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#1
I just started playing guitar a week ago, and I'm loving it. My teacher taught me tablature, but I also sometimes see notes when I download tabs from this website. I used to play piano a LONG time ago for just a year, so I am familiar with notes, but do guitarists use this as well? Like in pop songs etc.? Or do they just use tablature?

(tbh, I do NOT want to learn notes as it seems way harder than tablature. Tablature is so nice and simple. But if it is a more advanced method of writing songs or some other advantage, I would be more than happy to start learning it)

Thanks!
#2
Notes refers to specific pitches used in music. All music uses notes. To not would imply the music is silent.

What you're referring to is standard notation. Tablature is definitely much simpler, but it fails in two aspects: dynamics and rhythm. By reading tabs, you will be unable to see whether the music is getting louder, or even the rhythm of specific notes (which, as you know, is very important in music).

Guitarists do use standard notation. I find that it's usually the classical guitarists who do, though it's not uncommon to find somebody who doesn't play classical music to use standard notation as well. A good example would be the guitarists who graduated from Berklee, such as John Petrucci.
#3
Try to at least learn reading the most common standard notation so that you can understand note durations/rhythms/tuplets and notation such as staccato, accentuation, ghost/grace notes, ppp-fff etc.
It's really useful. Playing by reading the exact notes is much trickier on guitar as it requires knowing where all your notes are on the fretboard, lots of memorization and practice but you can learn it if you want - if you're looking to become professional, you'll have to. It's really nice to have both like you do in Guitar Pro and other tabbing software - as stated, tab on its own has limited information on the music.
#4
Quote by triface
Notes refers to specific pitches used in music. All music uses notes. To not would imply the music is silent.

What you're referring to is standard notation. Tablature is definitely much simpler, but it fails in two aspects: dynamics and rhythm. By reading tabs, you will be unable to see whether the music is getting louder, or even the rhythm of specific notes (which, as you know, is very important in music).

Guitarists do use standard notation. I find that it's usually the classical guitarists who do, though it's not uncommon to find somebody who doesn't play classical music to use standard notation as well. A good example would be the guitarists who graduated from Berklee, such as John Petrucci.


Tablature has just as much of a capacity to indicate dynamics and rhythm as standard notation, though rhythm is somewhat of an automatic thing in standard notation obviously. But it isn't particularly uncommon to see tablature with the exact same sort of stems as standard notation, particularly when standard notation is absent.

With tablature, dynamics are just often not included because the tab creator didn't really think to or chose not to include that, and there is plenty of standard notation does not indicate dynamics. At the very least, the same person that doesn't include dynamics in tablature wouldn't include it in standard notation either.

Also many styles of guitar music tend to place less emphasis on dynamics (or even none at all) as compared to classical music for example, and so this supposed "inability" to convey dynamics with tablature (which as I pointed out is completely untrue) is really not even particularly important.

Rhythm also is not particularly important to indicate if the performer is familiar with the piece in the first place (and therefore already knows the rhythm).


Tablature has two major advantages over standard notation though.

1. An instrument like a piano or many wind instruments tend to only have one instance of a particular note. On the other hand, string instruments like guitar have multiple instances of the same note (excluding bends of course), such as having middle C on all but the highest string in standard guitar tuning.

This may not seem like a huge deal to some people, but there are a few things that this will have a major effect on:

-With many string instruments, particularly with heavy focus on polyphony, it is extremely important to finger a particular note on a particular string, since some chord voicings or scale or arpeggio sequences will be almost impossible if the notes are not played on the correct strings, particularly finger picking that makes heavy use of open notes and 1 note per string in the style of Keith Style banjo playing (Jerry's Breakdown would be a good example).

-Another thing to consider about having multiple instances of the same note is temperament. On the standard guitar there is not too much done in terms of temperament, but it can certainly be a factor, particularly when using open tunings.

-If you have a basic open G tuning (DGDGBD) with the B string (3rd in your open G) just slightly flat to give the sweeter harmonies of just intonation, and the piece called for a middle C and an E above middle C, naturally you would play it at the 5th frets of the G and B string to take advantage of the slightly flattened third.

-On the other hand, if you played the E at the second fret of the D string and the C at the first fret of the B string, similar to the open position voicing of a C chord on banjo, the C (your root in a C major diad) would be slightly flat, meaning that not only would your root be flat (compared to other 440 ET tuned instruments), but your 3rd would be sharper than an ET fourth, and so even if you are playing solo or with a slide the harmony will sound way off.

-Also there is the difference in timbre between two two strings, with the same note played on a higher and therefore thinner string having a brighter tone.


2. Tablature indicates the physical location on the instrument, rather than the note. This means that even if you don't know where the actual notes are C, D, E, etc, you can still play them. It is particularly important when playing in a tuning other than standard, whether it is a downtuning like D standard or an open tuning like Open G or if you are using a capo, since you may not be able to make the adjustment mentally with particular ease, particularly if you aren't so familiar with that tuning.


The latter point will probably be less of an advantage than the former due to the fact that alternate tunings aren't common enough on guitar that every musician uses then. Lap steel on the other hand has hundreds of different tunings, even having multiple possible tuning variations of one chord like open E7.
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Last edited by theogonia777 at Mar 12, 2014,
#6
theogonia777 is right. Tab makers usually don't include rhythm and dynamics, but that doesn't mean that tabs CAN'T have rhythms and dynamics.

