a word?) in my last post, but put it down to being fed up with students bringing tabs that they've pulled from the internet that are generally a) incomprehensible and b) wrong!

Chris :)


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Mooh
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 02:45 PM

Chris...I'm with you on internet tabs! I wish there was a solution besides abstinance, but when some poor soul appears with a pile of tabs and frustration, I only want to release them from their misery. Most times I can't do it without the recording because most times I haven't a clue what the band-of-the-moment sounds like. And time consuming...but I figure it's the student's dime, and time.

They sure don't like to hear that internet tabs aren't the holy grail.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Once Famous
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 04:34 PM

I learned guitar as a 12 year old by first learning what chords go with what. It didn't take long to see that G,C,D was equivelant to D,G,A

I sure played along with a lot of Kingston Trio records. As I mentioned earlier, play with your ears. Hear where those changes happen.

After you've learned those changes, hell, put on some fingerpicks and fingerpick the chord changes instead of strumming them.

It can progress from there pretty easily.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 08:33 PM

There are TAB systems available for a number of non-stringed instruments. There's a very useful site at http://www.barefootiano.com/ for harmonica - just click on the link to 'harmonica riffs' to see and hear a whole range of styles and examples. There'll be lots of other sites that will have their own examples of exotic bends and slurs and rolls etc, but this is a good enough example of stuff that a beginner could learn from Day 1.

The Yet Another Digital Tradition site allows you to print the dots plus TAB notation for whistle and (as I recall) lap dulcimer. I've done proof of concept work which can extend this concept to Woodwind. Neil Jennings has a prog called HARMONY which produces TAB for melodeons.

Probably too much information here for guitar players.

Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Chris Green
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 11:55 AM

Still very interesting though! Thanks John!


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: PoppaGator
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 12:26 PM

Tab may not be "only for guitar," but it's instrument-specific -- that is, a given piece of tablature is a guide for playing a sung/tune/number *on a particular instrument,* whether it's guitar, mouth harp, banjo, or whatever. It is undeniably less universal than standard notation, but it can be more informative in demonstrating how to play a piece of music on a given instrument.

*Good* tablature can convey all the information provided by standard musical notation *and more* -- by showing not only the note to be played, but where and how, among multiple alternatives, to play it. "Bad" tab, on the other hand, where no indication of time is provided, is pretty useless and, at worst, misleading.

And of course I wholeheartedly agree that no one method is the only way for everyone to learn, because different folks have different learning styles.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 12:36 PM

A special thanks to you John in Brisbane - I've been playing harmonica for 40 years and I never knew there was any tab for the blues harp! I'll certainly follow that up.

I learned guitar pretty much the same way as you Martin, and am surprised how many budding players don't know the relationship of the chords to the notes of a scale. It certainly helps to understand such basic building blocks and makes progression easier/quicker, which brings me back to my reservations about the use of tab. Fingerpicking the chord changes though is fine up to a point. I've developed as a player 10-fold in the last 15 years or so compared to the 1st 20-25 years thanks to being introduced to fingerstyle, but I do believe tab has much to offer me now as I try to break through from intermediate to advanced level.

I sure wish I'd been able to access information like this years ago - would have helped me get to where I'm going much quicker!
Thanks again to you all....
Jim


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 12:46 PM

"Standard" notation is just TAB for a keyboard. (Picture it 90 degrees clockwise)


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: PoppaGator
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 04:56 PM

Good point by that last GUEST -- since the piano keyboard provides one and only one place to play each note, standard sheet music is really nothing more or less than "keyboard tab."

Another thought supporting my position that tab offers a uniquely helpful way to learn fingerpicking:

It has often been said about blues/ragtime fingerpicking, "just play a steady beat on the bass notes with the thumb, and play the melody on the treble strings with the fingers." Hummph -- easier said than done!

Maybe it's possible for *some* beginner somewhere to follow the above instructions and get immediate results, but for mere mortals like myself, the ONLY way to learn these pieces is measure-by-measure, where every measure is a different combination of "pinches" (thumb and finger playing two notes at once) and alternating notes. I can't imagine a more effective means of communicating the necessary procedures than tablature.

