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Music Notation and Guitar Tablature

Guitar Tablature


Guitar tablature in text format, or ASCII tab, is a primitive but useful tool for indicating fingering of popular song solos and accompaniments. It can save time learning to play songs recorded by popular musicians. Currently, it operates under the radar of copyrights and continues to be a "free" Internet resource for students studying guitar. A word of caution: being an unregulated resource, there are often inaccuracies in online versions.

Because of the inability to accurately indicate rhythms, ASCII tab does NOT function as a substitute or replacement for learning to read standard music notation. Except for nuance of interpretation, standard notation contains enough information for musicians to reproduce the sound of a composition. By comparison, ASCII tab, is useless without audio reference to actually hear what the music should sound like.

ASCII tab is a timeline diagram of the guitar fingerboard. The strings run horizontally with the bass E string at the bottom. Numbers indicate on which fret notes are to be played. Below is an example of arpeggiated A minor and C major chords.

   Am             C
E|-------0------|-------0------| B|-----1---1----|-----1---1----|

Lute Tablature

Historically, music was written out in tablature form for the European Renaissance and Baroque lutes. The format was more developed than that of modern ASCII tab but less accurate than the standard notation that replaced it in the 18th century. For excellent examples of ancient lute tablature go to the solo guitar network tablature page:

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