I know standard notation (though I'm not very good at it, at all), but to be honest I personally think tabs are much more useful for guitar players. Tabs, and your ears! If anything, I'd recommend you practice learning songs from your ears more than learning through reading different notations
Last edited by RicAndrade at Mar 12, 2014,
#7
Thanks for all the great answer! I do appreciate it.

I know the standard notation a bit, but only how it applies to pianos. I get how it just indicates a certain note, so one note can be played on multiple strings on the guitar. I think I'll stick with tablature for now until I get more comfortable with it.

Thanks a lot everyone!
#8
Tabs are worthless. If you intend to spend any amount of time reading music, just learn standard notation.

You won't get comfortable with standard notation on guitar unless you actually use it. Figuring out which position to play in is part of being a proficient guitarist, regardless whether you're reading music.
#9
I strongly disagree with theogonia777. Everything he mentioned can easily be represented with standard notation. It's just a matter of how proficient a player the reader is. To know what position to play what in is part of mastering the instrument. Tabs are absolutely useless outside of guitar, it only so popular because it's easily accessible to people who don't know note names and whatnot and requires less of a learning curve to learn - which is a bit of a turn off to people to learn standard notation in my experience. However, standard notation is universal to every instrument; I cannot express how much more useful it is than tabs.
My pop-punk band uses standard notation in a lead sheet format to share ideas. It's mostly just for rhythmical purposes with the chord names on top as well as some melodic dictation. It's a far more flexible way of representing ideas.

Since you already have a background in piano, that's really half to job done because you already know what the different notes sound like. It's just a matter of location. Your ears are the most useful facility you have as a musician so use those, and use your head. If an open string is E, the first fretted note must be F, then F# etc. Being able to read music is a great skill to have in one's arsenal, but a great set of ears is invaluable in comparison.
Last edited by UnmagicMushroom at Mar 13, 2014,
#10
Quote by cdgraves
Tabs are worthless.

Tabs are great. I prefer tabs 95% of the time for guitar. Tabs include more information than standard notation alone(fingering mostly). Tabs without the standard notation line or a rhythm instruction are not worth your time though.

Quote by cdgraves
If you intend to spend any amount of time reading music, just learn standard notation.


Yes, but why one or the other?
#11
The more ways you can read music, the better you are as a musician.
The more useful you become.
#12
Quote by Facecut
Tabs are great. I prefer tabs 95% of the time for guitar. Tabs include more information than standard notation alone(fingering mostly). Tabs without the standard notation line or a rhythm instruction are not worth your time though.


Yes, but why one or the other?


+1

I started out with "proper" music notation (on piano and drums, though I guess you could make a pretty decent argument that drum notation is maybe closer to tab than "proper" music ) and I'm kind of lost if I have a tab without proper bar lines and rhythm (even if I'm using the tab alongside listening to the piece of music, somehow I still feel "lost"). Dunno if that's just me. But yeah for me personally, tab + music notation is better than either alone (for guitar).
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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#13
Quote by UnmagicMushroom
I strongly disagree with theogonia777. Everything he


*she*

mentioned can easily be represented with standard notation.


My how? Writing what string to play each note on under each note? That seems fairly cumbersome, and I don't think that anybody ever would do that.

It's just a matter of how proficient a player the reader is. To know what position to play what in is part of mastering the instrument.


My bad. I forgot that only proficient players that have mastered the instrument learn to play songs off of written music.

And besides, there are plenty of proficient players that might not be familiar with a particular playing style, a not-so-obvious fingering pattern, or a particular tuning that may be required to play a particular piece.

And then what about the inexperienced players that wish to learn songs?

Tabs are absolutely useless outside of guitar,


Not true at all. There are other instruments such as mandolin, banjo, steel guitar, fiddle (in folk/bluegrass context), lute (though lute tablature is a bit different), balaika, vihuela, and many other folk string instruments that are written commonly, and sometimes almost (if not completely) exclusively in tablature format.

it only so popular because it's easily accessible to people who don't know note names and whatnot and requires less of a learning curve to learn


Because the gods should forbid that anything that is easy should ever be used, particularly by beginners!

which is a bit of a turn off to people to learn standard notation in my experience.


In comparison to standard musical notation, which is more than a bit of a turn off to people to learn the instrument completely (due to the comparative difficulty, particularly for someone that is, as previously mentioned, unfamiliar with the location of notes and the multiple possible fingering possibilities of something specific).

However, standard notation is universal to every instrument;


This is as bad as saying that tablature has no use outside of guitar. There are in fact many instruments, particularly outside of Western music, particularly those that play outside of 12 tone equal temperament, that would be needlessly difficult to express using standard notation.

And as I mentioned before, there are many Western instruments, specifically folk instruments, where standard notation is almost never used and therefore even the most experienced and proficient players of such instruments would almost certainly not know how to read standard notation.

I cannot express how much more useful it is than tabs. My pop-punk band uses standard notation in a lead sheet format to share ideas. It's mostly just for rhythmical purposes with the chord names on top as well as some melodic dictation. It's a far more flexible way of representing ideas.


This is all your opinion though.
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#14
Strings played as well as fingering can be represented in standard notation, but seriously it's like never done. Tabs are almost certainly best for guitar and similarly fretted instruments, combined with proper detailed notation. Oldschoolers may disagree. This is a tab site primarily and it's what brought most of us here. Regular text tab without note durations aren't very good - I think we all know that. Standard notation is good but for guitar, an instrument you're gonna custom tune - and every time you do that the fretboard changes - is probably not ideal in general. Obviously, this doesn't happen on a piano, woodwind, brass or whatever. If I tell you to go drop C and play from standard notation when you're used to nothing but E, would that be OK? Could you still play fluently? With tab, not a problem.
#15
Quote by fanapathy
If I tell you to go drop C and play from standard notation when you're used to nothing but E, would that be OK? Could you still play fluently? With tab, not a problem.


