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Jan 15, 2021 - 11:16:26 PM
64 posts since 1/2/2015

Most bluegrass banjo tab I have seen, indicate a maximum of 8 notes per measure (as in an 8 note roll), but, I ocassionally come across bluegrass banjo tab that shows 16 notes per measure (16 notes in the roll). Playing 16 notes per measure seems like it would be really fast in many typical bluegrass songs/tunes. Are these 16 note measures really meant for slower songs, to sound fast?

Jan 15, 2021 - 11:40:32 PM

bellf

Australia

323 posts since 7/13/2014

It is possible to notate the same piece of music in several different ways. Without seeing the specific pieces you are looking at, my best guess is that you are not meant to play one faster than the other.

Jan 15, 2021 - 11:47:27 PM

chuckv97

Canada

55447 posts since 10/5/2013
Online Now

Speed/tempo is based on bpm (beats per minute) and which note value (quarter or eighth or other) gets the beat.

Edited by - chuckv97 on 01/15/2021 23:49:15

Jan 15, 2021 - 11:55:28 PM

64 posts since 1/2/2015

I found this brief YouTube video demo of a Scruggs lick that is tabbed with 16 notes per measure. It is out of the context of a full song/tune, though. About 5 seconds into the video, the tab appears. youtube.com/watch?v=YU60_-iMxt...L3qdTVJis

Jan 16, 2021 - 12:27:41 AM

bellf

Australia

323 posts since 7/13/2014

I looked at the video and the tab. It’s just an example of someone choosing to notate things a little differently from what you are used to. Just play it at whatever speed you are comfortable with. As Chuck mentioned, speed is determined by b.p.m.

Jan 16, 2021 - 1:03:14 AM
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janolov

Sweden

40906 posts since 3/7/2006

I think it is more appropriate to have 8 notes per measure than 16 notes.  It is more according to the background rhythm, but it basically the same. And 8 notes per measure may be notated as 2/4 (with 1/16 notes) or 4/4 or 2/4 (with 1/8 notes).

Jan 16, 2021 - 6:27:13 AM
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2503 posts since 2/10/2013

I prefer 4/4 or "cut" time. The documentation, tabs and especially music notation, is much less "cluttered" and easier to read.

Jan 16, 2021 - 6:39:23 AM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

25466 posts since 8/3/2003

I agree with Richard: 4/4 time, 8 - 8th notes to a measure is much easier to read than 2/4 or 16 - 16th notes.

When I was first learning by tab, I had the Earl Scruggs book and trying to decipher all those 16th notes was very daunting for me. A beginner book with 4/4 time and 8th notes, quarter notes, was much easier to read and understand and learn.

Jan 16, 2021 - 7:54:56 AM
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3661 posts since 3/28/2008

Eighth-notes, sixteenth-notes, etc. have no absolute time value. They only have relative value. For example, in a given piece an eighth-note will always last twice as long as a sixteenth-note. As several of us have already commented, exactly how long the notes last depend on the number of beats per minute (BPM), and on what type of note (quarter, half, etc.) is counted as one beat.

So, for example, a sixteenth note in a slow movement from a Bach sonata might actually last longer than an eighth note from a Johnson Mountain Boys performance of "John Henry", the way I'd tab it out (2/2 time, roll consisting of eight-notes).

As for the decision to write it in sixteenth-notes vs. eighth-notes, or measures of eight notes vs. measures of sixteen-notes--Well, imagine two cooks writing up the same recipe. One says to use two cups of flour, while the other (God knows why, but hey, it's my metaphor so I can make the cook do whatever I want) says to use four half-cups. Either way, you end up making the identical cake.

Edited by - Ira Gitlin on 01/16/2021 07:56:26

Jan 16, 2021 - 9:37:18 AM
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11479 posts since 6/2/2008

I believe tab in sixteenth notes, written as 2/4, is correct (or more musically accurate) but I find eighth notes written as 4/4 easier to read, understand and count. I'm thinking a lot of people do, which is why we see so much tab -- including tab by professional musicians -- written that way.

I think Ira is one of many who have pointed out in the past that bluegrass music has two clear beats or pulses per measure: 1 - 2, 1 - 2, 1 -2 etc.  If we tab out one measure in sixteenth notes and want to count "1" and "2" on the pulses, we get 8 sixteenth notes that we count this way:  1  E  & a   2  E  &  a   (that's how I learned to voice it in junior high).  That's one measure.  Eight different counted notes, but only 2 "beats"  (the notes counted as 1 and 2).

