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Is TAB really that evil?


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#271 dlloyd

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 01:20 PM

View Postlojo, on 08 September 2017 - 12:58 PM, said:

Sure , but can you explain why a D on guitar is an E on sax , I'm ignorant?

I explained it above...

Sequential addition of fingers on main buttons with no sharp/flat modifiers = C major. We keep that convention for all saxes.

C melody sax sounds just like it's written. Nobody owns one of those though.

My feeling on saxophones (a latecomer) is that Bb and Eb became the convention because horn sections were already predominantly Bb and Eb.

#272 Grangur

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 01:56 PM

View PostBigRedX, on 07 September 2017 - 05:07 PM, said:

Because there are very few fretted, stringed instruments in classical music.
True, but there are fingering positions. In the same way as a fretless bass has positions, albeit the fretless bass has them marked with dots.
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#273 Grangur

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 02:00 PM

View PostBigRedX, on 08 September 2017 - 06:24 AM, said:

Incidentally, if a piece requires you to tune your instrument differently to the conventional tuning is that indicated in standard notation and if so how?

A G# is a G# no matter if you're using conventional tuning or drop-tuning. So the notation won't change. It's the TAB that would need to be different; to account for the fact that the finger position to find the G# will have changed.
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#274 Grangur

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 02:12 PM

View PostBigRedX, on 08 September 2017 - 10:27 AM, said:

How do you visualise the note - in terms of the finger position(s) required to play it?

If you are looking at the score for a transposing instrument what note do you sing, the one your instrument produces when it has transposed it?
How do you visualise the note - in terms of the finger position(s) required to play it?
Posted Image
Here are some finger positions for the notes. The Low E can't, of course, be played anywhere on a 4-string than the open E, unless you're playing the whole thing up an octave.
The C on the A-string could be played on the A or the E string. If the lowest note in a piece is the C, then you'd probably choose to play the whole thing up by the E8 fret position.

Worth noting here: I don't often play the open strings. I'd play fret 5 of the lower string.

All the above is based on standard tuning.


If you are looking at the score for a transposing instrument what note do you sing, the one your instrument produces when it has transposed it?
I'd sing it in relative pitch, trying to pick out the up or down change in the tone. But I'm not the best to answer this.

What I'd actually do is take the score I'm playing and re-write it in the changed Key. But then this is because I play most of my stuff when sight-reading.

Edited by Grangur, 08 September 2017 - 02:14 PM.

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#275 BigRedX

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 02:15 PM

View PostGrangur, on 08 September 2017 - 01:56 PM, said:

True, but there are fingering positions. In the same way as a fretless bass has positions, albeit the fretless bass has them marked with dots.

I've only ever seen tablature for fretted instruments where IMO it makes the most sense. For me the whole point of fretless instruments is that you can play "in-between the notes". Incidentally how does standard notation show quarter tones and the like?

Apparently according Wikipedia there also tablature for chromatic mouth organ!

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#276 Grangur

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 02:28 PM

View PostBigRedX, on 08 September 2017 - 02:15 PM, said:

I've only ever seen tablature for fretted instruments where IMO it makes the most sense. For me the whole point of fretless instruments is that you can play "in-between the notes". Incidentally, how does standard notation show quarter tones and the like?

Apparently according Wikipedia there also tablature for chromatic mouth organ!

I've played violin and cello and never seen TABs for either. I think this is probably because classical players believe in the "pain" and don't go for a "quick fix".
I doubt there are too many violinists who will buy an instrument with an expectation of being able to gig in 3 weeks! (We know this has happened with bass) :D

In notation you see the half tones as sharp versions, or flattened versions of the natural note.
Posted Image

Note that C# is the same as Db (flat). We normally refer to a note by the # name on the way up, and the Flat name on the way down; descending in scale tones.

TABs in mouth-organ? I believe you. It's not an instrument that carries much "classical snob-value". So a quick-fix approach is likely to be wanted by more people who play it.

Edited by Grangur, 08 September 2017 - 02:30 PM.

