Number TAB

A new Tablature system to help you understand your NAF
and remember what you play

--
Please support this free article with a purchases

Native American flute music by Scott August
Sacred Dreams
Native American flute music by Scott August
Lost Canyons
Lost Canyons
Hidden Journey by Scott August
DISTANT SPIRITS
SACRED DREAMS
NEW FIRE
LOST CANYONS
RADIANT SKY
HIDDEN JOURNEY
BUY NOW!
BUY NOW!
BUY NOW!
BUY NOW!
BUY NOW!
BUY NOW!
Kokopelli's Flute: The Complete Guide to the Anasazi Flute
BUY NOW!

Virtuoso Anasazi flute player Scott August guides you through all the aspects of mastering this marvelous instrument. Learn how to produce your first sounds, discover its many scales, and quickly improve your playing while learning the fascinating history of this captivating instrument and its first virtuoso, Kokopelli.

Kokopelli's Flute: The Complete Guide to the Anasazi Flute
BUY NOW!

Learn how to buy and care for your first flute. Explore its haunting scale. Discover the techniques to start playing quickly and with confidence. Native American Music Award Winner Scott August's step-by-step instructions will have you playing your first notes in no time and on the path to creating your own music!


Visit our Download Store for Printable NAF Scores

Number TAB

A New TAB
An an effort to communicate quicker and with less misunderstanding I have come up with a new tablature system for the NAF. This has become extremely useful when teaching workshops and for my private students. Since the feedback I'm getting is very positive, and it seems to be helping people make more sense of what they are playing on their NAFs, I thought I would share it here. This new Tablature system is called Number TAB. Number TAB fills a gap between graphic finger symbols and NAF TAB. But ultimately it helps a player define what they are playing which which in turn helps them remember what they play. It also gives NAF players a fast way to jot down their ideas for future reference.

REMEMBER WHAT YOU PLAYED?
Has this ever happened to you? You play a song, or a tune, which you really like only to forget it later? If could have been a tune you played two weeks ago or two minutes ago, either way, it has slipped your mind. This is the most common complaint I hear from other NAF players and my students. Having trouble remembering the tunes that they create. If this has happened to you, you know how frustrating it can be.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You just need a different way to think about what you are playing. A technique to help you remember what you just played, or help you create something completely new. That is what this post is all about.

One of the biggest challenges facing NAF players when it comes to remembering what they play is due in part to not having a firm grasp of the NAF scale. This includes not knowing the names of each note. In the NAF scale each note has a name based on its interval distance from the root. Many people don't know this, including a lot of NAF teachers. It seems reasonable that if you don't know the name of something how can you remember it? If you don't know the name of something how can you think about it to yourself or talk about it with others?

Test your grasp of the NAF scale by answering a couple questions. If you can answer these questions immediately, without having to think about it, then you have a better than average grasp of the NAF scale. If you have to think about it, or don't even know the answer, then you'll find the information that follows extremely useful.

Do you know the name of this note? In the NAF scale it is called a 5th. Do you know how it gets its name?

How about this note? This fingering is give you a minor 3rd in the NAF scale. How does it get its name?

WHAT FINGER CHARTS DON'T TELL YOU
If you see a finger chart for the basic NAF scale you can easily cover and uncover the holes that are indicated. But what if you needed to pick out one of the notes and tell someone verbally to play it? How do you communicate that? If you don't know the name of the note then you have to say something like, "Cover the top three holes and leave the bottom three uncovered." That takes time. Time away from making music. What if you could just say, "Play the 5th"? or "Play the 7th"? Wouldn't that would be much easier.

One note-fingerings is particularly hard to describe. If I tried to describe it I would say something like the following, "With your top hand cover the holes corresponding to your index and ring finger, not the middle finger. Don't cover any of the holes on the bottom hand." Or I could just say, "Play the 7th", or, "Play 7". Either way, as you will see later, what I'm describing is this note:

Learning the intervals is not that hard. The basic NAF pentatonic scale only has five notes and the octave. That's only six things to learn. Anybody can learn them. You don't have to have a musical background to learn six note names, but you will become a better NAF player if you do!

INTERVALS: THE DISTANCE FROM THE ROOT
Number TAB, or NBR TAB, started with a need to name each note of the NAF scale to my students. Since this had to be a self transposing system, able to work on any NAF, in any key, it couldn't use note names like C or D# or F# because it would need to have a different sets of notes for each key. However, since every standard NAF uses the same pentatonic scale the intervals of the scale could describe each note across all keys. An interval is the distance between two notes. When talking about the NAF, that distance is the one between the root and the notes above it.

Below is the basic NAF scale shown in finger charts with the interval for each note beneath them.

