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Reading Ukulele TAB - Alternate Notation FREE LESSON
Published: 2005-01-02 Updated: 2017-04-21 00:00:00 • 5058

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Reading Ukulele TAB - Alternate Notation

An alternate form of musical notation for stringed instruments.

by Curt Sheller, Curt Sheller Publications

Reading Music is the ability to reproduce music from written notation. It includes five phases: note recognition, alternate note locations, rhythm recognition, fingering considerations, communication terminology and interpretations. (From Wikipedia)

TAB or Tablature is an alternate form of musical notation, which tells players where to place their fingers on a particular instrument rather than which pitches to play.

Generally speaking, tablature is commonly used by informally trained musicians in folk, popular and rock music.

TAB is sort of a secret language between guitar players and ukulele players. Although a shortcut to getting started it actually serves to alienate one from the rest of the music world.

Alternate Music Notation

Alternate Notation - TAB, short for tablature is very common alternate music notation used in the guitar world. Tablature has a history in lute music of past centuries and has found it way in to the guitar world of today and has been used as an alternate notation for ukulele. TAB is not very common for other instruments.

TAB is used mostly by beginning students without the time or desire to read standard music notation. It is widely used in the mainstream guitar media. TAB is typically presented along side standard music notation although a few guitar magazines have drop the standard music notation part. From the five phases of reading music TAB typically only shows the note location. It shows what string and fret to play the note on. Some TAB also shows the rhythmic duration of the note. Fingering considerations are typically left up to the player as in standard music notation, but can be shown.

TAB can not show the contour and rhythmic density of music., or address the ukulele’s ability to play the same note at alternate locations.

TAB is sort of a secret language that guitar players and ukulele players use. Although a shortcut to getting started it actually serves to alienate one from the rest of the music world.

Reading TAB is NOT reading music. It‘s more like paint by numbers.

End of Lesson


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Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books! — Peter Rhee

Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the best — Glen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys

Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too. — Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg

I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent. — fatveg — Portland

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