Depends how the notation is done; I've seen plenty of guitar sheet music that was notated as if in standard but just played on a differently tuned instrument.

Can we just agree that both have their place? This isn't going anywhere and isn't about to start either...
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#16
If you don't have a specific purpose for learning to read notation, you shouldn't spend your time learning it.
Learning notation would be beneficial for others areas of your musical skills, but you would be better of identifying those benefits and focus on them separately.
It is good to learn rhythm-notation though (it is also used a lot with tabs, as you probably know). :-)
#17
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Can we just agree that both have their place? This isn't going anywhere and isn't about to start either...


I think most people would agree on this.

The problem is though... there seem to be tons of people that always talk about how tablature has absolutely no value or advantage other than being easier (and somehow they talk about how being easier is somehow a very negative thing) and that pretty much anyone that ever uses it obviously knows nothing about music or whatever nonsense they are trying to spew. And generally those people tend to have no idea what they are talking about.
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#18
^ +1
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#19
Quote by theogonia777
I think most people would agree on this.

The problem is though... there seem to be tons of people that always talk about how tablature has absolutely no value or advantage other than being easier (and somehow they talk about how being easier is somehow a very negative thing) and that pretty much anyone that ever uses it obviously knows nothing about music or whatever nonsense they are trying to spew. And generally those people tend to have no idea what they are talking about.

I can agree with this, but I believe people say those things as a backlash to the value of sheet music being understated by many guitarists.

And not to mention many overstate the difficulty of learning to read standard notation. Sure, it's very difficult to become a sight-reading master on guitar, but even the most basic knowledge of the clefs and note locations on the staff, both of which are very easy to learn, can go a long way.
Last edited by Tommat at Mar 14, 2014,
#20
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Depends how the notation is done; I've seen plenty of guitar sheet music that was notated as if in standard but just played on a differently tuned instrument.

Can we just agree that both have their place? This isn't going anywhere and isn't about to start either...


I agree with this - it's just for some strange reason on UG lots of people talk negatively about tabs or say "never use it, tabs suck, learn to play by ear and learn to read real sheet music" and this is what most of us go towards eventually as those are useful skills - just no idea where it's coming from because there's nothing wrong with tab fundamentally and they're great for beginners and "self-taughts". Plus, you can write your own songs in tab without knowing notes or theory.
#21
Quote by Facecut
Tabs are great. I prefer tabs 95% of the time for guitar. Tabs include more information than standard notation alone(fingering mostly). Tabs without the standard notation line or a rhythm instruction are not worth your time though.


Yes, but why one or the other?


1) Try transposing a tab without your guitar in hand.

2) Figuring out positions/fingerings is a basic part of guitar competence

3) Tabs don't communicate tonal relationships, only physical ones

4) No other instrument can make sense of tabs

5) if you're reading tabs with note stems... just read music

6) A decently trained ear is more accurate than most tabs

Anyone can always go and read a tab. It's not like you have to learn how, because there's nothing to learn. The only choice to make is whether to read standard notation.
#22
Quote by cdgraves
1) Try transposing a tab without your guitar in hand.

2) Figuring out positions/fingerings is a basic part of guitar competence

3) Tabs don't communicate tonal relationships, only physical ones

4) No other instrument can make sense of tabs

5) if you're reading tabs with note stems... just read music

6) A decently trained ear is more accurate than most tabs

Anyone can always go and read a tab. It's not like you have to learn how, because there's nothing to learn. The only choice to make is whether to read standard notation.



1) Why would you need the guitar in your hand for that?
2) Agreed. Figuring them out and notating them is not the same so what's your point.
3) So?
4) Use standard notation for other instruments
5) Standard notation in combination with tab can store more information, so why?
6) Sure, same is true for notation so again, your point?

For sight reading standard notation is superior for sure. If you want to go into music that is too demanding mechanically to sight read, tabs in combination with notation is just capable of portraying more of the information you want to store while studying a piece of music.
#23
Quote by cdgraves
1) Try transposing a tab without your guitar in hand.


Transposing is easier with tabs than standard notation since you just change all your numbers up or down however many.

Also I don't see how having a guitar in your hand to transpose makes any sense. I'm going to assume that you are actually thinking of transcribing since that you actually make sense.

In that case, I often find it easier to remember the physical locations of notes than the actual notes themselves, particularly when I'm transcribing in a tuning where I don't really know all of the notes off of the top of my head (like 3rds tuning).

2) Figuring out positions/fingerings is a basic part of guitar competence


This is one of those things that people always try to make an excuse for, but in reality even the most competent players might not be 100% aware of all of the possible fingerings or positions for a particular thing, particularly with an unfamiliar piece or style of music.

And what about learning to be competent? Again, it seems like people are for some reason assuming that people, even the greenest greenhorns, should just know these kinds of things. What about learning how to do it? For someone inexperienced, having the proper fingerings is absolutely critical and "oh, they should just be competent with positions" is really an absurd thing to say in such cases.

3) Tabs don't communicate tonal relationships, only physical ones


And standard notation doesn't communicate physical relationships. What's your point?

4) No other instrument can make sense of tabs


It's really amazing how people seem to think that there if they aren't aware of something, it surely can't exist.