The intervals tell you several things about each note. First they act as de facto names. Something you can recognize and remember. Notice that as you play up the scale the numbers for the intervals get higher. This is because the distance from the root increases as you play up the scale. Also, as the interval distance increases the notes get higher in pitch. So the higher the number the higher the pitch. The interval names also indicate if the note is a major or a minor interval. However, as you can easily see, in the basic NAF scale there are no major intervals, only minor, so that information is not that essential when only playing in the basic scale.

For those of you who can read NAF TAB here are the interval names below the scale shown in NAF TAB. (If you don't know how to read NAF TAB just skip to the next paragraph.)

Learning and memorizing the intervals of the basic NAF scale is something every NAF player should know within the first couple weeks of playing. I'm sure you've been told that anyone can play the NAF, that you don't have to have any musical background. While it is true that the learning curve for the NAF is very shallow compared to most musical instruments, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't know the basics about the notes you are playing. How else will you know and remember what you play? That would be like trying to write without ever learning how to read.

Although using the intervals can work as a TAB system it can quickly get cluttered. A better TAB system would be cleaner and work like real musical note names (C, E, G#, Ab, etc.), being just one letter or number in length, with a sharp flat or natural behind it when needed. (These symbols are called accidentals.) This need to reduce the note names to one character led to Number TAB.

NUMBER TAB
Here is the basic scale shown as finger charts and below them the Number TAB number assigned to each note. The interval names have now been condensed to their basic numbers (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8) to make them only one character. Since the default key is based on the NAF TAB key signature of four sharps we don't need to show that 3 and 7 are minor. We already know they are.

In Number TAB the number assigned to each note becomes its name. Since Number TAB is based on the intervalic distance from the root the number also tells you everything the interval names do, but faster and with more clarity. Notice how the root is now called 1 because it is the first note of the scale, while the octave is called 8. Octave being the latin word for 8.

Here are the Number TAB names shown below NAF TAB. If you are thinking that all of these different tablature systems are just different ways of expressing the NAF fingering, are right.

WHY USE NUMBER TAB?
The first advantage to Number TAB is that it takes much less time to jot down a musical idea than to draw finger charts or write it out in NAF TAB. (Assuming you know NAF TAB.)

Let's say you come up with a tune. You can jot it down in finger charts or in Number TAB. Both will end up meaning the same thing --which fingering to use, but between the two TABs, which of them do you think would take less time to write down and be faster to read?

Obviously the Number TAB version would be faster to write down and read later. Even if you have a blank finger chart template you still would have to ink in 17 holes to write the above five notes, whereas in Number TAB you just write five numbers. What could be easier?

EXAMPLES OF NUMBER TAB
Instead of trying to describe this one finger symbol at a time, in NBR TAB it would be: 1-5-4-1.

Here is another example. The finger symbols don't tell you anything about the notes, or what to call them. You just blindly cover or uncover holes. With each note you play you have to decode the six covered or uncovered holes in each diagram. That takes time

But with the Number TAB system you could describe the fingerings above as 1-5-3-7. Much less work and much clearer.

GETTING FAMILIAR WITH NBR TAB
Here are some exercises to help you get familiar with Number TAB.

These next exercises start with the NBR TAB first. Try to figure out the notes before looking at the finger charts at the end of this article.

#9) 1-3-1

#10) 3-1-3

#11) 3-4-3-4

#12) 1-3-4-5

#13) 4-5-4-3-1

#14) 5-4-5-7-5

#15) 7-5-7-8-5

#16) 7-5-4-3-1

#17) 1-5-4-5-7-5

#18) 8-7-5-4-5-1

HOW NUMBER TAB HELPS YOU REMEMBER WHAT YOU PLAY
As you probably have experienced, some times remembering what you just played can be frustratingly vague and illusive. However, if you know the Number TAB name for each note then what you play becomes clearer and specific.

As you play some notes concentrate on remembering the Number TAB numbers for each note, like a short password or combination. This technique creates a triple reenforcement. You start to develop a muscle+sound+name memory for each interval. Eventually this will enable you to hear a tone in your head and your fingers will play it automatically. It will become second nature. Since all the notes of the NAF basic scale relate to the root this will work on any NAF, in any key.

I use this technique when I improvise all the time. If I pick up a flute in the studio or on stage and the first thing that I play is 1-5-4-7-5, then as long as I can remember those numbers I can repeat them. Right away, or later in the song. I can also use the numbers to help develop, or "grow", my song on the spot.

This technique involves real improvising, not just "playing the horizon" or a tree line. You are in command of your ideas. By knowing the number associated with each note you can turn your ideas into coherent, polished, and professional sounding songs.

