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Re: Gt-tabs and drum-notation

From: David Raleigh Arnold
Subject: Re: Gt-tabs and drum-notation
Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2001 17:59:08 -0500

Rune Zedeler:
b-string, e' fis' g' on high e-string

I value your skills highly, and your system may well work. :-)

What if there are two high e strings? A seven-string banjo, a big deal
in the 1850's, has two high e strings. It used guitar tuning with an
added short 7th e string or one could tune the 3rd to gis, and the 4th
to e, and thus change to the standard banjo tuning by retuning only
those two strings. Cool? Many people thought so.

It saves some keystrokes. But does it also require how many other

Is it easy to understand?

Is it easy to find the errors?

Guitar tab is mainly for musical illiterates, who are necessarily
incompetent as musicians. Are they going to be able to use this or is
this just for us smart people? ;-)

What about cases where the notation has to differ from the tab? Rational
ways of indicating, or *not* indicating in the tab, a bent note, a slack
key, 8va, harmonics, percussive elements, and ornaments for example?

There are many different views on the usage of accidentals in old and
new music. Some are equally "correct" but contradictory. By entering
separately you avoid all that.

If you are entering string by string, you only need to raise the octave
at and above the 12th fret. You don't need commas at all, so a scale on
a g string could be:

tablines g = g,

gg a b c d e fis g' a' b' c' d' etc. or
g0 a 4 c d e 11 12 14 16 etc.

or if one would choose to set each fret and get a chromatic scale sort
of like old German lute tablature, which programmers might like, at
least the first fifteen frets:
g0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 a b c d e f g h i j k ... 

RH finger numbers are actually printed in the notation, and therefore
would also seem to be more relevant to \notes than fret numbers.

I proposed using logic based on fingering to generate tab a year ago,
but I have since given it up as a bad idea. The worst difficulty is the
fact that the guitar, and the like, are polyphonic instruments and the
information is distributed among different parts. This would make it
very complicated and error-prone.

To enter a banjo piece, I first entered the notes until I got that
right, and then did the tab. If the piece was complicated, the program
(encore) wouldn't make the tab, I got garbage. I just find it difficult
to believe that it would be easier to go back and edit \notes, locating
each relevant note in its part and inserting the necessary indications,
than to type \tab, especially because you don't have multiple parts and
it is *simple*. 

Typing in \notes is more like music engraving than dragging symbols
around with a mouse is. You absolutely don't do engraving linearly.
First the stafflines, clefs, key and time sigs, bars, noteheads, outer
stems, beams, inner stems, flags, dots, etc. You don't see the work as a
whole, you are always directing your attention to one element. This
makes it *very* difficult to avoid mistakes. It helps that lilypond
works with individual parts linearly. It makes it easier to find and
avoid mistakes. *No one* is going to type the whole thing all at once.
*Everyone* is going to do the notes first, get it right, and then attack
the tab, if they are capable of it.

I'm sorry if that makes you angry. I can see that it doesn't challenge
your abilities sufficiently. May lack of challenge be the worst thing
that ever happens to you! :-)

If I could actually make a lot of money adding tablature to notation, I
am such a hypocrite that would probably do it, but I am sure that I
would also want a piano version, too. Isn't entering nonmusical elements
separately the easiest way to keep the notes portable from instrument to
voice, etc.? Isn't that what makes notation the crowning glory of
western civilization? Our only unique cultural attainment of the last
1000+ years?

Of course you *are* doing it just to make me happy, and I really
appreciate it. I certainly don't believe that you are doing it just to
please yourself. Bless you for doing it! :-)

I have a guitar piece that has two percussion elements, imitation of a
snare drum and slapping the strings. "March of the Turkeys" is not at
the top of my todo list, however. It lives in pencil. For flamenco, of
course, we guitar players also need "golpe en caja" (hit the box). By
all means do drums first! It's much more important to me, believe me.
Stay healthy, too. Eat right. Stay peaceful. Watch the booze. Cheer up.
Have fun. Finish this stuff. That goes for the rest, too! :-)

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