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How to convert/change musical notes to tab

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Apr 7, 2020 - 2:19:28 PM
35 posts since 10/24/2012

I found an old folk song book of mine and it has a song (Acres of Clams a/k/a Rosin the Bow) I'd like to learn to play on the banjo. However,I don't read music only tab. Is there a way to input the music in TabEdit to change it to tablature? Thanks.

Apr 7, 2020 - 2:34:29 PM

1737 posts since 2/10/2013

If a file has been created for standard notation, you can select FILE > OPTIONS. Then, on that screen look for "SHOW". You can select the type(s) of documentation you want - tab and/or notation.

Apr 7, 2020 - 3:05:10 PM

2598 posts since 4/19/2008

I use this

Apr 7, 2020 - 4:37:20 PM
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10671 posts since 6/2/2008

While TablEdit and other software can convert standard notation to tab, it does not create genuinely banjoistic or even playable tab.

What I mean is software knows how to place notes at accurate string and fret locations. But software knows nothing about picking patterns and preferred note locations. For example, it doesn't know why you might prefer to play C at 3rd string 5th fret instead of 2nd string 1st fret.

This is fine if all you want to do is read and pluck a straight line melody in tab because you can't read notation. Just be aware that the software will not generate an authentic banjo arrangement of that melody.

Apr 7, 2020 - 7:17:31 PM



931 posts since 2/17/2006

Lilypond can do that, but it is not easy to learn at all. When I learn a new tune, I typset it into Lilypond, which gives me both the standard notation and the tab. Then I go back into it and correct the tab.

By the time I am done with it, I know the tune so well I don't really need the tab any more. LOL.

Apr 8, 2020 - 6:15:21 AM

1737 posts since 2/10/2013

Lots of fiddle tunes don't work well with some banjo playing styles. When asking about using tab/notation software, a member should identify which style of banjo they are playing.

Apr 8, 2020 - 6:37:34 AM
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5183 posts since 9/21/2007
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Yes, you could learn how to use software. You could take a hour or so to input each piece to convert to tab. You will repeat that for every piece you want. That is a lot of time.

Or you could spend that exact amount of time and just learn to read. You only need to learn once. After that you won't have to spend any time on conversion-- it is all done.

Plus, it opens up the thousands and thousands of pieces of banjo specific music published before WW2 (as notation was the way banjoists traditionally recorded their music). Any music published 1924 or earlier are in the public domain which means you own them. You might as well use your property.

And you get to hold your head high as a literate musician.

Trust me, it ain't hard. I did it.

Edited by - Joel Hooks on 04/08/2020 06:38:53

Apr 8, 2020 - 9:12:27 AM



931 posts since 2/17/2006

I agree with Joel. When I was playing band instruments I did that. I could read music in standard notation and play it. But that was monophonic music. One note - one fingering.

For some reason, after years of trying, I still cannot move the banjo music in standard notation to the fret board. It just doesn't work. I can't look at a note or a chord and know where to put my fingers.

I also would like to point out that I do not play from tab. I cannot look at tab and play it either. By the time I have analyzed the heck out of the tune in Lilypond, the patterns on the finger board have become apparent, and I can learn the tune. When I know a tune, what I remember is the patterns on the finger board. My fingers are doing a dance on the frets. It has nothing to do with notes.

And..... the "hour or so" is very optimistic. That needs to be plural.... "hours".

There must be a trick to it that I don't know.

Apr 9, 2020 - 3:31:18 PM

3927 posts since 11/29/2005

Originally posted by warailroader

I found an old folk song book of mine and it has a song (Acres of Clams a/k/a Rosin the Bow) I'd like to learn to play on the banjo. However,I don't read music only tab. Is there a way to input the music in TabEdit to change it to tablature? Thanks.

I think I know which book you're talking about.  I used to do this, but haven't in many years.  I just dug out the book and based my version, without a lot of drop-thumbs or brush-thumbs, you can add those in for yourself.  I did in in G out of standard G tuning, and it is in 6/8 time.  I need to do some clean-up on it, but here's a pdf of it (I will put a tef file in the tab library).  It should get you started.  It also works great as the instrument for the Limeliters' version of "Charlie, The Midnight Marauder" which is the song that made me learn to play it.

I read music, and use it for all my instruments except the banjo and uke, because of the re-entrant tuning (although I am working on reading classic banjo stuff in notation).

(edit: Just added the tef file to the library)

Edited by - banjo_brad on 04/09/2020 15:36:30

Apr 9, 2020 - 3:47:54 PM

35 posts since 10/24/2012

Thanks so much Brad. BTW the book is a Scholastic Reader from 1967 entitled, "Folksong Festival 47 Favorites to Play and Sing"

Apr 10, 2020 - 1:31:37 PM

3927 posts since 11/29/2005

Nope, not the book I was thinking of. I've got a "Music for Everyone series #21" Collection of the world's best Folk Songs and Ballads.

Cover price was $1.95, probably from the early 60's.

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