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Gary Coover’s Tablature

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1 hour ago, Newbie Anglo said:

Has anyone found a way of...much easier with just sheet music.

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Are you looking for something all in one clef, in double treble clefs (like Dan Worrall's Kimber book), or octave low with regular treble and bass clefs (like Alan Lochhead's book)?


I'll be showing all the notes (plus button numbers and direction) in the upcoming John Watcham book, but still debating which octave.


That's the biggest problem with the notating the Anglo since middle C is deep in the left-hand side.


And, just having the dots by themselves won't tell you which button or direction in the case of alternates. I think if you stick with it you'll find the numbering helps you to learn the patterns in the left hand, which after a while will become close to automatic and you won't think much about which note is which (for harmonic style).




Edited by gcoover
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I think I love Gary's tabs too much. It's kept me from needing to practice actually learning sheet music, or what notes correspond to what numbers. Unfortunately practicing that feels more like homework so I just keep plunking out tunes instead.

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@Newbie Anglo: Give yourself more time to memorize the corresponding tab number with the staff note.  I found it helpful if I played a piece slowly saying to myself out loud the name of each note on the staff as I played each note via the tab numbering. At the beginning I needed to have a printout of the button layout nearby to refer to as I played from the tab, but I got past that stage. Repeating the name of the note for each button number reinforced memorization and sped up the learning curve. Also it helped me to do sight reading practice - playing unfamiliar tunes of Coover's tab, not just practice tunes already known.  This forced me to memorize quickly.  Hope that helps.

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I'm rather with Newbie Anglo on this.  I learned long ago to read "standard" notation, and I play tunes on many differrent instruments.  I find it much more sensible to have a single form of notation and then learn how to finger each note on each instrument (flute, saxophone, trumpet, guitar etc.) than to try "translating" among mandolin, banjo, and anglo "tabs", especially "on the fly".  Or for that matter, translating between "Wheatstone" and "Jeffries" button numbers.


And if I and my friend who plays melodeon want to play together, it doesn't seem reasonable that either of us should have to learn to translate the button-number tablature of the other's instrument.  Instead, we should have a single, shared notation for sharing music.


As for ambiguity, I believe it's only on the push for the main G and A in each hand (on a 30-button C/G) that there is an actual choice.  Other "duplicate" choices are forced by bellows direction, if that's specified.  And if your're playing more than one note at a time, the bellows direction is usually forced either by one of the other notes or by the hand in which the "ambiguous" note is notated.

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Thankyou for all your kind and informative comments and I agree with everything from both ends of the spectrum.


I haven’t heard of any of the books you mention Gary apart from the Kimball one which I’ve never actually seen. I don’t suppose you could do a slower u tube tutorial at some point covering this, I’m sure a lot of people like myself would find it beneficial as it’s not always easy to access quality tuition.


I suppose that is probably part of my problem as I’m very much a visual learner who prefers to be shown something as opposed to reading.


Thank you all very much



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Most of the 19th century instructionals have regular sheet music, although often also with tablature (of one sort or another). Most of them don't include accompaniment, though. And, of course, that does nothing for "showing" rather than "reading", but it may be useful regardless.


A few examples:






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