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Thread: Tab Software

  1. #1
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    Default Tab Software

    Hi Folks!

    Beginner here, progressing happily into my second month with my Mando! I'm thoroughly enjoying playing every day, and I've finally got the finger strength and calluses to do a few light bends and practice for more than 20 minutes

    I'm trying to learn a few reels, and it seems to me like it would also be a good opportunity for me to learn musical notation while I'm at it. I'm already comfortable with tabs, soo.....

    I was wondering what you folks like to use for writing your own stuff on a PC. I'd really be interested in something that I can write in tab, then transpose to standard musical notation (and probably back again. TablEdit looks good and I see that there is a large collection of songs in .tbl format on this site under the Learn/Listen section.

    If anyone has any other suggestions, or a heads up regarding any quirks or pitfalls, I'd sure appreciate it.

    Cheers!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tab Software

    +1 TablEdit.
    Play it like you mean it.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Tab Software

    I also recommend TablEdit, I use the tefview app to convert abc files to tab and notation on a daily basis, check out the session.com for a ton of celtic stuff. I dont read standard notation very well so being able to convert things into a mandolin tab helps me greatly

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Tab Software

    Musescore.org is my favourite but I no longer have a computer so there are some features that I dont have while using my ipad...

    What Im looking for is a simple virtual mandolin or fiddle fretboard where I can touch different places and it will write out notes as text (for use in .abc files) or something similar, a then play it back to confirm that Ive got the timing written correctly.

    Though a free .abc player will almost do that.

    The easiest way, that I sometimes use, is to play the tune on the mando by ear and shout out the notes to my daughter who writes them on a scrap of paper. Fun too.

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  7. #5

    Default Re: Tab Software

    Quote Originally Posted by zakry3323 View Post
    ... I was wondering what you folks like to use for writing your own stuff on a PC.
    I use MuseScore. They added tab-writing capability a few years ago. I didn't much like MuseScore at first, but either it's improved or I've gotten used to it. Although I wasn't impressed with the latest version 3 though, I installed it to test it last month and I didn't care for what they'd done to some of the palettes, so I went back to using version 2.1 (which I also didn't like at first but now seems fine). YMMV. (An aside, I had some issues after uninstalling version 3, it screwed up my version 2 file associations which took me a little while to get straightened out, an annoyance.) So anyway I'm currently using the slightly-older MuseScore 2.1 which is working good for me.

    Before that, I used TablEdit. I still keep TableEdit around (it's already paid for, no point in uninstalling it) but I don't write much in TablEdit anymore, basically only when someone wants a .tef-format file to playback in TablEdit or TefView. I did update TablEdit the other day, just to see what had changed - it seems about the same as it's 'always' been. Kudos for consistency, I guess.


    Quote Originally Posted by zakry3323 View Post
    ... I'd really be interested in something that I can write in tab, then transpose to standard musical notation (and probably back again.
    I agree with the other posters, either TablEdit or MuseScore will work for that. Depending on how much patience you have to learn the basics. Those two apps have rather different approaches as to how to put the notes onto the staff.


    Quote Originally Posted by zakry3323 View Post
    ... TablEdit ... large collection of songs ...
    Yep that's one of TablEdit's advantages, some pretty good-sized collections in various places on the internet, of already-written tunes for mandolin.


    Quote Originally Posted by zakry3323 View Post
    ... heads up regarding any quirks or pitfalls, ...
    Well they all have quirks and annoyances, just different quirks in different apps...

    But since you asked, some quirks that come to mind... I'll cover (FWIW) my experience with both TablEdit and MuseScore... let's start with TablEdit:

    • TablEdit quirks:

      1. At least in the TablEdit version I have (v2.78 b1c), if your song changes key-signature somewhere in the middle of the song, the on-screen standard-notation display still does *not* show the new key signature on the staff *until* the playback cursor is actually in one of the measures affected by the key-signature change. You're just supposed to somehow remember that there is a key signature change coming up. It's not a problem if you're only reading the tab staff, but if you're also trying to follow along with the standard notation (for instance if you're trying to familiarize yourself with standard notation instead of reading tab only), it can be irritating.

      2. Maybe it's just me, but I found it tricky, at first, to learn the finer points of how to write more complex things in TablEdit, such as triplets, grace notes, etc.

      3. If there's a way to simultaneously display *all* the instrument parts on *screen* during playback in TablEdit, I haven't found a method that actually works yet. That's the reason I initially began focusing more on MuseScore a few years ago, even before MuseScore added tablature capability, because TablEdit wouldn't let me see all the parts on-screen at a glance, nicely stacked one staff above the other. MuseScore let me do that, so I eventually gravitated towards using MuseScore for pretty much everything.

      4. When writing music in TablEdit, you have to remember to de-select the dotted-note icon when changing from, say, a dotted quarter note to a regular (non-dotted) eight note. Otherwise, the subsequent notes will also be dotted, which most likely isn't what you wanted. I finally got myself (mostly) trained to do this, but it was quite infuriating at first. (In comparison, MuseScore doesn't have this problem or 'feature'.)

