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Guitar tablature format query

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pavane 29 May 06 - 11:25 AM
Mark Clark 29 May 06 - 01:51 PM
s&r 29 May 06 - 02:26 PM
pavane 30 May 06 - 03:26 AM
s&r 30 May 06 - 06:43 AM
pavane 30 May 06 - 07:09 AM
Grab 30 May 06 - 07:42 AM
s&r 30 May 06 - 08:13 AM
pavane 30 May 06 - 08:16 AM
Kaleea 30 May 06 - 02:57 PM
pavane 31 May 06 - 04:41 AM
pavane 02 Jun 06 - 02:11 AM
Grab 02 Jun 06 - 07:32 AM
pavane 02 Jun 06 - 07:38 AM
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Subject: Guitar tablature format query
From: pavane
Date: 29 May 06 - 11:25 AM

Attention guitarists :

I am still perfecting the Guitar Tablature option of HARMONY, and have a few questions on preferred format. I have already looked at various tablature programs, which seem to disagree on the display

Q1. What is the preferred convention for tails/stalks, flags and beams on the notes.

Tails on ALL quavers 8th notes & shorter? Or just those joined by beams? In abc terms, what if you have |a2b c2d|? In this case the 8th notes b and d will be 'stand-alone' on the score

Q2. If tails on all 8th notes, do you show flags on the tails for unbeamed quavers?

Q3. Do you show multiple beams or flags for 16th (i.e. 2 beams) & 32nd notes (3 beams) in the same way as a score?

Q4. Do you expect tails/stalks on quarter notes (Crotchets) or Half-notes?

Q5. I have shown Hammer-on and Pull-off by a letter over a slur - is this OK?

Q6 Slurs are only shown on Tablature if the two notes are on the same string - is that correct?

Thanks in advance

My site

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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: Mark Clark
Date: 29 May 06 - 01:51 PM

Pavane, my friend, you've set for yourself a formidable task. But you knew that.

I assume you've studied all the available tab programs including the various existing tab kludges for ABC and widely used programs like Power Tab Editor and TablEdit Tablature Editor. As I'm sure you've noticed, each of these implimentations has one or more flaws that tend to cause the user to long for something better. They're all useable in many situations, they just don't always support one's current requirement or way of working.

My chief complaint about some tab implementations is a lack of accurate rhythm notation. It's great to see that you intend to overcome that. The only tab output I've seen that is useable includes a properly typeset score above the tab. Usually both score and tab are needed to accurately express the rhythm of the tab (note durations, rests, triplets, ties, slurs, etc.).

But, in my opinion, computed tab—tab that merely computes the location of the note for a specific tuning and number of strings—is nearly worthless. Except as a programming exercise, I really don't think such an effort is worthy of your time. There must be a way for the transcriber to specify both string and fret for each tab note and still specify an ABC chord name (e.g., "F°") that might not compute from either the ABC notation or the tab.

Good luck. Let us know how it's going.

      - Mark

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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: s&r
Date: 29 May 06 - 02:26 PM

Simple Tab using non proportional fonts (ASCII Tab) often uses the number of dashes on the string lines (which is a dashed line) to indicate the duration of the note. Other Tabs use the amount of space following the note as a guide. Some Tabs give no timing indication - if you don't know the song you can't play it.

My preference is as Mark's above, for music above Tab almost like a piano piece. As a teacher I use simple tab to indicate finger placement. Tails and such on the Tab add confusion for the non reader IMO - what you then have is a hybrid between Tab with its reading siplicity, and music with the terror associated with this bizarre sign language.

Hammer-ons slides bends etc can be shown with abbreviated written instruction above as you suggest.

Good luck


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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: pavane
Date: 30 May 06 - 03:26 AM

Thank you for your comments. Yes, I have looked at the tab produced by some other programs, and seen the lack of consistency.

HARMONY already places the standard score above the TAB. (Actually, to be more accurate, it places the Tab below the score). In fact, it is not possible at present to show the tab without the score, because all horizontal positioning is dependent on the score. Changing this would be a major exercise.

This does mean you get aligned lyrics as well, though.

HARMONY uses a proper music font, not ASCII, for score display, and draws lines for the TAB elements, apart from numbers.

Although the program 'suggests' tablature, you can manually override the string assignments for each note. This doesn't seem to be needed too much, although I am not enough of a guitarist to decide.

However, I think it is much quicker to let the program do the work, then make a few changes, rather than to put everything in yourself.

By the way, I am not sure how you could override a fret position for a specific note, once the string has been chosen? However, a future version could implement 'fret windows' where you specify the 'to' and 'from' frets between which to place the note.

As for the timing of notes, I wondered whether this could be indicated by extra (vertical) tails, maybe double tails close together for 16th notes, triple for 32nd? Or maybe very short flags on the tails in the same way as standard score?

There is still the problem of indicating whole/half/quarter notes and dotted notes, as well as triplets.

Also, I have found it helpful to place the tails slightly to the right of the note numbers, so that they don't obscure other numbers within a chord. Does that sound a good idea?

Please let me know of your preferences, and any other essential features you need.

