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This chapter will explain writing music in tablature, and tell you all you need to know to use tablature in Harmony-Melody.


The classical notation of musical notes on a staff requires the performer to relate the written note to the way of playing that note on his instrument.

In tablature, notes are written in a simpler way that shows directly how to play them on the instrument. It eases the work of the performer.

Three kinds of tablature can be used in Harmony-Melody: tablatures for fretted string instruments (Guitar, Bass, Banjo...), for Harmonica (diatonic and chromatic), and for diatonic accordion (Harmony Assistant only).

Note: Harmony-Melody can automatically compute tablatures for various instruments: Guitar, Bass, Lute, Harmonica, Accordion... You can even define your own instruments, save them into independent files, and share them with other users.

To ask Harmony-Melody to compute and display a tablature, select the "Staff>Tablature" menu, then the staff and the instrument. Tablature is calculated and displayed according to the existing standard staff. Any change to the standard staff will result in a corresponding change to the associated tablature.
You can also create a new staff and define it is a tablature staff.
Some standard templates also include predefined tablature staves.

Creating a tablature

In Harmony-Melody there are several ways to display a staff with a tablature:

  • Standard staves do not have an associated tablature. To add a tablature to a standard staff, select Edit tablature in the staff contextual menu or click on the little "Tab" icon in the staff margin, and select the kind of tablature you want to use.

  • Standard staves with associated tablature display notes in the classical way, and also display the associated tablature. When you insert a note, tablature is computed again. To avoid this, select "Priority to tablature" in the staff contextual menu. The staff becomes then a "Tablature" staff with a visible classical (standard) staff.

    It is however possible to "freeze" the fingering calculation, in a note basis, in non-priority tablatures. The note contextual menu (right click or Shift click) enables to do this. A "frozen" note won't be computed and will always keep the fingering that the user set.

    When a note is moved or inserted on the standard staff, its fingering is automatically computed. It's the same for transposition of pitch shifting.
    When a note is moved or inserted on the tablature part, it is automatically "frozen".

    A "frozen" note is displayed in a specific color (in scroll mode or in page mode when control handle are displayed). This color can be changed in the global setup, "Appearance" topic.

  • Tablature staves with associated standard staff staff appearance is the same as the one above. You cannot insert notes into the classical staff, however, but only into the tablature. You can switch back to a standard staff with associated tablature by unselecting "Priority to tablature" in the staff contextual menu. The tablature will then be recalculated.

  • Tablature staves display the tablature only. You can activate the classical staff display by modifying the staff display mode (staff contextual menu); you get a tablature staff with an associated standard staff. You can then change the staff type, to get a standard staff with an associated tablature.
  • Summary:

    • Tablature can be associated with a standard (classical) staff; it then displays notes in tablature format according to the existing notes in the standard staff

      To associate a tablature with an existing staff, select "Staff>Tablature" then the target staff.

      You can insert notes into either the standard staff, and the fingering is automatically recomputed

    • A "Tablature staff" displays notes only as a tablature. When you insert a note, it always stays  at the string and cell you selected. To create a tablature staff, select "Staff>Add staff" then select the "Tablature" staff type.
    Note: Regular notation can still be displayed. This can be done through the tablature display option window.
    The following chapters are a detailed description of all the tablature types which can be managed by Harmony/Melody.

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