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Thread: Help with musical notation and tabs

  1. #1
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    Default Help with musical notation and tabs

    I hope this appropriate for these threads. I'm a 6 month Mandolin player and trying to learn my way around reading tabs. Although most tabs are pretty straightforward, I am trying to understand how to play this tab:
    _____________
    _______3_____
    3___________
    _______2_____

    I understand the strings and frets, but how do you strum across 3 strings without hitting the D string? What am I not understanding ? Is the D string muted?

    Is there a resource that you can recommend that explains tabs beyond the basics?

    Thanks
    Kenn

  2. #2
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with musical notation and tabs

    I've not seen something like that but I am a newbie myself. I tried it out and what works for me is I play the f normally, then lay my index finger across all four strings loosely but press on the G string behind the 2nd fret while fretting the A string at fret 3 with my middle finger. My loose index finger acts as a mute on the D string ( and the E string just in case I hit that while picking the G, D, and A in one quick stroke). You'll be able to hear a bit of a thunk from the D string, but the other two should cover that up fairly well.
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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with musical notation and tabs

    More than one way to do that. Maybe explain what music this example is taken from.

    If at brisk clip I would just let index finger on second fret lean on the muted string. I do this a lot, using other fingers to control in-between strings.

    If not banging away, but playing slowly, you can also use your free middle or ring finger to pluck the higher note.
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    Default Re: Help with musical notation and tabs

    Welcome MandoKenn! It looks like the tab is telling you to play the root of the F chord, i.e., third fret of the D string, and then strum the chord. It is hard to imagine what would be accomplished by muting the root. Whoever wrote the tab may be trying to imitate guitar playing where it is common to pick the root note then strum the rest of the chord.
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with musical notation and tabs

    Yes, the x would indicate a mute, for whatever reason.
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    Default Re: Help with musical notation and tabs

    Its from a Beatles song "I will" I appreciate the great feedback from everyone.

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with musical notation and tabs

    I am not a lover or user of TAB, but could it be that the person who created the TAB has meant to have the "x" on the top E string, therefore muting it, but allowing you to play the G at 2nd fret (A note), the D at 3rd fret (F note) and the A at 3rd fret (C note) - so giving you an F major triad? Probably not, but just a thought!
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with musical notation and tabs

    John, an Fmaj triad consists of FAC - just like the spaces on the treble clef! Easy to remember.

    Nevermind, sorry John, I thought you wrote to play the D open, my bad.

    "x" indicates a mute note in both tablature and standard notation, just saying. Also used to indicate either unplayed or muted string on chord charts, but should indicate a mute on tablature, which would give a percussive sound to that string or muted note..
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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with musical notation and tabs

    Thanks, Mark. I just wondered why there would be a fret position marked on the same string as the muting symbol. That same symbol appears on chord diagrams when a string has to be omitted (or dampened) from the chord. Did not seem to make sense, but as I say, I am not a regular user of TAB.
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  10. #10
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with musical notation and tabs

    Time flows across tablature same as it does in notation, John, so the F note you see tabbed is played first, followed by striking all three strings in the F shape with a percussive mute on the F note. Don't know why the author or transcriber shows it played that way, I'm just stating what the TAB indicates to me. In tablature, unplayed strings are not marked, and x would indicate a mute ... in standard notation, a stem with a "x" in place of the dot indicates a percussive mute at that note position.

    But, the particular piece could be written poorly for all we know and the x may not mean what it should mean. Arguing for best practices, I say it's a muted note position, and hopefully folk who write TAB will follow that type of convention for muted notes.
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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with musical notation and tabs

    I think Mark G is right, and it is very likely that the tab is simply wrong. Perhaps it was generated automatically, or semi-automatically, from some notation intended for another instrument? Perhaps it's merely a typo? I would explore other ways of playing this, if I were you. As it stands, it's a rather "un-mandolin" sequence.

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with musical notation and tabs

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    I think Mark G is right, and it is very likely that the tab is simply wrong. Perhaps it was generated automatically, or semi-automatically, from some notation intended for another instrument? Perhaps it's merely a typo? I would explore other ways of playing this, if I were you. As it stands, it's a rather "un-mandolin" sequence.
    Well, it is the sort of thing I do. My personal arrangement for the song has moves like that. Guitar players of course do this regularly, and the tab is probably trying to sound like Paul's guitar on "I Will".

    A larger image, with more song context would help.
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    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with musical notation and tabs

    Yes more context would be helpful. But it looks like it is trying to do an F chord by starting with the third (the A note) and then playing the rest of the chord (the power chord of 5ths, F and C). I would suggest playing an A on the G string and then the F and C (3 and 3) on the D and A strings. Starting on the third of the chord is common and it gives a different voicing and emphasis on the melody.
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