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Thread: Notation to Tablature

  1. #1

    Default Notation to Tablature

    I've recently agreed to play at church and I joined the local Mandolin Orchestra.

    I'm super confident in my playing! Unfortunately, I can't read notation. I can only read tablature (Damn ArtistWorks & Peghead Nation!!)

    I remember someone offering a transcription service here in "forums"....

    Can anyone point me in the right direction?
    Chris from Tucson
    2007 Heiden Artist #F102
    1919 Whiteface A3 (found on eBay for $15!!)
    2016 Mann Octave OSEM
    1972 Martin D18

  2. #2
    Registered User dulcillini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation to Tablature

    One crude, but effective way to transcribe would be to purchase the TablEdit program and simply do it in reverse, i.e. put the tab on the lines and the program will put the notes on the staff.

    I had a similar experience, but I simply decided to gut it out and memorize the scales on the staff. It took about a month to get it in my head. A good drill is to use some good exercise books, such as Don Julin's "Mandolin Exercises For Dummies" and others on the market. After a while, you get those notes in your head and under your fingers. It just happens, no explanation. Be patient. The sight-reading and hand coordination will come. It really will.

    Another good drill is to pick out some simple violin scores of tunes you do not know by ear. Try to figure them out and play them. It makes your head and ears hurt, but it helps!

    Trust me, after some time; you will pick it up. I have tried to do the same on my mandola. That is more of a challenge because you are reading in the alto clef. I still do not have my head around that, but I am patient. I will get it eventually.

    By playing in a mandolin orchestra, you are putting yourself on the fast track to good sight-reading. You are forcing yourself to read. Hang in there!

    The scale drills mentioned above really work. Simply erase the tab lines or cover them, as you learn the scales. Start with the basic scales (C,D,G,A) then move on to the others. Don't get too hung up on majors and minors for a while. Simply get the main ones under your fingers and into your head.

    Also, the most difficult thing about the orchestra scene is getting the tempo and rhythm correct, especially if you are not playing the melody line. Another challenge is that you find yourself playing up-the-neck more often for long complicated passages that require speed.

    If you continue in the orchestra, join the Classical Mandolin Society. It is cheap, like $25-50 per year. Look up their website. They have great information for all levels of players. We do not have an orchestra in my immediate area. I tried working with one about an hour away, but the travel time and work conflicts were a problem. I would love to try it again some time, if one were closer to my home.

    I hope this helps you.
    Michael A. Harris
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    Collings MT2 Mandola
    Taran "Springwell" Mandolin 4/16
    McSpadden Custom Mountain Dulcimer
    "Home is the place we grow up wanting to leave, and die trying to get back to." Nash

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  4. #3
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation to Tablature

    I'd do as Michael suggests and get Tabledit. I've tried and failed to learn notation and now use Tabledit to convert notation to a legible format.

    Easy to learn and well worth the money. I also play guitar and it's useful for converting between different tuning systems.

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    Default Re: Notation to Tablature

    The gentlest first step is to get a book of arpeggios and scales and play thru them slowly for short periods every day. Trying to read chords will give you migraines. These are books i use, Volumes 1-2, if you know any woodwind players they'll likely know them

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    Default Re: Notation to Tablature

    There are some smart responses here. Learning to read is not that hard and the exercises of learning scales and arpeggios will make you a better player. I taught all who would let me, how to read so they could play anything they wanted to play.

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  8. #6
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation to Tablature

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Gray View Post
    I've recently agreed to play at church and I joined the local Mandolin Orchestra.

    I'm super confident in my playing! Unfortunately, I can't read notation. I can only read tablature (Damn ArtistWorks & Peghead Nation!!)
    Quote Originally Posted by dulcillini View Post

    By playing in a mandolin orchestra, you are putting yourself on the fast track to good sight-reading. You are forcing yourself to read. Hang in there!

    .
    I suggest ignoring TAB completely and just buckling down and learn to read staff notation.

    It's not hard, children learn to do so in grade school, at least where there are still band programs.

    Trying to hold on to TAB will not help your progress in mandolin orchestra playing, but reading music will be much easier to learn with all the help you will get.

  9. #7

    Default Re: Notation to Tablature

    Lots of different keys in Church and Conservatoires. It can be confusing.
    Musescore.org is another program, I think it may even import pdfs of notation now.

    But the best way is to get it in your head and fingers. Try notation in the keys of C D and G first?

    What you’re doing is looking at the notation, thinking of the letter that the one dot represents, and then thinking of the position on the fretboard that will play that letter.

    Lots of other tricks to enable you to guess what the next notes will be.
    Eg. if the measure says G major above it then if you accidentally play GB or D notes then it wont sound so bad!
    If your fingers ‘know’ you’re in D major key then they will generally naturally fall on notes in that scale. If you learn scales.

    Write out a fretboard of the key of G?
    If you have an iPhone then try ‘Music Notes’. It gives you the notation with random notes that appear and you have to touch a violin fretboard in the right place. It would be better if you could just actually play the notes on a mando, but at least this way you can learn on a bus etc.
    Good luck.

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  11. #8
    Registered User dulcillini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Notation to Tablature

    Oh, Chris From Tuscon, I forgot one thing. Mandolin orchestra music is notorious for putting a lot of notes on the ledger lines. AS if you don't have enough to learn, just on the staff! Many classical pieces use the full note range of the mandolin--that is the reason. It is a good idea to draw out the entire range of the mandolin on staff paper or copy it out of a book--you will see what I mean. Look at it during breaks at work and try to visualize what string and fret you hit with each note on the ledger lines above and below.
    Michael A. Harris
    the dulcILLINI
    Collings MF5 Mandolin
    Collings MT2 Mandola
    Taran "Springwell" Mandolin 4/16
    McSpadden Custom Mountain Dulcimer
    "Home is the place we grow up wanting to leave, and die trying to get back to." Nash

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  13. #9

    Default Re: Notation to Tablature

    Thanks folks! I've made a lot of progress over the last couple months. I understand notation but it’s not automatic, like tablature for me (yet). I actually picked up a fiddle and I’m taking weekly violin lessons locally. I figured that there is no such thing as violin tablature so I would be forced into learning notation (I ended up finding myself learning by ear). I’m currently transcribing using TablEdit and my note-for-note guesses are becoming more accurate. I just asked for help because I have SO many new tunes that need transcribed (each one takes hours). I feel I should be practicing the actual tunes, not just transcribing them.
    Chris from Tucson
    2007 Heiden Artist #F102
    1919 Whiteface A3 (found on eBay for $15!!)
    2016 Mann Octave OSEM
    1972 Martin D18

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  15. #10

    Default Re: Notation to Tablature

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Gray View Post
    I've recently agreed to play at church and I joined the local Mandolin Orchestra.

    I'm super confident in my playing! Unfortunately, I can't read notation. I can only read tablature (Damn ArtistWorks & Peghead Nation!!)

    I remember someone offering a transcription service here in "forums"....

    Can anyone point me in the right direction?
    Hi there!

    This image Iíve attached has been a great help for me recently! I hope it helps you too
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