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Nicko

Is TAB really that evil?

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Posted (edited)
[quote name='lowdown' timestamp='1503169082' post='3356234']
That wouldn't help much. An Orchestral Conductor Score is mainly for reference.
Orchestral Conductors read very little on the stand, other than bits here and there, or important things (to them anyway).
It's mostly committed to memory and very well mentally rehearsed.
Reading a full Orchestral score isn't difficult, but committing to memory, all and every line is.
Yep, Classical musos have ears as well. :)
[/quote]

Pedantry apart, we are discussing a previous posters assertion that the ability to read music is the measure of a real musician. My personal view is that there is nothing wrong with learning a bass part from Tab, or being able to play the piano without being able to read music. What is your view. :D Edited by mikel

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Tab can be seen as a bit of advice , often helpful to some extent , to save time when working something out

I'd like to see less open strings and more finger positioning , but then I don't post it so can't really complain , it's saved me time at short notice before on many occasion

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Posted (edited)
[quote name='mikel' timestamp='1503212284' post='3356397']


Pedantry apart, we are discussing a previous posters assertion that the ability to read music is the measure of a real musician. My personal view is that there is nothing wrong with learning a bass part from Tab, or being able to play the piano without being able to read music. What is your view. :D
[/quote]

More a general learning thing really. It's fine doing that until you arrive at the gig and they change the key. That has happened to students of mine, and they were flummoxed, which is why they've ebddd up as students. Edited by ambient

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[quote name='mikel' timestamp='1503212284' post='3356397']


Pedantry apart, we are discussing a previous posters assertion that the ability to read music is the measure of a real musician. My personal view is that there is nothing wrong with learning a bass part from Tab, or being able to play the piano without being able to read music. What is your view. :D
[/quote]

I was just jesting really.:)

My view ? I suppose do whatever you are comfortable with in the musical learning process. Certainly using TAB doesn't make someone less of a musician. However, if someone wants to make a career out of music, reading the dots would be much more of an advantage than having just a good command of TAB's. You would be more employable.

Apart from the playing side (shows/sessions etc) there are numerous opportunities for income from other sources, providing you know what you are doing with the dots.

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Posted (edited)
[quote name='mikel' timestamp='1503163244' post='3356179']
Who cares? He is a good musician and it would make no difference as we don't write our stuff down. :D
[/quote]

Many bands though do write stuff down. Most keys players I know are extremely mercenary in the gigs they take, they're able to be, they'll just turn up and play from cold the parts they're given. So sure, I agree that playing by ear like your friend is doing is fine, but it does have its drawbacks, and though he's probably quite happy playing the gigs he does, there are door closed to him.

My gig this afternoon isn't the best paid on the planet, still £75 for a couple of hours, it involves some sight reading, and lots of improv from lead sheets, no run through. Edited by ambient

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TAB scores highly on the readily available and free category

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[quote name='Les' timestamp='1503225034' post='3356511']
TAB scores highly on the readily available and free category
[/quote]

So does sex, but unlike TAB, it needs to be accurate.
:D

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[quote name='interpol52' timestamp='1503212184' post='3356396']
As a 13 year picking up the bass for the first time in 1988, tabs helped me a lot where available. I had no interest in reading music at the time so a combination of tab books and working songs out by ear were the foundations of my development. With the increased availability of isolated bass tracks on YouTube, it has become clear that most of the tab books I used to have are full of errors, examples are the lines to Master of Puppets and Battery by Metallica. This has turned me more towards notation and ear training.

In recent years when I have done productions and been handed the bass score, I have improved my ability to read notation.

The Standing in the Shadows of Motown book has been a steep learning curve for me. I really enjoy it though.

Given the choice, I would go for notation now. That's just personal preference though, not because I think it is the 'right' way to do it.
[/quote]

Can I ask, where did you get TAB from then?

Agree totally about the standing in the shadows of motown book. It's one I use a lot to demonstrate to students how bass lines work.

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[quote name='ambient' timestamp='1503227325' post='3356537']
Can I ask, where did you get TAB from then?
[/quote]

I had not really indulged in TAB so have little knowledge about it. What I did see always seemed limited to me.
However, this thread got me looking deeper into it. It's still of no real use to me what so ever, but the Wiki info is quite interesting regarding it's advantages and disadvantages. Historical wise, it played a big part in the Renaissance and Baroque eras.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tablature


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TAB is a mechanical instruction rather than a musical one, i.e. 'put your finger here' rather than 'play this note, on this subdivision of this beat, for this duration'. It is a crutch, it may give you a short term gain but reliance on it will ultimately hinder your potential to be a well rounded musician.

As has already been acknowledged, TAB does not contain all the information you need to perform the piece, meaning it needs to be viewed in conjunction with something else - i.e. either a recording or notation - therefore, as a means of communication it is flawed.