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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: s&r
Date: 30 May 06 - 06:43 AM

One of the options in G7 (Sibelius) is to blank out the Tab line with white space then insert the number. This prevents the '0' being mistaken for '8' or '3' or any combination. This shows a fairly typical Tab - I think it's true to say though that much modern Tab is driven by the needs of the rock guitarist.


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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: pavane
Date: 30 May 06 - 07:09 AM

OK - I don't yet support all of this, but I think there is no reason most of it can't be added in the future.

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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: Grab
Date: 30 May 06 - 07:42 AM

My preferred option is the solution used by every guitar book and magazine, which is stave above and tab below. The tab can then just show fret/string position and other information (hammer-on, pull-off, slide, harmonics, etc). This is almost certainly easier to code as well!


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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: s&r
Date: 30 May 06 - 08:13 AM

ASCII Tab here typical of what you find on the Web


PS I'm with Graham as a personal preference

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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: pavane
Date: 30 May 06 - 08:16 AM

Well, I have already got that far! (except bends, slides and harmonics)

I will try and get the new release 3.4.2 out as soon as possible, and see what people think. A lot of work has gone into it, on various other aspects as well as tab, and a number of bugs have been fixed.

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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: Kaleea
Date: 30 May 06 - 02:57 PM

As a Music Educator for over 30 years, I can tell you that the best success I have is when I include correct notation and the tab on the page which I give to a student. I often am asked to give my teaching materials to pals at jams, & they love it for the ease in reading as well as the fact that all of the information is there--notes, tab, chords directly above the correct note or the space between the notes. When I have given scores to other Musicians for rehearsal/performance, the best results come from the same. As a Musician, I want a score to have correct notation.   
Take a look at beginning Music books-for example most Piano primer books. There is an important reason why each page will normally have 2 or 4 staves with 4 equal sized measures on each stave. This uniformity assists the beginning student in being able to learn to read. This works well for persons of all ages & experience. (And, hey, we older folks often like the big notes, too!) Obviously, I often put more staves than 2 or 4 to get more Music on one page so I am not using reams of paper. **The beams are there to assist the eye in telling you where the notes are according to the beats. They are a very important part of the score. [most printing houses traditionally use beams for instrumental Music & flags for vocal Music. Even in the university when I was much younger & had better eyes, I used to add beams on my choral Music so as to more easily read it--I noticed a couple of others in choir who had also been in instrumental Music as kids did this, too] Notes & rests should be equally spaced in the measures, asccording to duration of note--whole in the middle of the measure, quarters equally spaced, half notes in 4 should be where the first & third beat quarter notes would go et al.
If I am using tablature for a stringed instrument, I place it under the score, & the tab symbol for each note is directly under the note in the above notation. The uniformity of the equally spaced page of Music (in addition to my teaching skills, the player's ablility to hear, the lyrics & such) help assist the non-music-reader to figure out the rhythm of the notes.
   When you are writing notation for all but the experienced Musician,   uniformity of the score can make the difference in whether or not the person can read the score.

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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: pavane
Date: 31 May 06 - 04:41 AM

Thanks Kaleea.

HARMONY was not originally intended for the experienced musician, and not is it intended to provide all features necessary for a full professional standard score - that would be more than a life's work for me in just my spare time. It was originally intended to assist people in adding chords to simple tunes, and mainly aimed at the 'folk' audience.

It is for this audience that I am adding tablature. I think that what I have done so far follows most of what you suggest, though the uniform bar spacing is difficult to implement. Beaming is done automatically by the program - getting it right was REALLY tricky for combinations of different note durations (8th, 16th, 32nd). However, there is an option to undo it.

Have you had a look at the output? You don't need to run the program, there are several samples on my web site. They pop up as you move the mouse over the link on the left. There is a randomising routine, so that different ones pop up each time. There is no exampe of the tablature there yet, though.

I am adding to the program all the time. I needed to add on-screen editing and tune playback in order to support the core functions, and it has just grown from there. I still need to add to the tablature the facility to show symbols for slides, bends etc. These also have to be allowed for in the file format, so that you can save them with the tune.

I also wanted HARMONY to be more of a 'music processor' than just a 'score typewriter', so I added transpose, and also Make Round, Reel to Hornpipe converter, and generation of random tunes. (And even reverse the tune to show and play it backwards).

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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: pavane
Date: 02 Jun 06 - 02:11 AM

How important is it to annotate bends on the tab?
(If needed, it would be a lot of work.)

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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: Grab
Date: 02 Jun 06 - 07:32 AM

You definitely need bends, releases, hammerons, pulloffs and slides. Imagine trying to reproduce Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn stuff without showing bends...

I'm curious though - why would be be more work to do bends than the others? Usually bends show the first note and then show the final (bent) note as a fret position, with "BU" or something marked on the slur. Often tab books put brackets around the bent note. Releases work the other way around - brackets around the starting (bent) note, and "REL" or "BD" (for "bend down") marked on the slur.


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Subject: RE: Guitar tablature format query
From: pavane
Date: 02 Jun 06 - 07:38 AM

Doing it like that would certainly be easier than other versions I have seen. I already do hammers like that.

I will try it and see what it look like. (But I hadn't really anticipated people using it for Hendrix)

My 'note style' facility does let you put bends on the playback of individual notes, but it is more difficult for groups of notes.

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