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Why Not Tabs?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by michaelkoss, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. SabreATK


    Aug 24, 2011
    If everyone could play perfectly by ear, there would no longer be any need for written music, just music recordings.

    Imagine if audio recording was invented before the advent of music. Written music would never have been invented because there would have been a much better way to record what was played. Instead, every musician would learn to play by ear. Just listen to previous recordings or live music and play.

    I think the problem comes in because "playing by ear" is an intangible skill that is actually harder to teach to a high degree than sight reading. I suspect many people do not hear music in their head with the same complexity, richness, or memory. Some people really are "tone deaf" but they might make passable orchestra musicians if taught to read a score.

    Playing by ear is a "higher" skill, until you consider that most people can't, so we fall back on the written score.
  2. Billnc


    Aug 6, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    No, though I see your point. Last week I was handed a 6 charts and told to be ready to play them in a few days. A couple arrangements done by a music director, hence, no recordings, only the page. Same thing with incidental music in shows.
  3. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    You're forgetting about the composer.

    Straw man argument. Why would a tone-deaf person want to be a musician? For the money? Most orchestral instruments are unplayable if you're tone deaf. There are no frets on a trombone.

    I'd put it differently, which is that written charts allow us to go beyond what is achievable solely by playing by ear. What's wrong with that? Charts allow the composition and performance of music that attains a high level of complexity, such as modern symphonic works. They make groups such as a full symphony orchestra manageable. Those groups depend on being able to hire subs, and subs depend on being able to sight-read the material. I play in a band with 19 members. On any given week, one or two members can't make it. We depend on subs who can sight read, just to function as a band.

    Are charts necessary to play electric bass in a rock band? No.

    I don't think the sight-readers who are posting in this thread, are the ones who are having a hard time learning the bass parts to rock tunes by ear.
  4. Mayers

    Mayers Guest

    Sep 28, 2007
    I disagree with you. I don't think any classical composer could have an orchestra of 60+ people and play what he has created without any forme of written music. Like Bach couldn't show what everyone should play individualy before recording it ... just too impossible.

    And you know ... classical musician never practice improv and stuff like that, this is why they are not good at it. because they are far better than you think.
  5. Mayers

    Mayers Guest

    Sep 28, 2007

    Mode are really important in jazz and in classical music. I bet you that in prog it is something very important too. To a lesser degree in more extreme metal band it is useful.
  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Not a tab hater, BUT I agree that 99% of the tab on the internet is wrong. In my experience, it's actually 100% as I can honestly say I've never seen the correct tab to anything I've ever looked for. Once in a while I struggle with hearing something so I check to hopefully speed the process us, and what I find is almost laughable.

    I do trust the store bought books, but they also aren't dead on. And things aren't always tabbed on the right strings, in the right positions.

    I think newbies need to be careful. I could see the value in learning a few songs for fun, but I think it's important to start developing you ears as early in the playing process as possible. It gets easier and easier, and tab just serves to slow down the process. Also leaves the player to be able to do one thing. Play in a cover band. And a not so good one at that, as just about everything they're playing is going to be wrong. :)

    What happens also if after a few years of learning everything by tab, you get the opportunity to jump into a super happening original group? Ut oh!!!!!!

    People who have good ears, and read well get the most work.

    People with good ears who can't read can get work, but it's limited.

    People who can only read tab are in trouble.
  7. What he said.
  8. funkybass


    Oct 19, 2006
    Modes are scales, and I disagree with your statement. I think learning about chords,chord tones, and passing tones will be a better help. Learning walking lines is a great way to learn to create lines. Scales are important too.
  9. Yes, modes are scales, but are ethnomusicological and not all scales are modes. Modes are just intervals of a larger scale are they not? That is why I separate the two. The reason I state that they are perhaps not as important is that if one is playing primarily western rock or blues based music, who cares if you ever learn E flat Bugsbunnian? Yeah they enhance ability to solo or play more complicated music like progressive rock and definitely jazz, but in straight forward rock or metal...meh. For a novice bassist or one who plays "by tab", that's kind of low on the priority list I should think. Foundations first.

