October 21, 2001

#11: Reading tabs

M. Ray from Greensboro, NC writes:

I'd also like to become familiar with reading tab as well. I know a little about tab but would like to know more.

Well, there's not much to explain. It's a pretty clear set of principles, but there's a need to practice at it to become more fluent. Very few banjo players become fluent enough to sight-read tab, the way a lot of piano or violin players can. A certain amount of fluency helps, though, to make sense of Scruggs style, which is not a linear melody, and needs a bit of speed to sound coherent. At camp I can review the principles of tab-reading if enough people need it, but I think of that topic as something that can be learned mostly from a book (Most books have a "how to read tab" section.) I do have some helpful hints, mainly that you get hold of a recording of the tabbed piece, and listen closely. You're looking for more than reproducing a sequence of notes. Tone and feel are a big part of the musicianship. We work on that quite a bit at the camp.

Pete

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