Needless to say, you need to learn to keep the bass part steady throughout each piece, and after learning a number of songs in the same key, and after plenty of experience playing all the songs you learn with the proper rhythm (keeping that thumb part rock-steady, of course), THEN you might be able improvise a bit with your fingers while thumping steadily along with your thumb.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Mooh
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 07:55 PM

Guest 12:46 pm...Like Klavarscribo, a Dutch in origin method of writing music. Players of this piano tab often don't use much range from what I've seen.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 08:58 PM

I'll be away from here for a week or so, but a few comments before I disappear:

- This has been a useful thread. It could be even more useful if TAB users (and I'm not one) could point us to some examples of GOOD TAB, especially for beginners to intermediate players. This could be for guitar (the thread title) or you may care to start or refresh a thread on GOOD TAB for other instruments.

- There's been some recent discussion about chord theory. I had been intending on writing a primer specifically for Mudcat, but can't see myself doing this for some time. I haven't had the chance to browse the Web on this subject, but there's sure to be something suitable out there. Likewise this should be the subject of a new thread.

I hope everyone continues to be stimulated by the discussion.

Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Mooh
Date: 08 Nov 04 - 10:24 PM

Good tab? Mel Bay's Celtic Encyclopedia, both mandolin and guitar editions. Mel Bay's Fingerstyle Guitar Solos volume one has some (but not all) good tabs. More might caome to mind later.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: *daylia*
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 08:48 AM

I haven't been using tab very long, Mooh, and I'm wondering what you'd think of the info at this site How to write guitar tab

Timing information

You may want to get really serious and include details
giving the precise rhythm of the piece. This will involve
a lot more typing, but it means all the information
necessary to play the piece is given explicitly.

One way to approach this is to write a line of dashes
interspersed with numbers which count the beats.
So in 4-4 time, you would have :

1---2---3---4---1---2---3---4--- etc

Under this you can write a line of d's and u's to represent
down and upstrokes.
Here is a simple example where the rhythm is 2 crotchets
(quarter notes) followed by 4 quavers (8th notes)


1---2---3---4---1---2---3---4--- etc
d---d---d-u-d-u-d---d---d-u-d-u-


You could expand on this to use upper and lower case letters
to indicate accents and so on.




He goes on to suggest using different letters to symbolize the different note values: 'e' for an eighth note, 'q' for a quarter note etc. The resulting tab looks like this:

q    e e t t t    q   e e t t t   

E--------0-----------0--------0-----------0----------------------
B-----------2-----0--------------2-----0-------------------------
G---2----------2----------2---------2----------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------

This doesn't look much easier than to me than reading standard notation, though. And what about rests, dotted notes etc?

I think learning to read standard notation is a definite advantage. It's much more accurate and can be applied to any other instrument. Some of the "anti-dotters" on line out there these days are just plain laughable ... check this site out, for example. Scroll down to the bottom of the page - I've been reading sheet music all my life, and I've never seen such a godawful looking mishmash of "standard notation" as he's (obviously) cut-and-pasted together - to make it look as intimidating as possible?!

But still, the ideal would be to use both tab AND standard notation ... I don't think anything beats (good) tab for finding the most accurate and playable left hand positions!

Except a good teacher, of course.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Mooh
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 09:25 AM

I still maintain that standard notation (SN) is best for showing harmony and timing, and that tab's only real advantage is for fingering, though I often find myself changing even that. Remember that much of the classical repertoire survives in SN by putting in left finger numbers, sometimes even the string a note should be plyed on, right finger pima designations, B for barre, and so on, which all help but maybe aren't as intuitve as tab.

Perhaps because I can hear much of the music in my head when I see it on the page SN is my preference. The same doesn't happen with tab for me except by the extra mental step of converting it to notes. Without timing, forget it, tab only works if you've got a recording or already know what it should sound like.

