Tablature and Notation
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“Guitar Tablature and a start with standard notation!”

"Guitar tablature"

"Is a very important tool to the developing guitarist However, not at all necessary"

Guitar tablature is common to most guitarist. Tablature is used as a tool to help aid us in learning chords (as in chord boxes)

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Also, to help us in learning parts of our favorite cover songs and a variety of exercises destributed by hundreds if not thousands of diverse musicians around the globe.

Tablature has made playing a lot easier for most guitar players. When you or I have used magizines like "Guitar Player" or some of you may remember "Guitar One". Magazines like these have forums for us to grow, learn and use them as an aid to help us complete a whole song and they place a lot of emphasis on theory, exercises, examples, and weekly and monthly lessons from popular musicians. I can admit "when I first started reading tablature those magizines were a whole different language to me. Now, it is a map for me and a very useful tool that I use constantly. As will you I hope.

Make no mistake, as much as I like guitar tablature it is not complete. It is only part of the picture. Guitar tablature only gives us part of what we need. It will make it easier. Here we go, you know that there are six strings, you know the number names of the strings, and the fret numbers as well. This is what you will need to get started with "Tab". After you get a little of this I will give you standard music notation and time signatures and everything after that. Guitar tab is read as if you are looking down at the neck of your guitar. The "nut" is on the left of your fretting hand(if you are right handed). There are six lines representing the six strings of a six string guitar. If you are a Bass player there will usually be four strings(named the same as the guitar Low E A D G if its a five string bass its Low B E A D G). There are guitars and bass with more then six and four strings. the nut is to the left, and the string(lines) are read high "E" to low "E" So the top line is the 1st string the second line is the "B" string so on and so fourth. Dont worry I will be giving you some illustration (BELOW). Just get use to the vocabulary for now. So with "Tab" (I will refer to Guitar tablature as Tab from now on) there is numbers on the lines they represent open strings with a "0"(zero) and all other frets by a number.

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If there is an open string to be played on your guitar then the tab lines will have a "0"(zero) on the string it wants you to play open. If there is a "1" on the sixth string first fret then you would be playing and "F". So a "0" means play the string open and the numbers represent which fret to play and the number will be on the string to play.

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If you have noticed how I have placed the numbers on the strings(tab) they are not on top of each other they stagger which means to play them one note at a time. In the next Illustration I will place them on top of each other and that means to play them at the same time. As a chord.

I have placed these next two pictures together so you can see that the tab is the same as looking at your fret board on your guitar. There is no difference. Look at the location of the "NUT"

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If you see an uppercase letter above the tab or staff of music (as in my examples) with no other letters it is refered to as a major chord

Here is an example:

If you see an uppercase letter above the tab or staff of music (as in my examples) with a small "m" It is refered to as a minor chord

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If you see an uppercase letter above the tab or staff of music (as in my examples) with a "7" next to it that is refered to as a Dominant 7 chord

There will be other subtleties. Rest, bends, fermatas, I will get into that in much later. First, I would like you to understand what the tab is instructing you to do.

To sum it up

The tab tells you "were to play the note. But not for how long to play it".

That is were standard notation comes in. This is not only the where but the for how long to! So, we need both. Well at least I do, and I am pretty sure if you read all this you want to use all of it to.

"Here is the first steps to understanding the music staff"

  1. Step 1: Learn the staff!
  2. Step 2: Learn the names of the lines and spaces!
  3. Step 3: Learn what time signature is!
  4. Step 4: Learn note value!

Unlike tab that has six lines depicting the six strings. The notes on the staff are relavant to tones. The notes on the staff, the "Grand Staff" more appropriately are telling you by there placement what note to play, where to play it, and for how long. There is all types of other instructions about the tones(s) being played all over and under the Grand Staff. Symbols and words mostly latin in origin. These are instructions about the softness or rigidness or go from loud to quite or from quite to loud and even for the other instruments or all instruments to be quite or more appropriatly "Tacet". To remember the five lines on the staff you can associate them with words as I suggested with the string names.

Here are the note names of the lines and spaces on the staff:

F-A-C-E, as you can already see the notes spell out "FACE" the spaces between the lines have names and they are starting with the note below "F" are "E-G-B-D-F"(The "F" is an octave higher then the "F" in FACE) Every Good Boy Does Fine. For some reason most of us have heard that so many times in school. Now you know what it means.

