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Encyclopedia > Tablature
Example of numeric vihuela tablature from the book "Orphenica Lyra" by Miguel de Fuenllana (1554). Red numerals (original) mark the vocal part.

Tablature (or tabulature) is a form of musical notation, which tells players where to place their fingers on a particular instrument rather than which pitches to play. Image File history File links Vihuela-Tab_Fuenllana_1554. ... Image File history File links Vihuela-Tab_Fuenllana_1554. ... Orpheus playing a vihuela. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


Tablature is mostly (but not exclusively) seen for fretted stringed instruments, in which context it is usually called tab for short (except for lute tablature). It is frequently used for the guitar, bass, lute, archlute, theorbo, angélique, mandora, gallichon, and vihuela, but in principle it can be used for any fretted instrument, including ukulele, mandolin, banjo, and viola da gamba, as well as many free reed aerophones such as the harmonica. It is commonly used in notating rock and pop music, is often seen in folk music, and was common during Renaissance and Baroque eras. (In the context of guitar tab, standard (5-line) musical notation is usually called 'staff notation' — even though tab is also written on a staff — or just 'notation'). The neck of a guitar showing the first four frets. ... Example of numeric vihuela tablature from the book Orphenica Lyra by Miguel de Fuenllana (1554). ... For other uses, see Guitar (disambiguation). ... The electric bass guitar (or electric bass) is a bass string instrument played with the fingers by plucking, slapping, or using a pick. ... A medieval era lute. ... An Archlute by Matteo Sellas, Venice, 17th century The archlute (Italian arciliuto, German Erzlaute, Russian Архилютня) a European plucked string instrument was developed around 1600 as a compromise between the very large theorbo, the size and re-entrant tuning of which made for difficuties in the performance of solo music, and... Theorbo A theorbo (from Italian tiorba, also tuorbe in French, Theorbe in German) is a plucked string instrument. ... The angélique (French, from Italian angelica) is a plucked string instrument of the lute family of the baroque era. ... Å  Äš Œõǚ ĵ Åœ ŝ Å´ ŵ Ŷ Å· ōǚ ... The mandora or mandore, also known as the gallizona or gallichon, is a type of 6 or 8-course lute (a descendant of guiterne and/or chitarra italiana) used mainly for basso continuo, in Germany, Austria and Bohemia, particularly during the 18th and early 19th centuries. ... Orpheus playing a vihuela. ... The ukulele (Hawaiian: , IPA pronunciation: ; Anglicised pronunciation usually IPA: ), sometimes spelled ukelele (particularly in the UK) or uke, is a chordophone classified as a plucked lute; it is a subset of the guitar family of instruments, generally with four strings or four courses of strings. ... A mandolin is a small, stringed musical instrument which is plucked, strummed or a combination of both. ... For other uses, see Banjo (disambiguation) The banjo is a stringed instrument of African American origin adapted from several African instruments. ... Various Viola da gamba The viol or viola da gamba family of musical instruments is related to the vihuela, rebec, etc. ... ... An aerophone is any musical instrument which produces sound primarily by causing a body of air to vibrate, without the use of strings or membranes, and without the vibration of the instrument itself adding considerably to the sound. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Folk music can have a number of different meanings, including: Traditional music: The original meaning of the term folk music was synonymous with the term Traditional music, also often including World Music and Roots music; the term Traditional music was given its more specific meaning to distinguish it from the...


Three types of organ tablature were also used in Europe: German, Spanish and Italian. There are several types of ocarina tabulature.[1] Harp tablature was used in Spain and Wales. Orgab tablature can refer to any of a number of different schemes for noting music for the organ, mostly used prior to 1600 and mainly distinguished from each other as Italian, Spanish, etc. ... The ocarina (IPA: ) is an ancient flute-like wind instrument. ... This article is about the country. ...


An alternate (some would say incorrect) usage of the word "tab" is common on the internet, where it refers to conventional chord symbols (for harmony), or note names (for melody). Chord notation refers to the written notation for musical chords. ... The term note has two primary meanings: 1) a sign used in music to represent the relative duration and pitch of a sound; and 2) a pitched sound itself. ...

Contents

Origin and etymology

Etymology

The word tablature originates from the Latin word tabulatura. Tabula is a table or slate, in Latin. To tabulate something means to put it into a table or chart.