Lines, dashes, beat numbers, dududdu strokes, simply aren't a necessity when we already have a more compact and universal method of indicating timing, and pick strokes don't need to be shown at all. No need to reinvent the wheel. SN has weaknesses, like for guitar fingering, but I don't think there's a need to change other elements of notation, or replace it with another language.

daylia, btw, that music you indicated with the mishmash of notation dates to before common everyday cut and paste so I imagine that it's not only a joke, but a hand produced one at that. Some of the notation is quite funny.

My feeling is I'm swimming against the tide of tab that won't be stopped, so I do teach it but try to put it in perspective. I agree that ultimately SN and GOOD tab combined work best, but there's so little good tab.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: *daylia*
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 09:46 AM

Now that I've taken a longer look, you're right Mooh. It IS a joke. "CroMagnon Chant - Arranged by Accident"? How could I have missed that part before!

Maybe I've just lost my sense of tee-hee temporarily. I've been suffering from "guitar withdrawal" since I bent my left thumb backwards trying to catch one of my son's 200 mph fastball pitches a couple weeks ago. Still hurts to even hold the d*** thing. So all I can do is gaze longingly at my new music while I'm "hearing" it in my head and what kinda fun is THAT I ask you ... AARRRGGHHH

Sorry bout the bitchin' folks


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Mooh
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 11:05 AM

Quite alright, bitchin' is good therapy. Play some lap slide in the meantime, or try using your feet. Great fun and you might laugh the pain away.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: *daylia*
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 01:40 PM

Thanks Mooh. I just tried the feet thing. It's a bit awkward and I had to switch a couple things around a bit but hey, all in all it works great!

Think I'm gonna patent my new freetboard and sound heel.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: s&r
Date: 10 Nov 04 - 04:46 AM

I regard SN as the indicator of the tune - it goes up when the tune rises and down when the tune falls. Playing from music is (I find) easier. It's certainly easier to sing a tune you're not familiar with.

TAB shows the mechanics of achieving the tune, and is easier to learn the tune, but harder to follow when playing.

Both systems have 'add-ons' to deal with their respective deficiencies; eg TAB has little tails like SN and additions like H and PO. SN has string numbers marked to indicate which 'E' say is intended.

I use and teach both, and my ideal music has SN above TAB. Easy to create it in Finale and I suspect many other notation programs.

TAB is unique in playing non-standard tunings. I suspect that there are few if any musicians who can read easily using SN and unusual tunings.

FWIW

Stu


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: s&r
Date: 10 Nov 04 - 04:48 AM

PS The worst thing about TAB on the net is how much of it is just plain wrong.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Amos
Date: 10 Nov 04 - 11:08 AM

I feel, personally, that learning by TAB is like becoming an architect by counting bricks, so to speak. I much prefer a musical education in fundamentals, allowing the techniques in small basics to grow perfect and letting the individual grow flexible, able to create his own details on songs.

A


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 11 Nov 04 - 10:26 AM

Your post, Amos, seems an appropriate one to bring the debate to a conclusion. Most appear to favour the tried and tested building-blocks approach, which leads me to think my original post was about right. However, I'm swayed by some of the comments and observations made by pro-tabbists, sufficient at least to make me more open to it's potential as a learning tool.

I know of one player who uses it almost exclusively to great effect, and he's regarded as one of the best players locally. He does appear reluctant though to experiment and create; preferring to play in the syle of one or two of the greats, and certainly seems to avoid jammming sessions (though that may be personal choice rather than inability to improvise).


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 09:09 AM

I hate hate hate TAB!!!!

Troublesome
Awkward
Bother

I cannot figure them out, not even with tutor on You Tube. When I look at the tablature I cannot make the turn around for my fingers to follow.

Why can't I find lyrics with the simple chord indications as shown below.


Em       G          Am C
There is a house in New Orleans


Christ! All I want is chords for Easy Rider Blues and Mule Sknner Blues. I am not asking for the world.

Sorry.... The quest for chords and the resignation that I will never be able to follow tabs brought me to angry tears yesterday.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 09:28 AM

There was a long debate on the relative strengths of SN and tab on the Acoustic Guitar Forum recently - no particular conclusion. I have to say though, that whenever I've searched for details of a tune on the "tab" websites, they do often give the chords as well - so you could ignore the tab and concentrate on the chords.