Lines used above or below the staff are called "ledger lines".

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Each line and space represents notes in our musical system.

STANDARD NOTATION:

There are three key elements in music that make music pleasing to our ears:

One of the three is most important..

Do you know which one it is?..

Answer:The most important one is "Rhythm".

Here are the names, symbols & values used in "Notation"  

NOTE NAME SYMBOLS VALUE IN BEATS
Whole notes
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four beats
Half notes
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two beats
Quarter notes
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one beat
Eighth Notes
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half beat
Sixteenth Notes
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quarter beat

When eighth notes and sixteenth notes are written together on the staff the flags ar joined so that they are easier to read here is an example:

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You will notice the musical symbol that I have placed on the music staff it is called a “TREBLE CLEF”. Some musicians refer to it as the “G” clef however, that is not the proper term.

The Treble clef is a musical symbol used to locate middle “C” directly below “G” on the musical staff.

It it used to locate middle "C" because by drawing the symbol that starts on the "G" line and goes down and finishes on the Middle "C" ledger line, usually with a dot on the end of it like a note.

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"Practicing"

I find that the best times for me to practice are when I am in the right mood. It could be at all different times of day or the same time every day. It all depends what inspires you to practice. Good weather, bad weather, the everyday sounds like the train that comes past everyday at the same time or the stillness of the day that might inspire. I think you get it. Either way, stop making excuses and start making arrangements!

"Different types of practicing"

There are different types of practices. One way is when you are serious and you want to buckle down and get this stuff down already no matter what! Another way; preferably is when you are just having fun and creating and discovering. I feel that you should put equal amounts of your time into all types of practicing as you develop. It’s good to remember why you started to play! With that in mind try to set up a time that you can practice for at least a half of an hour to an hour day. As you advance you will be putting in more and more time. So try not to over do it. It is good to remember that when you are learning anything not to burn yourself out. There is so much to remember we could spend three lifetimes learning just about music and then there would probably be more to learn. The learning never stops. The more you learn the more you realize there is that much more to learn.

Memorizing:

When I learned the names of the six strings on the guitar I associated names to them that would help me remember them. Here is my first example: From low to high

The names of the strings from the low “E” string to high “E” string are:

E     A     D     G     B     E


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High "E"
E
B
G
D
A
E
Low "E"

"Picking" or "Finger picking" techniques?

I have already went over picking on the "Lesson 1" video and on that page. I will repeat it so you get use to seeing it and that will help you. Another way to remember would be to share what you are learning with someone else. I sometimes am able to remember it better from remembering that I told some one it. You could very well learn how to pick with you fingers . As a matter of fact a lot of men I have taught or even played in bands with have preffered to use just their hands and fingers and refused to pick with a pick. Personally, I prefer to use a "pick and fingers" I sometimes use a technique called "Hybrid picking". Where as I pick with a pick and my fingers.But for all practical purposes I will discuss picking with a pick. To hold your pick properly will take some getting use to. Firmly hold the pick between your thumb and index finger. Some people think it is more comfortable to hold the pick between their thumb and middle finger. Here is a technique that will help you develop motor skills. Tremolo picking, it is a technique called alternate picking. You can play the string open or play a note.

"To get started"

Start by picking downward on the high “E” string(or a string or note of your choice, I prefer that string because it is thin and easier to tremelo pick on) then up and repeat the process at a slow rate until you can do it with out making a mistake. Later, you will be able to tremolo pick in time. If you have been following this page you noticed that I have just added more text (April 11 2011)Like I mentioned this is new and I will be constantly editing it and adding new material and video(s). These techniques are the building blocks to what you will be doing next so get it down! Especially, If you are a begginer, picking and strumming, are two of the most important things for you to work on right now. Then we will work on counting.

Thank you for taking the time to use my site "http://musictheoryforguitar101.com. I hope that you continue to return and use all the information I have made available to you. It is through every ones charity and contributions I have been able to continue to develope this web site. I will continue to add information as the days move on so keep returning and read over things again as I may have updated the information. Thank You!

You can contact me with any questions about this website or music at:josephcarrafasr@musictheoryforguitar101.com

Remember to practice!