Spelling

There are 2 different common spellings, with (tabulature) and without "u" (tablature). While the "tabulature" is closer to original Latin word, and thus more correct etymologically, the adapted version "tablature" seems to be more wide-spread in modern English. As of 2006, Google searches indicate that word "tablature" (~5 610 000 hits) is used 27 times more frequently than "tabulature" (~209 000 hits). "Tabulature" is considered a "classical" spelling and is commonly used in academic music circles, particularly in relation to lute tabulature, while "tablature" is often used by pop and rock musicians. 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... This article is about the corporation. ...


Moreover, both of these words are relatively long and are frequently changed to brief "tab" in casual speech. To be less ambiguous, it is preceded by instrument name (i.e. "guitar tab", "bass tab", "organ tab") when required.


Origin

The first known existence in Europe is around 1300. In Asia there exist much older tablature notations.


Lute tablatures were of three main varieties, French, Italian (also widely used in Spain, Bavaria and southern France), and German, detailed below. A special variety of Italian tablature called "Neapolitan" was in use in southern Italy, and a Polish variety of French tablature appears in one manuscript. French tablature gradually came to be the most widely used. Tablatures for other instruments were also used from early times on. Keyboard tablatures flourished in Germany c. 1450 - 1750 and in Spain c. 1550 - 1680. Much of the music for the lute and other historical plucked instruments during the Renaissance and Baroque eras was originally written in tablature, and many modern players of those instruments still prefer this kind of notation, often using facsimiles of the original prints or manuscripts, handwritten copies, modern editions in tablature, or printouts made with computer programs. A medieval era lute. ... The Renaissance (French for rebirth, or Rinascimento in Italian), was a cultural movement in Italy (and in Europe in general) that began in the late Middle Ages, and spanned roughly the 14th through the 17th century. ... Adoration, by Peter Paul Rubens. ... Insert non-formatted text here For the machine that sends, receives, and produces facsimiles, see fax. ...


Concepts

While standard musical notation represents the rhythm and duration of each note and its pitch relative to the scale based on a twelve tone division of the octave, tablature is instead operationally based, indicating where and when a finger should be depressed to generate a note, so pitch is denoted implicitly rather than explicitly. The rhythmic symbols of tablature tell when to start a note, but often there is no indication of when to stop sounding it, so duration is at the discretion of the performer to a greater extent than is the case in conventional musical notation. Tablature for plucked strings is based upon a diagrammatic representation of the strings and frets of the instrument, keyboard tablature represents the keys of the instrument, and recorder tablature shows whether each of the fingerholes is to be closed or left open. An equal temperament is a musical temperament — that is, a system of tuning intended to approximate some form of just intonation — in which an interval, usually the octave, is divided into a series of equal steps (equal frequency ratios). ... The neck of a guitar showing the first four frets. ...


Harmonica tab

The harmonica tab was basically a 1-to-1 mapping of the notes to the corresponding hole, and thus, is a type of numbered musical notation. For each note, it will indicate the number of the hole to play, direction of breathing (in or out), and even either bending (usually for diatonic) or "slide-in" (usually for chromatic) This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The numbered musical notation, better known as jianpu (PY: jiǎnpǔ, TC: 簡譜, SC: 简谱), meaning simplified notation in Chinese, is a musical notation system widely used among the Chinese people. ...


One methodology for indicating direction of breath is by showing the direction of arrow; another is by using either a "+" or "-" sign, or "i" (for inhale) and "e" (for exhale). Bending was shown with a bent arrow with the direction of breath, or by a circle that circle the note, or even a simple line next to the breath indicator. Additional lines and/or circle may be used to indicate how much to bend.


For example, on a key "C" diatonic:

 Unbent Bent lv1 Bent lv2 Bent lv3 3i (B) 3i| (Bb) 3i|| (A) 3i||| (G#) 

To indicate button press on Chromatic, a similar indication to first level bending may be used.


The breath indicator may be placed right next to the hole number, or below the number. Same for bending/button press indicators.


To indicate the beat, on arrow system they may use the length of the arrow. However, the more popular method would be to use a slightly simplified notations, such as "o" for whole note, // for half notes, "/" for quarter notes, "." for eighth notes, and place them above the characters, while spacing them accordingly.


