Creating Guitar Tablatures – Play The Music You Want To Play
Besides playing guitar and composing/producing music, you also create custom guitar and bass tablatures based on existing audio recordings and/or videos. How does the strict, accurate recreation of an existing piece of music compare to music creation, composition or improvisation?
Surely, improvisation or composition activates different brain areas from when I keep listening to the same particular guitar or bass part to try to notate it as perfectly as I possibly can. During tabbing, notating a part, I pretty much turn into the guitarist who played the tune originally, in the sense that I try to play the tune as fluidly as I can, to get a feel of what might have happened during the recording for real. It’s necessary because you can fret a note at multiple different areas on the guitar neck, playing them on different strings, and all of them have different tonal characters, with different attack, sustain and a different overall sound. This testing allows me to write the tab the way the original musician played it on his/her guitar.
What more can you offer over tabs created with online, browser based tablature writing software?
With the Guitar Pro software I use, I can indicate all kinds of important musical expressions, ornaments and nuances if needed, including guitar oriented ones like vibrato, legato techniques, hammer-ons & pull-offs, or even whammy bar tricks. When it comes to bass guitar, I can indicate all the elements of the slap and pop playing style. On top of all that, I try to include everything that’s important in text written right where it’s needed in the tablature, to provide the information required to navigate the tab for easier interpretation.
What music genres do you tab out that people can’t usually access elsewhere?
Besides the more widely requested American and Western European rock- and pop music, I like to create guitar or bass tab of more exotic genres as well. It includes all kinds of folk music from around the world, African pop music, Eastern European music, bluegrass, jazz or even contemporary classical music, if that’s what interests the musician who needs the tablature. I also gladly tab out bass or guitar videos. If someone falls in love with a certain riff or the particular playing style of a YouTube artist, they will be able to learn it more accurately with following the tablature.
Do you only create tablatures for existing songs, or can a customer order educational material from you as well?
Of course I can create any kind of tabulature based material, if the customer defines what they want. For example I can put together educational material based around certain genres, playing styles, the guitar and bass playing of certain musical eras. In such cases, I try to be as informative and include as much of the stylistically important elements as possible, so the customer can take the most out of it.
Tabs of what genres or educational material are the most popular, most requested? What are your personal favorites?
Of course it’s still pop and rock music that are the most popular. People usually want to figure out what the guitarist or bass player played on their favorite hit tunes, but complex fingerstyle guitar music is really close. That style is requested nearly as much as the hits, probably because that’s the hardest to figure out by ear. Other than these, african music and jazz are still up there, I created even educational tab courses for both. My personal favorites are folk music (be it Celtic, Finno-Ugric or Asian music), as well as bluegrass tabs (even though it’s not the most traditional, I like to write bass guitar tab for bluegrass as well). I really like to create larger projects for these genres, ones that highlight both the rhythmic and melodic aspects of them.
How can you inject originality, creativity into the tab making process that requires certain strictness and accuracy?
I can be the most creative and original when the customer requests a project that summarizes an entire era or playing style. In this case, we discuss what exactly the client wants, and if possible, I try to include all the essential melodic and rhythmic figures, riffs, solos, accompaniments of the given topic.
What guitar playing skill levels can you provide tablatures for?
I can create tabs for every skill level. If someone only wants the chords for their favorite songs, or they are specifically interested in the rhythm playing, I will provide them with exactly those things. But if someone would like to be able to accurately play a complex, polyphonic piece of fingerstyle guitar music, that’s not a problem either. In this case, I’ll try to render the tablature as close to how it’s originally played as possible.
If someone’s skill level hasn’t quite reached the difficulty of the song they want to play, how can you help them?
There are a couple of options. I can of course make a simplified version, if it’s okay with the customer. I can also create a multi-level tablature-course that leads the player through the technically important, difficult stages of the piece step-by-step, so they can practice in a more focused way and reach their final goal of being able to play the music the way it was meant to be played. Between these two extremes, I can fine tune the material to the exact needs of the customer, depending on how much new or challenging stuff they want to learn.
In what file formats do you make the tabs?
I use Guitar Pro software, and I can export the finished tablatures in several different formats. It usually means PDF, GP or GPX files. If the customer needs other file formats, it’s still usually doable with no problem, of course.
What’s the process of ordering a custom tablature from you?
First of all, the customer of course gets in contact with us by sending a message. After we discuss the kind of music and the type of instrument (guitar or bass) the customer wants tabs for, we go over the difficulty level and how much detail they require to be indicated in the tab. We then agree on the price depending on their requests, and after receiving the 1st half of the price, I begin the work. Finally, I show the customer a sample of the finished tab(s) and list how many pages it is, and upon receiving the 2nd half of the full price, I send them the tablatures.