• New Sponsor: ShipNerd, Ship Your Gear with Us... for less! Click Here.

My improved tablature system (especially melodic playing).

Messages
946
I invented this 20 years ago and I feel it should finally be going to some use out there.

The tablature I speak of improving is the sort with six lines filled with a time-line of any fret numbers fretted on their corresponding lines/strings, where 0 is an open string, and 12 is halfway down the string, an octave higher than the open note. Additionally the open string tuning may be supplied at the beginning.

Some difficulties with this system are:
* Higher fret numbers like 10, 13, or 17 are tough to find in a hurry; The less you have to do this, the better.
* Even if you know which fret to fret, if you choose the wrong finger to do so with, you may find yourself in the awkward position of having to reposition your hand in the middle of a rapid arpeggio when it wasn't necessary to do so, had you chosen a better position in the first place.

My proposal to improve upon this:
* A circled number indicating the fret # under the index finger is indicated any time a hand position change should occur.
* The 'fixed' fret numbers 0-22 are replaced by fret numbers 'relative to the position', where 1 indicates the natural index finger position for that position, and 4 indicates where the pinkie would lie. Additionally numbers i.e. -1 thru 7 might be used if say the open tuning were in fifths, or so many notes lie within that position that one should try to maintain and think in terms of that position even though straying beyond the natural four finger range may become briefly necessary at times.

Advantages:
* The hand is in the correct position without any advance analysis required.
* Locating fixed fret numbers higher than four is required far less frequently.
* Most of the time play is reduced down to only thinking about four fret positions.

I have found this useful over the years and I hope you do too.

[Upper half of the photo is standard tablature for 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence'. Lower half is my system. The first red-circled '10' should be a '7' however.]

654DC262-6583-4ED6-A455-77A2EDA020D3.jpeg



Stay tuned for a post on Zolfege, a pneumonic rosetta-stone system based on vowels which I also created 20 years ago and still find useful for memorizing chords, scales, and melodies, and for tranposing keys from either chromatic or scale interval contexts.

[A preview is available here, but do not discuss it in 'this' thread.]
 
Last edited:

JonR

Member
Messages
15,766
* The 'fixed' fret numbers 0-22 are replaced by fret numbers 'relative to the position', where 1 indicates the natural index finger position for that position, and 4 indicates where the pinkie would lie.
You mean like classical guitar notation? ;) (uses roman numerals for index position, which helps avoid confusion with finger numbers - a potential issue with your system)
 
Messages
946
You mean like classical guitar notation? ;) (uses roman numerals for index position, which helps avoid confusion with finger numbers - a potential issue with your system)

This already existed? I suppose I'm not surprised as it seemed intuitively obvious. Why on earth aren't the majority of guitar players using it then? It appears to merit all of eight sentences in the wikipedia. (Now that I have a name to find it by.)
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,766
This already existed? I suppose I'm not surprised as it seemed intuitively obvious. Why on earth aren't the majority of guitar players using it then? It appears to merit all of eight sentences in the wikipedia. (Now that I have a name to find it by.)
Here's an example. The numbers in circles are strings (indicating the string for one specific note, if it's not played in the usual way). The roman numerals are index finger frets. The small numbers are left hand fingers ("0" meaning open string).
classgtrnot.jpg

All classical guitarists know what these signs all mean. Other markings (not shown) would be p-i-m-a for right hand fingers, and "C" with a roman numeral to indicate a barre. There is no need for tab when you understand all this. (Although of course you need to be able to identify the notes and know your fretboard to some extent!)

The little "h" at the end of the lines stands for "hinge", meaning you lift the tip of the index to play the open strings in each case (D and E), while keeping it on the 7th fret to play the top notes.

A lot of classical music today uses tab too, as a kind of belt and braces approach.

By the way, when I bought my first classical guitar book (back in 1969!), I could read notation, but not all these other signs. But it soon became clear through a bit of common sense.
 
Last edited:

JonR

Member
Messages
15,766
Incidentally, while I was searching for an illustration of the above system - and I did find it surprisingly hard to find a good reference! - I came across this truly awful site:

It claims to be from berklee, which makes it all the more surprising that the images are so misleading. That first illustration shows a C major chord in notation and tab, but the second bar of the notation is nonsensical. The string and finger numbers don't match the notation.
In fact they indicate a 3rd fret barre C chord, x-3-5-5-5-x, but the notes for that would C-G-C-E, not C-E-G-C as shown. They actually show the 3rd fret barre shape further down the page but still show the notation all wrong.