If we think eighth notes are cleaner to look at and easier to understand (perhaps for the less musically experienced), and if we find "E & a" confusing, we would write that same measure using 8 eighth notes and consider it as having 4 beats, which we count this way:  1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &     

We would play it at exactly the same speed in terms of actual notes per second or minute. But it will be written as having more "beats" per minute because now a single "beat" is twice as fast because we're cramming 4 of them into the same time-space that previously had only 2.  The eighth note version has more "beats" but not more notes.  Notice in particular: In the eighth note version we're counting "3"  on the beat that in the sixteenth note version was counted as "2"

I suppose the way to make eighth-note tab musically accurate in terms of 2 beats or pulses per measure would be to make the time signature 2/2: 2 beats per measure, half note gets one beat. But then you're back to counting it 1 E & a 2 E & a    instead of the easy 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

And here I stop, because I'm on the verge of making big confusing mistakes . . . if I haven't already.

Edited by - Old Hickory on 01/16/2021 09:46:00

Jan 16, 2021 - 10:22:35 AM
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421 posts since 10/4/2018

8 or 16 notes in a measure may be an average, but some may have long pinches or quick pull-offs or hammer-ons, which will subtract or add to the amount of notes in each measure. Regardless. 16 notes in a measure is too much. You get lost. If you are talking Bluegrass, I agree that there are two beats in each measure and each beat is usually broken down into 4 sub beats. 2/2 or 2/4 would be appropriate for most bluegrass tunes. you can mathmatically put a typical bluegrass tune in 4/4 and play with eight 8th notes, but that doesn't reflect what is usually going on. 2/2 with eight 8th notes clearly tells you the pulse of the music and is less cluttered, especially when a lot of quick pull-offs and hammer-ons are included. 2/4 is the same as 2/2 but you use different notes to represent the same thing, they are just represented one magnitude less than in 2/2. i.e a half note in 2/2 time equals an quarter note in 2/4 time.

Also the amount of notes in a measure is in no way any indication of the speed of the music. You can have one beat in each measure at a very quick tempo and each note in the song can be played at the same speed of a song with 4, 6 or however many beats in a measure with a very slow tempo.

Sorry if I repeat what others have already said.

Edited by - Good Buddy on 01/16/2021 10:23:22

Jan 16, 2021 - 11:39:49 AM
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6871 posts since 8/30/2004

I can tell you several reasons why to write in afformentioned signatures but this quite silly to me. For most banjo tabs 4/4 is fine. 2/4 is more ink on the page so to speak but come on, is this really necessary for BHO? I guess it is a good place to brag about how refined your knowledge is. This post is not meant for anybody in particular but this is really meant for a different kind of music in my wonderfully brilliant judgement Ha Ha

Jan 16, 2021 - 12:04:05 PM
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RB3

USA

929 posts since 4/12/2004

I'm in complete agreement with Old Hickory.

When I play or listen to Bluegrass music, my perception is that the overwhelming preponderance of the music has two pulses per measure. Accordingly, the tablature or standard notation that provides a graphic model of the music should have a time signature that specifies two beats per measure.

A big part of the reason that there are two pulses per measure is because of the tempos at which the music is played. Even moderate tempo Bluegrass songs are played at speeds that are significantly faster than the tempos of popular music.  If you think Bluegrass is in 4/4 time, try tapping your foot at the rate of four times per measure to a moderate tempo Bluegrass song like The Old Home Place or Blue Ridge Cabin Home. If you can do so and get through the entire song, you'll probably need to visit an orthopedist.

The Earl Scruggs instruction book was one of the first books that I acquired when I began learning to play the banjo. In my 1968 edition of the book, each song includes both tablature and standard notation. The time signatures and the time values of the notes are specified in the standard music notation. The tablature provides only the fingering information. I'd be interested to know who provided the standard music notation for the book and why 2/4 was chosen as the preferred time signature.

Edited by - RB3 on 01/16/2021 12:05:29

Jan 16, 2021 - 12:09:27 PM

chuckv97

Canada

55447 posts since 10/5/2013
Online Now

Somewhere in an interview, either online video or print, Bill Keith mentions who put his tabs in standard notation,, but I can’t recall right now where to find it.