For chord, they will simply show the numbers to play, so for example:

 a C major (CEG) chord (on a C diatonic): 456e 

However, they may simplify it, especially when playing blues. For chords, it was common to just play three or two holes instead (sometimes even just one), especially when the instrument is not of the same key. For example, in blues progression in G (G G G G7 C C G G D7 D7 G G) it's common to use C diatonic, and use the following:

 G chord (G-B-D): 34i (BD) G7 chord (G-BD-F): 45i (DF). D7 chord (D-F#-A-C): 4i (D) or 4e (C) 

Guitar tab

Guitar tab consists of a series of horizontal lines forming a staff (or stave) similar to standard notation. Each line represents one of the instrument's strings therefore standard guitar tab has a six-line staff and bass guitar tab has four lines. The top line of the tablature represents the highest pitched string of the guitar. By writing tablature with the lowest pitched notes on the bottom line and the highest pitched notes on the top line of the tablature tablature follows the same basic structure and layout of Western Standard Notation. In musical notation, the staff or stave is a set of five horizontal lines on which note symbols are placed to indicate pitch and rhythm. ...


The following examples are labelled with letters on the left denoting the string names, with a lower-case "e" for the high E string. Tab lines may be numbered 1-6 instead, representing standard string numbering, where "1" is the high E string, "2" is the B string etc.


The numbers that are written on the lines represent the fret used to obtain the desired pitch. For example, the number 3 written on the top line of the staff indicates that the player should press down at the third fret on the high E (first string). Number 0 denotes the nut - that is, an open string. The nut of a string instrument is a small strip or block of hard material forming a transition between the strings playing length and the tuning machines on the headstock, or the tuning pegs in the pegbox at the upper end of the fingerboard. ...


For chords, a letter above or below the tab staff denotes the root note of the chord. Typical fingering for a second inversion C major chord on a guitar. ... The root (basse fondamentale) of a chord is the note upon which that chord is perceived or labelled as built or centered, the root of a chord in root position or normal form. ...


Examples of guitar tab notation:

 The chords E, F, and G: e|---0---1---3--- B|---0---1---0--- G|---1---2---0--- D|---2---3---0--- A|---2---3---2--- E|---0---1---3--- E F G 

Various lines, arrows and other symbols are used to denote bends, hammer-ons, trills, Pull-offs, slides, and so on. Example of bending on electric guitar A bend is a guitar technique that involves bending the tone upwards, thus making the note or chord sound sharper than normal. ... Hammer-on is a stringed instrument playing technique performed (especially on guitar) by sharply bringing a fretting-hand finger down on the fingerboard behind a fret, causing a note to sound. ... The trill is a musical ornament consisting of a rapid alternation between two adjacent notes of a scale (compare mordent and tremolo). ... A pull-off is a stringed-instrument playing technique performed (usually on an electric guitar) by pulling a fretting finger off the fingerboard. ... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ...


Guitar tab is not standardised and different sheet music publishers adopt different conventions. Songbooks and guitar magazines usually include a legend setting out the convention in use.


The most common form of lute tablature uses the same concept but differs in the details (e.g. it uses letters rather than numbers for frets) - see below.


Guitar tablature vs. standard staff notation

Generally speaking, guitar tablature is commonly used by informally trained musicians in folk, popular and rock music. By the end of the eighteenth century, in order to meet a demand for higher informational content, commercially published guitar music largely abandoned the use of tablature in favour of standard notation. It remained in informal use amongst amateurs, afficionados and within folk idioms such as flamenco, before a resurgence of published tablature took place in the latter decades of the twentieth century. The electric guitar changed the landscape dramatically and guitar tablature is now the notation of choice among millions of guitarists. This is most likely due to two factors. The first is fingering position determination and the second is the large variety of techniques now available to modern guitarists that are not well represented in staff notation. Most tablature software used by modern guitarists will also display the staff notation above the tablature. Given that the vast majority of guitarists are informally trained, and that well-written tablature will often sound better than the equivalent staff notation it is no wonder that it is the notation of choice among guitarists.