Just lately, I've become a subscriber to Sheet Musical Digital, where you can pay for a proper score for a tune. You don't have to pay to be a subscriber - only when you pay for a score. So, typically, a score might cost $4.50, and you can pay via PayPal. Most of the stuff has SN, chords and lyrics, where appropriate - though I've never tried to use it for anything in the blues genre.

Just a thought. However, on a very positive note. If you need any chords and lyrics and can't find them, PM me and I'll see what I've got in my vast subterranean vault...


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 10:06 AM

easy rider blues,use three chords a, e, d7,[d7 plus9]is tasty sometimes.
house of the rising sun,I would use aminor, and these major chords c, d , f ,and e major,
but there is a different tune, that clarence ashley used with different chords again.
I like to play easy rider in double drop d tuning in a,it has a memphis minnie type sound


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: wyrdolafr
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 10:14 AM

I'm in various camps on this and I can see tab as having both pros and cons.

Most internet-found tabs aren't really that helpful in that they're often lacking any indication of timing, bars &c. Or if they exist, then it's something of the tabber's own devising, often broken down into 'riffs' as a unit of measurement. I think this is often what people think of when they think of tab, but really, they're thinking of bad tab.

A good tab, to me is better than standard notation when it comes to guitar playing. Position marks on standard notation are helpful but the fact that even commonplace and rudimentary chords - open E for example - are hideous to read: a massive spread across a single stave.

Also, regarding Virgina Tam's point, I think one of the good things about (good) tablature is the one of the things Virginia Tam obviously dislikes about it. There's many ways of voicing those chords and for most people the chord names aren't enough in themselves, where they're likely to be played on the fretboard is important to a lot of people.

I really don't think the way guitar playing has developed over the last 100 years or so is really suitable for standard notation.

Regarding 'written music' generally: In an ideal world, everyone would have a great ear and be able to pick-up and play tunes after a few hearings. However it's not an ideal world and not everyone who wants to play music has a great ear, certainly not at first. For most people, it's a skill that's developed over time. Written music allows some people to be at least making music whilst they're still developing that ability to turn to turn what they hear into what they play. I think people are able to make some kind of music from the off, then they find it rewarding and then they'll likely to stick to it and then develop the other skills as they go on.

There's no right or wrong about this, just that different approaches suit different people.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 10:24 AM

When I write tab and post it on my website, I have two lines which run parallel with each other. The top line shows the arrangement in Standard Notation, and the lower line shows the tab with the chords underneath it. Now - some SN readers find that the tabs get in the way, and some tab readers can't cope with the SN. Personally, I think that both can complement each other, with the music showing the timing, melody line, etc., in a very clear and visual way - and with the tab showing the strings to be played. I'm aware that SN can also do the latter.

As Wyrdolafr says, it's different strokes...


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 10:53 AM

ARRGHHH! Sorry! All these helpful people. Go easy on me. I am a 50 year old learner. I ain't got much time left to learn theory or how to read SN or Tab quickly.   I can read treble clef standard notation enough to at least place chords with notes over the lyrics.

I have just discovered through another mudcat thread that my idol, Odetta, used open D tuning and a capo. And that she only used a few chords in most of her playing. I have searched and discovered what open D is.

I am a bit worried about retuning the guitar. What happens to the songs I already know how to play and sing?


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: wyrdolafr
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 12:35 PM

Virginia Tam wrote: "ARRGHHH! Sorry! All these helpful people. Go easy on me. I am a 50 year old learner. I ain't got much time left to learn theory or how to read SN or Tab quickly.   I can read treble clef standard notation enough to at least place chords with notes over the lyrics".

Don't worry about 'not having much time left'! If you can read a single line on a treble clef, then you've already 'broke its back' as they say. You've got the basics under your belt already.

One way to move beyond what you can do already is to use a good combination of standard notation and tablature as Will Fly mentions above. Something like Guitar Pro - and the tabs used with that particular software are good in that regard - have both standard notation and tablature and play back as midi (complete with all kinds of guitar-specific things like 'whammy bar' dives, various bends &c).

