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Using Tabs or Tablatures.

 Dès que j'en ai le courage, je vous traduit ça en français, ... maisapprenez donc l'anglais, ça ne fait de mal à personne.

Théorie- Theory

 Musicians and composers used tabs for centurys andclassical luth players still currently use tabs.

Nowadays, finger pickers are very found of tabs and thispage is intended for them.

Also, using ASCI code make a very easy way in Internetcommunication.


Enpratique - Practical

 

 

********************************************
*** ***
*** THE GUIDE TO TAB NOTATION : ***
*** HOW TO READ AND WRITE TAB ***
*** ***
********************************************


Written by Howard Wright
Howard.Wright@ed.ac.uk

OLGA_TABFAQ: V1.0
Last update : 1st September 1999


****************************************************************************
*** Copyright Howard Wright and the olga-grunts ***
*** ***
*** This document may be distributed freely as long as NOCHARGE is made ***
*** and my name and email address are not removed. If youwant to edit ***
*** or re-format this document for public consumption,please contact me ***
*** first. If you try to make any money by selling thisguide to TAB, in ***
*** part or as a whole, you will be struck down by a boltof lightning. ***
*** Probably. ***
****************************************************************************


I have now got a version of this guide in HTML.
If you would like a copy of the HTML version, drop me aline.


CONTENTS - Part I
------------------


Reading Tab - Part 2:
--------------

*****************************
*** 1.0 WHAT IS TAB ***
*****************************


TAB or tablature is a method of writing down music playedon guitar or bass.
Instead of using symbols like in standard musicalnotation, it uses ordinary
ASCII characters and numbers, making it ideal for placeslike the internet
where anybody with any computer can link up, copy a TABfile, and read it.


****************************************
*** 1.1 WHAT TAB WILL TELL YOU ***
****************************************




TAB will tell you what notes to play - it will tell youwhich string to hit
and which fret to fret it at.

TAB will tell you where hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends, slides, harmonics and
vibrato are used.

TAB will tell you what tuning the piece is in. If thisisn't given
explicitly, assume normal tuning. TAB should also giveyou information
on use of capos etc.

TAB will give you an indication of the ryhthm of thepiece - i.e it will tell
you which are the long notes and which are the shortnotes.

However it will not tell you exactly how long or howshort they are.

This leads me on to ...


******************************************
*** 1.2 WHAT TAB WILL NOT TELL YOU ***
******************************************


TAB will (usually) not tell you the note lengths of thenotes - so in most
cases you will *have* to listen to the song yourself,with the TAB in front
of you to work out the ryhthm of the notes.

TAB will not tell you which fingers you use to fret whichnote.

TAB will (usually) not tell you anything about pickingand strumming -
you will have to decide for yourself where to use upstrokes/downstrokes
and so on.




*******************************************
*** 2.0 TAB NOTATION - THE BASICS***
*******************************************


TAB is simple to read, and should be simple to write ifyou want to submit
a song you have worked out yourself. The idea is this :

You start out with 6 lines (or four for bass). Thesecorrespond to the strings
of the instrument. The top line is the highest pitchstring, and the bottom
line is the lowest pitch string. Below is a blank bit ofTAB with the string
names at the left.


E----------------------------------------------------------------
B----------------------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------


Numbers are written on the lines to show you where tofret the string
with the left hand. If a zero appears , this means playthe open string.
Like standard musical notation, you read from left toright to find
out what order to play the notes. The following piece ofTAB would mean
play the sequence of notes (E F F# G G# A) on the bottomE string by
moving up a fret at a time, starting with the open string.


E----------------------------------------------------------------
B----------------------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E---0--1--2--3--4--5---------------------------------------------


OK so far ?

Here we have notes being played one at a time. If two ormore notes
are to be played together, they are written on top of one another,
again just like standard notation.

In the next example we have a G bar chord.

E----3------------------------------------------------------------
B----3------------------------------------------------------------
G----4------------------------------------------------------------
D----5------------------------------------------------------------
A----5------------------------------------------------------------
E----3------------------------------------------------------------


So this means play all these notes together as a chord.

