# Tab confusion

Discussion in 'Tablature and Notation [BG]' started by brentf, Nov 2, 2005.

1. ### brentf

Hi can anyone here help me?
I have recently come accross a tab written for the song "Black Velvet" by Allanah Myles.
Underneath some of the staves is written the following:
1+2+3+4+a.

I haven't come across this before.
Is this perhaps to do with the timing of that particular bar, as there are nine beats and in the previous bar only eight. (The previous bar does not have this notation.)

Or have I got this entirely wrong and am an utter dunce?
(I suspect the latter)

2. ### Sandman1278

Mar 9, 2005
New York, NY
maybe sixtenth note, usualy that would be an e instead of an a though

3. ### brentf

that would also be above the lines and also there would be no numbers, they would all be letters?
I'm pretty sure that this is timing though. Wierd way of expressing it.

4. ### wulf

Apr 11, 2002
Oxford, UK
I've come across a counting system, where you go from:

1 2 3 4 (crotchets / quarter notes)

to

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & (quavers / eighth notes)

to

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a (semiquavers / sixteeth notes)

... although I've also heard other people counting "1 e & e..." etc. My guess would be that the person writing the tab is trying to indicate a bar of quavers ending with a couple of semiquavers - nine notes in total.

Your best bet is to listen to the song and try to use your ear to figure out what's going on. Tab can help suggest ways of approaching hard to hear portions but it's far from infallible. In fact, as far as I can recall (and I could be way off here) Black Velvet is more of a 12/8 feel:

[1 2] 3 [2 2] 3 [3 2] 3 4 2 3

(each note is a quaver - [..] indicates a tie). If that's right, then you'll definitely need to listen to the recording to figure out the timing.

Wulf

ps. Why isn't this in the tab forum?

5. ### brentf

Thanks Wulf, that seems to be it.
I am doing this in conjunction with listening to the song.
Was just wondering if I had got it right, and that it was in fact timing.
Bruce I am trying to learn it straight off, but needed to know what the notes were. As it turns out it looks like it has been tabbed incorrectly anyway, but at least it gave me a place to start from.
I can't work out the notes of songs from just listening yet, hopefully this comes after time and practice? (I would of course choose a song that has been tuned down as well) Without tab there is no way I would have worked out the riff at all!!

6. ### brentf

I have been playing for 4 months. While I realise that being able to read music is important, at present I am simply trying to get to grips with technique, and so am only doing stuff that I can listen to as well.
I hope that my ear will become trained as I go along. At present I am not going to handle trying to learn to read as well.
One of the limitations of getting old I guess!

7. ### wulf

Apr 11, 2002
Oxford, UK
You're not that old

While I'm not one of the ardent critics of tab (I made some use of it when I was starting out and today it's a handy way of sharing music online) I think you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't start to learn about reading music.

It not only opens up a lot more sources of musical input to you but also provides a way for you to write down what you're doing. When I was playing in a covers band I wasn't the quickest at picking songs up but I was always the one the rest of the band turned to when an older tune was called because I was the one who'd written my line down so I could remember the form and details of the song rather than just busking and making it sound like everything else.

Also, the written language of music will help you see how things fit together - it should accelerate your learning rather than hold it back.

Wulf

8. ### brentf

Believe me Wulf, trying to learn something from scratch at my age when never having played an instrument before is proving tricky to say the least.
Reading chord charts is difficut enough as it is, as I am a south paw as well, which leads to transposition difficulties which you wouldn't even dream of.
I was a roadie for a top band many years back, and was always too scared to pick up an instrument because I knew there was no way I'd ever measure up.
I guess my pride served to ensure that I waited until I had the necessary discipline to make up for natural gifting
It's going to have to be baby steps I'm afraid.

9. ### wulf

Apr 11, 2002
Oxford, UK
How does it give you transposition difficulties? Are you playing a left-handed instrument or a right-handed one turned upside down?

Wulf

10. ### JJBACOOMBACommercial User

May 31, 2005
San Antonio, Texas
Lecompte Bass Owners Club Member #2
I have been playing the bass for almost 21 years.I play a left handed Alembic strung righty ( B on the bottom )and after all these years I just started learning to read tab just for the hell of it. I must say that alot of what I have found is incorrect and I will always trust my ear.I'm glad that I didnt rely on tab when I first started out. I did and still do make charts/cheat-sheets for some of the songs that I learn/ed in cover band/s. But only the ones that have lots goin on in terms of notes, changes, etc.I try not to use them live, but there have been a few times that I have, especially if I am filling in for someone or am new to the band and there isnt much time to learn all the material thoroughly. I am finally teaching myself to read after all these years and its already helping more than I ever thought. Tab might be good for some players but always trust your ears and just be patient when learning new material. reading notes in tab or notation for me isnt a problem at all playing the way I do.But that also comes with time and what you pick up along the way. Good luck to you!

11. ### brentf

Wulf, I play a left handed.
It's the things like fingering diagrams that catch you out.
Picture the fretboard, E is on the left G on the right, now if you are right handed and you were to swing this up like a fretboard this is correct. However if you swing this up to the right the strings are upside down. i.e. you need to realise that you need to mirror the diagram. (Just something that my small mind battled to deal with in the beginning)
Even reading tab, if a right handed person follows the fret number sequence left to right the fingering is in the correct sequence. In other words as you look at it, it is as your left hand is placed on the fretboard. I have the tendancy to do it backwards (pinky = forefinger)
Ok ok I admit that I am more challenged than most lefties, it probably is a pretty automatic thing!!
and don't you dare suggest that I swap to right handed, believe me this is not an option!!!
Anyway, just something most righties have no reason to even consider - it's quite difficult to explain, hope this sort of makes sense

12. ### JimmyM

Apr 11, 2005
Apopka, FL
Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
This inconstency is covered under the chart-writing rule of swing. If you have a song that you know is a swing or shuffle, you can write it with a 4/4 time signature and it's implied that eighth notes are really two tied-together eighth note triplets plus a single eighth note triplet. You see this all the time with jazz charts. So the way it was written was correct because you know "Black Velvet" is a slow shuffle.

13. ### wulf

Apr 11, 2002
Oxford, UK
That's why learning to read standard musical notation might be a worthwhile investment - the dots don't care whether you're playing left-handed, right-handed or using your feet! That's not to say it's a walk in the park (plenty of work is needed to get to grips with it) but you might be avoiding some unnecessary hurdles and instead working on challenges that promise greater rewards.

Wulf