Tablature is commonly used on many string instruments. Many string instruments, particularly ones that are played alongside of guitars (mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, fiddle, dobro, steel guitar, etc) are close enough to guitar in terms of tuning that somebody that plays one of those instruments could likely figure out how to play something from guitar tablature or vice versa.

And why does being able to share music with other instruments really matter? If you write out a guitar part in tablature to give to the other guitarist and bassist in your band, why does it matter that your accordion and saz players can't read it? It's not for them anyway.

5) if you're reading tabs with note stems... just read music


But why? If tabs with stems (which would fix what many would consider the biggest disadvantage of tablature) works for somebody, why is it so important that, regardless of any and all factors, they should just do something different?

6) A decently trained ear is more accurate than most tabs


This is assuming that whoever made the tablature did not know what they are doing, which really is more a problem with the player than the game. And again, what about the novices that have not yet developed an ear for music?
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#24
Quote by theogonia777
Transposing is easier with tabs than standard notation since you just change all your numbers up or down however many.

Also I don't see how having a guitar in your hand to transpose makes any sense. I'm going to assume that you are actually thinking of transcribing since that you actually make sense.

In that case, I often find it easier to remember the physical locations of notes than the actual notes themselves, particularly when I'm transcribing in a tuning where I don't really know all of the notes off of the top of my head (like 3rds tuning).


yeah, can't have negative frets. Sometimes you have to change which strings something is played on. Transposition is a key change, not just moving your hand.

And I know what I'm talking about. Save your condescension for when you're not trying to defend your ignorance.

This is one of those things that people always try to make an excuse for, but in reality even the most competent players might not be 100% aware of all of the possible fingerings or positions for a particular thing, particularly with an unfamiliar piece or style of music.


Whether something is in a non-standard tuning should be readily apparent. Knowing all the possible fingerings is irrelevant (though not difficult in the least), the relevant concept here is positioning effectively for a given phrase. It doesn't have to be exactly same as some other player did it, and you still have to apply positioning effectively when improvising or composing your own music. It's a basic technique for all of your playing, not just something you think about when you're reading.

And what about learning to be competent?


THere is an extremely wide gap between "reading sheet music" and "competent musician". Kindergartners learn to read music and don't often become competent before they're 18. But the point about competency was with regard to being able to think and play in terms of position, not reading music. There are plenty of competent players who don't read music, but they aren't reading tabs, either. They use their ears.


And standard notation doesn't communicate physical relationships. What's your point?

The physical relationship is up to the player's best judgment, based largely on the musical content. How you play something depends entirely on just what you're playing, such as it's musical function, accenting, melodic direction. There are musical considerations when it comes to where you play a specific note or phrase, it's not just a matter of convenience in the moment. You need to gauge the timbral needs of the music by what the music is doing, and that information is not communicated clearly in tablature.

Tabs are also pretty bad about things like grace notes, appoggiatura, legato phrasing, staccato, natural harmonics, crescendo/decrescendo, ritardando... key signature. But I guess those things aren't important to guitarists.


It's really amazing how people seem to think that there if they aren't aware of something, it surely can't exist.

Tablature is commonly used on many string instruments. Many string instruments, particularly ones that are played alongside of guitars (mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, fiddle, dobro, steel guitar, etc) are close enough to guitar in terms of tuning that somebody that plays one of those instruments could likely figure out how to play something from guitar tablature or vice versa.

And why does being able to share music with other instruments really matter? If you write out a guitar part in tablature to give to the other guitarist and bassist in your band, why does it matter that your accordion and saz players can't read it? It's not for them anyway.


GUITAR tab is not usable by any other instrument. But I am very impressed by the number of other instruments you could list.

Also, mandolin and fiddle are tuned in 5ths (and have 4 strings) and the Dobro is tuned to an open chord, and dulcimers are not fretted, and the banjo has 4 strings tuned to open G, which aren't in ascending order. None of those instruments can read guitar tablature with doing a lot of math in their head, and literally none of them have the same number of strings or are tuned the same as a guitar. It's like you looked up a list of stringed instruments and didn't even think about whether they could actually make sense of guitar tabs. Do you really think a violinist can look at B----17----- and know what it is?

And If you're asking why sharing music matters, you're disqualifying yourself from this conversation. First, you don't have to write out your own parts - you memorize them. Second, you write out music because you're writing parts for other instruments. Guitarist play with keyboardists, bassists, vocalists, and horn players pretty frequently. And since you've apparently never played with horns before, here's a tip: they prefer their charts in standard notation.


But why? If tabs with stems (which would fix what many would consider the biggest disadvantage of tablature) works for somebody, why is it so important that, regardless of any and all factors, they should just do something different?

Because it's the same damn thing, but a lot more useful. If you can read rhythm accurately, you don't need to be coddled with fret numbers.


This is assuming that whoever made the tablature did not know what they are doing, which really is more a problem with the player than the game. And again, what about the novices that have not yet developed an ear for music?

In my experience, most tabbers do not know what they're doing. Most published sheet music out there has some sort of editing process. You're not going to find errors in Bach scores or any other professional transcription.

I don't know what your experience is, but it doesn't sound like you've spent much time with scores or charts.


The ultimate advantage is that you can play a completely unfamiliar piece of music from standard notation. If you're good, you can do it exactly the way it needs to be played, without ever hearing it in a recording. Tabs simply do not contain that much information, and if they do, you might as well just read sheet music.

