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Not exactly Sing Along with Mitch

Holy geez — have you seen tab lately?

Tab. Tablature. Remember that? It’s musical notation for people too stupid to read musical notation. Stringed instruments, mostly — draw a line for each string and a circle where the fingers go and before you know it, you’re warbling out Joni Mitchell’s Song to a Seagull and hoping the high notes don’t kill the dog stone dead.

Confession? I’m actually too stupid to read tab, either. My eyes just glaze over. But there was a note or two I couldn’t work out on the Chicken Reel, so I figured I’d download the tab and find it.

Whoa! What a difference a computer makes! Digital tab files (see above) show the musical score, the tab, a keyboard version, the fingering and play the tune for you at any tempo in real time using MIDI. I can allllmost follow along.

Try this program if you’re interested. It makes a big deal out of being free, and then it turns out you have to pony up sixty bucks to get all the features, but it’ll give you a taste. Lots of free banjo and guitar tab out there (the digital version is a .tef file, if you’re Googling).

But be careful. There are few things in the world more neurotoxic than banjo music played by a computer.

Possibly only banjo music played by a banjo player.


Comment from EZnSF
Time: June 29, 2011, 4:00 am

I’ve been trying to learn the violin lately. But I think I was dropped on my head as an infant on that part of the brain that allows one to read music. I can study, stare, practice certain notes, and forget most of it by the next day. I envy those that can play something other than the kazoo.

Comment from Gordon R. Durand
Time: June 29, 2011, 4:21 am

I fiddled around learning classical guitar with both tablature and notation. Tab tells you which string but gives you no sense of whether the notes are going up or down. Notation tells you which way the melody is going but no clue which string to play it on. Neither really tells you which finger goes where. It’s like Twister on a fretboard.

Fortunately for my audience I developed a case of “trigger finger” where the middle finger, once curled up, jams in that position and requires both hands to painfully crack it out straight again. End of concert.

Comment from Three Quarks For Mr Mark
Time: June 29, 2011, 5:35 am

Get yourself a copy of Digipan =- or for the more adventurous, HamRadioDelux .. and make sure it is providing the right signals .. with harmonics.

Was on 20 meters just before – lots of curious activity.

Where are all the Subversive Elements?

Comment from MIke C.
Time: June 29, 2011, 6:20 am

You used to subscribe to “Banjo Newsletter”, didn’t you?

Full disclosure – I still have about 4 years’ worth of them boxed up in storage.

Comment from OceaniaainaecO
Time: June 29, 2011, 1:24 pm

I’ll raise you Disclosure, and a DVD of Deliverance.

Comment from wendyworn
Time: June 29, 2011, 2:40 pm

I still can’t get over how cool you are that you play the banjo! You were already the ultimate in cool! I have been learning to play the guitar and it was harder than I thought it would be. There is this thing called the pain threshold that you have to get over when playing the guitar. They say it takes a month and a half but it took me six months! When I first tried a C chord I thought I was deformed with too small of hands – and I’d always thought my hands were big. Seems you have to stretch and make your hands do contortions like a gymnast doing the splits. I actually cried like a baby the first time I tried a C chord. Now, it’s not too hard. Phew!

P.S. – see! I still lurk here everyday!

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: June 29, 2011, 8:10 pm

Is there nothing you can’t do?

I used to know how to write music. I even had one those special fountain pens for the purpose.

I couldn’t do it now to save my life.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 29, 2011, 10:08 pm

Is there nothing you can’t do?

Sure: stick to any of these things long enough to get good at it.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: June 30, 2011, 4:20 pm

Sure: stick to any of these things long enough to get good at it

That makes two of us.

Comment from Princess Bernie
Time: June 30, 2011, 5:18 pm

Three… I’m the world’s worst self-taught piano player. My doberman physically tries to remove me from the piano bench when I start playing.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: June 30, 2011, 6:22 pm

Oh my, Weasel. Halperin & Obama need some dick. Lots of dick.

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