Translating tab to printed music

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
2 weeks ago
1,394 posts

John, you're right that since tab has the lower notes up higher and the higher notes down lower it can be confusing for those of us who learned to read standard music notation. When I teach newbies I remind them that if you just lay tab flat in front of you, the three lines are in the same order as the strings on your dulcimer, so it's not as unintuitive as you might think at first. What's reversed is the dulcimer itself.

Most of the tab these days has both standard music notation and dulcimer tablature, so you can see the relationships between them.  I try to envision that kind of tab as bookmatched wood, as though they are mirrors of each other.

Yes, TablEdit does automatically what you are talking about.  When you put the tab into TablEdit, the software automatically identifies the corresponding notes in standard music notation.  If you don't care about saving files, you could download the free version of TablEdit.  The free versions just limits you to 16 measures or something like that.  BUt you could always print out a song and then start over, using the free version forever.

But I'm not the best person to answer your question. I can use tab or standard music notation as a reminder of how a song goes, but when I play I can't follow either one. I have to look at the fretboard and play by ear.  I can't really sight read very well at all, though that's a skill I greatly admire.

Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
John W. McKinstry
John W. McKinstry
2 weeks ago
30 posts

Sometimes I have found that reading dulcimer tabs can be confusing. If you use three lines to represent the three stings and say you are in a 1-5-8 tuning your lower notes may be on the middle of top line. This is the reverse of regular musical score.  I have found that if I use my chromatic tuner (Korg) it tells me what note I am sounding on the dulcimer so then I can translate this into regular musical score. It makes it easier to tell which note is really up or down. I know that there is something in Table Edit to help you here and there are probably templates that can help in translating tab to musical score or vice versa. I have found that  using the chromatic tuner is a simple way for me. Perhaps others have other suggestions?