Learning new music is a prime opportunity to develop all aspects of your musicianship. If you have to look something up, then look it up, but don't let become a crutch. That's the problem with Tabs - so many players use it because they don't want to put the effort into developing musical skills.
Last edited by cdgraves at Mar 15, 2014,
#25
Quote by cdgraves
yeah, can't have negative frets. Sometimes you have to change which strings something is played on. Transposition is a key change, not just moving your hand.


If guitarists are as familiar with knowing positions as people keep saying, they should probably know that the 5 fret on the G string is the same as the 10th on the D string. I don't see how having to change a note to a different string is an argument for not using tablature.


And I know what I'm talking about. Save your condescension for when you're not trying to defend your ignorance.


nice ad hominem, m8

The physical relationship is up to the player's best judgment, based largely on the musical content. How you play something depends entirely on just what you're playing, such as it's musical function, accenting, melodic direction. There are musical considerations when it comes to where you play a specific note or phrase, it's not just a matter of convenience in the moment. You need to gauge the timbral needs of the music by what the music is doing, and that information is not communicated clearly in tablature.


Most decent tablatures will have the chord written over the bar.

Tabs are also pretty bad about things like grace notes, appoggiatura, legato phrasing, staccato, natural harmonics, crescendo/decrescendo, ritardando... key signature. But I guess those things aren't important to guitarists.


Umm... tabs are perfectly fine for most of those things.

grace note - You just write in a "G" or whatever symbol for a grace note. If there is a legend included with the tab, then it should be pretty obvious. And this is just if it is being typed ASCII style. If it is hand written or made in a tablature program, you can abso-freaking-lutely use the normal expression of a grace note.

appoggiatura - you can really just write them out rather than using a symbol

legato - umm... most decent tabs to to include "h" for hammer-ons, "p" for pull-offs, and the appropriate / or \ for slides up and down.

staccato - you can put the little staccato dot at the bottom just like standard notation

natural harmonics - harmonics are usually indicated with an n.h. or *

Crescendos and decrescendos are not really very common in many forms of guitar music and so this really isn't important, but you could certainly just it above that particular bar. Ritardando and keys can be expressed the exact same way.

Honestly I don't see how it is possible to not think that tabs have any more of a limited ability to express those things (have of which are just written above the bar in standard notation anyway).


GUITAR tab is not usable by any other instrument. But I am very impressed by the number of other instruments you could list.

Also, mandolin and fiddle are tuned in 5ths (and have 4 strings)


Which have the same pitches as guitar strings but in reverse. It's pretty easy to figure out how the notes on the E, D, or G string translate to the corresponding string on the other instrument.

and the Dobro is tuned to an open chord


Open G, which already shares 3 notes with a guitar and two of the other strings are a whole tone away, which is very easy to adjust mentally.

and dulcimers are not fretted


Sure they are. I'm not sure how you can be thinking they aren't, unless you are thinking of the hammered dulcimer, and it should be obvious from context that this is not the case.

and the banjo has 4 strings tuned to open G which aren't in ascending order


Not even close. The banjo either has 4 strings which are almost never tuned to open G and are certainly in order or have 5 strings that are tuned to open G and three of them already match the corresponding guitar strings, the first string is two semitones lower, and the 5th string is mostly a drone string anyway.

The 4 string banjo is commonly either tuned CGBD, which, again, two notes the same and the other two are two semitones lower, and if it were tuned to open G, then the C would be a D, and so that would be the same.

Otherwise it is usually tuned to DGBE (Chicago tuning) or the Irish tenor GDAE (like mando and fiddle), which don't really need further explanation.

Also I should note that, within the types of music where these instruments are commonly used (bluegrass, country, Irish, old time, etc) most musicians generally tend to play more than one (and often all) of those instruments, and so they are generally very familiar with how the different instruments relate to each other in terms of tuning and even if they are not, the tunings are certainly close enough that there isn't what can be considered "complex math" involved since it's most often adding or subtracting two from one or two strings.


And If you're asking why sharing music matters, you're disqualifying yourself from this conversation. First, you don't have to write out your own parts - you memorize them. Second, you write out music because you're writing parts for other instruments. Guitarist play with keyboardists, bassists, vocalists, and horn players pretty frequently. And since you've apparently never played with horns before, here's a tip: they prefer their charts in standard notation.


That's cool, but not all guitarists write the parts for those instruments and not all guitarists play with keyboard or horn players frequently (or ever). You're just basing this on your own bubble. In my bubble (bluegrass, country, punk, metal, progressive rock), there are guitars, the aforementioned string instruments, occasionally keyboards (and again, keyboard players in those genres tend to play guitar anyway), and drums.

Vocal arrangements in those styles are also rarely ever written down, particularly since they tend to either be atonal or follow a main melody which is always being played in some form by at least one instrument.

Also in prog rock, punk, and metal, we tend to not show up to practice, jams, or gigs without already knowing how to play the songs, and so the vocalist has no excuse to not know the songs already.


Because it's the same damn thing, but a lot more useful. If you can read rhythm accurately, you don't need to be coddled with fret numbers.


Useful is subjective.


In my experience, most tabbers do not know what they're doing. Most published sheet music out there has some sort of editing process. You're not going to find errors in Bach scores or any other professional transcription.


Well that's your experience. In my experience, we generally transcribe our songs in tablature and then hand it to our rhythm guitarist and bassist to play, and maybe hand it to the fiddle and mando players (who both know guitar anyway) and tell them to either learn it verbatim or make whatever changes they want.

And there are plenty of perfectly good professional transcriptions in tablature, particularly for guitar music. I don't think that there will be many mistakes in a "Slayer: Greatest Hits" tablature book that is published by Hal Leonard and whatever label Slayer happens to be on at the time.


