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Fiddle Tablatures
Topic Rating: 4 Topic Rating: 4 Topic Rating: 4 Topic Rating: 4 Topic Rating: 4 Topic Rating: 4 (3 votes) 
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CGBownut
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January 14, 2012 - 7:13 am
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  Just kinda wanted to see what others thought about using Tablatures to learn to play.

  As someone who can't not (yet) read music, I came across Tablatures and found that if I knew the song or found it and played the audio several times, that I could look at a tab and very quickly begin to pick it up.

  Am I doing the wrong thing using these as a short cut.

  Now just to clarify, I do practice everyday. Doing Scales, playing Twinkle Twinkle several times really working on my intonation using both long and short bow strokes, violin-studentbut after a while I like to have some fun dancingand use the tablatures to quickly learn a song I like or want to learn. I find myself looking forward to that portion of my practice session.  cheerleader

 

Then I end with another round of working on my intonation using the tuner and long bow strokes. So I feel like I making progress, but again, am I hurting my progress in the long run?

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Kevin M.
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January 14, 2012 - 10:29 am
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I do the same as you.  When I first started learning I bougght lessons online.  Everthing was in notation similar to tablature but as I progressed I thought he would start changing over to regular music and in some ways he did but very little. I can now read music thanks to FM.  The problem is that I find it hard now to play from regular music because I find myself translating to notation as I'm trying to play instead of just seeing the note and playing it.  I am getting better now but it left me far behind.

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myguitarnow
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I don't think there is anything wrong with it at all. The more you know the merrier :-).  If you are planning to play different styles it's good to know the common ways people notate songs. Lots of fiddle songs are written in fiddle tab. There is also other ways people notate fiddle songs including a very common one called the ABC method. Just add this stuff in your learning don't let it take you away from learning how to read music...Practice, practice, practice and never stop practicing EVER!

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Sofia Leo
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January 14, 2012 - 2:19 pm
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So long as you're playing, who cares how you learn the tunes?

I played flute way back when, so do read music, but find that there's a mental block between the names of the notes and where to find the fingering on the fiddle. Tab goes around that block, enabling me to learn a song faster than trying to re-train the old brain cells. I expect the brain will eventually connect the notes to the fingering, but until then tab is a great tool.

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polkat
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August 24, 2012 - 5:44 pm
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Why anyone would want to waste their time learning to read tablature well, when it takes the same or even less time to learn to read written notes, is beyond me.

Consider: Tablature is written for a single instrument. It can't be transferred to instruments using different tunings. Violin tab can be used for mandolin, but that's it. Standard notation in specific clefs can be used for any instrument. And suppose the group suddenly changes the key to a song? It's an easy in-your-head transposition in standard notation, but the written tab becomes worthless.

There is at least 500 times more music available in standard notation then there is in tab. And many standard violin pieces are not available in tab.

There has been a stigma for beginners aimed at the difficulty and evilness of trying to learn standard notation. It just isn't true. I used to teach both methods on guitar, and in every case, the standard note people advanced faster then the tab people. I think it's related to the need for constant eye to physical position in tab while standard notation is memory intensive.

I think learning tab is a cop-out for people who have already decided that standard notation is too difficult. It's not. Don't waste your time.

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DanielB
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August 24, 2012 - 8:17 pm
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I didn't find fiddle tab to be something I personally would have invested a lot of time into learning better.  I ran across some during my first week of playing, and I had a pleasant time playing some holiday music and etc from it for a couple hours.  It was easy enough to use that I would agree with the claims tab supporters make that a person can play real songs even on their first day using it.  I still don't understand how it would be used for anything but "first position", but that isn't such a bad place to start. 

But if a person went through and jotted in the note names so they learned them as they used the tab, I think it would at least be helpful towards learning the instrument.  I wouldn't say it might not be worthwhile for some folks.  Standard notation can be a barrier for some, since it isn't particularly intuitive for an instrument like violin at first.  

Tab and standard notation are both just notation systems.  A way of writing down sounds so you can read them back later or someone else can read them.  However one can do it, works.  Both systems, like any system, have advantages and drawbacks.

The biggest drawback I can see happening with tab is the same as one I have seen occasionally with folks who read standard notation.  Sometimes they have practised playing the right note at the right mark or number, but they don't actually know what note they are playing.  I took considerably more music theory than I ever did lessons for any specific instrument, so when I think of musical concepts, I think of the note names and the intervals I am moving when I go from note to note.  

