Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How to Read Piano Tabs

A 49 key keyboard. "c4" means note "c" on octave "4" which is the "c" key in the middle of this keyboard. Notice how nicely I have labeled the notes / octaves.

Reading tabs (simple):

Here's a simple example of an individual note piano tab... the scale of "f".


Here's another example... the scale of "f" played on two octaves:

Tabs are read from left to right (notes above and below each other are played simultaneously).
- The Numbers (3, 2, 2 and 1 in the above example)indicate the octave.  All octaves start on the "c" key.  Octave 4 is in the middle of the keyboard.  
- Lowercase Letters(a,b,c,d,e,f,g)
indicate the note names as natural
(the white keys)
- Uppercase Letters(A,C,D,F,G)
indicate the note names as sharp, ie: A#,C#,D#,F#,G#
black keys)
.  Adding the sharp symbol after the note is also acceptable, but using the upper/lower case method is recommended because it saves space. 
Note:For simplicity (and to not confuse "b" notes with "flats",
"sharps" are used exclusively instead of "flats". eg: The note, "B
flat", is represented by its equivalent, "A#" or just

- The "|" symbols  separate measures/sections
of notes

- The "-" symbols are used for spacing between
notes.  These dashes indicate timing - the more dashes there are, the
longer the time between the notes.

Reading tabs (advanced symbols):

Piano tabs can describe individual notes (as seen above) or chord names or both. Here's a more advanced example of a piano tab that describes both:

[D] [Gm]
R 3|--a-d-F-|--g-d-g-|--------|
L 2|F>d>>>>>|g>d>>>>>|F.------|
L 1|F>F>>>>>|g>A>>>>>|F.------|

- Letters on the top line (the [D] and the [Gm]) indicate chord names.
- "R" indicates the notes on the line are played on the Right hand
- "L" indicates the notes on the line are played on the Left hand
- The ">" symbols indicate the note should be held/sustained
- The "." symbols indicate the note should be cut (for a staccato effect)


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