Sheet music vs. Tab music

davidKOS

not posting these days
May 28, 2012
16,818
California
I don’t see how it would be possible to write tab for vocals, or brass or woodwind instruments. How could you write tab for trombone for instance? Even if it was possible, good luck trying to find a trombone player that could do anything with it.

Standard notion can be used and played by any instrument.
And oddly enough, there is some rare TAB for wind and brass instruments.

Staff notation still is the thing for pro players, arrangers, and composers.

BTW I had books as early as 1972 or so that had TAB or proto-TAB ways of showing the fingerings of staff notation.

One example is an early Clapton book. It was in staff notation, but above every note was the string and fret numbers.

And classical guitar music has had these not-quite-TAB fingerings for a long time.

Let's face it.

Certain styles of music are largely based on sheet music. Other styles are still an aural tradition.

I repeat something my teachers said:

The COMPLETE musician can play by ear AND read notation.

Those teachers could read and conduct symphonic music. They also could play dance gigs without a single piece of written music - they knew it all by ear. plus they could improvise over any set of chord changes presented.
 

davidKOS

not posting these days
May 28, 2012
16,818
California
I played trombone for years, making tab for trombone would be easy and it would be intuitive to use. Trombone has 7 positions (numbered 1-7) and you already have notes that are above and below one another in the same position that you simply lip up or down to play. For example, in first position low to high you have Bb, F, Bb, and D. Tab for those would be a 1 on the corresponding line. In 2nd position you have A, E, A, Db. That would just be a 2, on the corresponding line. Lipping up or down really is quite similar to moving to an adjacent string on guitar.
A Bb concert scale would look like this:
-------------------------------------
------------------------4----2----1-
----6---4----3----1--------------
1---------------------------------

With trumpet or tuba, where you have combinations of valves 1-3, the same scale would be:
---------------------------------------------
--------------------------23-----1------0--
------13----23---12--------------------
0----------------------------------------

It would be rather more awkward to do this for saxophone, where there are around 20 different keys.
great post

I recall all the "beginner band" books having the notations for the fingerings of each instrument.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,798
Murfreesboro, TN
We learned to play by ear; listening to vinyl. You played them over and over, spun the vinyl until you trained your ears to hear the tone. It was painfully slow for me.


One of the interesting things I have noticed playing in WB's is that Piano and Key Board players often require the sheet music because they seem to not have the ability to play by ear, or even chord charts. Its deer in the headlights when you hand them something other than sheet music.

Playing by ear is a skill, one most guitarists have to learn and one most piano players don't. In fact many piano teachers discourage playing by ear, whether they intend to or not.

My mom plays piano, she's the same way. With the music--she'll play Maple Leaf Rag at full speed, no problem. Or Sgt. Pepper's, or Hotel California. I love playing along with her. But any suggestion to play something without the sheet music or modify the arrangement, and she gets that deer in headlights look. She won't try it, even if it's something she's played many times before.
 

Hanson

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 3, 2016
1,718
Mesquite, Texas
Playing by ear is a skill, one most guitarists have to learn and one most piano players don't. In fact many piano teachers discourage playing by ear, whether they intend to or not.

My mom plays piano, she's the same way. With the music--she'll play Maple Leaf Rag at full speed, no problem. Or Sgt. Pepper's, or Hotel California. I love playing along with her. But any suggestion to play something without the sheet music or modify the arrangement, and she gets that deer in headlights look. She won't try it, even if it's something she's played many times before.

Yes, I noticed that changing the arrangement had the same effect on the piano players. Our band leader liked to change arrangements routinely, even during rehearsal just hours before we took the stage. Kept me on my toes for sure.
 

crankmeister

Most Honored Senior Member
Jul 9, 2020
6,020
Republic of Gilead
Just give me the key and chords — by tab, by sheet music, whatever. Otherwise it’s by ear, or I make up my own tune. The Circle of Fifths and a bit of theory makes for a decent jumping-off point, not to say I’m not always trying to improve at some aspect of it all.

I used to sight read way back when for trombone. As a kid. I was pretty good. But I don’t feel like relearning it anymore. FACE. EGBDF. Key signature. Let’s do this.
 

Horseflesh

Strat-Talk Member
Apr 25, 2022
57
Seattle-ish
I have never seen any advantage to tab.
That may be because you're already an accomplished musician.

Tab is what let me play a riff the first time I picked up a stringed instrument, not knowing anything about it.

Cheap thrills like playing recognizable music are what keep me motivated to learn to do it all the right way. Doing something rewarding right now is a big advantage for me and probably a few other novices too.

Tabs are a crutch, but crutches can be invaluable.

I am too dumb not to participate in this argument every time I see it, haha. :)
 

Quikstyl

Strat-Talk Member
Nov 10, 2018
16
California
As guitar players, the most common form of music notation for us is Tab. Does anybody else find this frustrating? I personally read sheet music more effectively than I read tabs. What do you guys think? I am sure that some of us don't read sheet music, but I've found that I like it better for the following reasons.

  1. Rhythms. I guess a lot of tabs have rhythms written in, but all sheet music has rhythms written in. I guess that tabs are written with the assumption that you'll figure out the rhythm playing along with the song.
    https://solitaire.onl/ 9apps.ooo/ https://bluestacks.vip/



  2. They don't tell you what string to play on. For somebody like me with smallish hands, I don't need somebody telling me that I should be able to stretch intervals that I can't. On the other hand, this is a bit of a disadvantage because some parts may be written on specific strings for specific reasons.

  3. It's much easier to think musically about what scale I'm using when I'm seeing the scale drawn out, rather than a bunch of fret numbers written out.

  4. Playing with other musicians becomes easier. If somebody else comes up with a song and wants to give you your part, if they're not a guitar/bass player, they won't know tab and won't know how to notate it correctly. I also feel as if other musicians I'm playing with trust my abilities more if they know that I can read sheet music.
    Anybody else have reasons one way or the other to add? This is just my personal take.
Tabs are great if your 16 and need to learn Disposable Heroes. Other than that...
 

3bolt79

Dr. Stratster
Oct 16, 2018
14,352
Oregon
I don’t see how it would be possible to write tab for vocals, or brass or woodwind instruments. How could you write tab for trombone for instance? Even if it was possible, good luck trying to find a trombone player that could do anything with it.

Standard notion can be used and played by any instrument.
I used to make my own in Standard notation from piano scores. Lots of ledger lines.
 


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