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View Full Version : Is there a pattern to TABs that I can't see?



fisher00
02-23-2015, 07:09 PM
I apologise in advance if this is a stupid question. I'm trying to teach myself fingerstyle, and can manage a reasonable tune when an arpeggio pattern is used. That is, I can see the simple up and down pattern in the TAB and with a bit of practice can generate something that resembles a tune. With other TAB though (such as the wonderful Vincent TAB on this site) I can't see any particular pattern to the tune, and have to get by through careful study and fumbling of the fret/string notation. But it is not very efficient and I invariably get lost as to where I should be.

But I'm wondering if there is some hidden pattern that I just can't quite see at the moment. Is there potential that there is a pattern in all tabbed tunes, but I need to learn the scale to see it?

If anyone has any tips on how to unlock the pattern or how to easily interpret and apply the fingers from what the eyes see to TAB's I'd love to hear your thoughts. Cheers.

katysax
02-23-2015, 07:20 PM
Keep at it and the patterns will emerge. If you can find a demo of the tab on youtube, then follow the tab while it is being played. That will help.

kohanmike
02-23-2015, 07:55 PM
For the longest time I heard about guitar tabs but never looked closely, I've always been a rhythm player and shied away from finger picking, then I started playing ukulele and after a conversation with a couple of people in my uke group, I did take a close look. It didn't take me long to "get it" and found that with just a little work, I could play finger style. I haven't applied myself to it lately, especially since I took up the bass, which in it's way is finger style, but I'm not intimidated by tabs anymore.

kypfer
02-23-2015, 09:40 PM
... With other TAB though (such as the wonderful Vincent TAB on this site) I can't see any particular pattern to the tune, and have to get by through careful study and fumbling of the fret/string notation. But it is not very efficient and I invariably get lost as to where I should be.

But I'm wondering if there is some hidden pattern that I just can't quite see at the moment. Is there potential that there is a pattern in all tabbed tunes, but I need to learn the scale to see it?

If anyone has any tips on how to unlock the pattern or how to easily interpret and apply the fingers from what the eyes see to TAB's I'd love to hear your thoughts. Cheers.

For me, it can all be down to how well the tab is written and presented. I find the best tabs are those as published by Aaron Keim or Jamie Holding (I'm talking style of tab, not style of music here), where the note length and the fingering position are all incorporated in one line of notation. Those tabs that show a line of conventional notation, then just a string of numbers below, as published by Wilfried Welti, I find take a lot more concentration to follow. I usually manually edit these (with a pencil) to look more like the other style.

I sometimes get the impression that a tab has been published which is a straight representation of the music, without any consideration for playing the tune on a ukulele. I must admit, if I can't get my head around music like this, I'll pass it by unless I really want to play the particular tune and it's the only version I can find. At this point I'll often transpose it to a better key to suit my playing.

It's certainly perfectly valid to re-write a tab so's the layout better suits an individual's reading preferences ;)

Hope this all helps :)

ukuleletim
02-24-2015, 02:51 AM
I agree with "keep at it". And unless you really, really have the tune in your head it makes a huge difference to be able to hear what you are trying to produce. Whether from a recording or, even better, a video so you can watch as you listen.

And don't be in a hurry. When I learn complex tunes I take it a measure at a time. Once I have that measure down I move on to the next. Then I get those two down together, and so on. Sometimes it doesn't sound like much until you've learned a line or two and get it up to speed but it is worth the effort.

And yes, as mentioned above, it does help if the tab is well written, clean and well notated.

Keep at it!

Edit: As was also mentioned above (I think I've referenced every prior post), the patterns will emerge. I love discovering patterns on the ukulele but for me, I see them on the fingerboard first. Then I tab something out I see what that pattern looks like on tab. Anyways, go for it and good luck!

katysax
02-24-2015, 05:52 AM
I wish more uke players had a decent background in theory and reading music because it makes a lot easier for people to get together and play. But it is what it is. I'm in this to have fun. I think tab is a great tool for the ukulele and learning to read it fluently opens many musical doors.

It is absolutely possible for some people to get a piece of tab they have never seen before, pick up the uke, and play it with sight-reading, so that the piece is recognizable as the music that it is, on the first attempt. When I see a bar of tab I see the music in my head, along with the chords. This comes from decades of playing and reading standard notation, combined with decades of using tab on guitar before I ever played a uke. And then thousands of hours spent playing uke tab. But even then it still takes lots of practice to play the song that I can sight read and make it musical, fluent and error free.

xzcuzxme
02-24-2015, 06:25 AM
I Think muscle memory is important for any musician regardless of how good your music theory is. I don’t think anyone would expect to play a piece straight from tab or notion – for the first time – with all the subtleties and fluidity that develop through repeated playing If! you keep practicing your fingers will intuitively go to the correct places!

deschutestrout
02-24-2015, 07:17 AM
Depending on the tab, I have found it helpful to try and isolate the song's MELODY within the tab (you can even highlight those), knowing then that all the other notes are "fillers"

Ukuleleblues
02-24-2015, 07:46 AM
The problem with tabs is there is no timing or note duration as in real music notation. I once saw a tab system by someone who had this complex way of representing the duration of each note and I thought, why not just learn how to write real music notation instead of reinventing it. Pretty much with a tab you have to have an audio example of what you are picking. Maybe you could find some sheet music with what you are trying to learn.

katysax
02-24-2015, 10:08 AM
I Think muscle memory is important for any musician regardless of how good your music theory is. I don’t think anyone would expect to play a piece straight from tab or notion – for the first time – with all the subtleties and fluidity that develop through repeated playing If! you keep practicing your fingers will intuitively go to the correct places!

