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From: David Raleigh Arnold
Subject: tab
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2002 23:39:26 +0000

I feel the need to try again.  Some of this is almost clear. :-)

Tab is fingering.  There are different types of fingering:

1.  Actual finger indication, 0-4 for strings, 1-5 for keyboard.
    Not part of tablature, notation only.

2.  String indication.  Digit or lettercap inside a ring.  Do re mi
    in ring is sometimes used in violin
    music, but it's hard to read and therefore hard to like.
    Villa-Lobos, a Brazilian, used lettercaps.  Good enough for me.
    In tablature, normally 1st string is at top of the tabStaff. 

3.  Fret indication.  Rare in notation except for harmonics.

    Part of tablature.

4.  Position indication, with or without bar.  It is the fret
    that the first finger is at.  There are various ways of
    indicating it but the fret is always a number of some sort.
    Roman numerals are unfortunately common for that.  Notation

All of these may appear in notation, but only 2 and 3 in tab.

A pitch and a string certainly can determine a fret indication
to go in the tab, but you need an identifier for
each string.  The most straightforward way of doing that
is to number the strings with the first, closest to the
left hand, on the top of the staff.  The first string is
always defined in that physical way, so other ways are

\stringDef c, g,, etc.

c, is the open 1st string then, by default a zero on the
top line.


Using the identifier of your choice:

\stringDef c,=x g,,=r more strings....

and you could write c,4-x instead of
c,4-1, but it's the same thing in the
tab, because it's still the first string.

But strings have frets.  The default, still
using the x string:

\fretDef 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 etc.
\fretDef 0                         (shortcut)
open     0
semitones  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
note     c,  d,  e,f,  g,  a,

c,4-x d,4-x (still the x string)


Not the default:

\fretDef a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o etc
open     0
semitones  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
note     c,  d,  e,f,  g,  a,

c,4-x d,4-x


The fretDef in the common case maps numbers to the open string and its
frets, which correspond to the open string note and a
list of semitones.  The point is that the \fretDef determines what is
printed for each semitone going up the string.  If there is no
semitone, put a placeholder.  I'm using an x, but absolutely anything
would do because its printing would simply be an error.

fretDef is necessary because there are instances of using letters
instead of numbers to indicate frets, a strange situation (archlutes)
where you would want a few notes in reverse order, cases where the
frets might not be chromatic, and cases where the strings are of
unequal length so the first fret *of that string* is not the fret you
want to indicate in the tab.  Banjo works this way.  The open 5th
string (left column) and the 5th fret on the 1st string are the *same
note*, and of course the 1st and 5th strings have the same note at
every higher fret.

54321 = physical string
 0000 = which is open
 1111 =  1st fret

For the 5th string then:

\stringDef d' b g d g'
\fretDef 0
\fretDef 0
\fretDef 0
\fretDef 0
\fretDef 0 6 7 8 9 etc or \fretDef 0 6

But if the frets are not chromatic, it's still easiest
to map to semitones.


321 string (I think--this is a zither and may well be
numbered differently.)

000 open
    semitone but nothing there
111 first fret at whole step. (ton)
    semitone no fret


\stringDef c,=x g,,=r g,,=y
\fretDef 0 x 1 x 2 3 x 4 
\fretDef 0 x 1 x 2 3 x 4
\fretDef 0 x 1 x 2 3 x 4

note     c'  d'  e'f'  g' (first string only)





cis,4-x gets you an x on the line, but that doesn't matter
because you shouldn't have written the cis, because it is
not possible to play it, because there is no fret there.

c,4-x d,4-x e,4-x f,4-x gets you


Map the strings and map the frets and anything using
western notes can be done.

Information is not knowledge.           Belief is not truth.
Indoctrination is not teaching.   Tradition is not evidence.
         David Raleigh Arnold   address@hidden

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