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How is tabulature different from someone teaching you how to play a song?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Every1TookMyName, Dec 18, 2001.

  1. Just curious.

    (this is not a troll. Please do not delete or close this thread)
  2. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    If the person "teaching" you is just showing you where to put your fingers, there is no difference.

    If the person TEACHING you is showing you the theory behind the notes, how they fit into the key signature or chord structure, the harmony - the WHY - enabling you to reproduce the music of others or to create your own music, in any key...there is a world of difference.

    Monkey see, monkey do.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    It really isn't that different. If you are going to learn by simply watching where another person puts their fingers, you basically have a fancy 3D tab machine right in front of you. It is serving the same purpose as tab. And you are learning the same thing as if you were using tab.

    I am hesitant to get into get into the whole tab thing. Only a few bits of hoof and hair remain where the dead horse once laid, but I will say this as I personally have never spouted off in one of these threads.

    It is completely a personal choice as to whether you learn to read or not. If you define your worth as a bass player as how many songs you know, tab is an excellent means to advance by your own definition. It is clear, intuitive and easy to learn to use.

    And you will get "better" in that your motor skills will improve and you will be able to learn more and more difficult pieces as you advance.

    I have also seen scales and modes and just about everything you can imagine tabbed out in one form or another. (But without some understanding of theory, I fail to see their value)

    BUT, what happens when you have never heard the song before? What happens when you want to transpose keys? What happens when you have to use music from another intrument? What happens when there is no tab available?

    Tab is like having a map of the block you are on but not really knowing what city you are in.

    You may find yourself in a situation one day where you are not just playing with a guitarist and drummer. Most piano and orchestra players are serious readers.

    By learning to read notation, you are empowering yourself. Notation is a self-contained, fully comprehensable universal method of visually documenting and transmitting music. Tab is simply unable to do that. With some ability to site read standard notation, you can walk into in situation with your instrument and if they have the music, you can participate and contribute.

    This is why so many of us encourage others to take the time to learn it. I do not believe that those of us who support learning to read music are elitist or arrogant. It is just another tool for learning.

    To me, learning to read was part of the skill. Just like learning any other technique. I don't care for slap bass, but I put it in my practive routine once or twice a week. Same with playing with a pick. If I walk into a rehearsal and the leader says, "I need slap bass here" I better be able to do it. I make every effort to be a well-prepared as I can be as a player, and knowing how to read is a huge part of that.

    Now after saying that, I should add that I don't always read. I have played with orchestras and read. I have played from memory at other gigs. I have played from cheat sheets hand-written on notebook paper. When I was in Nashville, I played from stuff written out in "Nashville Notation." The bulk of the work that I do now is from studio charts. But two or three times a week, I break out something that is written in notation and play through it just to keep the eyes and the fingers on the same page.

  4. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I dont use tabs in the tabcrawler way ie ask for a tab. I will always try to work out a song by ear. In fact my church band leader generally gives us a tape to learn from.

    I dont sight read music because it brings back some painful memories of an incompetant teacher.
    I have done some reading gigs and am working on a project that requires me to use ear and music as it was scored incorrectly.

    I know at least two pianists who have not improved in 40 years plus because they read. They have no idea how to construct music because they read it. Take away the music and they are lost. They didnt even know that "2 sharps" was D.

    Learn how music works not how to read it. I like the Nashville method because it teaches you the relationship of the chords.

    If someone gives me a tab I dont rip it up. If they give me music I tell them that I dont sight read, give me 5 minutes. Nashville fine, 3 chords written on a fag packet fine, follow the guitar chords fine, fine the pianist not so fine but will do, just play along its in E ok.

    All IMHO of course and I have never slagged tabs music or fag packets although I dont smoke...
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    This is a a picture perfect description of my wife. Most would see her as an excellent piano player, as she can play anything that you put in front of her, but If I start playing the acoustic and say, "It is a 1-4-5 in D," she just looks at me funny.

    You are absolutely correct in that you need to learn how music works. But that is a whole different discussion. I will say the nice thing about my wife is that, she can read and therefore play anything, whether she has heard it or not.
  6. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I agree, what I am seeking is balance.
  7. Samie


    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain
    U are kidding right? I have learned more from watching a 30 sec clip of gary willis(an example) than from all the tabs I have used (not many). "So is that how it done .. "

    Chances are with tab that if you have not heard it, you will NOT be able to play it. If you see someone playing it you will have the visual and the audio. If its live ... well even better.
  8. I think there's a big difference between tab and someone teaching you a song.

