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Banjo Lessons: Reading Tablature

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[MUSIC]
To
work effectively with everything you're
gonna find in these lessons,
it would be very helpful for you to be
able to read tablature.
I know many of you probably already read
tablature, but if you don't,
tablature is a, a way of, it's a music
notation system for banjos specifically.
And it's used a lot on various stringed
instruments as guitar tablature, and
mandolin tablature, tablature.
There's even fiddle tablature although
that's not as well known about as as
the banjo tablature.
But basically, the handy thing about banjo
tablature is,
of course, you may have a program, there's
some really good programs for
tablature that you can buy and put in your
computer.
Load in there.
But you can also go to your music store
and just buy regular music notation paper
because it has five lines and each line
represents a string of the banjo.
And the top line represents the first
string,
the second line the third, second string,
sorry.
The third line is the third string.
The fourth line down is the fourth string.
And the bottom line is the fifth string.
And, the way this works is, you're not
putting notes in there, but
you're putting numbers and each number
indicates whether a string is open or
fretted at a, at a particular fret.
So, if you have a zero sitting on the
first string,
then that means that that's an open first
string.
A zero on the top, on the, on the top line
of the line going through.
That note, that zero, that means you have
an open first string.
If you have a two on that top line with
the line going through the two.
[MUSIC]
That means you've fret the second fret of
that first string.
[MUSIC]
And then so on and so forth.
[MUSIC]
So if you, if you see something like this.
[MUSIC]
That's called a forward backward roll.
[MUSIC]
And in tablature you'll see that it was,
it indicates that you have the open third
string, open second.
Open first, open fifth, open first, open
second, open third, open first.
[MUSIC]
Now if you play a C chord.
[MUSIC]
And
do that, you have zero on the third
string, one on the second string which
means you're fretting the first fret of
the second string.
Two on the first line, the top line.
That means the second fret of the first
string.
[MUSIC]
And if the bottom line has a zero on it,
it means that's an open fifth string
[MUSIC]
Then you just go back around to the second
fret of the top line.
First fret or the number one on the second
line below the first one.
[MUSIC]
And then a zero on the middle line,
indicating an open third string.
[MUSIC]
And then finally a two on the,
on the first line.
Which means second fret of the first
string.
[MUSIC]
Now, you also find indications for
pull-offs, hammer-ons, and slides.
Now, a pull-off.
[MUSIC]
Looks like this right here.
You have the three to two, with a P
arching across, means a pull-off.
Then hit the open second, open third, open
first.
[MUSIC]
Two 16th notes and
the rest are eighth notes.
[MUSIC]
When you have
two notes connected with a single line at
the bottom, those are eighth notes.
When you have a double double cross line
there, that means they're 16th notes.
If you have a single line coming down from
a note that becomes a quarter note.
That means that's a quarter note.
[MUSIC]
So that's the,
the pull-off is a three to two, in this
case with a P over the arc.
[MUSIC]
The slide just has a regular line
between the two, in this case, the three.
[MUSIC]
The hammer-on, and
that arching thing with an H on top of it,
means hammer-on.
[MUSIC]
And chords will general be per measure.
In fact, when you see these lines, you see
these vertical lines coming down across,
kind of cutting across the five strings,
the five lines.
And those indicate things are supposed to
be broken up into measures,
individual measures with the equivalent of
eight notes per measure.
Most of the time, anyway.
[MUSIC]
So
if you have a forward backward roll like
this.
[MUSIC]
There are your eight notes, and
that's two beats.
One and two and open third, on the third
string,
zero on the third line, down or third
string mean open.
First fret of the second string or second
line down from the top
[MUSIC]
Two from the second fret of
the first string.
[MUSIC]
Means the second
fret of the first string and that gives
you a C chord.
[MUSIC]
Okay,
now if you see two little lines and two
dots next to them,
that's a repeat sign at one end of the one
end of the staff.
And then if you have two more lines coming
down with two more dots but
the dots are kind of facing each other,
they're both on either side of the the
lines that are going vertically.
That's a repeat sign, that means you
repeat everything within those lines.
Sometimes you'll find that something like
a section, for instance,
the A section has two A parts.
I'm sorry, two part, two part endings.
So in other words, you're going along and
you're playing and suddenly you see a
repeat sign.
In the measure before that there's a
little rectangular thing with a one in it,
that's the first ending of that tune, on
the, on the A part.
And then, there's the repeat sign, and
then coming off the repeat sign, there's a
second little bracket.
A little box with a number two in it, and
that's the second ending for the tune.
So, that's just a basic explanation of,
of how to read tablature, and I think
you'll get the hang of it.
And if you already know the tune and go
and check the tablature,
maybe that's a good way to go because at
least you know what it sounds like already
and it might help you grasp it a little
more quickly.
So, reading tablature and having talked
about that, as much as there's a lot of
tablature in here, I also recommend not
using tablature.
You don't wanna become a tab junkie.
You wanna be able to walk away from the
tablature and
not feel any anxiety whatsoever.
Cuz most of the time you're just out on
stage, if you're playing in a band.
And you're just playing and you don't have
time to like look down at the tablature or
look over at the tablature.
And so anyway, that's what I recommend.
[MUSIC]