4/2/09 The How and the Tao of Old Time Banjo

3/17/09 Outlaws & Scalawags!

3/2/09 A Book Of Five Strings – COMPLETE!

2/28/09 – A Book Of Five Strings

2/25/09 – UPDATE 

Ruud in the Netherlands writes:

I am very visually impaired, well, let’s make this part less technical and say I’m almost blind. Therefore I needed to pick up most stuff by ear, which is fine by me. However I wanted to ask you if you would be so kind to write out tabs in a way that I can use them. The graphic representations as they are on sites, etc don’t work for me. I already know a bunch of songs because of the homespun tapes’ stuff I have, but most you do in part eight of you and your dad’s old time banjo vid isn’t on there, except boil ‘em cabbage down of course and the youtube buttons (play, stop, rewind, etc) I can’t use, so no chance of rewinding to listen again and figure it out. Notes or string and fret number would help out already. Just to give an example:

Willy Moore

g0h2 2 2-4 b3

b3 g4 4-2 0

or simply:

gha a ab D

D b ba g

note: I did the D in caps just to mean it’s the second octave and in the first one i put the string note only when it changes. I know on the spaces there’s a strum, except for when there are two notes, which aren’t hammer-ons, pull-offs or slides. And it’s only a little part of the song anyway.

But, if you could send me some tabs I can work with, that would be great and very much appreciated.

I looked at the examples Rudd sent and made a few changes.

The formula I came up with goes as follows:

Each line represents a single measure.

Each line is numbered.

Tab is represented by string number – fret number – note value

Q = quarter note

E = eighth note

S = sixteenth note

3-0-Q tells you to play the third string open for a quarter note value.

For chords I have the name of the chord followed by ST for strum thumb.

G-ST tells you to play a strum thumb from a G chord.

A number after a chord tells you what fret to play the chord

G5 = G chord at the fifth fret

h = hammer-on

p = pull-off

s = slide

b = bend

1-2p0 tells you to play a pull-off on the first string at the second fret.

1-h2 tells you to play a hammer-on at the first string second fret.

Phantom effects are represented by /

3-0 /h 4-2 tells you to strike the third string open and play a phantom hammer-on on the fourth string at the second fret

Double thumbing, a frailing banjo technique where you cut quarter notes in half by thumbing the fifth string is represented by dt

3-0-dt 2-0-dt 3-0-dt 2-0-dt

Notes played with the thumb are marked with an asterisk *

This will make it easy to indicate drop-thumb patterns. 

1-0-E 2-*0-E 1-0-E 5-*0-E  tells you to strike the first string, thumb the second string, strike the first string and thumb the fifth string

Rests are indicated with the note value followed by an R. 

RQ = quarter note rest RE = eighth note rest

Here is the old folk song Turtle Dove :

(download as a text file)

Turtle Dove
4/4 time
Key of G
G Tuning

3-0-Q G-ST 3-0-Q 3-2-Q 

3-0-Q 4-2-Q 4-0-Q G-ST 

3-0-Q G-ST 3-2-Q 2-0-Q

2-1-Q C-ST 2-1-Q C-ST  

1-0-Q G-S-T 1-0-Q 1-2p0

2-0-Q G-ST  3-0-Q G-ST

3-2-Q D7-ST 3-2-Q 3-0-Q

2-0-Q G-ST 3-0-Q G-ST

3-2-Q D7-ST 2-0-Q 3-2-Q

3-0-Q G-ST 3-0-Q G-ST

In standard tabulature Turtle Dove looks like this (click to enlarge):


I will knock out a few more tunes for Ruud, but it would be cool if some other folks sent in some songs. We could build a small collection of tab to help folks with visual impairments.

So far Tim from Korea, Pat from Michigan and Ytske from Sweden have taken the time to jot down tunes with this alternative tab system.

2 Responses to “Braille-Friendly Banjo TAB”

  1. [...] Braille-Friendly Banjo TAB [...]

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