Learning to play music with the piano tab is an alternative approach to learning via traditional sheet music. Whereas sheet music indicates pitch, chords, and time with musical symbols, piano tabs indicate the same with chord symbols and note names. The general idea behind this approach is to visually show which finger should hit a piano key. Also known as ” tablature,” the simplicity within this type of notation often leaves much to interpretation — but what makes tablature so appealing is how easy it is to comprehend.
What You See Is What You Get
One of the things that makes tablature so attractive is its design. What you see in tablature literally looks like the instrument that you’re playing — making interpretation a simple matter of matching fingers to the fingers in the notation. There are no notes to decipher nor sharps, flats, or keys to decode. What you see in tablature is what you get!
No Fancy Word Processor Or Font Needed
Another appealing aspect of tablature is its portability. Anyone can write tablature without the need for a fancy word processor or font. This type of notation is easily expressed with plain ol’ ASCII text and that’s why you’ll find so much of it freely available on the Internet. Just remember that each piece of tablature you find is unique to the instrument it was written for.
A Few Warnings
Piano tablature for example, is for piano music only — just as guitar tablature is for guitar music only. This reason alone is enough to turn some people away from it and prefer sheet music – a platform that can be shared across many instruments instead of just one. But there’s another problem. Tablature in general, doesn’t provide enough information to indicate advanced techniques such as harmony or note duration. It doesn’t accurately portray the true rhythm or timing of a song either.
These limitations don’t render piano tabs useless however since they’re a wonderful introduction into the world of sheet music.
What It Looks Like
If you’re wondering what piano tablature looks like, picture a graphical representation of the keyboard where each key is represented by a dash, “-”. The keys of a chord are represented by their corresponding letters. So the letters F-D-F represent the F, D, and F keys of the D chord while the letters G-D-G represent the letters of the G-Major chord.
The letters RH together represent notes that are played with the right hand, while the letters LH together represent notes played with the left hand. And the “>” symbol represents a note that’s sustained. Natural (white) piano keys are represented by lower case letters, and sharps are represented by uppercase letters. Flats however, aren’t represented by any special character. They’re instead represented by their equivalent sharps. A D flat for example, is the C sharp in piano tabs. Pretty simple, huh?
Different Notes For Different Folks
As you peruse through the large collection of available piano tabs, you’ll come across different styles. Some people for instance prefer to indicate a sharp note with the pound sign (#) instead of with a capital letter. For the most part, you’ll find that they all tend to conform to an identifiable standard readily understood by almost anyone.