Tablature is a form of musical notation that was invented to make reading music easier for fretted and string instruments like guitar, bass, and violin.
The idea of tablature is operationally-based, meaning that tab will show the player where and when to place their fingers on the instrument. There are several tablature editing programs on the market that provide the tools for you to create your own tablature. A basic understanding of standard music theory and notation is essential when using these programs. This is beyond the scope of this course. Instead we will focus on how to read tablature and how it can help you get started playing your chosen instrument quickly.
For an improvising musician, tablature allows you to improvise while staying within the chord structure of a song. Tablature-style notation is most commonly used when notating pop music, and is often seen in folk and bluegrass, as well. For the beginning player, tabs can help you learn positions and individual notes quickly and efficiently, but ultimately, it’s important to learn to read standard musical notation as well.
This course will focus on the basics of tablature for guitar fiddle and mandolin.
The word tablature originates from the Latin word "tabulatura". It was first used in Europe around 1300 when it referred to the notating of organ music.