Well, when I think of it at all.  Mostly what I work on is getting the sound coming out of the instrument to match the sounds in my head.  I also may try a song or phrase in more than one key to find one I feel it sounds best in and is perhaps more natural to play in.  Or sometimes less natural, if I want to practice a certain sort of transition or move.  But it isn't real hard to transpose that, if I need to.  I know how the song goes, so I just start it on whatever note I need to when I want to fit with a backing track or recorded version.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlestix
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August 25, 2012 - 6:28 am
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Barry said
 

Every tune Ive learned is a bare bones version, then I add my feel to it, if you dont, then its just another paper version that will impress no one, including the artist.IE you

 

Make the music your own, its the only way you will ever play it right

 

treble-1226

 

I totally agree with you, Barry.

I play 95% by ear, I can add different riff's and do whatever I want with a song. You need some imagination when playing by ear.

When I begin to work on a song, I think of myself playing with a larger group of musician's. I think of how their part would be played and I try to add some of their music to mine, to give it a special effect. Like fill in note's.

An example of that is, if you are playing a piece where you have 3 or 4 or even more bar's of rest, get's pretty boring just sitting there waiting and counting until it's time to begin again. Those rest area's are for other instrument's to do their thing, while you wait and wait and wait. If you're playing with an orchestra it's ok, but if you are playing the melody (solo) you can put your own stuff in there.

Playing from sheet music is a good thing, but get's to a point where what's written on the sheet is what you play, there are no variation's, you don't wander off of what's written. I have played from Tab. before, but like polkat pointed out, there's not alot of music written in that form.

So, be your own composer, even if it was written by another person. Get personal with your music.

My thought's.     facepalmexactly

 

 

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polkat
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August 25, 2012 - 3:58 pm
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No one said you should be locked tight to the written notes. My point was in the great advantages standard notation has over tab. Don't agree? Check this out, and read all of it..........

http://www.johnmcgann.com/tab.html

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Worldfiddler
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Just for the record, I don't think tab is of much use in fiddling, compared to standard notation.

However, if someone requests the "dots" for a tune, I provide them in 4 ways, unconditionally, using Harmony Assistant software.

 

Standard notation

ABC format

Tab format

MIDI file

 

If you have them all, you can ignore the formats you don't need.

 

Mr Jim   dancing

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Fiddlerman
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August 25, 2012 - 7:51 pm
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I can't read anything but standard music notation but I say whatever works for you is positive for learning repertoire.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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DanielB
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I personally prefer to play by ear.  Whether playing a song/piece from memory, improvising off the top of my head, or jamming with others and having some fun with variations of a number we all know, music for me is always made up of sounds.  To me, the ideal is to go from memory or idea to fingers producing notes on the instrument with no more thought necessary than if I were whistling or humming it.

Sure, notation is handy sometimes.  Very useful stuff.  But which notation system is used is largely a matter of taste and what the song/piece is available in, and which is better known or more convenient to a given project or group.  Each of them have their advantages and disadvantages, and I don't believe in any such thing as "one true and only best way".  Whatever works for somebody is fine. 

If I run across a piece or arrangement that I am curious about and where I can't find a good recording of it, I can use pretty much any notation system mentioned here so far (and a few others) if that is what the piece is in.  From that, I can get the notes and an idea of the song/piece.  But that is just the start.  To play it with some expression and feeling that are (so far as I am able) true to the ideas of the piece is what will take the time and work.  In that process, one can also figure out the best "positions" and any tricks to use when playing it.  When I am done with all that, I won't need it written down any more.  I will "have it by heart".

To me, personally, the ability to just get through a song or piece and hit no wrong notes isn't a goal where I take any great pride in managing it.  It is just a step to learning the piece.  Getting the feel and sound I want for it at a given moment is more what I am ultimately after. 

 

@polkat: I don't agree with the "great advantages" of standard notation.  On violin and some other instruments, it has a notable drawback, in fact.  There is no way in basic standard notation to indicate if the A note that is desired is an A note played on the D string with the 4th finger (in "first position") or the open A string.  Or further up the neck on the G string, for that matter.  Those notes sound a bit different, since they contain different harmonic content and in the case of the open A, it lacks the damping/softening effect of a finger.  Since they sound slightly different, one might use any of them at any point where that particular A is needed in the melody to get the actual sound and feel one wants.

But in all fairness, the only notation system I am familiar with that would make that distinction is tab, and so far as I can tell it would only be particularly useful for the "first position", since if there is a way to show notes further up the neck in violin tab, I haven't seen it yet.  So right there is a limitation to tab, so far as I know.  I think tab is more useful for guitar or bass guitar than violin, but that is just how I see it at the moment.  ABC notation I have played a few pieces from, but I am not sure how accidentals would be indicated in it.  I don't know that one well. 