Notation enables us to do the following:[list]
[*]Perform a piece of music at sight, accurately and authentically, having never heard it before.
[*]Read and write music intended for other instruments - '3rd fret on the A string' means nothing to a pianist, horn player etc.
[*]Identify the key of the piece and the harmonic movement contained within
[*]Discern the harmonic rhythm of the piece (the rate at which the chords change)
[*]Recognise familiar melodic or rhythmic groupings of notes - the benefit of this is that these groups can be recognised as a 'whole', much like you are recognising the words in this sentence rather than reading each letter separately, and executed promptly from muscle memory
[*]Quickly see the ascending and descending contour of a line, identify where things move by step or by leap etc., spot potentially tricky passages
[*]Easily recognise sequences and other repeating patterns, even if they modulate to another key
[*]Combined with a rudimentary ability to sight sing allows us hear the piece in our head, and therefore learn it away from our instrument
[/list]
By using notation rather than TAB, you are having to think [i]notes[/i] rather than simply positions - this will increase your knowledge of the fingerboard far more as you will make the association of 'this is an A, this is a C#, etc.' each time you play a note. More work in the short term but the rewards will pay dividends.


[quote name='Dad3353' timestamp='1503065984' post='3355481']
Before what is now 'standard' notation, tab (short for tablature...) was the means of communicating for all serious musicians and composers[/quote]

True, this existed for keyboard instruments and lutes in the sixteenth century but it was found to be unsatisfactory and was replaced by notation for good reason; the systems used also differed from country to country.

[quote name='Grassie' timestamp='1503156674' post='3356116']
IMO anyone who thinks that using tab, chord diagrams or any other tool that helps a player learn their instrument is somehow "wrong", belong in the same category as bassists that believe using a pick is also somehow "wrong".
[/quote]

But here's the rub, TAB [i]doesn't[/i] help a player learn their instrument, it merely tells them where and in what order to put their fingers, it doesn't even teach them what the note is. In the same way as being told to move your Pawn from b4 to b5 in chess doesn't teach you anything about how to play the game, nor does painting by numbers teach you how to paint. To be clear, used in conjunction with another source (recording or notation) TAB may help someone learn to play a song, but they are not learning anything about the instrument.

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this may be a really stupid question form a none reader, but is notation always accurate?

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[quote name='Steve Woodcock' timestamp='1503230253' post='3356552']...being told to move your Pawn from b4 to b5 in chess doesn't teach you anything about how to play the game, nor does painting by numbers teach you how to paint....
[/quote]

Many folks get great pleasure from following through the chess games of past masters, in exactly this fashion. Similarly, there are thousands, maybe more, enjoying the results of their endeavours in colouring by numbers a view of New York or a pair of spaniels. None will claim to have mastered these arts, but is that the only worthwhile objective on the planet..? I spent much of my youth studying the new (at the time...) 'black art' of DTL/TTL logic, and from there on to microprocessors, operating systems and computers. I had (at the time...) a pretty extensive mastery in depth of how it all worked, more than those who would 'plug and play' the latest graphic cards in fashion. Whilst doing this, for my career, I did no more than brush over the finer points of reading musical notation, except for drums, as that was my instrument of choice. I can read, albeit very slowly, for guitar, bass or keys, but cannot play a saxophone, even if I can decipher the score. My path in life has not revolved around Mozart, nor the Masters of Puppets, and my professional drumming career involved 'dots' only as far as I wrote them out myself, as they did not exist (I've never seen since the drum score for 'Hotel California', either...).
Why this insistence that there is no salvation but in soaking oneself in this skill..? No-one is disputing its usefulness, nor that it is good to learn from an early age, but there are other skills that are equally valuable for thousands of happy, contented folks in the world, without, too. Is it too much to accept that some folks get the result they're after from other concepts..? This insistence is not likely to endear the subject to those already hesitant or wary from previous experience of failure with the system. It does not fit everyone's temperament nor needs. Hats off to those who revel in it, but some respect is due to those who play music without, I feel.
Rant over.

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Posted (edited)
@Steve Woodcock A few thoughts in passing if I may. Not preaching, just some things that spring to mind when reading your contribution.

Your post, erudite though it is, nevertheless reads as the type of handout one might give to a student at the beginning of a sequence of lessons - a bit heavy on content perhaps, but you get the idea. I am assuming from the nature of your post that you earn at least part of your living as a tutor. If that is not the case then you have my apologies (though my remarks will still have a bearing on the topic under discussion).

As a tutor of some 15 years' experience (now retired) and a schoolteacher for some 15 years before that, I can tell you that not everybody crossing your threshold will want to become a well-rounded musician (unless of course you have engineered your teaching around this as a basic requirement). Some will, but I rather suspect that presenting a fait-a-complis to everybody who walks in would have some raising an eyebrow and one or two turning around and walking straight out again. Encouraging students to want to become well-rounded musicians is a very laudable aim. Ramming it down their throats is another matter entirely.

