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One of the questions I always hear is "Why
in the world would anyone want to learn 'tab' to play songs?"
That's correct. In as few as five minutes with a bit of knowledge of how the song goes, you're up and running. Many people say they do not read music. If you view sheet music such as Over the Rainbow, it can be scary for those unaccustomed to reading music. But - with a tabbed sheet in front of you for the same song, it's not so intimidating and the learning time interval can be dramatically decreased.
Another question is: Why learn to read music at all? I do not believe anyone should rely on tabbed music exclusively. You can - but - you get a much more rewarding music experience if you understand at least the basics of music theory. The more you learn, the more rewarding it will be.
There are many websites designed to teach music theory and I highly recommend you visit and learn from these websites. One that I recommend is: Ricci Adams' Musictheory.net You can tab a song for the Diatonic or the Chromatic harmonica.
To tab songs, you will need to find the sheet music. There are websites offering free sheet music with popular songs requiring a fee. You can also use software to open MIDI files and essentially create the music sheets from all the instruments used to create the MIDI. I find that using the guitar, piano or the melody line is very good for converting the sheet music to tab notation.
Song key: At the top of the sheet music you will see a number of #'s or b's. You may also not see any - this will indicate the song is in the key of "C". The Circle of Fifths will provide you with assistance in determining the song key. Once this is determined, we go to the scale for that song key and match up the number of #'s or b's on the song sheet to the matrix. This tells us which scale to use.
Let us assume the song is in the scale of "C" (no #'s or b's) like Over the Rainbow. If you review this sheet music you will note it's in the song key of C" and it's to be played moderately bright (100 - 120 beats per minute).
Take a moment to remember your
first musical learning experience in school. I think everyone remembers
FACE and EGBDF (Every Good Boy Does Fine). These acronyms come from the
STAFF. Music is written on a staff of 5 lines and 4 spaces. Some
notes are written on the lines and some are written in the spaces. From
the piano book:
F - Fine
At this point - you CAN read music! You should also be seeing a pattern above. Study the above carefully and refer to it often in your path to learning music.
Since Over the Rainbow starts on "Middle "C", we can start the tabbing using either holes 4 blow or 7 blow (both "C" notes) on a "C" harmonica scale. For simplicity, I will use the 4 blow starting point and center the other notes around this. (We can't start on hole 1 (also a "C" note) since there are notes lower than middle "C". We could start on hole 7 blow, but the higher ranges can get squeaky or too high. Starting on hole 10 blow won't work because there are notes higher than 10 blow (also a "C" note)). The scale to use for reference for a "C" harmonica is:
You would want to write down above the word "Some" the notation "4" indicating this is a blow note. (See my tab notation). This note is a "half note" so it has a timing of 2 beats.
The next set of notes is actually two notes that are played together. Using the scale, we find that the lower note is an "E", or 5 blow and the upper note is a "C" or 7 blow. Skilled players will play both notes using the tongue to cover the 6 blow hole. For us, we will simply use the upper note and notate it as 7 blow. You would want to write down above the word "where" the number "7" indicating this is a blow note. This note is also a "half note" with a timing of 2 beats.
At this point, you have tabbed the first measure. In the staff, the first upright bar is a measure bar. The timing between measure bars for this song is 4 beats. Although you are only playing 2 notes, the timing is 4 beats (2 beats for each half note).
We now proceed to the next measure where the next note is on the "B" line and is properly notated as a 7 draw. Continue this process for the entire song referring to my tabbed song here.
As mentioned above, since this song is in common time, or 4/4 time, the first note ("C") is held for 2 beats. The 2nd note ("C") is also held for 2 beats. The 3rd note, ("B") the 7 draw is held for 1 beat. The next 2 notes connect with a bar are the 6 blow and -6 draw. Each note is held for 1/2 beat.
After completing the first line, you
should have tabbing that looks like this:
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions you have and I'll try to provide more help.
Helpful music information to assist you in understanding a music sheet.
play at about 144 BPM
staccato touch a "dot" over a note means to make these notes very short!
Transposition Playing music in a different key from the original key.
Sharps or flats that follow the clef signs.
Quick method to determine the signature key when viewing sheet music:
Sharps: The name of the sharp major
key can be determined by moving UP a half step from the LAST sharp.
Flats: The name of a flat major key
can be determined by the name of the NEXT -T0 - LAST flat.
Jan 1, 2007
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