You might see the same chord written like this :

E--------3--------------------------------------------------------
B-------3---------------------------------------------------------
G------4----------------------------------------------------------
D-----5-----------------------------------------------------------
A----5------------------------------------------------------------
E---3-------------------------------------------------------------


Which would mean strum the same shape starting at thebottom string, so
that each string is hit slightly later than the laststring, but all notes
will ring together. Below is am example of the same shapeagain, but now
the gaps between the notes are bigger - so you wouldprobably pick the
strings separately instead of slowly strumming the shape.


E------------------3----------------------------------------------
B---------------3-----3--------------------------------------------
G------------4-----------4-----------------------------------------
D---------5-----------------5--------------------------------------
A------5-----------------------5----------------------------------
E---3-----------------------------3--------------------------------


You might ask - How do I know how fast or slow to playthis ?
Are all the notes supposed to be the same length ?


This is where TAB differs from standard notation. Mostoften TAB
will *not* give you any information on the note lengths.It is usually
left up to you to listen to the song to pick up therhythm.

However - don't despair. TAB should give you someindications of
timing. In the example above all the notes are evenlyspaced so you
can reasonably assume that the notes are the same length(maybe all
eighth notes or quavers) but this may not always be true- it depends on
who wrote the TAB.

As a general rule, the spacing of the notes on the TABshould tell you
which notes are the long ones, and which are the shortand fast ones, but
obviously it won't tell you if a note is a triplet oranything like
that. Again, this will depend strongly on the person whowrote the
TAB.

As an example, here are the first few notes of theAmerican National
Anthem in TAB. You should see fairly clearly that thedifferent spacing
corresponds to the different note lengths.

E-----------------------0--------4--2-0--------------------------
B---0--------------0---------------------------------0-----------
G------1------1----------------------------1----3----------------
D--------2-------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------


Obviously it will be a lot easier to play the TAB for asong you
know well than for a song you've never heard of becauseyou will
already be familiar with the ryhthms of the familiar song.



*****************************************
*** 2.1 OTHER SYMBOLS USED IN TAB ***
*****************************************


So far I've looked at what notes to play : which stringto hit, and
where to fret it. I've mentioned how to get an idea ofnote lengths
by looking at the spaces between notes on the TAB, butthis can only
be a rough guide. You will always have to check with theoriginal track
to work out details of the rhythm.

A lot of other imprtant information can be included in apiece of TAB.
This includes hammer-ons, pull offs, slides, bends,vibrato and so on.

The standard practice is to write extra letters orsymbols between notes
to indicate how to play them. Here are the letters/symbolsmost
often used :

h - hammer on
p - pull off
b - bend string up
r - release bend
/ - slide up
\ - slide down
v - vibrato (sometimes written as ~)
t - right hand tap
x - play 'note' with heavy damping


For slides, s is sometimes used to indicate either an upor down slide.
Symbols for harmonics are explained below in Section 3.2

That last one, the x, is used to get a choppy, percussivesound.
You usually use your fretting hand to lightly damp thestrings so
that when you pick the note it sounds dead.

Note that the use of 'x' is *totally* different from theuse of
an 'x' when giving chord shapes.

For example if you wrote the chord of D, you would see :

EADGBE
xx0232


where the 'x's mean do not play this string.

In tab it is implicitly assumed that a string is notplayed if it is not
marked. So the same chord in TAB would be :



E-----2-----------------------------------------------------------
B-----3-----------------------------------------------------------
G-----2-----------------------------------------------------------
D-----0-----------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------

with no 'x'. The x is is only used in TAB to represent aheavily
muted string which is picked/strummed to give apercussive sound.

There are a number of other symbols for things likewhammy bar bends,
pick scrapes and so on. There seems to be no particularstandard
way of writing these - details should be given in the TABto explain
what the symbols mean.

Bass TAB will probably need a few extra symbols to copewith the
different techniques used in bass playing - for exampleslapping
and 'popping' the string with thumb or middle finger.
You could use 's' for slap and 'p' for pop as long as youwrote
them *underneath* the lines of tab to distinguish themfrom slide
and pull off which would be written *on* the lines of tab.


****************************************
*** 2.2 HAMMER ONS AND PULL OFFS***
****************************************


With hammer-ons and pull-offs you might find things likethese :


E----------------------------------------------------------------
B----------------------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A---------5h7-----------5h7--------------------------------------
E---0--0----------0--0-------------------------------------------


which would mean play the open E twice, then hit the Astring at the
5th fret and hammer on to the 7th fret.


