Number TAB part 2

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 part 2

Number TAB And Rhythm
One of the biggest drawbacks to using Graphic TAB flute symbols, is the inability to express rhythms. However there is a way to show rhythms in Numbers TAB. But before we jump right into that let's talk a little about rhythm in general.

The Long and Short of Rhythm
One of the basic building blocks of writing, or improvising, a melody is rhythm. Rhythms are the notes of different lengths (durations) that float above the steady underlying beat (the pulse) of a song. As you have most likely experienced when listening to music, you tap your foot to the steady beat (the pulse), while the melody and its rhythms float above it with notes of varying lengths.

Even if you don't know anything at all about rhythms you can start playing simple melodies just by using long notes and short notes. Combining long and short notes is at the heart of constructing rhythms.

Hold It Right There!
The amount of time you play a note is also called "holding" the note. Therefore you could say, "Hold the last note the same amount of time it takes to play the first four", or "Hold the last note longer".

Rhythms tend to come in groups that repeat a few times. When combined with notes, or pitches, they can be very powerful forces that make a melody recognizable. Many famous melodies are unrecognizable when the notes are separated from their rhythm, but can still be identified by from their rhythm even without the notes present.

When it comes to music, simpler is better. With that in mind let's create a rhythm made up of just three notes: two short notes and one long note. As a shorthand we will use an S to indicate a Short notes and and L to indicate a Long note. The long note will be followed by dash, L - , indicating that its duration is twice as long as one short note.

S S L -

The duration of the two Short notes combined is equal to the duration of one Long note. We can display this as

S + S = L -

This combination of two Short notes and one Long note is a good, easy rhythm to use for a simple melody. We will use the rhythm S S L - as the basic building block of our melody by repeating this rhythmic pattern four times. As stated earlier, it is very common for a rhythmic pattern to be repeated in a melody. (Not a rule, just common.) Here is how this looks.

S S L - ' S S L - ' S S L - ' S S L -

Fig 26c

In the example above there are four groups, or cells, of Short-Short-Long notes. The first three cells end with a breath, indicated by an apostrophe '. Notice how the Long note ( L - ) is followed by a dash indicating that you play a Long note twice as long as a Short ( S ) note. When we start to assign rhythms to Number TAB numbers a number without a dash will be equal to a Short note, while a number followed by a dash will mean a Long note.

You should play the rhythms above. For now, don't worry about which notes you pick, just try to get familiar with playing Short and Long note notes. If it makes it easier you can play just one note throughout. Then repeat it several different times, each time playing different notes (fingerings) for each Short and Long note. Pay attention to how the repeated rhythmic pattern gives your tune a sense of unity regardless of which notes you play. Try to make the very last note the root note. (The last Long note.) This will help make your tune feel as if it has resolved. That it has "gone home." Even better, except for the very first note, see if you can avoid playing the root at all until the very last note. Avoiding the root can help keep your music moving as the root note is perceived by the listener as a note of repose. An ending.

Experimentation
As you play different notes in different places in the exercise above you'll start to discover that some notes sound better to your ears than others. The combination of notes you can play is infinite and this type of experimentation can sometimes lead to wonderful music. Playing the same notes leads to being in a "rut". The only way to get out of a rut is to try new things. If you play something you like, write it down in Number TAB for later.

Here is the same exercise but with Number TAB numbers assigned to each note.

As we saw in figure 26c, this tune is comprised of four groups or cells. The top row shows the note durations, the bottom row shows the Numbers TAB for each note and their durations as well. Remember: a number by itself equals a Short note while a number followed by a dash equals a Long note.

Now we will change the order of the long and short notes, and the Number TAB notes. Notice that this little tune has an arch shape and, like Fig 26c, consists of four groups.

 

Rhythms In Number TAB
We have seen that the length of a note in Number TAB is based on the concept of Short and Long durations. The previous examples have shown them as a combination of a Number TAB number by itself for short notes and a dash for long notes. In all music rhythm is the combination of longer and shorter notes and how they lie on, or off, the pulse. The beat.