THE EXTENDED SCALE IN NUMBER TAB

OVER EXTENDED
If you are not familiar with the extended scale of the NAF then this section may seem very complex and confusing. If you find yourself not "getting it", don't worry about it. Just learn the Number TAB for the notes you want to use. Don't worry about the "why" and "how" of "major" "minor" "sharp" etc. It really has no impact on using Number TAB to play, write and remember your songs. Normally I don't even introduce the extended scale this fast, but it does belong here.

For the extended scale we may have to add an accidental as a suffix to some of the Number TAB names as those notes take us out of the basic scale. Changing a note in the basic scale involves moving that note up, or down, one half step. A half step is the smallest distance between two notes in western music. If you have a piano you can play any black key and then one of the notes on either side of it. If you play the note to the right you are moving up one half step. Likewise, if you play the note to the left you are moving down one half step. When moving up a half step the new Number TAB name sometimes gets a symbol called a sharp added behind Like C. When moving down the new Number TAB name can get a symbol called a flat added to it. Like A. If the note already has a sharp and you lower it, or a flat and you raise it, then it gets a natural symbol .

For example this fingering produces a major 3rd . A major 3rd is a minor 3rd ( ) raised up one half step. When a note is raised a half step it becomes "sharp", so in Number TAB this fingering/note would be named 3.

Another example is the fingering for the so called "blues note" . This note is a half step lower than the 5th of the basic scale, so in Number TAB it gets a flat sign, 5.

THE DEVIL YOU SAY?
Just for the record, a lowered 5th is technically called a diminished 5th. Its enharmonic equivalent is an augmented 4th. It is also called a Tritone and at one time was called the Devil's Interval. --I guess there is music in hell... In fact, in the Middle Ages the church forbade composers from using this interval and it was know as diabolus in musica (the Devil in music). However, in the NAF world it is usually called a flat 5 or 5, so go ahead and call it that. Unless you're feeling devlish!

The 6th is already major (due to the NAF TAB key signature). The other 6th is minor, or down a half step. In Number TAB that would written 6. Why does this lowered note not shown as a flat? In this case it is because the NAF key signature already has a sharp for the 6th. If a note already has a sharp (for example in the key signature) then to lower the note one half step you remove the sharp, which makes it "natural".

Here is the full extended scale with Number TAB.

For those you who read NAF TAB. (Remember, NAF TAB has four sharps.)

Here are the extended scale intervals for the music geeks out there, like me.

While all these extended notes might seem really intimidating, keep in mind that most songs use only the basic scale. The few that wander out of the territory of the basic scale only use one or two of the extended notes per song. So learn and memorize the basic NAF scale first, then add the most common extended notes to your repertoire . These would be 5, 3, 6, and 6 (aka 6)

UNCHARTED TERRITORY: ABOVE THE OCTAVE
It should be mentioned that the notes above the octave can vary greatly from NAF to NAF. Some will play the pitches shown using the fingering above. Others might play one or two of the notes, but not all, while some might need completely different fingerings than shown.

If you are interested in learning more about using Number TAB to help you create songs and remember your ideas contact Scott August about private lessons.

ANSWERS TO NUMBER TAB QUIZZES #9 - #18

© 2013 Cedar Mesa Music. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is unlawful.

Visit our Download Store for Printable NAF Scores

--
Please support this free article with a purchases

Native American flute music by Scott August
Sacred Dreams
Native American flute music by Scott August
Lost Canyons
Lost Canyons
Hidden Journey by Scott August
DISTANT SPIRITS
SACRED DREAMS
NEW FIRE
LOST CANYONS
RADIANT SKY
HIDDEN JOURNEY
BUY NOW!
BUY NOW!
BUY NOW!
BUY NOW!
BUY NOW!
BUY NOW!
Kokopelli's Flute: The Complete Guide to the Anasazi Flute
BUY NOW!

Virtuoso Anasazi flute player Scott August guides you through all the aspects of mastering this marvelous instrument. Learn how to produce your first sounds, discover its many scales, and quickly improve your playing while learning the fascinating history of this captivating instrument and its first virtuoso, Kokopelli.

Kokopelli's Flute: The Complete Guide to the Anasazi Flute
BUY NOW!

Learn how to buy and care for your first flute. Explore its haunting scale. Discover the techniques to start playing quickly and with confidence. Native American Music Award Winner Scott August's step-by-step instructions will have you playing your first notes in no time and on the path to creating your own music!


Visit our Download Store for Printable NAF Scores


Home | Mailing List

© 2013 Cedar Mesa Music. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is unlawful.

About

Recordings

Purchase

Reviews

News

Photos

More Stuff

Appearances

Mailing List

Contact

Blog

 

Recordings
by
Scott August

Hidden Journey

Radiant Sky

Lost Canyons

Ancient Light

The Complete Guide to the Native American Style Flute

Kokopelli's Flute: The Complete Guide to the Anasazi Flute