Of course, the problem lies with the accuracy of the transcription itself, but that potential danger lies with even standard notation. Before tablature became as popular as it is now, 'piano music' with chord symbols were notoriously unreliable/unhelpful, for example.

As time passes (and you've got plenty left!) you'll develop the ability to recognise chord changes in new songs from songs you already know (I to IV like G to C, or E to A; majors to relative minors G to Em or C to Aminor and so on) and you'll become less reliant on transcriptions generally. The actual sound of particular chords in particular positions on the fretboard becomes familiar enough to home in on too.

I am a bit worried about retuning the guitar. What happens to the songs I already know how to play and sing?

When you retune your guitar, what happens is when the very last machine head is turned, it causes a short circuit between both hemispheres of your brain and literally erases the songs you already know how to play and sing. Poof! They're gone!

The only way around this is to retune your guitar after your 'open D songs' to standard tuning and this causes a chemical reaction to restore those songs lost previously. However, the downside is that you've now lost those Odetta songs.

Repeat as necessary!


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 12:41 PM

One guitar is never enough...


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: s&r
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 04:33 AM

The common way of learning among many of my older pupils is with an MP3 player and the tab. I think it's wonderful that they will bring a piece of music - often of some complexity - and play it accurately as a result of their own hard work.

Incorrect TAB causes prblems of course, but they're wise to annotations like 'This is my first TAB and I hope you like it...'

My teacher colleagues on other instruments can't believe how much music my students learn - and then play from memory on stage.

Tab is available for guitar music very easily. If my students wish to use it - great. If they want to learn SN - great: similarly chord boxes, DVDs, demos, and anything else that helps them to learn to play music.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 06:08 AM

It's an important point you've made, Stu. Everyone learns in a different way, and the art of good teaching is to present a lesson in a way that hits the spot for your student.

I was a clothhead at maths at school until I was 16 (and we had to do stuff like functions and calculus for the old GCE Maths in those days), when a brilliant teacher came along and suddenly explained it all in a way that made absolute sense.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Stringsinger
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 12:26 PM

Tablature is helpful when you want to execute a complex single-string run in higher positions. Jazz lines which have been thought out in advance can be shown by tab.

It doesn't replace reading music but is a good adjunct to determine where these notes are being played. Different players use alternate fingerings and this can be indicated by number positions on the notes but also through tab.

For beginners, tab helps find certain patterns more quickly and then later when note-reading is taught, the fingers already know where to go.

Both have their uses.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: PoppaGator
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 01:45 PM

I completely agree with wyrdolafr, especially the first of his/her two recent posts. It pretty much expresses what I've been trying to say each time this thread, and others like it, have reappeared over the years.

I especially agree with the proposition that tablature ~ GOOD tablature, like Will Fly's and, say, Stephan Grossman's ~ is BETTER than standard notation. It provides all the information you get from "the dots" plus you learn exactly which strings(s) to play at which fret.

I have to differ with Frank (whose opinions I always respect) when he says "Tablature is helpful when you want to execute a complex single-string run in higher positions." Or, at least, I disagree if he's saying that such single-note "lead guitar" playing is the only kind of playing best learned by tab.

Tablature has been helpful to me when trying to learn complicated fingerpicking. Without good tablature, I would never have been able to learn, say, John Hurt's "Candyman" 30 years ago, nor Paul Brady's arrangement of "Lake of Pontchatrain" 2 or 3 years ago.

I also differ with Amos and Jim in their comments that laid this duscussion to rest back in Nov '04. Learning from tablature only is essentially the same thing as learning from standard notation only; the only differences are that tab provides an additional level of practical information, and SN has much greater snob appeal. Either method will result in skilful musical playing onlyif the student has a feeling for how the song is supposed to sound.

That should not be an issue very often. I think most players are like me ~ we only search for tabs, or chords or sheet music, etc., after hearing a song and developing a real desire to learn it. That desire ought to be grounded in a firm grasp of how the song should sound and how it should "feel."