Jan 16, 2021 - 12:29:16 PM

64 posts since 1/2/2015

Thanks for all the explanations, but, I'm still a bit confused. An example: Blue Ridge cabin Home (key of G) starts with 2 measures of G, then, moves to 2 measures of C and so on. I'm used to playing each measure with 8 strikes of the strings (for simplicity sake, ignoring possible artistic pauses, slides, pinches, etc.) and I believe that is a typical way of playing bluegrass banjo for this type of song. Thus, after playing the first 2 measures of the song, I will have struck the strings a total of 16 times, before moving to the C chord. However, in the YouTube video tab (the link I provided), using the lick he demonstrates, I'd strike the strings 16 times per measure and resulting in a total of 32 strikes during the first two measures of the song. The number of beats per measure might remain the same, but, I'd have played twice as many notes per measure and I think a listener's perception of my rendition of this song would have changed.
Please forgive my ignorance here. Thanks again.

Jan 16, 2021 - 12:32:58 PM
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6871 posts since 8/30/2004

Watch anyone tap their foot to bluegrass. They tap in 4/4 not 2/4. I get what you're saying but banjo is a grouping of 8 1/8th notes not two 1/4 notes. But I learned a long time ago not to disagree with anybody on BHO.cool  p.s. not to mention as Jan said; the backup is always in 4/4....j
 
Originally posted by RB3

I'm in complete agreement with Old Hickory.
 

Edited by - Jack Baker on 01/16/2021 12:34:37

Jan 16, 2021 - 12:52:48 PM
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3066 posts since 10/17/2009

The OP of sixteen 1/16 notes in a measure might stem from how music is typically written in other styles; especially from the perspective of keeping song phrases together. It is essentially the just equivalent of combining 2 measures of 2/4, but felt more connected.  Each line of these can be perceived (esp by singer) as counting 1 2 3 4.

Going up to Cripple Creek, going in a  whirl
Going up to Cripple Creek, to see my girl

or

It | takes a worried man, to
Sing a worried song

or

Some bright morning
When this life is o'er
------------

Like Ken's 2/4 example of 1  E  & a   2  E  &  a;  doubled is just 1  E  & a   2  E  &  a 3  E  & a   4  E  &  a.

FWIW - if it is too confusing... there is a secret magic trick... take a pencil and make a line halfway point of the measure. Now you have 2 measures of 2/4. It will play and sound the same.

----------

Edit didn't see the previous post.

An example: Blue Ridge cabin Home (key of G) starts with 2 measures of G, then, moves to 2 measures of C and so on. I'm used to playing each measure with 8 strikes of the strings

It could also be written as one measure of G then one measure of C and so on.

I am a little confused though? If you are reading from tab or notation... just listen to the notes you play, and it should clarify itself.

Edited by - banjoak on 01/16/2021 13:00:43

Jan 16, 2021 - 1:13:54 PM
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6871 posts since 8/30/2004

Ah, one if the great mysteries of mdern timea. 2/4 or 4/4. I know BHO will find the answer...

Jan 16, 2021 - 3:35:32 PM
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bellf

Australia

323 posts since 7/13/2014

quote:
Originally posted by chickenlady

Thanks for all the explanations, but, I'm still a bit confused. An example: Blue Ridge cabin Home (key of G) starts with 2 measures of G, then, moves to 2 measures of C and so on. I'm used to playing each measure with 8 strikes of the strings (for simplicity sake, ignoring possible artistic pauses, slides, pinches, etc.) and I believe that is a typical way of playing bluegrass banjo for this type of song. Thus, after playing the first 2 measures of the song, I will have struck the strings a total of 16 times, before moving to the C chord. However, in the YouTube video tab (the link I provided), using the lick he demonstrates, I'd strike the strings 16 times per measure and resulting in a total of 32 strikes during the first two measures of the song. The number of beats per measure might remain the same, but, I'd have played twice as many notes per measure and I think a listener's perception of my rendition of this song would have changed.
Please forgive my ignorance here. Thanks again.