This is supposed to be a teaching site! :facepalm

Moral: don't trust anything from berklee online. If they can get something so fundamental wrong (nobody double checking?), who knows how much else they can get wrong.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,650
Incidentally, while I was searching for an illustration of the above system - and I did find it surprisingly hard to find a good reference! - I came across this truly awful site:

It claims to be from berklee, which makes it all the more surprising that the images are so misleading. That first illustration shows a C major chord in notation and tab, but the second bar of the notation is nonsensical. The string and finger numbers don't match the notation.
In fact they indicate a 3rd fret barre C chord, x-3-5-5-5-x, but the notes for that would C-G-C-E, not C-E-G-C as shown. They actually show the 3rd fret barre shape further down the page but still show the notation all wrong.

This is supposed to be a teaching site! :facepalm

Moral: don't trust anything from berklee online. If they can get something so fundamental wrong (nobody double checking?), who knows how much else they can get wrong.
Big wow.
 

RevHead

Member
Messages
46
This is supposed to be a teaching site! :facepalm

Moral: don't trust anything from berklee online. If they can get something so fundamental wrong (nobody double checking?), who knows how much else they can get wrong.

I find this all over the net. No-one checks their own or others work any more, before posting.

From the first paragraph
" Strings are generally indicated as circled numerals, with 6 being the low E string and 1 being the high E string. Numerals that are not circled are plucking fingers, with 1 being the index finger, 2 the middle finger, 3 the ring finger, and 4 the pinkie. You sometimes see T for the thumb. "
 
Last edited:

JonR

Member
Messages
15,766
I find this all over the net. No-one checks their own or others work any more, before posting.

From the first paragraph
" Strings are generally indicated as circled numerals, with 6 being the low E string and 1 being the high E string. Numerals that are not circled are plucking fingers, with 1 being the index finger, 2 the middle finger, 3 the ring finger, and 4 the pinkie. You sometimes see T for the thumb. "
Double wow! I didn't even notice that!
Maybe this is a spoof site, by someone who hates Berklee? ;)
 

paul q

Member
Messages
78
I invented this 20 years ago and I feel it should finally be going to some use out there.

The tablature I speak of improving is the sort with six lines filled with a time-line of any fret numbers fretted on their corresponding lines/strings, where 0 is an open string, and 12 is halfway down the string, an octave higher than the open note. Additionally the open string tuning may be supplied at the beginning.

[A preview is available here, but do not discuss it in 'this' thread.]
Can you show us an example? Maybe post a picture of one of your tabs?
 

RevHead

Member
Messages
46
Yeah :) That's what I hinted at . Is it a pneumonic plagal type of thing. I know its an auto spelling mistake and should be mnemonic.

That Berklee Notation Basics throw away piece was written by Jonathan Feist . It is definitely Berklee on line.
When you look him up on the faculty list, he has some impressive credentials, and obviously would have unlimited resources available to him.

Did some Google research and apparently T1234 is an alternate for pima or pimac or pimae or timrp.
Too many variants. I have only seen pima before.
 
Last edited:

KRosser

Member
Messages
14,298
Here's an example. The numbers in circles are strings (indicating the string for one specific note, if it's not played in the usual way). The roman numerals are index finger frets. The small numbers are left hand fingers ("0" meaning open string).
View attachment 436214
All classical guitarists know what these signs all mean.

This system makes so much more sense to me than TAB, and has the added benefit of keeping the standard notation symbols in place so you can analyze what's going on, harmonically, thematically, etc.

Of course, in most cases this is an editor's idea of a fingering, which you would probably wind up changing as you shape your own interpretation of the piece.

But the system itself? So simple, and clear
 
Last edited:

rumbletone

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,528
Incidentally, while I was searching for an illustration of the above system - and I did find it surprisingly hard to find a good reference! - I came across this truly awful site:

It claims to be from berklee, which makes it all the more surprising that the images are so misleading. That first illustration shows a C major chord in notation and tab, but the second bar of the notation is nonsensical. The string and finger numbers don't match the notation.
In fact they indicate a 3rd fret barre C chord, x-3-5-5-5-x, but the notes for that would C-G-C-E, not C-E-G-C as shown. They actually show the 3rd fret barre shape further down the page but still show the notation all wrong.