      5. In TablEdit standard notation, the note stems don't always point the optimal way when writing several notes together. You can manually reverse a note stem, as well as making some other changes in the preferences settings and elsewhere, but there are times when I'm still dissatisfied with the resulting appearance and readability. Not an issue with simple one-note melody-line lead-sheet stuff though.

      6. I haven't had much luck with getting TablEdit print-outs to look decent and not take up umpteen pages, regardless of what I do with font size settings and line spacings and margins etc. That would be ok as I seldom have any need to "print" things on paper anymore anyway, *EXCEPT* that other people still do require that - and also it would be nice to easily tailor the formatting to, say, efficiently fit a specific tune onto only one page of a specific size for display on a tablet or other portable device (I do this quite easily in MuseScore - I use MuseScore to create PDF files and then I transfer the PDF files to an Android tablet which runs the "MobileSheets Pro" app which displays the PDF's on the tablet's screen - yeah MobileSheets Pro has a scrolling function which works great but it's also nice to be able to custom tailor a tune to fit onto one screen/display 'page' when possible).

      7. As might be expected from MIDI stuff, TablEdit playback sound is not particularly impressive (well actually neither is the MuseScore playback), but both are adequate for learning tunes and 'writing' music.


    • MuseScore quirks:

      1. If you set a group of measures (or an entire tune) to repeat/loop, MuseScore gradually gets out of sync (loses time) with the rest of the world. At the end of each repeat, MuseScore playback loses a fraction of a second, there is a split-second 'pause' before it resumes playback at the beginning of the loop. (Whereas, for comparison, TablEdit does *NOT* have this problem, not at all - TablEdit loop playback timing seems to be remarkably accurate.) The only time you're likely to notice this out-of-sync issue in MuseScore, is if you have MuseScore playing, say, a melody line, while you simultaneously have *another* (more time-consistent) app playing a backing track (for instance when you're trying to quickly work out which chords to use without having to manually add a bunch of harmony notes). I've checked, the backing app I'm using is spot-on, whereas MuseScore gradually becomes more and more out-of-sync with each repeat, falling behind, such that after a certain number of repetitions you have to stop and restart the loop (or stop/restart the backing track in the other app) to get the two apps back in sync again. It's really noticeable especially on short loops (fewer measures but more repeats), say if you let it run for 10-20+ minutes, the way one typically might when practicing to learn a new tune or experimenting with chords in a new tune.

      2. Font kerning (the amount of space between letters) is pathetic in MuseScore on Windows, for the vast majority of the fonts I have installed, at least on 3 different Windows computers that I've had MuseScore installed on over the last several years. I read somewhere it's allegedly blamed on some sort of "Windows problem", but none of my other Windows apps have that problem - just MuseScore. Even the fonts that are actually supplied with MuseScore have lousy character spacing, ranging from too much width between some of the letters (almost looks like a space) whereas other letters are crammed together so tightly they're almost overlapping and hard to read. I finally gave up worrying about it since the developers don't seem to care nor have a solution (the latest version 3 that I briefly tested was the same way), and I just settled on using only a selected few fonts that, for some reason, seem to display less weirdly than the rest of them. (When making a printable PDF for other people to look at, it would be nice to have appealing character spacing, especially for lyrics where quick legibility is important.) But considering that the computer version of MuseScore is free, I'm willing to not whine too much about this font kerning problem, it's just "one of those things", a quirk, but it's something that you may notice sooner or later (in titles, subtitles, system text, instrument parts, composer, footer text, etc), at least on Windows. Some people might not be bothered by it.

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  9. #6

    Default Re: Tab Software

    There are quite a few apps out there now, here’s one called ‘Flat’.

    It’s free for ipad, prob available for smartphones too and has a virtual piano keyboard.
    Quite a simple layout and most importantly exports music XML.
    I think music XML can be converted to .abc later.

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  11. #7

    Default Re: Tab Software

    Quote Originally Posted by atsunrise View Post
    'Flat'.

    It's free for ipad, prob available for smartphones too ...
    I hadn't heard of Flat, but here's what I found out...

    According to the Flat website pricing page:

    "Flat Free includes:
    Create and store 15 scores"

    So apparently you get 15 songs for free, then you have to pay? The pricing options are:

    "$149 One-time purchase"

    *or* subscription rates as follows:

    "$6.99 Monthly subscription
    $49 Yearly subscription"

    Hmm.

    While I have not tested this, their website indicates that there are two different ways to use Flat:

    1. An online interface using a regular web browser on any device or computer. Apparently this is how you'd access the Flat music-writing functionality if you had an Android (non-Apple) phone or tablet.

    2. An app for Apple gadgets only (iPhones, iPads, iWhatever-Else-They-Have). According to the Flat Do you have a mobile app? page:

      "If you are using an iOS device (iPhone or iPad), we have a native app available on the App Store. ... We have plans to develop a native app for Android as well, stay tuned!"


