The Tablature

Composers for the vihuela, guitar and lute in the XVI century used the tablature for writing music. This method is still used today for those that do not know how to read music.

This method of writing music is a very simple one. Horizontal lines are used to represent the strings. Using numbers, letters or symbols, the fret is specified. For example: if Milán wants you to play the 1st string in the 1st fret, he would write 1 over the top line. Rhythm is specified using traditional notation.

Yet, there were some differences between composers in the way of writing tablature. The following table shows the main differences between the tablatures of Milán, Narváez, Mudarra and French tablature:

Luys Milán
  • Top line represents the 1st string
  • Numbers 0 (open string) - X (10th fret)
  • Rhythmic values: breve, semibreve, mínima, semiminima and fusa
  • An example from El Maestro by Luys Milán:
Luys de Narváez
  • Bottom line represents the 1st string
  • Numbers 0 (open string) - X (10th fret)
  • Rhythmic values: breve, semibreve, mínima, semiminima and fusa

Alonso Mudarra

  • Top line represents the 1st string
  • Numbers 0 (open string) - XI (11th fret)
  • Rhythmic values: breve, semibreve, mínima, semiminima and fusa
French Tablature
  • Top line represents the 1st string
  • Letters are used to specify the fret

©2001 José Rodríguez Alvira. Published by teoria.com


    
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