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Thread: What does this notation mean?

  1. #1

    Default What does this notation mean?

    Hi! I just started to learn to play mandolin and I'm stuck on what this tab notation means:

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    What do the three bars/lines mean (e.g. on "Jude" or "bad"?) When it says tremolo top note only does that mean I play it on the two strings before doing the others or on the way back up after the others? With the chords that are shown throughout what are they for?- do I play them once before playing the rest of tabs?

    Probably pretty basic stuff but I don't know what to search for to figure it out.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Registered User TheMandoKit's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does this notation mean?

    It means tremolo. The "tremolo top note" means to play the chord, but only tremolo the highest note. So, for the F chord (C-F-A), you would play a downstroke of the C note, F note, A note and then continue tremolo on the A for the remaining duration of the note while the C and F ring.

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  4. #3
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does this notation mean?

    The three horizontal bars through the single stem of the group of note generally indicate that these notes are to be played as a tremolo. However, the written footnote countermands that, and instructs you to tremolo only the top (highest) note. So you play the entire group with one pick stroke, them proceed to tremolo on the highest note. And yes, you play the top note of the group as a full course (a pair of strings), not as a half a course (a single string).

    The chord diagrams at the top show the set of mandolin backup chords used for this song. If you're with other musicians and not playing the lead, then you will want to know these chords and play them at the appropriate times. And no, you don't play these chords first.

    You can also see how these chord shapes basically dictate the groups of notes that are tremolo'ed, so they suggest the hand positions you might want to use in these instances. Finally, the chord names are just a trifle confusing, because the chords at the top show an example of a "C7add4" whereas the chords above the staff show a "C7sus4." But these are just alternate names for the very same chord, so I don't know why they did that.

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  6. #4
    jbmando RIP HK Jim Broyles's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does this notation mean?

    C7add4 would include an E note; C7sus4 would not. Since their chord includes the E it is an add4 rather than a sus4.
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  7. #5
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    Default Re: What does this notation mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Broyles View Post
    C7add4 would include an E note; C7sus4 would not. Since their chord includes the E it is an add4 rather than a sus4.
    I think you mean ‘F’ is added.
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  8. #6
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does this notation mean?

    I think what Jim meant is that although the 4 ("F" in this case) is added, the difference between C7add4 and C7sus4 is that the 3rd (E) is included in the add4 chord, but not the sus4 chord.

    Suspended chord means the 3rd is suspended to either the 2nd or 4th. A Csus chord doesn't have an E note. As a practical matter, the point is that the chord name above the staff is wrong, should be add4 to match the chart above.
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  10. #7
    jbmando RIP HK Jim Broyles's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does this notation mean?

    Yes, this is what I meant.
    "I thought I knew a lot about music. Then you start digging and the deeper you go, the more there is."~John Mellencamp

    "Theory only seems like rocket science when you don't know it. Once you understand it, it's more like plumbing!"~John McGann

    "IT'S T-R-E-M-O-L-O, dangit!!"~Me

  11. #8
    Registered User mmuussiiccaall's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does this notation mean?

    On the original recording it is obvious that there is a different chord on every word of TAKE A SAD SONG, here's my four chords C F/C C7 C7sus

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