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#277 paul_c2

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 02:41 PM

View PostBigRedX, on 08 September 2017 - 02:15 PM, said:

Incidentally how does standard notation show quarter tones and the like?

By using symbols for quarter-tone sharp/flat and threequarter-tone sharp/flat, just like there exists symbols for a semitone sharp or flat, in front of a note.

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 02:44 PM

View PostBigRedX, on 08 September 2017 - 02:15 PM, said:



I've only ever seen tablature for fretted instruments where IMO it makes the most sense. For me the whole point of fretless instruments is that you can play "in-between the notes". Incidentally how does standard notation show quarter tones and the like?

Apparently according Wikipedia there also tablature for chromatic mouth organ!

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 02:49 PM

View PostGrangur, on 08 September 2017 - 02:28 PM, said:

I've played violin and cello and never seen TABs for either.

I've seen cello music where a cellist has pencilled-in the names of the notes above the (standard) notation. The reason - because it was on the tenor clef, and they're obviously unfamiliar with it, hence the extra markings to help themselves. However I also know cello players who are quite comfortable with the tenor (and treble) clef, and don't need to pencil in reminders of note names. So it just shows that its not so much one or another system (ie tab vs standard notation) is better, but that players who learn, comprehend and master their instrument get good at what they practice. If you haven't learnt/don't practice reading standard notation, its no surprise that its difficult and also no surprise that its perceived as a mystery to some. But its just an aspect of learning a musical instrument. Its the same with playing by ear, or improvising - classical musicians typically don't (and don't need to) do this, thus these areas are poorly developed. Its recently changing, Trinity (exam board) now have an improvisation section in their graded exams, however ABRSM don't.

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 03:09 PM

View Postambient, on 08 September 2017 - 02:44 PM, said:


Another point we could mention here is we can also have double-flats and double-sharps.

Also if you think about the Gb Major scale, for example, this will be

Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db.... etc

So the 4th tone of the scale is Cb ! Yes, this does happen too. It is, of course, played as a B, but it's known as Cb.


While here, I'd say TABs aren't evil. They have a place; when discussing benefits in playing at different places on the neck. Otherwise, I wouldn't use TABs. I have also discussed this with Stuart Clayton and he dislikes TAB, as does Ed Freidland. Both try to avoid having TAB in their books. Sometimes publishers insist on it though. TAB was one of the reasons Stuart Clayton started Bassline Publishing.

Edited by Grangur, 08 September 2017 - 03:19 PM.

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 03:19 PM

View Postpaul_c2, on 08 September 2017 - 02:49 PM, said:

I've seen cello music where a cellist has pencilled-in the names of the notes above the (standard) notation. The reason - because it was on the tenor clef, and they're obviously unfamiliar with it, hence the extra markings to help themselves. However I also know cello players who are quite comfortable with the tenor (and treble) clef, and don't need to pencil in reminders of note names. So it just shows that its not so much one or another system (ie tab vs standard notation) is better, but that players who learn, comprehend and master their instrument get good at what they practice. If you haven't learnt/don't practice reading standard notation, its no surprise that its difficult and also no surprise that its perceived as a mystery to some. But its just an aspect of learning a musical instrument. Its the same with playing by ear, or improvising - classical musicians typically don't (and don't need to) do this, thus these areas are poorly developed. Its recently changing, Trinity (exam board) now have an improvisation section in their graded exams, however ABRSM don't.

One of my tutors once told me, "never be afraid to pencil in".

I did a lot of orchestral stuff at uni, treble and bass clef were fine, alto was a pain.

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#282 SpondonBassed

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 11:04 AM

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#283 tauzero

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 12:51 AM

I skipped the last four pages, but I did read the first six and almost lost the will to live.