    I don't know what, if any, advantages there are to using the "native app" vs the web-browser interface. But, if you had an Android (non-Apple) device, at the moment the web-browser interface would appear to be your only option.

    That's all I was able to gather by skimming through their website really quick.

    Up until I saw the pricing arrangement, I was tempted to give it a whirl just out of curiosity to see if it was any good, but I guess I'm lazy because I can't work up enough enthusiasm right now to pursue signing up for yet another account (oh joy, another online account at some website I'll probably never use again, just what I need - not!) to test it out. Besides, if it turned out I actually liked it and was going to spend $149 on it, I'd probably just go ahead and throw some (a whole bunch!) more money into the pot and save up for Finale or something (at this point in my life and budget, Flat's $149 is just as out-of-reach as Finale's $600, not going to be buying anything like that anytime soon, I have other obligations). As to software subscriptions, I already have one of those (Adobe nonsense) and I don't want any more subscriptions to *anything* unless there are no other acceptable options that offer the same high level of functionality. (Yeah I know, the subscription pricing model is allegedly the wave of the future in software stuff, so I keep hearing/reading, so I might as well get used to it sooner rather than later, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.)

    Meanwhile, I'm ok with using the other software I've already been using for a few years now (as I rattled on about in a different post above), at least I'm used to it and it doesn't cost me anything (although before it got bought out by some guitar outfit or whatever, I used to make the occasional small donation, as I do believe in supporting open-source projects that I find useful).

    Anyway... back to the topic... as to Flat, it may or may not be a useful app, I didn't get far enough to actually test its capabilities, but maybe someone else has already tried it (or something similar) and can report on it?

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  13. #8

    Default Re: Tab Software

    Click on my signature, watch the video on the site's homepage, and you'll see mando-specific scores of Sibelius in action – in this case, the fretboard is following the tab, but it can be assigned to follow any instrument in the score.

    You can input notes from the fretboard into any stave (including the tab staff), and you can copy/paste tab into notation and vice-versa.

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  15. #9
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    Default Re: Tab Software

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    Click on my signature, watch the video on the site's homepage, and you'll see mando-specific scores of Sibelius in action in this case, the fretboard is following the tab, but it can be assigned to follow any instrument in the score.

    You can input notes from the fretboard into any stave (including the tab staff), and you can copy/paste tab into notation and vice-versa.
    Very cool software!
    Bernie
    ____
    Due to current budgetary restrictions the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off -- sorry about the inconvenience.

  16. #10
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    Default Re: Tab Software

    Quote Originally Posted by JL277z View Post
    Well they all have quirks and annoyances, just different quirks in different apps...

    But since you asked, some quirks that come to mind... I'll cover (FWIW) my experience with both TablEdit and MuseScore... let's start with TablEdit:

    • TablEdit quirks:

      1. If there's a way to simultaneously display *all* the instrument parts on *screen* during playback in TablEdit, I haven't found a method that actually works yet. That's the reason I initially began focusing more on MuseScore a few years ago, even before MuseScore added tablature capability, because TablEdit wouldn't let me see all the parts on-screen at a glance, nicely stacked one staff above the other. MuseScore let me do that, so I eventually gravitated towards using MuseScore for pretty much everything.
    JL277z: This method works to display ALL instrument parts onscreen during playback in TablEdit -- shown in both tab and notation, if you so desire!

    1) Go to File | Options, then select the Multitrack tab. In the dialog box, check the boxes for all the instruments that you wish to see onscreen, for either tab or notation, or both. Also, optionally, check "Module labels" to get these labeled. Then click on "Apply."

    2) In File | Options, select the General tab. Under Screen Mode, check the box for "Line Mode." Also, be sure under Show that both "Notation" and "Tablature" are checked, assuming you want both of these. Then click on "Apply," followed by "OK."

    That works for me! Try it.

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  18. #11

    Default Re: Tab Software

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    JL277z: This method works to display ALL instrument parts onscreen during playback in TablEdit -- shown in both tab and notation, if you so desire!

    1) Go to File | Options, then select the Multitrack tab. In the dialog box, check the boxes for all the instruments that you wish to see onscreen, for either tab or notation, or both. Also, optionally, check "Module labels" to get these labeled. Then click on "Apply."

    2) In File | Options, select the General tab. Under Screen Mode, check the box for "Line Mode." Also, be sure under Show that both "Notation" and "Tablature" are checked, assuming you want both of these. Then click on "Apply," followed by "OK."

    That works for me! Try it.
    You're right, thank you!!! That second step was what I was missing, the "Line Mode" thing. Thanks again!

  19. #12
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    Default Re: Tab Software

    Hey folks!

    Thanks so much for the recommendations, reviews, and very thorough explanations! I'll be playing with these for the next couple weeks and will let you know how it goes!

    Cheers,

    Zack

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