Part of the art of being a well rounded tutor is finding out what each student is hoping for from a set of lessons (yes, I know that a lot of them won't, but that is another thread I suspect...), and then balancing that with what one's professional judgement indicates they might benefit from. If they want to become a well-rounded musician then well and good, but if they don't then one may find that another approach is called for.

Now that I think of it, there was a thread on this very subject a few months ago... Edited by leftybassman392

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[quote name='ambient' timestamp='1503227325' post='3356537']


Can I ask, where did you get TAB from then?

Agree totally about the standing in the shadows of motown book. It's one I use a lot to demonstrate to students how bass lines work.
[/quote]

I used to have those old Guitar magazine/Play it like it is books. I have no idea what the method was to transcribe them, the bass is inaudible on some of those early Metallica records, Justice especially.

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No method that helps in the learning of a song/tune can ever be deemed evil. Notation is the most accurate but we are playing music after all....

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Posted (edited)
[quote name='Rocker' timestamp='1503251880' post='3356714']
No method that helps in the learning of a song/tune can ever be deemed evil. Notation is the most accurate but we are playing music after all....
[/quote]

Ultimately, it's the ear that is the most accurate. Notation might be the most accurate in conveying the notes & performance guides, but without the ears in the first place to transcribe, there would be no notation (or TAB's). Your ears will also tell you if the chart (or TAB) is wrong or inaccurate (well they should do, through practise).

Also, there is a lot of material you might want to learn or play that isn't available in charts or TAB's, so that's maybe a good reason to practise getting your ears into shape and start transcribing, that without a doubt, opens up a whole new world on the music journey.
:) Edited by lowdown

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Posted (edited)
Loads of good viewpoints here on the for / against TAB. It obviously works for some people, but not for others.

I've never really got on with TAB, always gravitated towards learning from records / cassettes and worked on my theory and harmony until I made a conscious decision to learn how to read a few years ago. I'm too old to make a career out of music but reading does tie all this stuff together, especially in terms of note length and rhythms. Edited by louisthebass

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[quote name='Steve Woodcock' timestamp='1503230253' post='3356552']
TAB is a mechanical instruction rather than a musical one, i.e. 'put your finger here' rather than 'play this note, on this subdivision of this beat, for this duration'. It is a crutch, it may give you a short term gain but reliance on it will ultimately hinder your potential to be a well rounded musician.

As has already been acknowledged, TAB does not contain all the information you need to perform the piece, meaning it needs to be viewed in conjunction with something else - i.e. either a recording or notation - therefore, as a means of communication it is flawed.

Notation enables us to do the following:[list]
[*]Perform a piece of music at sight, accurately and authentically, having never heard it before.
[*]Read and write music intended for other instruments - '3rd fret on the A string' means nothing to a pianist, horn player etc.
[*]Identify the key of the piece and the harmonic movement contained within
[*]Discern the harmonic rhythm of the piece (the rate at which the chords change)
[*]Recognise familiar melodic or rhythmic groupings of notes - the benefit of this is that these groups can be recognised as a 'whole', much like you are recognising the words in this sentence rather than reading each letter separately, and executed promptly from muscle memory
[*]Quickly see the ascending and descending contour of a line, identify where things move by step or by leap etc., spot potentially tricky passages
[*]Easily recognise sequences and other repeating patterns, even if they modulate to another key
[*]Combined with a rudimentary ability to sight sing allows us hear the piece in our head, and therefore learn it away from our instrument
[/list]
By using notation rather than TAB, you are having to think [i]notes[/i] rather than simply positions - this will increase your knowledge of the fingerboard far more as you will make the association of 'this is an A, this is a C#, etc.' each time you play a note. More work in the short term but the rewards will pay dividends.




True, this existed for keyboard instruments and lutes in the sixteenth century but it was found to be unsatisfactory and was replaced by notation for good reason; the systems used also differed from country to country.



But here's the rub, TAB [i]doesn't[/i] help a player learn their instrument, it merely tells them where and in what order to put their fingers, it doesn't even teach them what the note is. In the same way as being told to move your Pawn from b4 to b5 in chess doesn't teach you anything about how to play the game, nor does painting by numbers teach you how to paint. To be clear, used in conjunction with another source (recording or notation) TAB may help someone learn to play a song, but they are not learning anything about the instrument.
[/quote]

I'm not sure that your post is 100% accurate.

In some tab notation people include rhythm instructions and rest notes so that you know whether to play a quarter note or a whole note, and where in the bar to play it.

A tab notation for guitar enables me to play the same notes on any instrument (provided I know how to constuct the note - so I can translate Tab onto keys, or trumpet but not sax because I don't know sax fingering.

