Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Electric Guitar Tabs Explained
Tablature as a means of writing music down has been with us for hundreds of years, but many people today look down on tabs as a third rate method of musical communication. In fact, tablature is not a dumbed down version of conventional musical notation, rather what we call sheet music grew from a need for more versatility in notation as music became more complex in medieval times. Electric Guitar Tabs have been a great help to the many people who have taken up the electric guitar and who wanted to get down to the business of playing as quickly as possible.
Conventional music notation has much more to communicate than tabs, but if you already know more or less how the song sounds, and are prepared to work at your own interpretation, then there is nothing wrong with using tablature.
Guitarists composing music using tabs and sharing the results of their work on the internet have brought a wide range of music within reach of amateur musicians who never learnt to read music. To some guitarists learning to read music is a waste of time that would be put to better use expressing their feelings through music. This attitude is at odds with the idea that the more theoretical knowledge you have, the greater the pool of resources at your disposal for expressing your ideas.
Tablature, on the other hand, allows the guitarist to get to know the basic piece of music in his own way, and use his musical intuition and flair for improvisation to produce a musical work which will be as much his own work as the original composer's. For that reason electric guitar tabs are a boon to the electric guitar player who does not want to just produce a copy of someone else's work.
You can find electric guitar tabs in music stores along with conventional written music, but the quickest and best place to look for electric guitar tabs is on the internet. Even though there's a legal dogfight going on about tab publishers infringing the rights of the original composer, many tabs are still available for free. However you need to exercise your discernment when making use of tablature produced by amateur guitarists. You might need to change things around a little if they don't sound right.
As for the electric guitar player who wants to broaden his musical knowledge, tablature also allows the guitarist to learn new chords, scales or modes very quickly.
Finally a reminder that using electric guitar tabs to learn new material is not a walk in the park - you need to supply some of the information which is otherwise written into sheet music. You need to have some idea of the note values and a basic understanding of time signatures and tempo. What that boils down to is that you can hear the music in your head, and you just want to know where to put your fingers on the fret board. That is what guitar tabs were originally made for.