If you know the sound that you want to achieve, but you don't know exactly how to produce it on your guitar (or other stringed instrument), study of an accurate transcrition will enable you to learn a piece. For me and for many, tablature is more helpful than SN, but either method provides a written guide to the notes you want to play. Of course, while you're working it out note by note, the song will not yet be coherent and will not have any feeling to it. Only after you learn every note, every "pinch," every bass run, etc., etc., etc., and become thoroughly comfortable playng the piece all the way through ~ only then will you start to make the song "swing" and to make it your own.

By that time, the method you used to start learning the song (whether tab, SN, careful listening to a record, personal intruction, etc.) will be irrelvant.

I got a laugh from Virginia Tam's complaint that all she wants are chords, and is frustrated to find tabs. My pet peeve is quite the opposite: When I look up "tabs" on the internet, more often than not there are only chords, no tablature at all. And then, an awful lot of the tabs you do find are woefully inadequate (as has been noted).

But good tab, when you find it, is so helpful that it's worth learning if you possibly can, even if you're 50. (I'm a dozen years older than that and still learning.)


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 09:42 AM

sorry,I find some of Grossmans tab mediocre,I have one book where he idiotically,does not use bars.some of his otherbooks are good.
the best thing is to be able to read music and to also be able to read tab,and to also be able to pick music up by ear,they are all useful skills.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: soulkat9
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 11:13 AM

There's two things about learning from tabs:
1.) People who post tabs often get it wrong.
2.) Tabs don't teach you How to play...just WHAT to play.

But you really don't learn how to play the guitar through tabs. They are helpful tools to aid thats it.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: PoppaGator
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 01:02 PM

Cap't B:

I'm surprised at your disappointment with Grossman's work.

Now, I did most of my learning from his books 30-40 years ago, before DVDs or even cassette tapes, when all you had to work with was the printed page. You were on your own for "supplementary material," such as a recording of the song, or at least your memory of having heard it.

Maybe his work has become less precise now that the booklets of tablature come as a litle something extra when you buy the DVD.

I certainly agree that the more skills you acquire for learning music, the better. Of course, tab (and SN, too) won't make a musician out of you if you have no idea how a particular piece is meant to sound. Listening, watching an experienced player's hands, figuring out different inversions of basic chords, etc., can all contribute to one's ongoing musical self-education.

I have always found tablature to be very straightforward and logical, and ~ especially years ago, when I was a beginner ~ an excellent guide to the finest details of any guitar arrangement. Most of the basic "licks" and "runs" that have become part of my playing-by-ear repertoire were first learned, slowly and laboriously, from tab.

Now of course, I know that different people have different "learning styles," etc., and that what once worked (and still works) for me will not necessarily be the best method for someone else. On the other hand, though, I hate to see a beginning player intimidated and turned off by tablature, because I know how helpful it can be. And I realize that, with the glut of bad tab and non-tab masquerading as tablature out on the internet, a newbie could easily be discouraged.

Our fellow muscatter Will Fly has quite a bit of excellent tablature posted on the web along with standard notation, and also has posted videos of himself playing many (if not all) of the songs for which he provides tab. Check him out; I think he's at [www.willfly.com]; if not, just Google his name.

If you can't figure out how such top-quality tablature relates to how a song is played, even with the help of the accompanying "dots" and the video, then I suppose that tabalature is indeed not for you. But try first; if you can make a mental breakthrough and come to a realization of how those marks on paper relate to fingers on strings, you'll have a very useful new tool at your command.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Will Fly
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 01:17 PM

If you're interested ... Website


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Richie
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 01:29 PM

Hi,

Guitar and lute music was first written in TAB. There are TAB music notation systems that compare with standard notation. I prefer a TAB system that uses ties instead of dots.

Usually the included notes with TAB are ignored. It's more difficult reading TAB with and no rhythm notation in the TAB. IMO arrangments in TAB don't need notes included.

Both systems work equally but TAB is easier and less time consumming to learn. The problem with TAB is that you are limited to learning music in TAB and can't read other music in notes.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 01:37 PM

Cap't B:

I'm surprised at your disappointment with Grossman's work.
for fuck sake read my post properly.
the tab book that was not much use,was mid seventies,bloody ridiculous abolishing bar lines,I had to sit there and put them all back in,


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Nick
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 01:38 PM

Virginia

Tab to learn songs is probably over complex at first. I sense you are not trying to learn complex instrumental pieces 'just like the bloke who wrote it plays it' where it can be a help for all the reasons above.