This is supposed to be a teaching site! :facepalm

Moral: don't trust anything from berklee online. If they can get something so fundamental wrong (nobody double checking?), who knows how much else they can get wrong.

I see the error on the barre chord example near the end of the article, but what’s the first error? The circled notes are the strings, and the uncircled notes are the picking fingers (index, middle, ring, pinky). Perhaps I’m looking at the wrong diagram (or maybe they just fixed it)?
 

willyboy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,435
We all make mistakes as educators so I wouldn't condemn anyone else for doing so as I've made numerous ones in my 20 years but I do always make the corrections once found and often times it's someone else who has pointed the errors out. But, that Berklee article goes against every convention I've ever seen regarding standard guitar notation in all my years of studying and teaching. Even in industry standard notation programs such as Sibelius and Finale, et al. Arabic numerals without circles have always been as far as I've known to be fretting hand fingers and not picking hand. Picking hand fingers have always traditionally been pima
 

rednoise

Member
Messages
978
I see the error on the barre chord example near the end of the article, but what’s the first error? The circled notes are the strings, and the uncircled notes are the picking fingers (index, middle, ring, pinky). Perhaps I’m looking at the wrong diagram (or maybe they just fixed it)?

I don't see anything wrong with it, either, except that I would be unlikely to pick the arpeggio with my index thru pinkie fingers. That feels quite awkward to me - I'd use thumb thru ring unless there was some compelling reason not to.

The barre chord section is a true gaffe, and the whole article is poorly written, IMO.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,766
I see the error on the barre chord example near the end of the article, but what’s the first error? The circled notes are the strings, and the uncircled notes are the picking fingers (index, middle, ring, pinky). Perhaps I’m looking at the wrong diagram (or maybe they just fixed it)?
Yes, the string numbers and notes match the tab, but would you really choose those fingers? Never mind pinky on 1st fret 2nd string, it says to fret the open 3rd string with 3rd finger! :huh

Of course, they are saying (wrongly) that the small numbers mean right-hand fingers, which makes a little more sense - you could pick those strings with those fingers, but it's a pretty unnatural way to do it. The usual way would be thumb-index-middle-ring, correctly labelled "p i m a".

That's why I said the fingering indication (correctly interpreted as fretting fingers) matches the X-3-5-5-5-X barre shown later, which would be fretted with fingers 1-2-3-4 (but then they get the notes wrong - showing the exact same chord as in the first image).

It looks like whoever put this together didn't understand classical guitar notation - they found some classical notation and assumed the numbers meant the right hand - and whoever proof-checked it (did anyone?) didn't even understand guitar chord boxes. Maybe they don't even play guitar?
 
Messages
946
Here's an example. The numbers in circles are strings (indicating the string for one specific note, if it's not played in the usual way). The roman numerals are index finger frets. The small numbers are left hand fingers ("0" meaning open string).
View attachment 436214
All classical guitarists know what these signs all mean. Other markings (not shown) would be p-i-m-a for right hand fingers, and "C" with a roman numeral to indicate a barre. There is no need for tab when you understand all this. (Although of course you need to be able to identify the notes and know your fretboard to some extent!)

The little "h" at the end of the lines stands for "hinge", meaning you lift the tip of the index to play the open strings in each case (D and E), while keeping it on the 7th fret to play the top notes.

A lot of classical music today uses tab too, as a kind of belt and braces approach.

By the way, when I bought my first classical guitar book (back in 1969!), I could read notation, but not all these other signs. But it soon became clear through a bit of common sense.

Yeah, ok; That's not what I had in mind at all. Guess I still invented mine. That's standard staff notation with added fret-fingering hints.

Mine looks far more like basic guitar tablature, no staff, a line devoted to each string, and the only real differences are that the big numbers, 0-19, are replaced with 1-4, indicating actual fingers, and the big numbers are only used to indicate a change in hand position.

However I can see how the one you showed me here would offer 'some' of the placement advantage, and be a huge benefit to anyone wanting to learn to read staff music.
 




Trending Topics

Top Bottom