I don't know what your experience is, but it doesn't sound like you've spent much time with scores or charts.


I don't know what your experience is, but it doesn't sound like you've spent much time playing in bands with guitar, guitar, bass, drums, vocalist or guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, dobro where nobody can read standard notation, nobody would even think of showing up without the songs already learned, and everyone plays at least have of the different instruments used in that sort of music.

The ultimate advantage is that you can play a completely unfamiliar piece of music from standard notation. If you're good, you can do it exactly the way it needs to be played, without ever hearing it in a recording. Tabs simply do not contain that much information, and if they do, you might as well just read sheet music.

Learning new music is a prime opportunity to develop all aspects of your musicianship. If you have to look something up, then look it up, but don't let become a crutch. That's the problem with Tabs - so many players use it because they don't want to put the effort into developing musical skills.


See, the ultimate problem of pretty much all of your arguments (and the majority of arguments of why tabs are completely useless and why doesn't everyone use standard notation and I don't like thing) is that people seem to assume that, because of there ultimately limited experience of just playing funk or jazz as a live musician at some local club or whatever (where standard notation is certainly more useful) that somehow this completely disqualifies every other scenario that they may or may not be aware of.

I'm certainly not arguing that standard notation can't be extremely valuable, but in certain contexts tabs can be extremely valuable as well (which is certainly more than the almost no value that you and others seem to be implying) and at times far more valuable than standard notation.

You seem to be assuming that just because apples are the best in an apple juice factory they are automatically the best fruit to have in any juice factory. Try going into an orange juice factory and telling them that apples are the only useful fruit.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
Last edited by theogonia777 at Mar 15, 2014,
#26
Tabs - because you're probably not a professional musician.

It's ridiculous to base your musical skills on the things you plan on NOT doing. Why impose this limitation on yourself? If you're going to spend time reading on a regular basis, then use the format that's universally useful to other musicians. Tabs are fine if you're a beginner or need to know something in a serious hurry, but anyone who wants to be objectively good at music needs to move beyond them.

You keep arguing as if people have to choose between tabs and notation. Everyone who reads notation can read tabs, it's not difficult. The only thing tabs do better is accommodate laziness. But please explain, what can't I do because I read music? How has not reading staff made you a better musician?

So far, you have only been able to say that tabs are great because they can be made to look almost exactly like standard notation. Think about it for a second: if imitating notation is what makes tabs good...

And the "ad hom" was in response to your crass assumption that I don't know what transposition is. You're arguing about the superiority of not knowing something; that's justifying ignorance, and there's little sense in being condescending to do so. I am a professional guitarist - you are just a pretentious one.
Last edited by cdgraves at Mar 15, 2014,
#27
Both of you raise so many good points, that I don't see how we can't be in a grey area where we can say that both have some advantages and disadvantages.

I think ascii tab is pretty inferior to standard notation, but a tab done with a piece of software like guitar pro or power tab is a legit way of communicating music. In fact, you could say that the style where you have both standard notation at the top and tab at the bottom, is superior to both by themselves. You are communicating everything that standard notation does and a suggested fingering/string choice as well. Why shouldn't a transcriber who has worked out the fingering communicate that too? And it's not that hard to read the two simultaneously while playing.

I think knowing both is the ideal situation.
#28
Fingerings aren't the hard part of reading music. Even in classical music, there is room for interpretation based on what the player prefers.

But that said, positions can be and often are indicated on guitar music when it matters.

Tabs accommodate only limitation. You can't read a jazz chart in Tab. Can't play classical music from tab. Can't communicate with other instruments with tabs. Can't see important musical relationships with tabs... and this is the problem. People get stuck on tabs because they assume they'll never be in a formal music setting, but then limit themselves to amateur settings by failing to learn valuable skills.
#29
Quote by cdgraves
Tabs - because you're probably not a professional musician.


Not everyone aspires to be a professional musician, you know. And besides, there are plenty of "professional musicians" (again, you're ignoring everything outside of your bubble) that use tabs far more often than standard notation.

It's ridiculous to base your musical skills on the things you plan on NOT doing. Why impose this limitation on yourself? If you're going to spend time reading on a regular basis, then use the format that's universally useful to other musicians.


Again, assuming that everyone is in your little bubble. There are plenty of musicians that only play certain genres and will almost never have it be necessary to use standard notation.

Tabs are fine if you're a beginner or need to know something in a serious hurry, but anyone who wants to be objectively good at music needs to move beyond them.


Says you. That's just your opinion.

You keep arguing as if people have to choose between tabs and notation.


Umm... I'm not arguing that at all? I am just arguing that tablature does have value, while you seem to be arguing that it doesn't have any real value because standard notation can do everything better (which isn't true).

The only thing tabs do better is accommodate laziness.


There has been plenty of information presented in this thread and elsewhere to prove that that is bullshit.

But please explain, what can't I do because I read music? How has not reading staff made you a better musician?


And where exactly did I saying that being able to read standard notation limits or detracts from anything? Or are you just assuming that since you are trying to argue that one absolute is better than the other that I am doing the same?

So far, you have only been able to say that tabs are great because they can be made to look almost exactly like standard notation. Think about it for a second: if imitating notation is what makes tabs good...


Umm... I have not been saying that tabs are great because the can be made to look exactly like standard notation? Seriously, where are you getting any of this from? You are saying that "tabs can't do X, Y, and Z" and I'm saying that they can, and so I'm trying to say that tabs are great because they can be made to look exactly like standard notation? How could you possibly draw that conclusion exactly?

