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Thread: I Don't Do Tab

  1. #26
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    Quote Originally Posted by JL277z View Post
    As to writing down the notes that form chords - I was not referring to the I-IV-V etc chords, which (at this point, for me anyway) are fairly obvious just by listening - no need to diagram those out to know which chords to play.

    But I was thinking more specifically about all the complicated weird jazz/etc chords (there are bunches of them!) that I've just begun to explore recently.

    <Big Snip>
    While in general I agree with you. I discovered in hindsight that this is not always the case. There were a number of traditional Scandinavian tunes we played in my old band where the leader would play the major notes of a chord. So I would play the major chord. That was wrong. Quite often, it's the minor that's needed to create the tension in the music.

    Oh, and am starting to work on some folk music that uses I-V-IV as the basic progression. Not big, but still a data point.

    However, I totally agree with the rest of your post. Excellent description, IMO.
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  2. #27

    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    I generally don’t use tabs or sheet music unless there’s something I absolutely can’t figure out by ear. I started playing guitar with tabs, but after some time I stopped since It’s usually just adding another step for me without any direct benefit.

  3. #28

    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    While in general I agree with you. I discovered in hindsight that this is not always the case. There were a number of traditional Scandinavian tunes we played in my old band where the leader would play the major notes of a chord. So I would play the major chord. That was wrong. Quite often, it's the minor that's needed to create the tension in the music.
    I basically had in mind for commonly-seen minors to be included in the "etc" portion of my "I-IV-V etc" phrase, but yeah I agree with you that sometimes the most-obvious first choice isn't necessarily the best choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Oh, and am starting to work on some folk music that uses I-V-IV as the basic progression. Not big, but still a data point.
    That's a cool sound, I've always liked the V to IV sound for some reason.

    But when I wrote "I-IV-V" in my earlier post, I was trying to list a set of chords from which to choose, rather than specify a certain progression or a particular order in which the chords should appear. I probably wrote it wrong, with the dashes...

    I probably should have used commas or something, to separate the Roman numerals. In fact, let me check something... ah ok yeah if I'd remembered anything about set theory in my math classes a zillion years ago, I'd have probably written it as {I, IV, V} ...

    Although right now I have no clue as to how much of the standard music-writing conventions bear any similarity to those of mathematics... music and math seem like practically variants of the same things anyway... both math and music deal with vibrations and frequencies and variables and time... thinking specifically of music "standard notation" which looks to me like a graph in math class where time is on the x-axis and frequency (pitch) is on the y-axis... but I digress. (Oh and by the way, math was my absolute favorite class all through my school years, but it was so long ago I barely remember any of it.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    However, I totally agree with the rest of your post. Excellent description, IMO.
    Thanks!

  4. #29
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    What if there were people capable of reading notation and tablature and could play by ear and improvise? Everytime I read one of these "degree-in-music-but-lost-without sweet music" posts I think sure pal, keep telling yourself you're just as good as them, you've got nothing to prove, ignorance is better than knowledge.....

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  6. #30

    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    Like anything else in this world what works for one doesnít for another. I grew up reading music on guitar and in bands and orchestra in school. Took up mando and learned TAB then developed my ear. I use all three to get better on my chosen instrument. I would never limit myself...or tell anyone else to not use every tool available to make themselves better.

    It doesnít make me better or worse than anyone in any way...TEHO.
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  7. #31
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    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    I think I came off wrong with my post but like I said "I don't do tab" ...not You shouldn't do tab...just my personal preference and I guess this comes from playing music all my life and relying on my ear to hear and find melodies. I did make the suggestion to trying harder to play by ear and I didn't mean this as a way of limiting one's ability but simply as a learning experience. And I do think the sooner someone can stop relying on tab the better to improve their playing ability. Even over at MandoLessons Baron starts every learning video by saying "try to get this by ear, it's good practice but if you need help their's tabs available"...what I meant to be a helpful suggestion has come off as me being some kind of braggerty jerk and trust me I have nothing to brag about. I had just rather use my ear and that's just me...

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  9. #32

    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    I think the sooner in someone's playing career they learn to read notation the earlier they will be able to avail themselves of the vast library of music of all genres. Everyone (I think) learns to sing by ear, but transitioning that pitch recognition to their instrument is often a challenge for folks, let alone the challenge of hearing a complex tune from a less than perfect recording and transcribing it to play. I recall the hours I spent in the 60s-70s learning by lifting the phonograph needle and repeating passages until I figured out a tune. When I found a book like Cole's 1000 Fiddle Tunes, I can't tell you how much time I saved.

    Not all jams are bluegrass and/or country, which are mostly fairly simplistic harmonically. I see both the symphony and jazz ensembles playing from charts, and I don't believe they are trying to give them up..

    Its good to be able to play by ear, but its faster to learn a specific or new tune by reading, if you can read. Saves all that time finding a recording and listening.

    mileage varies...............
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  10. #33
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    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    Oh ok now I see, no symphony and jazz ensembles playing from charts around these parts, just blues, country and bluegrass, just music simpleton's here. So I'll bow out of this discussion

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  12. #34
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    Quote Originally Posted by JL277z View Post
    Although right now I have no clue as to how much of the standard music-writing conventions bear any similarity to those of mathematics... music and math seem like practically variants of the same things anyway... both math and music deal with vibrations and frequencies and variables and time... thinking specifically of music "standard notation" which looks to me like a graph in math class where time is on the x-axis and frequency (pitch) is on the y-axis... but I digress. (Oh and by the way, math was my absolute favorite class all through my school years, but it was so long ago I barely remember any of it.)
    Music was my favorite subject in school, and I hated and grudgingly slogged through math, mainly because I could see no practical relevance for anything beyond basic arithmetic. It's fascinating that you describe standard notation like a time/frequency graph, but that description makes perfect logical sense!

