<-- previous page     Table of Contents    Index    next page -->

TABLATURE NOTATION

Mup can print tablature staffs. Tablature notation is commonly used for guitar and several other instruments. Mup supports tablature for 1 to 9 strings.

Mup will automatically create a normal 5-line staff above each tablature staff, giving the equivalant music on that staff. This staff will be referred to as the "tabnote staff." Normally, you will input music just for the tablature staff, and the tabnote staff will be derived from that. However, for any given measure, you can explicitly input music for a tabnote staff, which will turn off the automatic translation for that measure. If you only want either the tab or tabnote staff to be printed, you can mark the other one as invisible (see the "visible" parameter). You should specify the appropriate clef and key signature for the tabnote staff, so that Mup can make the best derivation.

Specifying a tablature staff

To set up a tablature staff, you use the stafflines parameter. To get a standard 6-line guitar tablature staff, you can just say

score
	staffs=2
staff 2
	stafflines = tab

There are 2 staffs, because there is both the tablature staff and the automatically generated tabnote staff. The tablature staff is always immediately below the corresponding tabnote staff. Setting the stafflines parameter to "tab" marks staff 2 as a tablature staff.

If you want tablature for an instrument other than a 6-string guitar with standard tuning, you specify the pitches of the strings from top to bottom within parentheses after the "tab." For example:

stafflines = tab (e a d& g)

would define some instrument that had 4 strings, with the string on the top line of tablature staff being an e string, the next a, the next d flat, and the bottom g. As shown in the example, pitches can include a # or & if necessary. Strings are assumed to be in octave 4 unless otherwise marked. You can specify a different octave by specifying an octave number after the string's pitch (using either an absolute octave number or pluses or minuses). If the instrument has more than one string with the same pitch (even if they are in different octaves), they must be distinguished by adding one or more ' marks after the pitch. The tablature definition for standard guitar is
stafflines = tab (e5 b g d a3 e'3)

This specifies that the top string on the staff is e in octave 5. The next three strings are in the default octave of 4, and the last two strings are in octave 3. Since there are two different strings with pitch letter of e, the lower e is marked as e'. Note that the octaves given are how they should be printed on the tabnote staff. A standard guitar actually sounds an octave lower than written. If you just use "stafflines = tab" without specifying any strings, Mup not only assumes the standard guitar layout, and prints in the appropriate octave, but it also automatically transposes the MIDI output to the actual pitches an octave lower. If you specify strings explicitly, you will have to specify the octaves and any desired MIDI transposition values yourself. Stated another way,
score
	staffs = 2
staff 2
	stafflines = tab

is equivalent to
score
	staffs=2
staff 2
	stafflines = tab (e5 b g d a3 e'3)
staff 1
	ifdef MIDI transpose = down perfect 8 endif

Note from this last example that MIDI is taken from the tabnote staff, not the tablature staff, so MIDI directives should be placed with the tabnote staff.

Mup should be able to handle almost any instrument with up to 9 strings. Several strings can have the same pitch; you just need to distinguish them with ' marks. The strings must be listed in whatever order the strings are to appear on the tablature staff. As another example,

stafflines = tab (g3 d3 a2 e2)

would define a standard bass guitar. Note that a bass guitar also sounds an octave lower than written, so it should be transposed for MIDI purposes.

The list of strings, if any, can optionally be followed by y or n. Using y will cause the word TAB to be printed vertically at the beginning of every score. Using n will cause that to never to be printed. Not specifying either will cause it to be printed only on the very first staff, which is the most common way of printing tablature.

Music input on tablature staffs

Input of tablature is similar to that on regular staffs. Each note in a chord is specified by a string and a fret. So fret 3 on the g string is designated by g3 or fret 0 on the e' string is designated by e'0. If your open string pitch includes an accidental, that would be included as well, so if you had an instrument with an f# string and wanted to play the 6th fret on that string, it would be f#6. Fret numbers can range from 0 to 99. If you want fret numbers to be placed inside parentheses, put parentheses around them in the input. You can also put both the string and fret within a set of parentheses, in which case, the note generated on the tabnote staff will have parentheses around it. Here are some examples of chords:

2: d4; d5a3; b0 d(5); e2(b3)g2;
bar

Picture of Mup output

Time values are specified just like on non-tablature staffs: a number optionally followed by one or more dots (like 4 or 8..), or a list of such numbers added together (like 2+8), preceding the chord pitches. Tablature staffs follow the same rules as non-tablature staffs for using time values from the previous chord if no time value is specified on the current chord. Similarly, if no notes are specified for a chord, the same notes used in the previous chord are reused. As an example:

2: 4.e5; ;8;b2;
bar

Picture of Mup output
Since nothing is specified for the second chord, both time value (dotted quarter) and note (e string fret 5) are copied from the first chord. The third chord in the measure has only a time value (an eighth note) so the note (string/fret) is repeated. The final chord has only a note, so the previous time value is used.

Rests and spaces can be specified with r and s, just like on non-tablature staffs. They result in nothing being printed on the tablature staff, and rest or space being printed on the tabnote staff.

