Sheet music vs. Tab music

Bowmap

Redacted
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 23, 2017
11,557
X
I have decided to start over. I learned to site read notation at a young age. Promptly forgot most of it during my 'finding myself' years. So I am back to going through beginner books and lessons myself so I can start to read again.
 

chawvid

New Member!
Jul 4, 2022
1
Nevada
Sheet music is what most musicians, regardless of their instrument, will recognize. Notes are written on a clef (five horizontal lines), with spaces between them. Tab music, on the other hand, is written to correspond to the fretboard of the guitar, so there are six lines that correspond to the six strings. vidmate.app saveinsta
 
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trapdoor2

Senior Stratmaster
Oct 25, 2017
2,065
South Carolina
Geez, an ancient thread rises from the ooze...

Modern Tab can contain all tech aspects of notation...except it being visually non-linear (you can't see the arc of the tune).

I just transcribed a pile of vintage guitar sheet music and arranged it for banjo duet. Errors are just as common in notation. Some publishers are good, some are not.

I read notation and Tab. For me, notation is easier for non-fretted instruments (few chords). I read for Viola, Violin and Cello, for instance. For fretted...give me Tab.

Oddly, I read a lot of notation for the banjo (common for 19th Cent banjo sheet music)...but I cannot seem to play from it. I sight-read banjo tab...because it's more common than notation...nowdays.
 

Green Craig

Senior Stratmaster
Oct 15, 2012
2,340
Michigan
Every Good Boy Drives Ferrari

When I got my first acoustic guitar, my mom took me to the mall to pick up some tab books for music that I'd want to play. I poo-pooed the idea, arrogantly looking at "hippy dippy guitar players" not even being able to read sheet music. Buncha slackers anyhow. It wasn't until many years later that I realized...I owned this guitar and had never actually put any effort into learning to play because I didn't want to learn to read music, and that the barrier to entry (through tablature) was actually a great method in learning the songs I wanted to play.

I had become a hippy-dippy guitar slacker.
 

jjaaam

Strat-Talker
Dec 2, 2021
149
Michigan
Even playing for 41 years. I’ve never learned to read standard notation effectively. If I’m trying to learn a new song I’ll often rely on tab just to speed up the process; I’ve learned countless songs by ear but sometimes having the tab as a backup is helpful.

Neither approach is right or wrong. Just different. Do what works for you.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,793
Murfreesboro, TN
Classical notation is better for piano and pipe organ. That's what it was designed for. It is poorly optimized for open chord folk music where you play 6 notes at a time, where some fall below the staff and some fall above it. Even a simple e chord makes my eyes cross. It also cannot handle playing the same note twice at the same time, which happens sometimes. And it can be awkward to figure out where to put your hands. On a 24 fret guitar e4 can be played in 6 different places. You have to guess which one to use, and if you guess wrong you won't be able to reach the next note.

Tablature is better for string instruments when you already know the rhythm. This is nothing new, it's been around since the 15th century. It doesn't tell you the rhythm, you have to know it. But it does tell you how to hold your hands, and it's written in a way that's possible for someone, so no guess is required. It's a great tool for learning songs you've heard before.

Both systems have different strengths and limitations. I'd rather use tab most of the time, or even simpler notation. 022100 is something all of us understand as an e chord, this kind of notation is essentially tab but easier to type.
 

dspellman

Senior Stratmaster
Mar 24, 2013
1,024
Los Angeles
As guitar players, the most common form of music notation for us is Tab. Does anybody else find this frustrating?
Naw. I've read sheet music for centuries, because I started out on keyboards and Sax.
Worse, I've had to read it on the fly, while playing.

Tab is useful as a fingering guide for transcripted songs if you want to play it more or less as it was recorded. It's a relatively recent invention, I think; sheet music has been around and guitar players have read it for a very long time.
 

dspellman

Senior Stratmaster
Mar 24, 2013
1,024
Los Angeles
Give me the lyrics with the chord changes and I'll take it from there.
I still have "fake books" with lyrics, chords and a basic melody line.
I can't tell you how many requests were handled from bored housewives at The Gypsy Lounge with those things. Musically, that is.
 

Miotch

Most Honored Senior Member
Jun 28, 2011
5,316
ok
I can read music, but not strong sight reader on guitar. When learning a song that I’ve heard, I can use either or neither. Sometimes it makes deciphering a difficult passage easier. But I think about 25 percent of the time both written forms are wrong. If I’m trying to learn a song I’ve never heard and have no accompaniment, standard notation is preferable as timing more important than what someone else’s interpretation of fingering is. But if possible, I avoid both. And chord charts may be best of all if I can listen to what I’m trying to learn. Just a framework is usually good enough.
 
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trapdoor2

Senior Stratmaster
Oct 25, 2017
2,065
South Carolina
It's a relatively recent invention, I think; sheet music has been around and guitar players have read it for a very long time.
Tab is older than notation...think "lute" as it was developed for it in medieval times.

It was "rediscovered" in the 1870s by a Boston area teacher who had banjo students who couldn't grok notation. He published his "simple method" in 1877...and it was lambasted in the music press of the day. I have a banjo tune book published in 1890 that is both notation and tab...printed in two staves so the rhythm can be seen in the notation.

Tablature is better for string instruments when you already know the rhythm. This is nothing new, it's been around since the 15th century. It doesn't tell you the rhythm, you have to know it.
Modern tab has all the rhythm flags, dots, etc. Almost all of the music software that supports tab these days has rhythm for tab.
 

Yougene

Strat-O-Master
Jan 18, 2016
693
Champyzoo
Tabs made by others are useless to me, because I don’t play in standard tuning. Sometimes I write my own tabs when I study some Charlie Parker stuff for example.
I also use note numbers, modes, arpeggios in relation to chords and write the information on a standard sheet, just like this (love that iii chord…):
2E171073-485E-4F8D-A7B6-343A81A98642.jpeg
 

Green Craig

Senior Stratmaster
Oct 15, 2012
2,340
Michigan
It was "rediscovered" in the 1870s by a Boston area teacher who had banjo students who couldn't grok notation. He published his "simple method" in 1877...and it was lambasted in the music press of the day. I have a banjo tune book published in 1890 that is both notation and tab...printed in two staves so the rhythm can be seen in the notation.
those damned lazy kids anyhow.
 


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