This is pretty true for any kind of sight reading. Though once you've learned various genres of music and see how many patterns are repeated, sight reading can be done with some fluidity and some people do it very well.

SeattleSean
02-24-2015, 10:13 AM
I mightily struggled with Tabs and for a long time they felt backwards. Then suddenly it clicked in and it wasn't much of an issue anymore. Others have said the same, so stick with it.

Having said that.... if you can read music I'd strongly recommend working from sheet music instead of Tabs. That opens a wide universe of things you can play and musical notation doesn't have the same limitations that Tabs do. The downside of that is you have to work on your own to figure out fingering. But for me at least it's really been worth it.

kypfer
02-24-2015, 12:11 PM
The problem with tabs is there is no timing or note duration as in real music notation. I once saw a tab system by someone who had this complex way of representing the duration of each note and I thought, why not just learn how to write real music notation instead of reinventing it. Pretty much with a tab you have to have an audio example of what you are picking. Maybe you could find some sheet music with what you are trying to learn.

This may be true of a lot of poorly written tab, but, IMHO, the tab system used by publishers like Barry Sholder, Aaron Keim or Jamie Holding, which is much like conventional notation except it's on a four-line "stave" with numbers instead of little black dots, has the advantage of showing, for example, WHICH "G"-note one should be playing, 3rd string 7th fret or 2nd string 3rd fret, for ease of playing within a specific sequence, as well as having all the note-timing information that conventional notation has.

Let's not forget that tab, in one form or another, has a long history of use (several hundred years) on fretted strung instruments simply for the reason that it can have it's advantages over what has nowadays become the conventional "standard", which is perfectly good for most instruments, where there is only one choice of any specific note. On the ukulele specifically, with it's re-entrant tuning, well-written tab can be quite superior for some arrangements ... just my opinion, of course, but I think it is valid in this circumstance ;)

Ukulele Eddie
02-24-2015, 12:54 PM
But I'm wondering if there is some hidden pattern that I just can't quite see at the moment. Is there potential that there is a pattern in all tabbed tunes, but I need to learn the scale to see it?

If anyone has any tips on how to unlock the pattern or how to easily interpret and apply the fingers from what the eyes see to TAB's I'd love to hear your thoughts. Cheers.

Maybe I don't understand the question, but isn't this sort of like asking if there is a pattern to all music? The tab should reflect the the notes in the song. What it's missing, as others have said, is note duration. As some others have pointed out, I have come to realize I have to really know the song (like intimately know), and, it also helps to at least understand how to read the note duration in the standard music notation (which I can now do, yay me). I've been working on Time in a Bottle and have probably listened to the song 100 times. Add that to understanding the note duration in standard notation and it has really, really helped me turn the tab into actual music that sounds halfway decent (not setting to high a bar for myself). Of course, memorizing the finger positions helps tremendously, too, so then you reference the tab as a map rather than as a steering wheel, if that makes sense.

Let us know what ends up working for you!

fisher00
02-24-2015, 01:25 PM
Maybe I don't understand the question, but isn't this sort of like asking if there is a pattern to all music? Let us know what ends up working for you!

Trouble is, I'm not sure I understand the question either :) I certainly don't know how to express it clearly.

Maybe I'm just looking for a short-cut instead of putting in the practice.... :) BUT - there has been some great help here including direct contact from a member that has helped me immensely. So , thanks to you all!

niwenomian
02-24-2015, 01:54 PM
It was helpful to me to try to find chords behind the series of notes. This was a major leap in efficiency; to go from hunting for single notes to playing out of chord positions. It means less hand movement.
As a bonus, if you hit the wrong note (for the TAB) it probably sounds ok within the context of the song because it's another note within the chord.
The next thing for me was to realize what notes I could add on to that chord from the same hand position (or grip) and which needed a new grip.

I used several resources for this, the one that comes right to mind is Ukulele fretboard roadmaps. I'm sure there are others that are just as helpful.

I would also offer that it helped me to attack my knowledge gaps from several different angles, but always with an eye toward understanding the patterns. This allows you to map things out in your head.

Nick

stevepetergal
02-24-2015, 03:50 PM
You've got it. Fumble, fumble, fumble, repeat.
Next you move on to struggle, fumble, struggle....
Struggle, fumble, play, struggle, fumble, play....
You get the idea.

bonesigh
02-24-2015, 04:28 PM
Right on! This is the approach I use. Think of tab as broken chords. Sometimes the correct chord may be hard to hold but you can find a "new" way to hold it leaving out a fretted finger or two depending on how many notes in that chord (via tab) are needed.


It was helpful to me to try to find chords behind the series of notes. This was a major leap in efficiency; to go from hunting for single notes to playing out of chord positions. It means less hand movement.
As a bonus, if you hit the wrong note (for the TAB) it probably sounds ok within the context of the song because it's another note within the chord.
The next thing for me was to realize what notes I could add on to that chord from the same hand position (or grip) and which needed a new grip.

I used several resources for this, the one that comes right to mind is Ukulele fretboard roadmaps. I'm sure there are others that are just as helpful.

I would also offer that it helped me to attack my knowledge gaps from several different angles, but always with an eye toward understanding the patterns. This allows you to map things out in your head.

Nick