    Tab for guitar and bass, unless otherwise doctored up to do more, generally tells you where to put your fingers by displaying numbers on a chart representing the strings. That's it.

    Standard notation does the same thing, only via symbols on a stave (don't freak, I'm not done). You see a low Bb written, you know to put your finger on the first fret on the A string. Of course, notation also provides all the other information necessary to perform the piece: rhythm, tempo, dynamics, time signature, key signature... all the reasons it is infinitely superior to tab.

    Now, when someone shows you how to play a song, they can't do it with out including things like rhythms, time signature and tempo. Otherwise they won't be teaching you the song. They'd just be showing you seemingly random notes on the fingerboard. Plus having human interaction invites conversation, which can lead to instruction by the more experienced player. Try asking a piece of tab why it chose that particular fingering ;). So no, I don't think it's akin to tab at all.
  9. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Man, I'm glad you told me. I was about to nuke this thing out of its misery...

    Well, you won't mind if I move it, I'm sure.

    Incoming to General Instruction...
  10. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    When I sit down with my teacher to learn a song, the first thing he makes me figure out is what key it is in. From there we work out the chords/notes. Never once did he say "now you put you finger on this fret here then place it here..", unless, of course, there is a better position to be playing the song at, etc. He is "anti-tablature" and won't even let me mention the word at my lesson. hehe. :D

    But to answer your question, yes, it all depends on the teacher. If the teacher works out the song with you, helping you figure out the key and the chords, etc. then there is a difference, but if he just shows you where to put your fingers, you might as well save some money on those lessons and stick with tabs. LOL......maybe make your self proud and figure out the song for yourself (then you'd be better than your teacher!).

    Be well
  11. I had a theory teacher in college who one time was teaching something from the piano. All of a sudden he stopped, reached for some sheet music and began to play it. The song was Greensleeves. He needed sheet music to play it and had been teaching music at the college level for over 25 years. I was amazed.
  12. Hey Chasarms, my wife is exactly the same way. She can read very well, It amazes me how she (or any piano player) can read the bass and treble parts at the same time and play at speed without ever hearing the song! Thats craziness! However, like you said, she doesn't really understand how music works so we can't really just take off jamming together. I'm slowly working on reading myself. It's not easy but it pays off in more ways than have been mentioned. One thing it helps me with is really becomming familiar with the neck. I can't take my eyes off the sheet without getting lost so I have to know where every note is.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree entirely with this - seeing a good player can teach you an awful lot - a lot of nuances in their playing and how they approach things that are hard to play - how they play with others and a lot of rhythmic information - none of which is in Tab.

    The only reason I am interested in reading something is if I haven't heard it, but as Samie says - then Tab is useless. If I've heard it, then I will try to work it out myself in terms of what is happening in the song and this is invariably quicker than looking for Tab which is almost always inaccurate anyway!

    To me bass is hugely about Rhythmic subtleties and to use a method which includes no rhythmic information is just plainly ridiculous!
  14. I don't disagree with you guys, the question just popped up in my head and I didn't have a real answer for it, but I knew you guys would.

    - Jamey
  15. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    This one statement is more powerful than a thousand pro-tab arguments.
  16. sinisterman


    Jul 6, 2001
    I took piano for many years before taking up the bass, and I came up against a similar problem. I was taught classical music, which unlike jazz and rock is non-improvisational. You are supposed to play the notes that are written, and only those notes. It would be very rare for a person to learn a piece of classical music on any instrument by listening to someone else play it, whereas you could get by prettty well in jazz or rock by your ears alone.

    Plus, most of what we call classical music was "written" by literally being written in notation, while pieces from other genres often don't lend themselves well to notation. A lot of the sheet music out there, even if it's in notation, is just transcription, and it sounds pretty bad when you play it. You can "cover" a song in rock; I don't think that you can in classical music. Playing classical is a different kind of activity from playing jazz, etc. If you grow up playing classical, you're not going to develop the same kinds of skills as you would if you sat in a club every night listening to bands play, and vice versa.
  17. The same thing goes on all the time in marching bands (don't laugh). I thought I had an adequate grasp of musical theory because I could read music well... it was an eye opener when I found out there was much more to it then that.
  18. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    it's not - it's exactly like having someone teach you a song.

    standard notation is teaching yourself the song.
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Elitist! ELITIST!!!:mad:
  20. Oh I promised myself I wouldn't get in anymore tab arguments, but what the hay. To get the timing and whatnot down to a song if I use a tab... I listen to the song.

    (I'm just throwing more wood on the fire, what the hell is wrong with me, I should be beaten with a bag full of sharp metal things that are heavy and pretty)

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