Maybe I'm very strange, but I read tab and ignore what it tells me about position. I play 5-string, so generally just add 5 to the fret number for a start, then mentally jig things around until the fingering makes sense. So I finish up using the tab to tell me the notes to play, and work out the fingering for myself. Once upon a time I learnt standard notation, but that was 45 years ago and on the treble clef. I've just been learning "Sylvia" by Focus, and finished up writing the notes down from an almost-accurate tab. Ironically, 44 years ago (soon after I'd learnt and forgotten standard notation), when I thought I was a guitarist, I bought the sheet music for "Sylvia" and in order to play it, worked out what the notes were and wrote them down on the score.
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Posted 10 September 2017 - 06:41 AM

View Posttauzero, on 10 September 2017 - 12:51 AM, said:

...Ironically, 44 years ago (soon after I'd learnt and forgotten standard notation), when I thought I was a guitarist, I bought the sheet music for "Sylvia" and in order to play it, worked out what the notes were and wrote them down on the score.

A lot of the content of the last four pages is repetitive of the first six so you're not missing anything. By many accounts this is a seasonal topic anyway. I am quite sure that someone will start yet another debate about whether TAB is good or bad again. The indications suggest that, love it or hate it, TAB is here to stay.

I'm another one who found notation less than memorable. Like yourself, I use whatever makes sense to me. I can not think like a classically trained muso so these days I don't waste any effort on trying.

Funny how that causes annoyance to a few members.

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#285 mikel

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 07:12 AM

View PostSpondonBassed, on 10 September 2017 - 06:41 AM, said:

A lot of the content of the last four pages is repetitive of the first six so you're not missing anything. By many accounts this is a seasonal topic anyway. I am quite sure that someone will start yet another debate about whether TAB is good or bad again. The indications suggest that, love it or hate it, TAB is here to stay.

I'm another one who found notation less than memorable. Like yourself, I use whatever makes sense to me. I can not think like a classically trained muso so these days I don't waste any effort on trying.

Funny how that causes annoyance to a few members.


Very true. The whole point of Rock and Roll is the fact that there is no right or wrong way, just your own way.

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 07:14 AM

I've neen following this thread with interest and not a little amusement. What a great question; is Tab evil!

Well what is going on in Syria,Myanmar and Yemen is evil. The jottings of a few musicians evil, you'd think so from a few comments here? I can understand people who read thinking (knowing really) that standard notation is better but I do wonder why they sometimes get upset about people learning/using tab. Is it because they see it as cheating, just too easy. Does it let too many people in? Like taxi drivers with the Knowledge resenting sat navs?

In the end if you play in a band you need to have a way of communicating with other musicians, and once you can write stuff down you can communicate and share with the past and future. You do a lot of work, you can share. That's true of both systems of course. In the end most of us play with guitarists, we pretty much all understand tab, only a few readers around so inevitably tab is our default, and with a fretted instrument it is so easy, you can learn it in a few minutes. There are many hundreds of amateur/hobbyist/weekend warrior musicians and only a few who make a living from music. Should we shut them all out? All of us who just make music for the sheer joy of it?

Let's not pretend, I'd love to be a reader, I'd be a better musician if I was, but I'd never get the shopping done put food on the table and get the washing up done if I took on serious music study. Tab lets me get by and I'm thankful for it, it has fewer shortcomings than I do as a bassist. Hang on though, if I spent less time on BC maybe I could learn to read, now there's a thought...........

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 07:17 AM

View PostSpondonBassed, on 10 September 2017 - 06:41 AM, said:

A lot of the content of the last four pages is repetitive of the first six so you're not missing anything. By many accounts this is a seasonal topic anyway. I am quite sure that someone will start yet another debate about whether TAB is good or bad again. The indications suggest that, love it or hate it, TAB is here to stay.

I'm another one who found notation less than memorable. Like yourself, I use whatever makes sense to me. I can not think like a classically trained muso so these days I don't waste any effort on trying.

Funny how that causes annoyance to a few members.
Tab & score are both literature to help you make music. Learning TAB isn't a bad thing if your main purpose of playing is for fun or playing in a covers band.
If you want to learn score, I'd suggest learning the timings on score & using tab for the pitch, then once you've got the hang of that, try learning then pitch using score. the pic in Grangur's post #276 isn't a bad place to start for pitch reading. Then you can try different key signatures once you start to get comfortable.





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