Pull offs look very similar :

E----3p0------------------------------------------------------------
B---------3p0-------------------------------------------------------
G--------------2p0--------------------------------------------------
D-------------------2---------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------


Here we have a descending blues scale using pull-offs tothe open
strings. For each pull off you only pick the first noteof the pair
with the right hand - so in this example you would pickall the
notes on the 3rd and 2nd frets, and the open stringswould be
sounded by pulling off.


Because you give the string an extra bit of energy whenyou hammer on
and pull off, you only need to hit the first note withthe picking hand.
You could even have a long string of hammer-ons and pull-offslike
this :


E----------------------------------------------------------------
B----------------------------------------------------------------
G---2h4p2h4p2h4p2h4p2h4p2----------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------

In this case you only pick the first note.

Note - you might see other symbols used to mean hammer onor pull off, for
example ^ can be use to mean hammer-on and pull-off.

e.g :

G---2^4^2----

which would mean "hit the note at the 2nd fret,hammer-on to the 4th and
pull-off to the 2nd fret". It would make thingseasier if everyone used
the same symbols, so unless you have a strong objectionto 'h' and `p`
please use those. In any case, for any tab you send youshould always
explain what your symbols mean so if you use anything'unconventional'
make sure you explain what it means.



**********************
*** 2.3 BENDS ***
**********************


When bends are involved you need to know how much to bendthe note
up. This is indicated by writing a number after the 'b'.
For example, if you see this :

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B------7b9-------------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------


it means strike the B string at the 7th fret, then bendthe note up
two semitones (one whole step) so that it sounds the samepitch as
a note fretted at the 9th fret would do. (Sometimes thebend is
written with the second part in brackets, like this ---7b(9)---)

Something like this :

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B------7b9--9r7--------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------


means play the note at the 7th fret, bend up twosemitones, strike the
note again whilst it is still bent, then release the bendso that the
note has it's normal pitch.

Sometimes a pre-bend is used - this is where the stringis bent up
*before* the note is struck. After striking the note, thebend is
released. Pre-bends are usually written like this:


E----------------------------------------------------------------
B------(7)b9r7---------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------

This means: fret the note at the 7th fret and bend thestring up two
semitones (without actually playing the note). Now strikethe string and
release the bend.


You sometimes get a note which is bent up only a quarterof a tone or so.
In this case it would look a bit strange to write :

B--------7b7.5--------

if you have to bend it up half a fret's worth.
Instead it's written as :


bend up 1/4 tone
E----------------------------------------------------------------
B------7b--------------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------

with instructions on how much to bend written above thenote.



**********************
*** 2.4 SLIDES ***
**********************


The most common symbols used for slides are / for a slide
up and \ for a slide down.

You might also see 's' used to mean slide.

You don't always need separate symbols for 'up' and'down' slides
since a line of TAB reading :

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B------7/9-------------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------

is clearly a slide *up* from 7th to 9th fret. However youmight
also see things like these :

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B------/7-9-7\---------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------

where the exact start or finish of a slide is not given.Here you
have to know whether you're sliding up or down. In thesecases use
your judgement to choose the starting or finishing fret.The effect
usually desired is to have a note 'swooping in' from alower pitch
or dropping suddenly in pitch as the note fades.


You could have a whole series of slides running together,like this

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B------7/9/11\9\7\6\7--------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------

which would mean you only strike the first note with thepick using
the sustain to produce the other notes.




***************************************
*** 2.5 NOTE LENGTH INFORMATION ***
***************************************


Occasionally you will find TAB which includes informationon all
of the note lengths. There seems to be no particular'standard'
way of doing this, but it usually involves a line ofletters or
symbols above the TAB.

See below (Section 3.2 part 6) for more details.

If the explanation of the timing symbols is not given inthe TAB
then you've got a problem !
In this case a quick email to the author to ask forenlightenment
is the only way forward.

--------

That's all I *think* you need to know about reading andwriting TAB.
If there's anything important you think I've left out orif there
are bits of the FAQ which you can't understand then letme know.


You can contact me at : Howard.Wright@ed.ac.uk



Poil àgratter - Itching powder

 That's all folks, but I never useTabs, preferring classical partitions.

You can do what you want, but I think Tabs don'thelp communication whith other kind of musicians.

Et comme je suis une vraie faignasse, je n'aipas encore traduit cette page en français de France.

 

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