Standard notation is the system I would say I know best, though guitar or bass guitar tab would probably be at least a close second.  Doesn't matter, because the notation is not the music, it is just one way of scribbling it down.  In this day and age, I think an mp3 or wav file is a far better way of communicating or storing a musical idea anyway.  Midi is a bit better for versatility, perhaps, but not everyone does midi, and the sound quality on just a midi file is kinda icky, compared to a decent recording.

I usually find it far more interesting that someone does indeed play, than what notation system they use for writing things down or playing from something someone else has written down.  I personally prefer to play by ear, since when I play from any sort of notation, I feel my expression and interpretation aren't as much of a focus as I feel they should be. 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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polkat
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August 26, 2012 - 3:02 am
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From my understanding (with previous teachers) choice of voicing for a given note is a personal thing, but that all written violin music that does not indicate a specific voicing refers back to first position. But there's far more then voicing choice in standard notation. As mentioned, tab relates to only the instrument it is written for (with a few minor exceptions), while written notation covers any instrument written in it's clef. That is a big advantage to multiple instrument players. Tab (basic tab anyway) does not teach note names, and even when it does, it does not teach note to chord/scale relationships, which, when understood. become obvious in standard notation.

You know what, never mind, go with tab.

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Worldfiddler
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There is no way in basic standard notation to indicate if the A note that is desired is an A note played on the D string with the 4th finger (in "first position") or the open A string.  Or further up the neck on the G string, for that matter.  Those notes sound a bit different, since they contain different harmonic content and in the case of the open A, it lacks the damping/softening effect of a finger.  Since they sound slightly different, one might use any of them at any point where that particular A is needed in the melody to get the actual sound and feel one wants.

Daniel, most scores have a finger number above the note to indicate eg an A note on the 3rd string. Also, if there' a requirement for an open E string, there's a little zero above the note. If a change of position is required, eg keeping just on the G string, there will a finger number above a note. If the sequence of notes was open G, A, B, C, D, E, and you were required to stay on that G string, there would be a little 1 or 2 above the E note, meaning you would need to shift.

Jim

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DanielB
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polkat said

You know what, never mind, go with tab.

   exactly Anybody can use whatever system they are comfortable with, so long as they can find the music they want available in it and whoever else they may be playing with is familiar enough with it.

Really, though, standard notation doesn't automatically teach the note names either.  I have met a few people who can sight read but have no idea what note they are playing and if you were to tell them something like "Ok, go from that A up to the C#, then the E in the next octave up, then back down to the D right below it", they act just lost.  How well things like note names are learned and intervals, chord/scale relationships and etc will be understood will depend on how a person is taught.  It is possible for a person to know how to play one instrument just in a sense of this dot (or number or letter, depending on the notation system) means put your finger here, and to not actually learn much theory at all.  And in all fairness though, some of them seem to be able to play quite well. Not everyone wants to learn theory, I guess.

I agree that standard notation makes some musical relationships more obvious, but that could be because that was what was in use when I was learning theory.  I haven't ever met anyone who learned theory via another notation system, so I don't know how it would work.  Tab does look to me like it has a weak point there, though, I agree.

 

@Mr. Jim:  Ah!  Ok, I get it.  I learned standard notation on a piano, so that was never covered. 

As is pretty obvious, I haven't worked much with written score in any notation system for violin. 

So the same number system could also be used with fiddle tab, and as such it could be useful further up the neck than I was thinking.  I withdraw that complaint about tab only being useful in the first position, then. 

Thanks for clearing that up for me.  thumbs-up

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlerman
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August 26, 2012 - 2:51 pm
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If you want the II string A note played up on the G string you can write V under the A note and the preferred fingering for example 4 under or over that. You can also write "sul G"

If you would like an open A string you can write a 0 under or over the note.

If you want the player to play the A with a fourth finger on the D string you only need to write a 4 under the note. If you would like the player to play on the D string but not specify the fingering you can write either III or "sul D" under the desired section with a dotted line up to the point where you want it to end.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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RosinedUp
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polkat said
No one said you should be locked tight to the written notes. My point was in the great advantages standard notation has over tab. Don't agree? Check this out, and read all of it..........

http://www.johnmcgann.com/tab.html

Good post IMO.  As a beginner, that page gives me some perspective, and inspires me to study theory as a basis for understanding and improvisation.

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