Differences between systems

  • Direct visual representation
When compared to standard notation, tablature is a closer visual representation of the instrument's fretboard. It does not require any training for players to be able to read tablature therefore some find it easier and quicker to interpret.
  • Fingering position determination
Tablature removes the requirement for the player to determine the fretboard position within which the notated music is to be executed. Notes on the guitar can be played in different left hand positions and upon several different strings; for example the note C5 could be played on the third string at the fifth fret or on the fourth string at the tenth fret. In the case of fretted instruments such complexity makes the relationship between staff notation and playing technique less direct than in the case of the piano and many other instruments. Whilst standard staff notation can remove the string/fret ambiguity by further indicating the playing position (usually with Roman numerals), tablature does not contain this ambiguity at all.
  • Simple typewriter-font representation
Tablature can easily be represented as ASCII tab - a plain-text computer file, using numbers, letters and symbols to construct a crude representation of tablature. This characteristic makes it easy to distribute tablature electronically, a practice that has become immensely widespread; it is now possible to find free tablatures for virtually any popular music on the Internet, although a considerable amount of those tablatures may be illegal. (Legal Issue below.)
  • Instrument-specific
Tablature is instrument-specific, while staff notation is generic. Tablature does not provide any skills transferable to other instrumental or general musical study. Tablature can only be read easily by a guitarist whilst music written in staff notation can be played on any suitable instrument. Reading solely from tablature compromises communication with other musicians such as flаutists or violinists who are commonly trained in the use of standard notation. Reliance soley upon tablature can prevent the guitarist from reading pieces that are composed for other instruments and/or are written in standard staff notation. In contrast, a guitarist who reads staff notation can understand such pieces, make necessary adjustments and play the music on a guitar.
  • Inherent harmonic or analytical information
The science of harmony and musical analysis is codified by recourse to standard musical notation. Standard musical scores enable educated musicians to utilise advanced tools for such analysis. These tools cannot be easily applied to, or from, tablature. Therefore the study of musical theory is hindered by reliance upon tablature.
  • Rhythmic information
Tablature notation does not include accurate information on rhythm and timing. In this respect alone tablature is too limited for use by classical guitarists.
Tablature users rely heavily on external assistance to provide rhythmic information, using for example, audio recordings or redundantly printed standard notation above the tab. Software such as Guitar Pro, Power Tab Editor and TablEdit Tablature Editor allow users to record/playback timing digitally.
Tablature writers sometimes attempt to provide rhythmic information by adding note stems, flags and beams above the numbers but this practice is not standardised.
  • Distinction between musical parts
Multiple parts cannot be rhythmically distinguished within tablature notation. This is serious limitation when conveying information required for the proper rendition of multiple-part music on any polyphonic instrument.
  • Indication of pitch
Tablature notation instructs only upon where to play notes. It does not provide a visual indication of pitch and dynamic, unlike standard notation. It can be very difficult to get a general outline of the music by simply studying the tablature page without recourse to playing it through. In contrast staff notation allows musicians to sing from sight.

Roman numerals are a numeral system originating in ancient Rome, adapted from Etruscan numerals. ... ASCII tab is a text file format used for writing guitar and bass guitar tab using plain ASCII numbers, letters and symbols. ... Popular music is music belonging to any of a number of musical styles that are accessible to the general public and are disseminated by one or more of the mass media. ... Guitar Pro is a computer software which serves the purpose of making it simpler for musicians to compose music, editing directly into a tablature and/or musical partiture, and study music by offering advanced playback capabilities. ... The Power Tab Editor is a powerful guitar and bass tablature editor for MS Windows-based systems that can generate tablature scores that are similar to thouse found in guitar magazines. ... TablEdit Tablature Editor is a computer program that allow musicians to create, edit, print and listening to tablature and sheet music (standard notation) for guitar and other fretted, stringed instruments, including mandolin and bass guitar. ...

Lute tablature

French Renaissance style lute tablature, with corresponding notation for guitar: a simple Renaissance dance, printed by Pierre Attaingnant.
French Renaissance style lute tablature, with corresponding notation for guitar: a simple Renaissance dance, printed by Pierre Attaingnant.

