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Reading Ukulele TAB - Alternate Notation

An alternate form of musical notation for fretted stringed instruments.

PUBLISHED: Jan 2, 2005 • UPDATED: Feb 12, 2020 • LESSON CODE: UL22 • VISITS: 145

ukulele Subjects: readingbeginnerintermediateTAB

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Reading Ukulele TAB - Alternate Notation

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.

There is an old joke that goes like this: "How do you get a guitar play to turn down? You put sheet music in front of them.". Unfortunately this also applys to ukulele players.

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 dropped 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. See the Ultimate C Chord .

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 painting by numbers.


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