There are notes of other durations in addition to Short and Long notes. As shown in the reference chart below there are five basic durations. Starting with the longest they are: Extra Long, Long, Short, Extra Short, Super Short. (The duration of a note is also called its value.)

Here is a chart showing these durations, their names and how they are displayed in Number TAB. If you read music you can also cross reference their relative names and symbols.

Fig 28a
If you don't understand some of the references to specific Note Names, like quarter, half,
whole, etc,. don't worry about it. We will look at this again later in more detail.

 

Here is a brief description of each length show above.

A number all by itself represents a Short note. Most of the time a short note will represent the underlying pulse or beat. (What you tap your foot to.) A Short note is the equivalent of a quarter note.

A number follow by a dash, ( 1 - ) means play the note twice as long as a number by it self. This is called a Long note and is the equivalent of a half note.

1 - - is three times as long as a short note and is similar to a dotted half note. We will look at dotted notes later.

1 - - - means hold the note four times as long as a short note. This is an Extra Long note and most of the time will be the longest note you'll encounter. It is like a Whole note.

A number with a line beneath ( 1 ) it is an Extra Short note and is half the length of a Short note. (A Short note divided in half becomes two Extra Short notes. S = S S) It is comparable to an eighth note. Up to four Extra short notes can be joined to make groups of them easier to see: 1 3 or 1 3 1 or 1 3 4 3

1 is a super short note, comparable to a sixteenth note. Two super short notes are equal to one extra short note, or 1 1 = 1 Up to four Extra short notes can also be joined: 1 3 5 4 making groups of them easier to see.

Rests are shown as a zero, 0, with any added dashes, dots, underlines or cross outs to indicate the duration.

Breath indicators are a apostrophe: '

Dotted notes occur when a note plus half its value are added together. We will look at dotted notes in the next section.

It's All Relative
Except for the dotted notes, which will be discussed later, each of the five main note durations is half the value of the note above it, or twice the value of the note below it. Here is a chart (Figure 29a) showing the relative durations. For now we will only use the number for the root, 1, to show each type of note's duration.

 

Looking from the top down we see that one Extra Long note is equal to two Long notes; four Short notes; eight Extra Short notes; and sixteen Super Short notes. Likewise, four Short notes are the same as one Extra Long note or sixteen Super Short notes. The relationship between the durations works both up or down the chart.

This relative value stays the same regardless of the tempo, i.e., the speed of the pulse.

To illustrate how this works here are several groups of notes that are equal in total duration. See if you can figure out how many Short notes or their equivalent, are in each line.


Figure 33a

To determine how many short notes are in each line you need to figure out the relationship that other types of note lengths have to a Short note. Let's go through each line and see the relationships.

#1 has two long notes. Each Long note is equal to two Short notes.

#2 has exactly four Short notes.

#3 has two instances of two Extra short notes plus one long note. Two extra short notes are equal to one short note. Line #3 has a total of four Short notes.

#4 has one short, two extra short, four super short and two more extra short. Four super short notes equal one short, as do two extra short notes. Line #4 has a total of four Short notes.

#5 has one extra long note, which is equal to four short notes.

We now see that each line has the equivalent of 4 short notes!

Come Together
Why does this matter? As was pointed out earlier, the vast majority of music has an underlying, steady beat. A pulse. Since the beat is a constant we can, and need to, assign one type of note duration to be equal to the beat. This helps us keep track of where we are in the music and keeps all the different durations working together. This is especially important if two or more people are playing together.

Although any note duration can be assigned to represent the beat, for the vast majority of music the beat is assigned to what is called a quarter note. In Number TAB the equivalent of a quarter note is a Short note.

Not only is the beat normally equal to a Short note, but as we will see, beats are typically lumped together in groups of four. Just like figure 33a above.

Being able to see the beat underneath the rhythm is essential to reading, writing and playing music.

It is easy to spot the number of short notes in a small group, but what if we were looking at a long string of notes, or even a melody? Take a look at this basic scale shown with all short notes:

1 3 4 5 7 8 8 7 5 4 3 1
Fig 30a

There are twelve total notes in the line above. But does that mean that this is one group of 12 notes, or two groups of 6 notes, or three groups of 4 notes, or even four groups of 3 notes? We have no way of knowing because nothing tells us how to look at these notes.