Lute tablature is conceptually similar to guitar tablature, but comes in at least three different varieties. The most common variety used today is based on the French Renaissance system (see example at right). In this style the strings are represented by the lines on the staff (occasionally the spaces above the lines on the staff), and the stops are indicated by lowercase letters of the alphabet (rather than numbers), with the letter 'a' indicating an open string and the 'j' skipped (as it was not originally a separate letter from 'i'). A six-line staff is used, just as for modern guitar tab. However lutes were not limited to 6 strings or courses (they could have as many as 19), and stops for any courses beyond the sixth were shown below the bottom line, with short diagonal strokes (see below). Download high resolution version (596x842, 15 KB)Renaissance French lute tablature (and corresponding guitar notation) for Attaingnants Branle de Poictou. Typeset by B.Bryant using MusixTex and the fonts from Wayne Cripps freely available Tab program. ... Download high resolution version (596x842, 15 KB)Renaissance French lute tablature (and corresponding guitar notation) for Attaingnants Branle de Poictou. Typeset by B.Bryant using MusixTex and the fonts from Wayne Cripps freely available Tab program. ... French Music printer, active in Paris, b. ... A medieval era lute. ...


The letters soon developed somewhat stylized forms for ease of recognition. In particular, the letter 'c' often resembled 'r'. This was common in many styles of Renaissance handwriting, but also helped to differentiate 'c' from 'e'. Also, sometimes 'y' was used for 'i'. Penmanship is the art of writing clearly and quickly. ...


Lute tablature provides flags above the staff to show the rhythms, often only providing a flag when the length of the beat changes, as shown in the example. (Notice that this piece begins with a half measure.)


Other variants of lute tablature use numbers rather than letters, write the stops on the lines rather than in the spaces, or even invert the entire staff so that the lowest notest are on top and the highest are at the bottom.

As with guitar, various different lute tunings may be used, all written using the same tablature method. A tenor viola da gamba can usually be played directly off lute tablature as it typically uses the same tuning. A guitar can often be played off lute tablature by tuning the g string down to an f# and putting a capo at the third fret to preserve the original pitch. Image File history File linksMetadata Tuning-chr. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Tuning-chr. ... Various Viola da gamba The viol or viola da gamba family of musical instruments is related to the vihuela, rebec, etc. ... A capo (short for capotasto, Italian for head of fretboard) is a device used for shortening the strings, and hence raising the pitch, of a stringed instrument such as a guitar, mandolin or banjo. ...


In standard Baroque lute tabulature, each staff has six lines, representing the FIRST six courses. The course of the highest pitch appears at the top, and that of the lowest appears at the bottom. Please note that Italian Archlute of the same period uses an opposite system.

 F____________________ D____________________ A____________________ F____________________ D____________________ A____________________ 

Lower case letters or "glyphs"are placed on each of these lines to represent notes. If you are required to play an open D course, for instance, a small "a" will be placed on the appropriate line. For a note with the finger on the first fret a "b", a note on the second fret a "c", etc. However, as mentioned above, "j" was not used since it was not considered a separate letter from "i", and "c" often looked more like "r". Thus:

 F_____c___ D_____a___ A_____b___ F_____c___ D_____a___ A_____b___ G - a 

would represent a G-minor chord,


All open strings would represent a D-minor chord:

 F______a________ D______a________ A______a________ F______a________ D______a________ A______a________ D- ///a 

The strings below the 6th course are notated with additional short "ledger" lines: glyphs are placed below the staff. These courses are tuned in accordance with the key of each piece played:

 G- a F- /a E- //a D- ///a C- 4 B- 5 A- 6 

The rhythm is notated in a fairly straightforward manner: It is represented by headless note-stems with tails [stylized similarly but some regional variations (in spite of some variety the confusion is rare)], with the exception of whole and half notes (semibreves and minims), whereas it would be essential to use heads.


The ornaments would require a special discussion, as many composers used rather personalized sets thereof.