    On the other hand, regarding the thread topic, there is nothing I can think of that "makes" tab make anything like perfect logical sense (to me). Rather, I happen to find it counter-intuitive to my way of thinking for many reasons (I relate to intervals, not numbers of half-steps; and besides, tab looks too much "like a staff", but at the same time "not like a staff"), so I just don't bother deciphering it.

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  14. #35

    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    Honestly, I started playing music in my 20s and donít think I would have had the drive to continue if I couldnít get the variable reinforcement of finding a melody through tab. It took quite some time for my ears and musical knowledge to develop enough to be able to start playing some by ear , but being able to play music by reading off a sheet gave me the reward I needed to continue plugging away.

  15. #36
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://soundcloud.com/j-person

  16. #37
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    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    I think the sooner in someone's playing career they learn to read notation the earlier they will be able to avail themselves of the vast library of music of all genres. Everyone (I think) learns to sing by ear, but transitioning that pitch recognition to their instrument is often a challenge for folks, let alone the challenge of hearing a complex tune from a less than perfect recording and transcribing it to play. I recall the hours I spent in the 60s-70s learning by lifting the phonograph needle and repeating passages until I figured out a tune. When I found a book like Cole's 1000 Fiddle Tunes, I can't tell you how much time I saved.

    Not all jams are bluegrass and/or country, which are mostly fairly simplistic harmonically. I see both the symphony and jazz ensembles playing from charts, and I don't believe they are trying to give them up..

    Its good to be able to play by ear, but its faster to learn a specific or new tune by reading, if you can read. Saves all that time finding a recording and listening.

    mileage varies...............

    When I started learning the guitar in 1957 I, in some sense, knew standard notation, where the notes are on the staff, what the key signature means, etc. I started by learning the fretboard systematically, key by key in first position (C, F, G, Bb, D, ...), and then in higher positions. In retrospect I can say that I relied much to heavily, and for much too long, on sheet music, but my reading ability did give me access to a lot of material, and saved me from the trap of "easy" keys. It was only when I began dabbling in colloquial genres like country, bluegrass, folk, etc. that I started relying on my ear. A good teacher could have speeded up my learning process by, oh, two years. A bad teacher (more the rule than the exception) would just as easily have slowed it down by a couple of years.
    (I'm entirely self taught; I could not afford a teacher at 12 and my mother did nothing to encourage my interest in music).

    When I started on the mandolin, 10 years later I learned almost exclusively from records. I don't believe I've ever played the mandolin from sheet music. I study and memorize the tune before playing it.

    I've never developed any skill in tab reading, I simply find tabs, as sole source for songs, painful reading. If the score is accompanied by tab I may glance at it for suggestions of which position to play, but I've also found that tabs are often mechanically devised, without regard to good phrasing and pick economy, e.g., using open strings where 7th fret may be more expedient. And even if there is a good notated source for a tune I may play it in a different key.

  17. #38
    Registered User Bunnyf's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    Iím a newbie to mandolin, but not to stringed instruments and Iím either/or on stand.not. vs tab. I learn a basic tune by ear, but I look at different arrangements of tab or stand.not. to see what others have done with the tune. Sometimes their take is a little too hard for me but itwill give me ideas. Then I will meld it into my own version, which will then be played by ear.

  18. #39
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    There is nothing inherently bad, wrong, lazy, sneaky, low class, embarrassing, or fattening about using Tab. Nothing. At all. No reason to be sheepish about it.

    If you would like to play by ear, or read notation, or eat spaghetti, then you can work on that. They are good too.


    I remember, years ago a girl I was interested in announced that she didn't eat fast food and had in fact never been to McDonalds. Having less social graces than I do today I asked her: "what do you want, a medal?" Needless to say we never went out.
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  20. #40
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    What if there were people capable of reading notation and tablature and could play by ear and improvise? Everytime I read one of these "degree-in-music-but-lost-without sweet music" posts I think sure pal, keep telling yourself you're just as good as them, you've got nothing to prove, ignorance is better than knowledge.....
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge", ,A.Einstein..

  21. #41
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    Default Re: I Don't Do Tab

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    It is not one or the other. Everything you don't know limits you.

    Learning by hear has great benefits. Learning to read also has gigantic benefits, tab and/or notation.

    One doesn't rule out the other.


    I read notation mostly, but sometimes tab really helps, like when playing alternate tunings, or learning someone's solo way up the neck.

    Its all good. Its all important.
    Of course I know how tab works, but I have never felt the need to achieve fluency in tab, i.e., the ability to see the structure of a song or tune at a glance, decide on the optimal key, etc. etc. etc. I figure the time and effort spent on achieving such a skill would detract from other, perhaps more useful skills. E.g., when I started playing the guitar 62 years ago not only did I profit from my previous knowledge of SN in soprano clef, I also learned to read bass clef (no big deal, the two staves are continuations of one another) in order to use ideas from piano scores.

    In these discussions I've encountered some very strange conceptions about tab. E.g., one advantage is that you don't have to worry about keys. Worry? Or, you need tabs to decide the correct or optimal fingering or postions for certain passages or whole songs. Tabs are often very mechanically conceived. You'll have to find out, and decide these things for yourself.

    Years ago someone related a horror story on the Cafť. The poster was fluent in SN but her teacher insisted that she learn tab, because that's what's used in her chosen genre (bluegrass). It is not.

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