Chord attributes

Any chord on a tablature staff can be preceded by a list of chord attributes in brackets, just like with non-tablature staffs. If you want a chord to be printed with X (for a muffled string) rather than a fret number, use [xnote]. In this case, the fret number will be used only to determine where to put the X on the tabnote staff, and what note to use for MIDI. Using [diam] will have no affect on the tablature staff, but will cause diamond notes to be used on the tabnote staff. Using [grace] or [cue] will cause the fret numbers to printed in a smaller size, and the corresponding notes on the tabnote staff to be printed in a smaller size. Using [slash N] will cause N slashes to be printed below the chord on the tablature staff, as well as slashes on the corresponding chord on the tabnote staff. You can use the other chord attributes (with, pad, and =tag) just like on a non-tablature staff.

Ties

From an input point of view, ties work much the same on tablature staffs as on other staffs. On output, tie marks on tablature staffs are normally not printed, and the frets are not printed on the tied-to chord. If a tie goes across to a new score, the frets are printed, but in parentheses, to indicate the chord is really just the continuation of a tie.

Slides

In Mup input, slides are shown with <>, rather like slurs on non-tablature staffs. There is a special variation used for slides that come from nowhere in particular or go to nowhere in particular. These are shown with <\n>, </n>, <n\>, or <n/>. A slide is indicated on output on tablature staffs as a slanted line between 2 fret numbers on a string. On tabnote staffs, they as drawn as a slanted line between 2 notes. See the examples below:

2: a5<>; a6; d3<>; d2;
bar

2: b4</n>; e3<\n>; a2<n/>; e'5<n\>;
bar

Picture of Mup output

Bends

A bend (stretching a string to make it sound higher than normal) is specified on tablature staffs by putting a text string after the string. The text string can be the word "full" or a number and/or fraction. Some examples:

2: e4 "full"; e "1/2"; 2e "1 1/2";
bar

Picture of Mup output

If you want to bend back down to having no bend (a release), the text string specifying the bend is just an empty string of "". Note that if both a fret and bend other than "" are specified, this indicates a prebend, whereas if only a bend is specified, this indicates a normal bend.

Bends need not be a whole number of half steps, but if you specify a bend that falls between half steps, when it is used on the tabnote staff, the bend is rounded to the nearest half step, or rounded downward if it is exactly in the middle of a half step. When possible, bends of 1/4 step or less are shown on the tabnote staff by a small curve rather than by a separate note.

You can specify bends on more than one string at once, but a continuation bend (bending to a new distance without replucking the string) is only allowed on a single string at a time. Here are some examples:

2: g0b2e'0; e' "1/2" g "full" b "3/4"; e' ""; a2;
bar

2: a "1/2"; a "full"; a "1/2"; a "";
bar

Picture of Mup output

If you have more than one voice on a tablature staff, bends on other than the top voice may collide with other voices in some cases, and if there are bends from more than one voice simultaneously, they may collide.

On non-tablature staffs, bends are specified with a ^ symbol followed by the note to bend to. The note to bend to is specified by letter and optional octave (accidentals are not specified). If you want just a small bend (1/4 step), this is specified by ^/. For example:

1: e ^f; f; b ^c5; c#5;
bar

1: d+^e+ g^a; e+a; g ^/; c ^/ c+^/;
bar

Picture of Mup output

Miscellaneous

Note attributes of ~ for tie, ? for a small note, and = for a tag work the same on tablatures staffs as on non-tablature staffs.

If bm, ebm, or esbm are given on tablature staffs they are transferred to the tabnote staff and used for custom beaming there. Items in "with" lists inside [ ] are also copied to the tabnote staff. In general, unless otherwise specified here, if you want items such as tempo and dynamic marks to appear on both tablature and tabnote staff, you have to specify them for both staffs.

The "alt" inter-chord attribute is not allowed on tablature staffs.

When there is a tablature staff, the MIDI is actually generated from the tabnote staff. There are some limitations. Currently, no MIDI pitch bends are generated; slides and bends are instantaneous rather than gradual.

If a capo is being used, it probably better to declare a transposition of the tabnote staff rather than declaring the strings to be different notes. This is because most people would rather think of the original string letters when entering the tab staff information; and if you decide to put the capo on a different fret later, you only have to change the "transpose" line. The automatic MIDI octave transposition for standard guitar will also then still apply, on top of your transposition.

If you specify an octave mark (discussed in a later section) on a tabnote staff, the derived music will be printed with the notes raised or lowered the appropriate number of octaves to correspond to the given octave mark interval.

Since ties are not printed on tablature staff, and input notation for tablature slides is like what is used for slurs on ordinary staffs, if you want a curved line like a tie or slur on a tablature or tabnote staff, you have to use a phrase mark. See the section on phrase marks for more details.

The chord-at-a-time input style can also be used for tablature. The staffs being mapped to from a single input line must either be all tablature or all non-tablature, however.

score
	staffs=4
	brace=1-2, 3-4
	tabwhitebox=y
staff 2
	stafflines=tab
staff 4
	stafflines=tab
music

// The first two notes in each chord go to staff 2,
// and the last two go to staff 4.
[ 2; 2; 4; 4] : a2d0 g0b3; e'0a2 g0e0; 2 e'0d2 b0e3; 
bar

Picture of Mup output


   <-- previous page    Table of Contents    Index    next page -->