German lute tablature

The origins of German lute tablature can be traced back well into the 15th century. Blind organist Conrad Paumann is said to have invented it. It was used in German speaking countries until the end of 16th century. When German lute tablature was invented, the lute had only five courses, which are numbered 1-5, with 1 being the lowest sounding course and 5 the highest. Each place where a course can be stopped at a fret is assigned with a letter of the alphabet, i. e. first course first fret is letter a, second course first fret is letter b, third course first fret is c, fourth course first fret is d, fifth course first fret is e, first course second fret is f, second course second fret is g and so on. Letters j, u, w, are not used. Therefore, two substitutional signs are used, i. e. et (resembling the numeral 7) for fourth course fifth fret, and con (resembling the numeral 9) for fifth course fifth fret. From the sixth position upwards, the alphabetical order is resumed anew with added apostrophes (a', b', ...), strokes above the letters, or the letters doubled (aa, bb, ...). When a 6th course was added to the lute around 1500 CE, different authors would use different symbols for it. Chords are written in vertical order. Melodical moves are notated in the highest possible line, notwithstanding their actual register. Rhythmical signs, which are written in a line above the letters, are single shafts (semibreves), shafts with one flag (minims), shafts with two flags (crotchets), shafts with three flags (quavers), shafts with four flags (semiquavers). Shafts with two or more flags can be connected ("leiterlein", small ladders) into groups of two or four. Conrad Paumann (c. ... A medieval era lute. ... The neck of a guitar showing the first four frets. ... A chord is a geometric figure. ... Rhythm (Greek = flow, or in Modern Greek, style) is the variation of the length and accentuation of a series of sounds or other events. ... Figure 1. ... It has been suggested that the section intro from the article Civil flag be merged into this article or section. ... A minim is: Minim (music) - a note length, another name for a half note. ... In music, a quarter note (American) or crotchet is a note played for one-quarter the duration of a whole note, hence the name. ... Figure 1. ... Figure 1. ... Onomastics and disambiguational informations about the words and human, other names that forms etc. ...


Examples:

 French Italian German 
 -r- --- k -d- --- o -d- = -0- = n -a- -3- 2 --- -3- --- -2- 

Musette tablature

Musette tablature from Borjon de Scellery
Musette tablature from Borjon de Scellery

Borjon de Scellery's Traité de la musette includes pieces for musette de cour in both standard notation and tablature, plus a partial explanation of his system. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (671x602, 11 KB) Summary illustration of musette tablature, from Borjon de Scellerys Traité de la musette {{GFDL-self} Licensing I, the creator of this work, hereby grant the permission to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (671x602, 11 KB) Summary illustration of musette tablature, from Borjon de Scellerys Traité de la musette {{GFDL-self} Licensing I, the creator of this work, hereby grant the permission to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms... The musette de cour or baroque musette is a musical instrument of the bagpipe family. ...


The numbers refer to the keys on the instrument, and are shown on a five-line stave so that they also correspond with standard notation. Standard symbols for note-lengths are written above each tablature-staff.


No explanation is given for the slur-like symbol; the comma , is explained as indicating a tremblement, starting on the note above.


The standard notation shown in the illustration is also taken from de Scellery; once again, no explanation is given for the unusual beaming or the significance (if any) of where note-length symbols are repeated.


Computer programs for writing tablature

Various computer programs are available for writing tablature - see Scorewriter, Fronimo, Django. Some are solely for tablature, while others also write lyrics, guitar chord diagrams, chord symbols and/or staff notation (Power Tab, Guitar Pro or TablEdit). ASCII tab files can be written (somewhat laboriously) with any ordinary word processor or text editor. A scorewriter, or music notation program, is software used to automate the task of writing and engraving sheet music. ... Django is a Romany term meaning I awake. It was applied to Jean Baptiste Reinhardt both based on his musical abilities and because it fit with his first name. ... Power Tab is a guitar and bass guitar tablature file format used by the MS Windows-based tablature editor Power Tab Editor. ... Guitar Pro is a computer software which serves the purpose of making it simpler for musicians to compose music, editing directly into a tablature and/or musical partiture, and study music by offering advanced playback capabilities. ... TablEdit Tablature Editor is a computer program that allow musicians to create, edit, print and listening to tablature and sheet music (standard notation) for guitar and other fretted, stringed instruments, including mandolin and bass guitar. ... ASCII tab is a text file format used for writing guitar and bass guitar tab using plain ASCII numbers, letters and symbols. ...


Legal issues

The business model that many Internet tablature sites follow is based on the supply of free goods. Many use advertising to generate revenue, often to cover server hardware and maintenance costs. Composers and music publishers might argue [citation needed] that free Internet tablature sites are simply competing corporate publishers that distribute music publications without paying royalties to those who own the copyrights. If free Internet tablature sites claim to provide an educational service or are non-profit, they bear the burden to justify their service legal under the fair use doctrine of copyright law (see Fair Use As A Defense). The legality of free Internet tablature served by tablature websites is still in dispute largely because websites have thus far only been threatened with legal action; the issue has yet to be taken to court. For fair use in trademark law, see Fair use (US trademark law). ... For fair use in trademark law, see Fair use (US trademark law). ...