I can visually look at a tab and define the key from the notes. Just because the key is not defined in sharps and flats on the stave doesn't change the notes that belong to a key.
The only exception would be where the standard notation uses a lot of sharps or flats in which case the key is pretty much irrelevant other than for the purposes of the notation.

Tab, when written efficiently uses extensive use of repeat info - just not the same as formal notation.

Learning tab is a quick and effective way of learning to transpose. If you know a Cmajor scale pattern, move it up two frets and you have Dmajor pattern. Its much easier to transpose in this way and quite frankly who cares if everyone knows the name of the note they transpose to as long as they know where it is and where it repeats on the fretboard?

As was said previously, Learning the fretboard and your scales is additional to learning to read notation or tab. It really doesn't come from it. Did you really learn the major scale by looking at standard notation, by Do Re mi, or by tone, tone, semitone etc.?

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Always a polarising discussion, the pros and cons of TAB.
Yeah, it's a big help for folks who want to work out where to put their fingers to play a particular song; as long as it's a song they know well by listening or are currently listening to. But that's it. That's all it does and can do...and it wasnt designed to be anything more. For a great many bass players that's enough.
However, there's also a whole other musical world out there for which TAB is useless. It's a completely inadequate form of musical notation as it doesn't convey the necessary information to either communicate ideas or facilitate performance - Rhythm, dynamics, phrasing etc.
Considering that both "pro" and "anti" TAB folks in the thread would agree with the above statements, a discussion like this still always seems to prove controversial.
I guess it comes down to an "anti-learning" ethos in rock music when it comes to anything resembling "formal" musical knowledge - along with a knee-jerk dislike of any suggestion that this may be a better way to do things.
It's what leads a well-known bass instruction site to put forward a notion like "The Groove Grid" - which, by user comments, was "mindblowing" and "revolutionary" for folks playing. Almost nonsensical, as all Scott D was doing with that concept was teaching how to subdivide quarter notes, eighth notes and sixteenth notes (crotchets, quavers and semi-quavers) without causing pitchforks and torches for forcing "legit" or "classical" learning on folks!!
That, i suppose, echoes the difference between TAB and notation. TAB shows you where to put your finger: standard notation necessitates learning a few things which will make you better at playing your instrument. Like the note names/their various positions on the neck and, more importantly for bassists, rhythm and rhythmic subdivisions.
So yeah, if TAB works for you and gives you what you need, then great. If you want to make the step to notation and learning to read, then it can be a COMPLETE pain in the ass at times - but you'll pick up information which will improve your playing, even if it's just by codifying and solidifying rhythmic stuff you already know.

So, is TAB really that evil?
No. It's just of very limited and specific use and doesn't of itself possess any intrinsic learning attributes.

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I'm happy to enjoy music at my own level. I never wanted to do arrangements or write. The most I want out of it is to play bass and sing. My enjoyment stops as soon as I start looking at dots.

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The world of maths is a fascinating one; despite that, millions of people all around the planet use a calculator (or their 'phone...) for doing basic operations. One needs more than that to become a university professor, but not everyone aspires to that.
I would add that, in much modern music, there is a serious lack of information carried by 'standard' notation concerning synth effects, or varying degrees of fuzz, distortion, delay and such. Without having heard the piece, it would be difficult (maybe not impossible, but difficult...) to convey all the information required to play a piece of that nature. Not to say that dots have no place, but don't pretend that classical music notation is the complete solution for everything.

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Tablature isn't necessarily evil, but it does limit you as a player to one person's idea of fingerings and only one way of doing things. Learning to read music isn't hard if you apply yourself and opens up so many more possibilities. And in the pro arena you do need it as a skill. As with many things, there's a right way to do things and several thousand wrong ways. Depends how invested you really want to be in your development as a musician.

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[quote name='Dad3353' timestamp='1503325924' post='3357255']
. . . . but don't pretend that classical music notation is the complete solution for everything.
[/quote]

It is.

Everything else comes in the form of notes from the writer or arranger.

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[quote name='chris_b' timestamp='1503624724' post='3359806']
It is.

Everything else comes in the form of notes from the writer or arranger.
[/quote]

... as could be done with tab, could it not..? Again, I'm not attacking dots, just suggesting that many folks use tab well (and many not...), and it's not always necessary nor useful to learn Latin terms for many modern idioms that will have to be written up as annotations in any case. If jazzers can get by with just a few scribbled Nashville numbers, surely a tab score could be accepted as being sometimes, at least, legitimate..? It's the 'there is only one true path' that grates. As has been admitted already, some annotations are diagrams, or coloured forms for certain compositions. Why not just accept tab for what it does; limited, certainly, but fit for purpose for many musicians the world over..?

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