Notation vs. Tablature

Notation vs. Tablature

(If I even speld that rite …)

Just one last quick question:
I was taught fiddle by tablature and cannot read notes "right off the page". I can copy them down in tablature form, but otherwise I don’t read music. Is there any quick way to learn how to read notes? And what is your opinion of tab learning vs. notes?

Re: Notation vs. Tablature

I didn’t think fiddle could be taught through tablature, if you mean the same way that guitar is sometimes taught. There are no frets for starters.

I think that in the end you are just going to end up hearing that both are a waste of time and you should learn by ear. Michael?

Personally speaking most of what I have learned on the whistle has been with the aid of sheet music. I can probably play the tune much quicker this way but I would probably *learn* it sooner if I stuck to learning by ear.

Re: Notation vs. Tablature

Of course if you are just learning the tune by ear then you really need to keep playing it fairly regularly or you are liable to forget you ever learned it.

Re: Notation vs. Tablature

Yeah, I learn by ear often, but sometimes it’s just easier with a LITTLE bit of guidance, aye?

Re: Notation vs. Tablature

There’s nothing wrong with using tablature instead of The Dots, but the vast majority of fiddle tune manuscripts will be in standard notation. If you already know how to translate dots into tab, then sight reading is just a matter of practice. Play the notes instead of tabbing them and you’ll eventually get the hang of it.

Re: Notation vs. Tablature

I found out the hard way that, if you are going to the trouble of learning to read tablature, you would be just as well learning to read music. It’s not really any more difficult.

Having said that, tab is useful for guitar.

Re: Notation vs. Tablature

Not true. I copied that off JC’s ABC page just a second ago. (Oh the shame!)

Re: Notation vs. Tablature

From what I understand, tablature for fretted instruments predates modern music notation, so it’s got a pedigree at least and no reason to be sneered at, except that it doesn’t convey rhythm very well, and is very literal to a specific tuning. I’ve heard of traditional musicians working out tab systems in days past, sort of like abc mixed with finger position: “low 2” or L2 = c nat on A string etc.

I don’t know if there’s an “easy” way to learn standard music notation. I’m not a great sight reader myself (it’s almost like if I were reading words, I’d be moving my lips!). I can encourage you, though, by saying that music notation for trad fiddle is about as easy as it gets:

• there are only four strings with which you have to deal
• there’re only three notes on each string to memorize (well, plus the open string)
• 99% of the notation is single note (no chords).

First, learn where the open fiddle strings are on the notation, the G,-D-A-e. This is a good way to get oriented, a kind of home base. Studying sheet music of simple tunes you already know should help, too. Good luck!

Re: Notation vs. Tablature

The main thing lacking from tablature is rhythmic notation. The only attempts I have seen at notation time values in tablature have involved borrowing the note symbols from staff notation.

Re: Notation vs. Tablature

I never could see the sense of trying to notate rhythm in tablature for folk music. A few decades back, when I was teaching guitar, most of my students wanted tab instead of dots. I wrote tab, but did away with the staffs and flags and just placed the notes where they would occur in time. It’s fairly obvious what it means when you look at it.

Re: Notation vs. Tablature

Padraig O’Keefe used tablature (of sorts) to teach his students. It seems like a reasonable way to learn, if you have a good teacher. In this case, I’m fairly certain that Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford were as good as they were because of their teacher (and their environment) rather than their tablature.

But otherwise, tab seems like it would be most useful for guitarists and the like, for whom a convenient way to notate complicated finger positions is quite useful (especially if there’s only a couple per bar). For fiddles though, it seems like a bit of a cop-out. Sheet music isn’t hard to learn to read, it just takes practice.

But (as I’m sure *somebody* will point out), learning tunes off of sheet music or tablature without a good ear for how it should sound is a fast road to playing terrible music.

Re: Notation vs. Tablature

I agree with spoon about tablature and rhtymn notaion. Tab cab tell you what the note is but not how long to play it. Unless you result to dots as spoon said. With the guitar that isn’t crucial but with a fiddle it is. Playing the fiddle how long to hold a note, the length between notes makes or breaks a tune. Learning by ear is the only other method to do that.

Bridgee if I could learn to read music when I was 8 years old you can learn it as an adult. The music sites posted are good and can help you.

Re: Notation vs. Tablature

My complaint about tab, for guitar anyway, is that it encourages players to play a tune exactly as the person who wrote it, and it is unusual that they end up playing it anywhere nearly as well as the originator.

In my meager attempts to read both (quickly forgotten after reverting to ear again, but am trying dots once more!), I much preferred to just read the melody line as dots or hear it by ear, and then put my own other "fill ins", as in secondary or more notes, chords or partial chords as an accent etc., to compliment the melody rather than try to sound exactly like whomever. I would always encourage a student to either learn the melody by ear or the one line melody via dots if they prefer or a mix, just so they can put their own spin on it rather than literally copy every note, chord, partial chord etc. It may come out better, or worse, who knows, but it helps in developing a style. I have the same feeling about chord charts in general, after the main chords in any key are memorized. You can make up a lot of partial chords that work and let yourself out of the chord chart box. Helpful up to a point though, and tab may be for some as well.

By the hunt and peck method it is not hard to discover complimentary notes for the somewhat complicated finger positions Georgi mentions. Tab can of course give a good idea of how someone else does it, what their choices were etc. But I’d suggest to someone to try and find their own after a few glances. More satisfying ultimately that way too. Just an opinion as related to guitar tab.