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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 • VIEWS: 60 • LESSON CODE: UL22

Instruments: 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, country and rock music.

TAB is a secret language between guitar players and ukulele players. Although a shortcut to getting started it 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 applies 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 its way into the guitar world of today. It is alos 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, and widely used in the mainstream guitar media. TAB is typically presented alongside standard music notation, although a few guitar magazines have dropped the standard music notation part.

From the five phases of reading music, TAB only shows the note location, what string and fret to play the note. Some TAB shows the rhythmic duration as well. 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 a secret language that guitar players and ukulele players use. Although a shortcut to getting started it 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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