The Music Publishers' Association (MPA) has recently taken the position that distributing free tablature online is illegal and is pushing to shut down websites that offer free tablature. MPA president Lauren Keiser says that their goal would be for owners of free tablature services to face fines and even imprisonment[2]. Several websites that offer free tablature have already taken their tablature offline until a solution or compromise is found. The Music Publishers Association is the arm of the music industy responsible for the production and distribution of sheet music. ...


As of Monday December 12, 2005, tabs of copyrighted music were considered illegal by the music industry, and numerous prominent sites providing tabs, such as Mxtabs.net, had closed down. However, as of February 23, 2006, the owners of Mxtabs put the website back online with a letter explaining their position. In short, they believe that the purpose of Mxtabs is to "aid musicians in learning their instruments." They say that Mxtabs has accounted for as much as $3000 a month in sheet music sales, and offers many tabs that do not have equivalent sheet music published, so Mxtabs and similar sites are the only place that musicians can find a way to play these songs. The letter concludes by pointing out that tabs have never been proven to be illegal, then requesting that sheet music companies contact Mxtabs in order to create a system of tab licensing.


On July 17, 2006, Guitar Tab Universe (GTU) posted a letter on its homepage that its ISP had been jointly threatened with legal action by the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) and the MPA "on the basis that sharing tablature constitutes copyright infringement" [3]. In response, GTU's site owner immediately created the Music Student and Teacher Organization (MuSATO) to rally support to keep Internet guitar tablature free of charge on the basis of fair use in education. MuSATO argues that Internet guitar tablature does not infringe upon publishers' copyrights because it does not come from pre-existing printed resources and are not entirely accurate representations of songs. Furthermore, Internet guitar tablature enables an educational relationship between music student (the one who downloads tabs) and music teacher (the one who created the tab). Guitar tab websites foster this educational relationship by making this tablature freely available to the public. MuSATO is still in development. For fair use in trademark law, see Fair use (US trademark law). ...


GuitarTabs.com has been contacted by the NMPA and MPA with similar copyright infringement allegations. The NMPA and MPA have also threatened with similar legal action to that of the one facing Guitar Tab Universe. A copy of the certified letter received by the site owner, along with a brief note similar to the one posted on Mxtabs from the site owner, has been posted on the website.[4]


Bass & GuitarMasta.net have been taken off of the Internet as of November 9, 2006. The website is back online as of December 28, 2006.[5]


The tablature debate was featured on NPR's Morning Edition in a segment entitled "Music Industry Goes After Guitar Tablature Websites" on August 7, 2006.[6] NPR logo For other meanings of NPR see NPR (disambiguation) National Public Radio (NPR) is a private, not-for-profit corporation that sells programming to member radio stations; together they are a loosely organized public radio network in the United States. ... Morning Edition is an American radio news program produced and distributed by National Public Radio (NPR). ...


See also

ASCII tab is a text file format used for writing guitar and bass guitar tab using plain ASCII numbers, letters and symbols. ... A Drum tablature, also known as drum tab is a tablature in use for drums. ... The neck of a guitar showing the first four frets. ... Für Elise - first few bars Klavarskribo (or Klavar) is an alternative method of music notation, as introduced in 1931 by the Dutchman Cornelis Pot. ... Keyboard Tablature Keyboard tablature is based on a periodic system of numbers, like most modern tablatures, although incorporating negative and positive numbers assigned to the clefs (as positive for treble, and negative for bass). ...

External links

Wikibooks
Wikibooks has more on the topic of
Tablature

  Results from FactBites:
 
Harmony Central - Guitar: Tablature (323 words)
If you are a beginner and are not familiar with reading tablature, read the Tablature Explained Web Page or the plain text The Guide to Tab Notation (33K).
Specializes in guitar tablature for '60s and '70s music.
The Ultimate Band List has a listing of band related pages that contain guitar tablature which include some tablature you won't find in the OLGA.
tablature: Definition and Much More from Answers.com (4049 words)
Tablature (or tabulature) is a form of musical notation, which tells players where to place their fingers on a particular instrument rather than which pitches to play.
Tablature is mostly (but not exclusively) seen for fretted stringed instruments, in which context it is usually called tab for short (except for lute tablature).
Tablature for plucked strings is based upon a diagrammatic representation of the strings and frets of the instrument, keyboard tablature represents the keys of the instrument, and recorder tablature shows whether each of the fingerholes is to be closed or left open.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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