What happens when different note lengths are shown? Here is the scale with every other note twice as long, starting with the first note:

1 - 3 4 - 5 7 - 8 8 - -' 8 - 7 5 - 4 3 - 1 1 - -
Fig 34b

Even though we can see the length of each individual note we can not see how they should be grouped or any patterns that might exist between them. Almost all music has some repeating patterns and, more important, notes that naturally get more emphasis. More stress.

When beats are arranged in groups, like the groups of four Short notes shown in figure 33a, the first note of the group gets the most natural stress. This is true no matter how many beats are in a group.

For example, if fig 34b is broken up into groups of three Short notes by vertical lines the first beat of each group gets the most stress. (Fig 34c)

| 1 - 3 | 4 - 5 | 7 - 8 | 8 - -' | 8 - 7 | 5 - 4 | 3 - 1 | 1 - - |
Fig 34c

Now we can clearly see that most of this tune consists of the rhythm Long + Short, L - S. The first notes in each group, as indicated by the vertical lines, called Bar Lines, get the most stress of the three notes in each group. Dividing up the notes in a melody this way is a way of "measuring" the music and helps clarify the music, both during the creating and playing stages.

Let's look at another example. Here is a short melody

5 4 3 1 3 - 4 - 5 4 3 1 3 - - - 5 4 3 1 3 - 5 - 4 3 4 3 1 - - -
Fig 34d

We could just play the notes as they are written, but dividing them into smaller groups will help us see the structure better.

| 5 4 3 1 | 3 - 4 - | 5 4 3 1 | 3 - - - | 5 4 3 1 | 3 - 5 - | 4 3 4 3 | 1 - - - |
Fig 35a

 

It is much easier to display this melody arranged in eight groups. Each groups being four Short notes in length. So how does one begin to divide music into groups?

Grouping Notes: Measured Time
Music tends to be broken down into smaller groups that are put together to make a song. In written music these groups are called measures. Each measure had a fixed number of beats, or pulses, that is represented by a specific note value. Remember, the pulse is what you tap your foot to when listening to music. In most songs the number of pulses per measure is usually the same as the other measures in the song. For example each measure in a song might have the equivalent of four pulses per measure, with each pulse is represented by a Short note. As, we saw in figure 33a this doesn't mean that each measure is only made up of four short note but that the different note lengths in each measure will add up to the equivalent of four Short notes.

In Number TAB a measure will be displayed as Number TAB notes placed between two vertical lines. One at the front of the measure, the other at the back.

| -Number TAB notes- |

Below are four measures. The first measures has four Short notes, the second measures has two Long notes, the third measures has one Long note and two Short notes, while the last measure has only one extra Long note. If you compare all of these notes using the chart above you will find that each measure has the equivalent of four Short notes in it.

| 1 3 4 5 | 4 - 7 - | 5 - 4 3 | 1 - - - |

All of these groups equal each other in that they take the same amount of time to play. (Four Short notes.) It is extremely common for songs to be made up of smaller groups that are the same length through out.

Let's go back to the tune from above, Fig 35a. It shows how a the rhythms of a tune can be split up into measures, each consisting of four short notes. Rather than making the performer figure this out by counting the notes in each measure we can put a symbol at the front of the TAB line to tell them how the measures are divided. In real music this is called a "time signature" and usually consists of two numbers. One above the other, like this:

Number TAB also has its own version of a time signature. It consists of a number, a slash and a letter:

4/S

The number tells the performer how many pulses, or beats are in each measure, while the letter tells them what note length is equal to the beat. In the example above the number 4 tells us there are four beats in each measure, while the S, stand for Short, as in Short note. This means there are the equivalent of 4 beats, or pulses in each measure and that a Short note is equal to the beat.

4/S | 5 4 3 1 | 3 - 4 -' | 5 4 3 1 | 3 - - -' | 5 4 3 1 | 3 - 5 -' | 4 3 4 3 | 1 - - - |

Here is the scale from Fig 34b with longer and shorter notes. It now has a time signature of 3/S. Can you figure out what the time signature means? Do you know which notes get more stress?

