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English Musick
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Tablature - and how to read it.

Tablature is a method of notation for fretted stringed instruments.  It resembles conventional written music, but is far easier to read.  In fact, it's just a question of being shown.  Assuming that you play a bit already, and you know how the pieces sounds, it's practically instantaneous.  It's been around for a long time, used by the flamenco guitarists in the last century, and is beginning to catch on again, and not before time, as it is just as comprehensive and complete as ordinary music.  One of the great advantages of tablature is that fretted instruments, particularly guitar and banjo, unlike other instruments, use different tunings.  If somebody takes all that time to learn to read and play conventional guitar, using the normal EADGBE tuning, what happens when he re-tunes to DGDGBD, or 'open G tuning?  He's got to start all over again.  With tablature however, it's the same whichever way the guitar is tuned.  So here's how it's done.
Conventional guitar music has a five line stave, but tablature has SIX.  Each line represents a string, the top line being the treble 1st string, down to the bottom line, which is the base played on that particular string.  'O' means an open or unfreted string.  i.e.


That is the basis of it all.  As you can see, it's quite simple.  Now we come to the timing.  This closely resembles conventional timing but again it's simpler.  We divide a tune into BARS and we give every bar four beats.  i.e.

Now we see how to divide the beats up.  We have a single beat - A double beat A quadruple beat -
And two broken beats -  
Each of these groups represents one beat.  An easy way to illustrate this is in taking a couple of lines of 'Skip to my Lou'
Just say the words and tap the beats at the same time.  more on reading the tab    

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