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Nov 4, 2019 - 7:10:59 AM
4303 posts since 6/23/2007

Some individuals sell recordings of them playing fiddle tunes, and sell tab. But they don't sell standard music notation. I think this would reduce requests for the material. Tabs can't provide as much information as musical notation. I am curious as to why a seller would do this. Would it create possible legal complications ? Does the seller only play by "ear", or does the seller think that creating notation would require too much additional work ?

I use tab for some instruments, but don't like it for fiddle. I can better visualize the flow of the music when I view notation. And, there are more very good software packages for writing notation than there are for writing tab. The software package I use for writing notation is much more sophisticated and easy to use than the tab writing software I have used.

Note that I am not "anti tab" or don't appreciate the values of playing be "ear". I use tab often when learning 5 string banjo material. And when playing guitar, and have to play very high up the neck, I prefer tab. I would just appreciate being able to purchase musical notation as well as recordings or tab.

Nov 4, 2019 - 1:26:45 PM
Players Union Member



2687 posts since 2/3/2011

What an interesting question. For myself, absolutely no clue.

Nov 4, 2019 - 2:39:43 PM
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1904 posts since 12/11/2008

The way I've heard it and seen it come down, musical notation is simply not part of the OT ethos. You listen to the tunes. You watch the bowing. You do your best to follow.

I have to say, too, that David Bragger never used any notation or tab in any of the who-knows-how-many years of lessons I took from him. The closest he came to specifics was his calling out of the bowing he wanted as he slowly played through the tunes we were supposed to learn. He also had his students bring a recording device into which he'd play the tune twice, once at normal tempo and next slowly with the bowing called out. Bragger's method was remarkably effective, too. Hey, how many tunes did I memorize this way? At least a hundred.

Edited by - Lonesome Fiddler on 11/04/2019 14:40:35

Nov 4, 2019 - 5:58:50 PM

2467 posts since 10/22/2007

Wouldn't a copy of Ryan's Mamouth collection fill the bill?
All the Mo. River Oldtime types round here, seem to be playing tunes right out of it.

Charlie Walden probably has a video of him playing it. No matter what the MROT tune.

Nov 5, 2019 - 2:03:03 PM

3134 posts since 6/21/2007

I'm with you, Dick. Probably because I started out on piano in the 3rd grade, I learned notation at an early age, which I applied to guitar (folk), then classical guitar. I had to learn tab when I started playing CH banjo, because of the "odd" and recursive aspects of the instrument. If I sit down and work at it, I can read a banjo piece in notation, but my hands want to fret that hi-G on the 3rd fret of the 1st string to this day.

I taught myself all of my instruments (except bugle, which I learned by ear) through books with notation then tab for the OT banjo stuff.

Now, if I need to transpose a piece from tab to notation or vice-versa, I put it into Tabledit, which gives me both tab and notation.

Nov 5, 2019 - 8:17:07 PM
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2467 posts since 10/22/2007

For sure fiddle can be read right off the treble clef. Plus one can't really play more than two notes ar once, so even the "chords" are easy to grasp from standard notation. While i can't site-read, i still appreciate the power (and history) of standard notation. For centuries there was no better way of documenting a piece of music.

Nov 5, 2019 - 10:52:29 PM
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208 posts since 1/3/2019

Though I came at fiddling a very different way (i think), I've come to appreciate and respect David Bragger's approach over the years. Great player and teacher.

I learned to read music and notate through recruiting classical musicians for various projects. Notation is its own art form. Alan Jabbour was a master of transcription.

Nov 6, 2019 - 8:34:30 AM

4303 posts since 6/23/2007

I have used Ian Walsh's instructionals. Packages include notation, sound files, and video. On the video he slowly demonstrates how to play a tune. He describes subtleties that aren't in the notation. I really liked his approach.

I have used notation quite often, and it works well for me. Even though I have regularly used tab for 5 string banjo, I don't mentally "hear" the music when I read the tab. But I often do when I use notation for the fiddle, and some cases, guitar.

I once read an article where a violin student said Italian teachers required students to read and sing notation for a musical piece before they were allowed to start learning to play it.
That would probably improve notation reading skill and help a person memorize the melody.

Nov 6, 2019 - 8:53:37 AM
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2372 posts since 2/2/2008
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Gee, I thought notation is tablature for the fiddle.

Nov 6, 2019 - 9:40:53 AM



10334 posts since 12/2/2007

I don't think I've ever encountered the problem you are describing. The few fiddle books I have are in standard notation, and don't include recordings. As Carl said, fiddle music has traditionally been written in standard notation, and a surprising number of older fiddlers had copies of Cole's 1000 Fiddle Tunes. I think tab has come in with people coming over from the banjo, where its more common. If I see something written in tab I just ignore it.
I think if I wanted to learn a bunch of old time tunes I'd invest in the Milliner-Koken Collection and utilize the source recordings on Larry Warren's Slippery Hill website. Or do the same with Jeff Todd Titon's "Old Time Kentucky Fiddle6 Tunes." Or you could spend some profitable time with the "Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier" collection at the Library of Congress, where many of the recordings of Henry Reed are accompanied by excellent transcriptions by Alan Jabbour.
If you're interested in something different, Natalie MacMaster has included notation of many of her recordings on her website.

Edited by - DougD on 11/06/2019 09:44:32

Jan 8, 2021 - 10:12:30 AM

79 posts since 7/24/2012

I've started doing both on one sheet. I find it helps folks who prefer to read along.

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