If you want the chords there are plenty of places where you will still find them - many of which are good and some are bad. Trust your ears and if you find the chords to something on the net that sound wrong they probably are. http://www.chordie.com I have usually found is not bad and has the added bonus in many cases of tranposing chords up or down if the original key doesn't suit. It may not have the song you want though the two you mention are there and look OK

You might find after a while though that there might be little bits or tricks or ornaments in a tune that might make it come a bit more alive and that's where tab can be quite handy. If you already have a feel for the tune and the shape of the chords etc tab can be a handy way to quickly learn things. An example - James Taylor has lots of little ornaments in his playing and tab can be a quick way just to pick those up.

The place I find really useful as an aid is YouTube as it's somehwere you can often see the writer or performer of a tune do it and it gives some handy pointers. I'll give you a couple of examples.

I watched an old video of John Martyn playing Bless the Weather live from the 70s and picked up how to play it very quickly; as soon as you watch him play the basics of the song are very straightforward (two shapes in a DADGAD tuning!) - to my knowledge it isn't tabbed anywhere. YouTube is like a private lesson and if you download the video and use an FLV player you can watch sections again and again.

I also decided I wanted to play Beeswing by Richard Thompson. Look for the chords or tab on the interweb and they are total bollocks. But I watched Richard Thompson play it at a concert and you can quickly pick up the chords from watching and see how he plays the other bits. I find it a really helpful tool and have learned lots of things that way.

I've always tended to notice that guitarists write tunes on guitars (obvious really) and it's rare that they will write something that doesn't make sense under your fingers - why would you? (Unless you are trying to write a study or tour de force which is difficult - if you are playing that sort of thing you'e in a different world to most of us!) Some tabs don't make sense to me as a guitar player - why would you have fingering or leaps or shapes that guitarists don't play? Sometimes it's because the guy has worked out the tab in the wrong key or wrong tuning. Watching the writer play it usually makes sense of it and one goes 'ah, it's basically D shapes and then the same thing up at the 5th fret and he must have a dropped D string' and it makes sense than some of the bizarre tabbing efforts I have seen.

Tab I find really useful for some things. There is a John Renbourn tune called Cat.... can't remember the name which he played on an album with Stefan Grossman I think. That I could not have got anywhere near to playing without tab unless I could see it played.

Hope that doesn't confuse further it's not meant to. There are quite a lot of tools around to help (ears are good things as well) and they all have their uses for me.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Nick
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 01:43 PM

One of the best sites for tab I have used is the one that tabs DoOugie Macleans music. What I think is good is that it gives you the tuning it was in and then little snippets to give you a feel for how to play it, then encourages you to experiment and find out the rest yourself. Learned a lot about playing in open C froma few visits there along with some lovely songs.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: PoppaGator
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 02:18 PM

Virginia Tam,

If you're interested in the very popular and now-nearly-definitive chords for "House of the Rising Sun," as arranged by Dave Van Ronk, stolen by Bob Dylan, and popularized by Eric Burden and the Animals, try this:

      Am   C         D    F
There is a house in New Orleans

      Am      C      E E7
They call the Rising Sun

         Am       C       D            F
And it's been the ruin of many a poor (boy/girl)

    Am    E7       Am
And God I know I'm one.

In the key of Em, as you began it above, this transposes as:

      Em   G         A    C
There is a house in New Orleans

      Em      G      B/B7
They call the Rising Sun

         Em       G       A            C
And it's been the ruin of many a poor (boy/girl)

    Em    B7       Em
And God I know I'm one.

Now, prior to Van Ronk's stroke of genius in the mid-60s, this particular chord progression was unknown, certainly at least in regard to accompanying this song. If you're interested in performing a more traditional-sounding version of the song, stick with a simpler two- or three-chord approach. (You may well have been on the right track already with that first line you included in your post.)


