How to Read Piano Tabs (August 2022) ?

To play a complete song on the piano, it is important to learn to read the music sheet. It is not possible for the pianist to memorize every single song and it is practically impossible as well. Both beginners and professional pianists prefer to read either the actual sheet music or opt to learn the piano tabs. 

The tabs are the short form of tablature and this is the numerical representation of the musical notes. These tabs help the musician to know precisely, which notes he should be playing in his song. It helps them to read and play the music precisely, as it is also easy to read, compared to the music notes that are given in the sheet music. 

Advantages of Tabs

Tabs helps the musicians to play the song in its best form and it is being used commonly by guitarists as well. A pianist who is been trained formally in piano lessons doesn’t require the use of tabs. But novice musicians and hobbyists who wish to learn the music quickly and easily make use of the tablatures.

There are many advantages for pianists to learn to read the tabs. It will help them with easier note reading and it is pretty much simple and easy and make and edit the tabs. They are widely accessible for musicians and it is possible to share them easily among friends over the internet. Above all, it can be of great help for beginners to help them get accustomed to the chords and the notes.

Why should we learn to read the music tabs?

Before discussing how to read the tabs in the piano music sheet, let us discuss why we should learn to read them. If we learn to read the tabs, we learn to read music. We will be able to see and understand the structure of music, and how it has been put together, to understand the entire composition. The tabs will be represented in symbols and numbers, and each of them will represent a different tempo, rhythm, and pitch. These symbols are also a representation of a technique that is been used by the musician in composing the music. Other advantages of learning to read the music tabs are as follows,

  • Learning to read the music tabs helps in unlocking a world of expressions and offers the freedom to play the piano easily.
  • It makes it easy to play in any band and other ensembles.
  • It helps in sight reading on other instruments such as brass and string instruments.
  • Helps in communicating the music easily with other musicians. 

Learning to read the sheet music and studying the piano are the basic skills that should go hand in hand for any musician. Thus all the musicians need to learn to read the music tabs.

How to read the tabs?

As we have mentioned before, the piano tablatures are composed of letters, numbers, symbols that represent specifically the keys that should be placed by the player on the piano. the representations that are seen on the left side of the tablature corresponds to the octave, in which the particular note should be played. For instance, the fourth note on the 4th octave will be represented as the notation C4.

Another important representation of the music is made in the form of symbols such as vertical and horizontal lines (| / -). The vertical lines are used to separate the measures and bars all through the song, whereas the dashes are used to separate the notes from each other. The horizontal lines are also used to indicate the length of the note that is currently in the play. Some important symbols that are used in the music sheet are as follows.

  • The lower case letters are used to represent the white keys.
  • The sharp notes or the black keys are represented by the uppercase letters
  • The numbers in the tabs represent the octaves that are found in the musical arrangement that one plays
  • The vertical lines (|) are used to separate the tabs from each other
  • The dashes (-) represent the intervals between the notes. If the dashes between the letters are more, the interval between them is also longer. 
  • The L and R letters found beside the numbers represent which hand should play the note. 

Some tips to read the Piano Tabs perfectly

1. Determine the breakdown of the octave on the keyboard

In the music sheet, not all the tablatures will look the same, it depends on the keyboard that one is playing and the piece of music that one is trying to play. To ascertain the breakdown of the octaves, we have to know how many octaves are present starting from the lowest C note and which of the octaves will be used for the tab.

2. Rename the keys according to the octave

After breaking down the octaves in the keyboard starting from the lowest C name, it is important to name each key according to the octave it belongs. It will be easy to indicate which note to be played under which octave. Each of the octaves should start with the C note on the keyboard. 

3. Read the tabs from left to right:

Just like reading the plain text, the tablatures should be read from left to right and the note on the far left should be played first until the note ends. The vertical lines can exist between the series of notes and we have to learn that they are separators that divide the octaves. When two notes are stacked on top of each other, they have to be played as a single cord and not separately.

Bottom Line

The tabs will also have alphabets from A to G and there are treble staffs that indicate that those specific notes are to be played by the right hand. There are also other symbols in the music sheet that corresponds to the bass clefs, sharps, and flats, etc. With practice, the pianist will be able to read the tab in the music sheet perfectly and play the entire song flawlessly.

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Being in love with music, Larry started this website to help piano lovers get the most detailed and accurate information with his 5 Years of experience of working in a music store.

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