And the "ad hom" was in response to your crass assumption that I don't know what transposition is.


I just assumed that you were using the terms incorrectly because the way that you were using it really didn't make any sense.

You're arguing about the superiority of not knowing something; that's justifying ignorance, and there's little sense in being condescending to do so.


Again, I'm not "arguing about the superiority of not knowing something". You keep saying this, and I'm not really sure why. Cognitive bias, I suppose.

I am a professional guitarist - you are just a pretentious one.


Argument from authority and another ad hominem? That means you have two fallacies in one sentence (which is a run-on as hyphens are not used in standard English to conjoin independent clauses, but I won't hold that against you).

Also I like how you make assumptions about me. Even better, I like how you call me "pretentious" just because I have a different opinion than you, when you seem to not even know what my opinion is no matter how many times I state it.

Quote by se012101
we can say that both have some advantages and disadvantages.


This is what I'm saying though.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#30
You still have yet to explain what tabs are better at doing. Go ahead, just explain the downside of reading music. The best you can do is say that tabs are almost as useful as sheet music. I'm not denying that a tab can be almost as good as sheet music, but who aspires to be an almost good guitarist? That's not an aspiration.

What if you want to learn some non-guitar music some day? your tab options are extremely limited when it comes to music not already popular on guitar. And if you're going to mark up tabs with note stems, articulations, bar lines, and such, you're already 90% of the way to reading sheet music. Why not just go all the way? The benefits are huge.

My issue here is your acting as if tabs are an acceptable substitute for reading music. They are not. If you aspire to be a shit guitarist, then do whatever you want, but I don't give advice so people can rise a higher level of sucky playing. I advocate for what's going to make someone a good guitarist. People who don't want to be good are free to ignore my recommendations.

And argument from authority is entirely legitimate when you can actually speak authoritatively on the subject. I read and analyze music every damn day. I learn music by ear and work out fingerings every damn day. It does not sound you're arguing from a position of experience here, but trying to reason your way around something you know very little about. That is why I called you pretentious.
Last edited by cdgraves at Mar 15, 2014,
#31
I can't really disagree with any of your points (well, there's one...kinda), but I wanted to get your thoughts on a different angle.

You're talking about the end goal - ie. here's where I want to be as a musician. And tabs, while making it easier, also make you think "hey, I'm ok with reading music, so it's ok to concentrate on something else".

But what about that journey? Easiest example. New guitarist. They're going to get off the ground a lot faster with tabs. That's got value in itself. It would be incredibly hard to get the learning process started, because honestly tabs do represent more accurately what a beginning guitarist needs to be thinking, ie. "put your finger here".
My point is that our hypothetical beginner guitarist progresses more quickly (not to mention doesn't give up) because there isn't such a mountain too climb just to be able to play some simple chords and licks.

Another example. I think a moderately good guitarist can sight read average material from tabs (when combined with standard notation) a lot easier. That's point I mentioned that I kind of disagree with - about the fingering being the easy part: not if you have to figure it out on the fly! So, even if one of the end goals was to be able to sight read from standard notation, I think we can agree that would take a lot more skill. So in the years that Mr. Moderately Good can sight read from tab, but doesn't possess the skill yet to do it from standard notation, doesn't he benefit from being able to absorb new music more quickly in the interim? By the way, I'm assuming here that the standard notation in question doesn't include positions. Point taken if it does - though in this case, isn't this exactly equivalent to the format with standard notation at the top and tab at the bottom?

I guess if you boil it down we're saying something like this:
You: Tab is a crutch.
Me: Only if you let it be. It can be more like training wheels.
#32
Quote by cdgraves
You still have yet to explain what tabs are better at doing.


I have already explained this, as have other people. If you just choose to ignore it, then that is really not my problem.

My issue here is your acting as if tabs are an acceptable substitute for reading music. They are not. If you aspire to be a shit guitarist, then do whatever you want, but I don't give advice so people can rise a higher level of sucky playing.


But as I have already stated, in many contexts... they are a perfectly acceptable substitute. Again, you seem to just be ignoring things that fall outside of your experience. Again, that's your problem.

It does not sound you're arguing from a position of experience here,


Um, you're the one that is trying to argue from a position of experience, Mr. "Professional Guitarist".

but trying to reason your way around something you know very little about.


Again, just assuming that I know very little about something just because I can provide reasons why something else is not as inferior or useless as you seem to think it is?

And argument from authority is entirely legitimate when you can actually speak authoritatively on the subject.




There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
Last edited by theogonia777 at Mar 15, 2014,
#33
"training wheels" are what tabs are good for, but that's about it.

The thing about the interim is that you can get stuck there very easily. It becomes a comfort zone. At some point, you have to force the challenge upon yourself to keep improving. Doing things solely for sake of expediency is ultimately limiting.

It used to be I could learn a song faster from written sources than by listening. It just took too long work things out by ear. But then I forced myself to learn by ear pretty much exclusively and it's easily the fastest way to learn a tune for me. You will never ease your way into being good at something; your skills develop from necessity, not just interest or even practice. You will never develop a skill fully until you get to a point that you actually have to use it competently.
#34
Quote by theogonia777
I have already explained this, as have other people. If you just choose to ignore it, then that is really not my problem.

Indicating finger position is not "better" for anything, it's a crutch. Again, what can I do with tabs that I can't with standard notation?