I recommend that you don't worry about the measures. You don't really hear measures when you listen to music. You tend to hear phrases. In blue ridge cabin home, for example, you might hear "well beaten path on this" as a small unit of music. It would be possible to write this phrase a single measure or as two measures -- it would be up to the preferences of the person writing the music down. No matter who is writing it however -- if they are writing the same banjo part to match that phrase, there will be the same number of banjo notes matching  that phrase.

Edited by - bellf on 01/16/2021 15:40:42

Jan 16, 2021 - 4:26:48 PM
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bellf

Australia

323 posts since 7/13/2014

Hi again Josephine chickenlady

Here’s a video in which I attempt to explain a bit more. I hope it answers your question or helps in some way.

youtu.be/0tKuqBFLN2c

Jan 16, 2021 - 6:11:29 PM

11479 posts since 6/2/2008

Follow-up to say in more direct response to Josephine's question: I don't think I've seen any bluegrass banjo tab with 16 notes per measure. Most of what I can think of is what I described: 8 counted notes per measure written either as eighths or sixteenths. 

I just checked my copy of the Scruggs book: 8 sixteenths per measure. Likewise Bill Knopf's  Hot Licks and Fiddle Tunes book.  The Classic Doug Dillard Banjo Songbook is inconsistent, with some songs tabbed in eighths and some in sixteenths. But all 8 notes per measure.

The only tab or music with 16 notes per measure that I'm personally familiar with is tab of a few classical pieces such as Bach's Cello Suite in G.  John Bullard's tab for that piece is written in "cut time." The adjacent standard notation is all sixteenths, 16 to the measure.

Others have brought up tapping the foot to bluegrass. When I play, I tap my foot only on the pulses or beats that we'd count as 1 and 3 in 4/4 or 1 and 2 in 2/4.  I do count out the notes (either aloud or in my head) as "1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &"  when I'm learning a tune off off tab.  I do that even if it's written out in sixteenth notes.  I know that's wrong, but I'm unsophisticated in these things and it's the only way I can work out the intended timing.

Anyway, there's no way I could tap my foot on four numbered beats per measure. So I tap twice -- and don't concern myself with whether I'm tapping the two numbered beats per 2/4 measure or if I'm tapping every other beat of a 4/4 measure.

Jan 16, 2021 - 6:22:47 PM
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11479 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by chickenlady

... in the YouTube video tab (the link I provided), using the lick he demonstrates, I'd strike the strings 16 times per measure and resulting in a total of 32 strikes during the first two measures of the song. The number of beats per measure might remain the same, but, I'd have played twice as many notes per measure and I think a listener's perception of my rendition of this song would have changed.
Please forgive my ignorance here.


Do as suggested in an earlier message and draw or imagine a measure bar after the second bracket of sixteenth notes. Problem solved.

Seriously: I believe if he was going to tab it out in sixteenth notes he should have changed the time signature so there'd be 8 of them per measure.

Trust your ear and instincts and play the lick to fit the timing as you believe it should be, not as his placement of measure bars would suggest. I think you'll be right.

Jan 16, 2021 - 8:40:45 PM
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6871 posts since 8/30/2004

Bill Keith supplied both the notation and the tablature.....
quote:
Originally posted by chuckv97

Somewhere in an interview, either online video or print, Bill Keith mentions who put his tabs in standard notation,, but I can’t recall right now where to find it.


Jan 17, 2021 - 12:00:31 AM
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janolov

Sweden

40906 posts since 3/7/2006

The TablEdit Demo version only allows saving of a few measures (I think it ws possible to save about 20 measures). When I had the Demo version (in 2006) I wrote some tabs with 16  1/16 notes per measure because then I could save longer tabs. However they were  to agglomerated and were hard to read. Then I bought the full TablEdit and began to use 8  1/8 as standard.

Jan 17, 2021 - 3:40:34 AM
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3871 posts since 12/6/2009

this could help

classicalguitarshed.com/clap-count-rhythm/

confusion with 8th and 16th notes were my stumbling block trying to understand tab.....It was for me anyway ,confusing to see 2 notes per beat when listening to recordings they were playing 4....I suppose those of us who play by ear even tho' ignorant at least could hear what was going on just didn't know what to call it. lol

Jan 17, 2021 - 6:37:41 AM
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73958 posts since 5/9/2007

I prefer the reading of the single flag of the 1/8 note rather than the "busier" double flag of the 1/16th.

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