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Tablature Sheet Music

Tablature sheet music is very popular especially with stringed instruments. Rather than showing you what to play like a traditional score, it shows where to play it on the instrument. The sheet music itself will show a line for the melody, often for vocalists to sing along or for instrumentalists to play the melody line. This will be on a ledger and look like any vocal or instrumental score. Below that line, however, will be the tablature.

The easiest way to visualize tablature sheet music is to imagine the strings of a guitar. For each string there will be a line. Tablature shows which string to press and in which fret on the guitar. So instead of reading actual music notation in order to play a cord or notes, tablature is a graphic of the instrument and you are actually shown what string to press. The rhythm is then picked up from the melody line or in the case of a guitar tablature will also often show you the strumming pattern; up, down, down, up and so on.

Tablature sheet music is used often by session musicians, studio musicians and by many members of popular bands. In fact many musicians do not learn notes. They often play solely by tablature. It is so common that if you were to walk into a recording session and sit in for a missing band member chances are you’d be handed a piece of tablature sheet music.

Above is a short guitar riff. As you can see the six strings are noted on the far left of each line and then the fret and string positioning is shown as you move from left to right. Above this will often be a score for the melody.

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