But as I have already stated, in many contexts... they are a perfectly acceptable substitute. Again, you seem to just be ignoring things that fall outside of your experience. Again, that's your problem.


Again with the qualified answers. Why limit yourself to those contexts? What's the benefit?


Um, you're the one that is trying to argue from a position of experience, Mr. "Professional Guitarist".


Yeah, because I have experience. It matters.


Again, just assuming that I know very little about something just because I can provide reasons why something else is not as inferior or useless as you seem to think it is?


if you've got some great experience that would indicate you have a thorough perspective on the matter, then please do tell us about it.


Frankly, you're coming of extremely pretentious, as if knowing Latin debate club terms somehow makes you a better musician. No amount of uninformed reasoning replaces actually working with music on a daily basis.

Your arguments are like going into a Mathematics forum and arguing that counting on your fingers is just as good as knowing how to write real numbers.
Last edited by cdgraves at Mar 15, 2014,
#35
Quote by cdgraves
Yeah, because I have experience. It matters.

if you've got some great experience that would indicate you have a thorough perspective on the matter, then please do tell us about it.


I'm a professional musician.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#36
Quote by cdgraves
Tabs - because you're probably not a professional musician.

Because Albert King, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix (most of the old Blues greats period) Sir Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Slash, Luciano Pavarotti, Irving Berlin, Kurt Cobain, James Hetfield, Eric Clapton and so forth were never professional musicians. Let's not forget people like Ray Charles, who obviously can't be a well known and respected musician, since he was blind, and therefore, could not read musical notation or anything at all.

While I (and pretty much anyone else) can agree that reading notation is a great skill to have, this kind of idiocy undermines your entire argument. A lot of the greats who basically started modern music as it sits today, from Rock to Pop to the hardest of Metal, could not read sheet music. A few couldn't even read. There's an industry devoted to people who transcribe songs to notation for songwriters and artists who cannot read sheet music, but need it done for copyright or other purposes.

I would even expect that some of the sounds we have, and styles we've developed, were due to mistakes and a lack of formal music training, as much as experimentation. People who found a new tuning because they didn't tune their guitars "properly", or because they played by ear, found a particular chord progression or sequence that may be out of key according to theory, but worked well.

And no one is making an argument of how tabs are better than notation. That's a strawman argument, and one only you are asserting others are making. And another thing which detracts from everything you say, and only makes you look foolish.
#37
Quote by azrael4h
And no one is making an argument of how tabs are better than notation. That's a strawman argument, and one only you are asserting others are making. And another thing which detracts from everything you say, and only makes you look foolish.


It's good to see that someone gets it. I'm not trying to argue that tabs are superior. I'm not trying to argue that standard notation isn't valuable. I'm simply saying that tablature is not nearly as worthless and limiting as some people make it out to be and that it's not something that everyone needs to know.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#38
If there is no debate, then why the ardent defense?

People who like tab readily admit that it has limitations compared to standard notation. I pointed out those limitations, and now the argument seems to be that there are no limitations.

If there are indeed limitations, why is it a problem that they're pointed out?

The time a person would spend learning to read music and use written music is minuscule. Reading rhythm accurately is half of the "challenge", so if you're reading tabs will full markup on a regular basis, it's very much worth your time to read standard notation, as well.

Quote by azrael4h
Because Albert King, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix (most of the old Blues greats period) Sir Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Slash, Luciano Pavarotti, Irving Berlin, Kurt Cobain, James Hetfield, Eric Clapton and so forth were never professional musicians. Let's not forget people like Ray Charles, who obviously can't be a well known and respected musician, since he was blind, and therefore, could not read musical notation or anything at all.


They were professional musicians, and got there by being extraordinarily good at one or two things. Nobody should count on that becoming a virtuoso in their favorite style. People want to become working musicians need all the skills they can get.

Jimmy Page, Irving Berlin, Pavarotti... are/were extremely learned musicians. They are professionals in every sense of the word.

For every musician who made a career without an education, there are hundreds if not thousands of non-famous working musicians who rely on a broad set of skills. And for everyone of those working musicians, there are further thousands who never develop the necessary skills.

People who want to play music professionally cannot afford to throw away some of their most useful tools.
Last edited by cdgraves at Mar 15, 2014,
#39
Quote by cdgraves
If there is no debate, then why the ardent defense?


Your argument: P is better than Q in every way, P is an absolute necessity, Q is completely useless (all of which are untrue, but I digress since you're still ignoring that)

My argument: Q does have some advantages, P isn't an absolute necessity, Q does in fact have uses

Your interpretation of my argument: Q is overall better than P, P is terrible, Q is the best thing ever

See how that works?

People who like tab readily admit that it has limitations compared to standard notation. I pointed out those limitations, and now the argument seems to be that there are no limitations.


That was never the argument. My argument that many of the supposed limitations are really just entirely incorrect.

If there are indeed limitations, why is it a problem that they're pointed out?


Because you are over-emphasizing (or completely fabricating) limitations while ignoring the positives of the medium.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#40
Quote by cdgraves
If there is no debate, then why the ardent defense?

People who like tab readily admit that it has limitations compared to standard notation. I pointed out those limitations, and now the argument seems to be that there are no limitations.

If there are indeed limitations, why is it a problem that they're pointed out?



If that was what you are doing it would be fine. What you are doing though is going to a tab forum and presuming tab useres don't use standard notation, are limiting themselves to amateurish settings and you make assumptions about their competence.

I call dick move.

Why on earth would you not use standard notation in one situation just because you prefer the addition of tabs in another?
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