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Is tablature really that bad???

Discussion in 'Tablature and Notation [BG]' started by Insomnia_Junkie, Jun 18, 2005.

  1. My friend (A professional bassist) has told me numerous times that I should actually read notation and/or ear sight it instead of reading tablature because it can be detrimental to your musical knowledge as far as knowing what note it is and if it's the "right" note or not. I have been playing bass for almost 2 years now and that's pretty much all I can read is tablature. Next month I am going to start taking lessons because I feel if I want to take "bassing" seriously I have to know what I'm doing.

    What do you all think???
  2. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    To me, tabs are practically useless. I only look for one when I want a "second opinion" on fingerings/positions. Standard notation is the way to go.
  3. So you think it's a good way to go, i mean it's like I'm learning the bass all over again
  4. `ash


    Feb 26, 2004
    i think a good portion of players be it bass or guitarist's use tab more than will admit to.

    I wouldnt be where i am today without tabs. I think they are excellent resource for someone with no music knowledge and who needs a starting point on the instrument.

    How much you rely on tabs yourself is dependant on how far you want to further your skills as a musician.

    Tabs can be very limiting, incorrect and should not be a replacent for learning standard notation.

    I use tabs and sheet music equally. Depending on what is available for what song i want to learn. I prefer music books because they are more accurate where tabs are more likely to be someone interpretation of how the song goes.
  5. If you can honestly read notated music from a stave, tab is not going to kill you. At that point, whether you are reading from notation or tab, it doesn't matter, one of them isn't better at improving your ear. The only way to actually get a better ear is to not use either of them. I try to use my ears or notation when possible, because I enjoy sharpening my reading skills and getting things exactly the way they are played, I will sometimes use tabs if I am just looking to learn a song to improve a technique. For example I will just read some Wooten tab or something if I want to get better at double thumping because A. it's a pain in the ass to read 32nds at 220 BPM and B. it isn't really practical to know how to double thump that fast unless you are vic himself.
  6. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    I don't think so unless your playing has been like the parrot, that speaks without knowing a single word. I mean, do you only look at the numbers in tablature, fret the notes according to that... and nothing else? If you haven't ever played a scale or an arpeggio knowing the names of the notes you're playing, maybe you'd feel like starting all over again. Tabs lack so many bits of information, but in my opinion, their biggest fault is that they only provide you information on pitches. If at least they could give rhythmic information, I think I'd look at them with better eyes.
  7. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Any way you can communicate your musical ideas with another fiend (sic) seems goode to me. BTW I read, but only bass clef
  8. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    i can read musical notation, but at an incredibely slow rate (haven't looked at it since i quit piano about 6 years ago). however, many forms of sheet music have 'guitar notes' above the musical notation. reading these,and then looking at the length of the notes on the musical notation provides an easy and effective way of playing from sheet music.

    all you need to know to begin is the first five notes of every string (ofcourse, the frets repeat themselves). :D

    also, to build your ear, jam to a cd or vinyl. :)
  9. I see what you guys are saying. I usually hear a song and say "I wanna learn it" so I look up the tab and listen to the rhythem etc. but when it comes to majors, minors, arpeccios and all that stuff I don't know it. But Ras I thhink I will do the first 5 notes like you said, that sounds like a good idea.
  10. Tabs are good if you want to just pick up a song and play it, but oftentimes when I learn a song by tab I forget it easily. It's much more useful and rewarding to go through it with your ear.
  11. Iritan


    Jun 3, 2005
    Wilmington, N.C.
    I personally like notation better, and I happen to believe reading tabs does hurt musical growth. But the way I see it, you wanna learn a song, do whatever makes you comfortable and make the trasition on your own time. Either way your technique will still improve, so you aren't losing all progression by using tabs, Just do what you think is best and you'll do fine.
  12. I found tabs excellent when I first started just to get the feel of the bass and to feel like I had achieved something while I was learning standard notation which can be a pretty boring and drawn out process on it's own and probably why half of learners give up within a few months. :bawl:

    I remember learning the bass tab to Green Day's Warning, I was so delighted that I stuck with it and well 4 years and a standard notation fluancy later and look at me now. :bassist: :D
  13. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    I think for someone that's a beginner, tab is fine. Anything you can do to get you interested and feeling the bass exciting you is a beautiful thing.

    When you get to a point where you want to get serious about music, I would view tab as a last resort. If you are really having trouble figuring something out, and are desparately short on time, than maybe tab can be helpful. Short of that, though, for someone that is a gigging musician, I wouldn't touch tabs.
  14. Groover


    Jun 28, 2005
    Ohio, USA
    I think Tab is good to get the ball rolling. I personally want to get away from it because it doesn't show the time of the notes (quarter, eight, etc), but anything I look-up on the web because I need to learn it quick, is tab - so then I use tab.

    I'm currently learning standard notation and I can't wait 'till I get it down fluently :hyper:
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think your friend is giving good advice!
  16. tyson


    Feb 9, 2000
    Dallas, TX
    well said brother. one thing we all should remember is that Western musical notation is NOT law.. it's just one of the many methods to document on paper the magic we call music... this is kinda an absurd concept in itself, visually documenting a fluid, open and infinite audio concept... silly, really.

    this is an interesting read.

    also, another thing to note, the 12 note scale we use to go up an octave that we attempt to document with Western musical notation is also Western...and it's completely arbitrary. mathimatically speaking, an octave should be divided into 10 or 100 notes, not 12... but that's only if you favor base-10 math... thus, here we are...

    my opinion: use whatever notation method you want to help you get new song notes in your head... but utilmately you will want to be playing by ear and developing impecable timing and "feel."
  17. nasaldischarges


    Jun 11, 2005
    i have been reading for most of my short bass career (2.5 out of 3 years) but I also use tabs cuz theyre free. though not as much.
  18. Intrepid


    Oct 15, 2001
    I'm not sure if its that bad, but I can read notation faster than I can tabs, so thats the way I go. Not to mention is has rhytyms involved. Tabs don't give this sort of information. It requires a recording.
  19. metalguy2


    Dec 26, 2004
    I actually prefer musical notation to tablature. I have been playing for about 5 years. Never really touched tab. Just had a distaste for it.

    I will have to agree on the fact that learning musical notation feels like starting over again. While they didn't say it outright. I think Jaco, and Bill Dickens agree. There is just something about being able to play music ... But not whats on that paper(until a half hour later) that gets people down. But like we always say. Practice, practice, practice! :D
  20. Zebra


    Jun 26, 2005
    Tabs can't hurt you. Not knowing theory and rythm and a general lackluster for in depth analysis of your playing and instrument will hurt you.
    Tabs are looked down upon by the elitist crowd of bassists that sneer upon it as the lowest form of music scripture for 'newbs.'
    Tabs are there for you to figure out a song you already are familiar with. They don't give you rythm, and usually don't give any insight into what's going on theory-wise, but they're more straight-forward, and show you fingering and the crucial geometric side of the bass where standard staves won't.

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