    Walking bass lines? Absolutely, but where do walking bass lines come from? Scales, right? The minor pentatonic scale is the foundation of everything blues. Scales are a great way to get familiar with the fret board, especially for someone new to the bass. Don't get me wrong, I am not dismissing chords and chord tones, but to me, scales are a major foundation. Then again, maybe I'm just permanently scarred from piano lessons when I was a kid - "Practice your scales...practice your scales...practice your scales." ;)
  10. funkybass


    Oct 19, 2006
    I bet Carol Kaye would disagree;)
  11. SabreATK


    Aug 24, 2011
    Modes are just differnt degrees of the diatonic scale. Really necessary if you are going to follow the chord progression.

    If you know the diatonic scale, you already "know" the modes. In fact the major(ionian) and natural minor(aeolian) are two modes you already know.

    Its just a matter of organizing it for you fingers and in your head. Most guitarists have different patterns that they use for each mode to help with fludity switching between them, although you could play all of them in the same position as I'm sure jazzers are trained to do.
  12. GeoffT


    Aug 1, 2011
    Chord tones are the money notes. Talking about walking bass lines, the foundation is chord tones and they are usually covered first in learning walking bass. There is a reason you use chord charts, I've never seen or heard of a scale chart for a song. Pick any 5 songs you like and analyze the bass line with respect to the chord changes and you'll likely find the majority of notes are chord tones.
  13. +1 to this. Knowing how chords are constructed is critical.
  14. Emm9T


    Sep 28, 2009
    Holiday, Fl
    Some of my greatest learning bounds come from 'reinterpreting' tabs and correcting them by ear. I was proud of myself for making a fine tab for Crazy Train that the internet just couldn't seem to get right. Tabs aren't a crutch unless you refuse to move on. There is nothing wrong with using them for years as long as it helps you in the long run. I wouldn't be near as good as I am today without them.
    Getting technical chops from playing Muse and Iron Maiden songs is what gave me the ear to then correct them and write my own material. Don't be so harsh just because when you started playing, tabs weren't as widely available. IMO, used correctly, tabs enable much greater learning speeds than theory alone from day one.
  15. I think we're having a misunderstanding here and I think it's on me for the most part. I think I see where you're coming from. You have to know what a C chord is and sounds like before a scale does you any good. I think I was taking the chord for granted because when I think of chords, I think in terms of the keyboard and not the fret board. For bass, I always think in terms of root note rather than the associated chord, because I can hear the chord being played and match my scale to it. Like I said, I was a piano player first and I don't think of chords being played on the bass as I do on a piano or guitar.

    I gotcha and you guys are right. Chords first!
  16. But you also have to know scales well enough to know how the C chord is constructed. The cool part is that when one focuses on chords, the relevance of the scale becomes more apparent. Lots of beginning bassists learn scales without being able to put them into context - focusing on chord tones is one main context for putting scale knowledge to use. It all works together.
  17. As a reader who sees the usefulness of accurately notated TAB in certain circumstances, it's only fair to say to non-readers or reluctant readers of standard notation: Do yourself a favor and at least give it a try. It can be an extremely useful tool in many ways. Even if you've got a great ear and can duplicate anything or create great basslines, the ability to read and play something you've never even heard is priceless.

    You can go at your own pace, there is no rush, and it shouldn't feel stressful or burdensome. Take it one step at a time. If you are serious about your music, and if your goal is to become a more well-rounded musician, you'll be glad you made the effort someday.
  18. GeoffT


    Aug 1, 2011
    So what you're saying is that when you were forced to learn Crazy Train by ear because of a lack of accurate tab, you had one of your largest breakthroughs? What if there were no tabs at all and you had to spend the years that you spent with tabs forced to learn everything by ear? You would be excellent at transcribings stuff and could probably figure out almost any song you wanted to very quickly. Might even be better than you are today.

    It sounds like you assume that the harshness comes from not having tabs and being forced to learn stuff by ear as if guys are somehow jealous of not having tab when they were learning and that is the reason they are against it. Maybe it's guys who also spent years with tabs then actually finally listened to the advice of a huge majority of successful musicians and finally started learning songs by ear and realized how important that skill is and wish they hadn't wasted so much time with tab. Maybe it's guys who had a good mentor or teacher who made them learn stuff by ear who saw guys that relied on tab that were better in the short term but as time moved on, they quickly became much better musicians than the tab guys. Or maybe it's guys with a lot of experience who have been around a lot of other guys with a ton of experience and there is a common thread between them all, they all spent a lot of time early on learning stuff by ear.
  19. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    He was saying that tabs are fine as long as you are willing to take them with a grain of salt. It's the players who do exactly as tabs say that are in trouble.

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