3/S | 1 - 3 | 4 - 5 | 7 - 8 | 8 - -' | 8 - 7 | 5 - 4 | 3 - 1 | 1 - - |

Notes are grouped for several reasons. To help the player not get lost. To keep performers together. One of the most important reasons to group notes in measure is to create a pattern of strong and weak beats. As will be shown later, the most common grouping for this purpose is groups of four, with the strongest notes being the first and third of the group. We will learn more about strong and weak beats later.

Time to try another simple tune. Play the tune below and try to make the relative note durations accurate.

4/S | 1 3 4 5 4 3 | 1 3 4 5 7 - | 1 3 4 5 4 5 | 4 5 4 3 1 - |

It might help you to tap your foot once for each short note. When you do that you can "count" the relative length of each note relative to your foot taps. Each tap equals one Short note. Short notes will get one foot tap, Long notes will get two foot taps while there are two Extra Short notes per foot tap.

How To Count
The best way to stay with the beat and not speed up or slow down is to count the beats as you play. This is especially true when you are first learning to play a tune or, as we will look at later, trying to figure out a tune that you have come up with.

Obviously if there are four beats in a measure the beats are labeled 1, 2, 3, 4. Showing a note on the root we can look at this without too much confusion. When playing or clapping this rhythm we would say, or think, "One, Two, Three, Four". This is shown below as 1 2 3 4. Each beat gets its own number. If you clap your hands for each note and count at the same time you should count a number each time you clap. Each clap should be the same length.

This works well if the song only has Short notes or Long notes, but what about tunes that have Extra Short notes? Theses have two notes per beat and each has to last the same amount of time. No speeding up or slowing down.

What musicians do to count Extra Short notes is to assign the word "and" to the back half of the beat. Just like some people add the word "Mississippi" when trying to count seconds, musicians use the word "and" to help space out the notes evenly.

In the example below we will use the symbol "&" instead of the word "and" to keep everything uncluttered.


Figure 38a

If you are wondering, "Do musicians really count '1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and' while they are playing?'", the answer is yes! Especially if they are just learning a tune or a tricky rhythm. This is true even if the rhythm is not all Extra Short notes. They will still count the "and" of each beat to keep them from speeding up or slowing down and to be ready to subdivide a beat when it a subdivision occurs.

Clap the measure below while you count each beat and the "and" of each beat. It will help you be ready for, and play, the Extra Short notes on beats #3 and #4.

 
Figure 38b

It is not uncommon to say, or think, the smallest division of the beat that is found in a tune. If the smallest division of the beat is Extra Short notes we say "One-and, Two-and, etc,. If the smallest division is a Super Short note (a sixteenth note in NAF TAB) then we say, "One-ee-and-ah, Two-ee-and-ah, etc..." which can also be shown as "1-e-&-a, 2-e-&-a, etc. If you use this counting technique for the example below you will already be thinking in Extra Short notes before they happen and will be ready for them.


Figure 38c

Whenever there are examples that show notes and rhythms it is always a good idea to count each beat as shown above. Your command of rhythm and ability to play it will improve exponentially.

To put this all into the real world here is an easy, short song notated in Number TAB. Note the time signature of four Short notes per measure. (4/S) All of the rhythms are straight forward, being even divisions or multiple of the basic Short note beat (pulse, or foot tap). To make this even easier look for rhythms that repeat later in the song so that you don't have to re-learn them.

Using Number TAB is a great way to jot down your ideas quickly, understand the intervals of the NAF basic scale and not have to deal with clumsy finger charts. It's clean, fast and precise.

Number TAB is also good as a learning aid when placed below NAF TAB, instead of finger charts. To see this in action I've made available a PDF score of Native Trails using both NAF TAB and Number TAB. The score contains two different versions of Native Trails. A simple version, like the one above, and one with suggested ornamentations, including chirps and turns, demonstrating how to spice up a simple song.

Native Trails TAB Preview Native Trails TAB Preview

Native Trails

Add to Cart
Price
$1.99

A combined Number TAB + NAF TAB score of Native Trails
With and without ornamentation

For more Printable NAF scores visit our Download Store

View Cart

--
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