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Stringsinger
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 03:08 PM

There are certain finger patterns that are easier to follow if you have the tab. Otherwise position markings on the notes will do the same thing. (as well as fingering marking).

I think you can learn fingerpicking from notes. What you can't learn from either notes or tab by itself is what right hand finger to use.

None of these devices will help you interpret the music. You gotta' hear it played by someone who knows how to do it.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 03:24 PM

"I also differ with Amos and Jim in their comments that laid this duscussion to rest back in Nov '04. Learning from tablature only is essentially the same thing as learning from standard notation only; the only differences are that tab provides an additional level of practical information, and SN has much greater snob appeal. Either method will result in skilful musical playing onlyif the student has a feeling for how the song is supposed to sound."

4 years or so on from when I started this thread I have to admit to using tab to some good effect now, but I haven't changed my opinion too much on its use to beginner guitarists. Unless you learn how to play chord shapes in both open and closed positions, and develop rhythm and good fingerstyle technique first, then I think Tab can be a hinderance and actually promote bad habits that are difficult subsequently to change. A friend of mine has been playing for a good number of years now and his playing is of an excellent standard so long as he is playing something he has practised sufficiently well not to have to think too carefully about how he is playing it.

He soon comes unstuck though when he hasn't put the time in, and he looks embarrassingly amateur when that happens, and it leaves his audience very puzzled when it happens.
Watching him play is very interesting because his playing style looks very clever, and is very difficult for beginner guitarists to get a handle on. This is because he never plays from within and around the basic chord, but uses unconventional fingering based on the numbers he has read from tab.
As a consequence he finds it very difficult to improvise and rarely plays along in any kind of session. When he first started playing, he appeared to make rapid progress and soon amazed his audience with that progress, but now he seems to have hit a brick wall and should really be much further on. I firmly believe its tab that has shackled him to some extent, and I fear it will continue to do so. I can detect some frustration now in his playing. Some have commented to me that he's even gone backwards.

I see similar problems in beginner harmonica players who play exclusively cross harp because they want to play the blues.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 04:52 PM

What I am doing is listening to what I want to learn and trying to replicate. Watching close up YouTube is helping. I have a Mel Bay Easiest Blues guitar which I am just starting on. I think I am beginning to make the leap from playing what I see on the page and adapting to what I want it to sound like. It is slow going.

Hope to purchase a teaching DVD, when I have more time I may take on TAB, properly.

Thank you all for the kind help and advice.

Tam


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 05:04 PM

Standard notation has a number of advantages over tablature. SN applies to all instruments, including voice, not just the specific instrument for which it is written. And with SN, you can immediately visualize the melody line and the harmonies, whereas with TAB, it is not obvious at all. I find that with TAB, I have to mentally translate, which injects an intermediate step in understanding what is going on with the music. It tells me where my fingers go on the fingerboard, but I have no idea of what the thing sounds like until I actually play it.

However—I see no problem in learning both systems. I did. But I find regular notation much more useful. Incidentally, I learned fingerpicking (alternating thumb) from standard notation. A friend who knew how to do it grabbed a sheet of blank music manuscript paper and wrote out about a dozen measures showing several different patterns. Then she handed it to me and said, "Just practice each one a measure at a time, then when you've got them, mix and match as needed." It didn't take more that a glance and I immediately knew what was going on. Big AHA! From that point on, it was just a matter of practice—not unlike classic guitar arpeggio studies.

By the way, in notation for classic guitar, right-hand fingering is indicated by a lower-case letter by the note the note in question:   p = thumb (pulgar), i = index, m = middle, a = ring finger (annular).

But the "snob appeal" comment about standard notaton? I'm sorry, but that's just silly!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 09:42 PM

I find it more convenient to write out arrangements in TAB. That's so I can show people taking a guitar workshop with me how something is fingered. My sig-o is dyslexic and any written notes, or TAB, seem to her like "ants marching across a page" and are of no help to her. So what makes sense to me, does not make sense to her. We just have to muddle through.


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Subject: RE: Guitar - Learning by Tab
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 04 Feb 09 - 05:25 PM

Virginia Tam - before spending money be sure to check "Deltabluestips" on Youtube


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