Acoustic Guitar Tablature - Is It Real Sheet Music?
Beginner guitarists often get caught up in the question of whether to
learn to read sheet music or simply learn from tablature. This article
states the case for both forms of musical notation and brings to light
the fact that the guitarist must find whether tab or sheet music fits the
path he sees for himself as a musician.
acoustic guitar tablature, guitar tablature
As a beginner acoustic guitarist you're probably wondering whether
learning your songs from guitar tablature is as good as getting them from
"real" sheet music. Learning to play acoustic guitar is a great adventure
which is sometimes spoilt a bit by the prospect of having to learn to
read music. But for most acoustic guitar players, learning all the
symbols and theory connected with musical notation is not really
Tablature for acoustic guitar has certain points giving it an edge over
standard music notation. Actually historians tell us that tablature was
used to record musical compositions long before conventional notation.
They don't seem to have much idea how musicians attributed note values to
compositions they has never heard played. Maybe it wasn't an issue in the
So what do you learn from tabs? Tablature shows diagrammatically where
finger positions are indicated using numbers representing the guitar's
frets along horizontal lines representing the strings. The note G played
on the first (thinnest) string is shown by the number 3 written on the
top line of the tablature. Sometimes the person writing the tablature
will group the notes together to show that they are all the same value
but this is not a hard and fast rule.
Hammer-ons, string bends, pull-offs and other techniques are shown by
symbols. Each tablature writer has his own idea of the best way to show
how to play the music, and he usually includes a legend showing his
symbols on each tab. With the aid of guitar tabs, you can learn new music
quickly without going to the additional trouble of learning conventional
Despite the fact that tempo and time signatures are not included,
sometimes it's easier for the guitarist to pick up music from tablature.
The ease with which you can learn to read tablature means that your
progress on the guitar is not slowed by the need to cope with such things
as the use of alternate tunings.
Another bonus is in the ease in sharing acoustic guitar music on the
internet. Guitar tab is easily written on a computer by way of ASCII
code, which makes it easier to email or post on the web. Maybe when you
get some guitar playing experience under your belt you could try writing
some music down for yourself. A great chance to see the difficulties
facing composers for the guitar. Unfortunately debate over copyright
issues has made posting guitar tab a little bit contentious, but you can
still share tab privately by email.
A lot of guitar teachers proclaim the virtues of learning to read sheet
music. Some even think you are not a "real" musician unless you can read
"real" music. If you have a burning desire to follow a career in music
then the versatility given you by the ability to read music will be a
definite advantage. But if you look at playing music as a way of each
individual expressing themselves in their own unique way, then how you
write your music down is not one of the biggest issues in your life!