Pedal Steel Tablature

• Apr 14, 2016 - 01:32

Long time user here...just began re-learning pedal steel guitar after a few years away and was wondering if there are any plans to implement pedal steel tablature? It can be quite complex in that you have 8, 10, or even 12 string instruments and usually at least 3 on up to 8 pedals/knee levers that change the tuning of each string. Usually a pedal or knee lever will change the tuning of 2 strings at a time, sometimes raising the pitch of 1 string by 1, 2 or even 3 semitones while dropping the pitch of another 1, 2 or 3 semitones.

There are several different pedal steel guitar configurations floating around out there but the most accepted one is a 10 string, 3 pedal, 4 knee lever setup in E9 tuning.

I've just written some pascal code that prints out all the chord qualities for an 8 string pedal steel with 3 pedals and 2 knee levers and would be happy to share my code if it would be useful to anyone at MuseScore wanting to implement pedal steel tablature :-)

Thanks,
Dennis


Comments

To get the conversation rolling, and for more information...

I noticed from another of your posts that you have already used the tablature feature for guitar. What, in your opinion, would be necessary to adapt it for pedal steel? As you probably know, the number of strings and tuning can already be tweaked in MuseScore. Could you not just adapt it for each configuration of pedal steel?

Also, maybe there are special symbols needed for pedal/knee levers?
Is pedal steel guitar music also notated using the traditional (non TAB) method? Is such currently possible in MuseScore, or are pedal/knee lever symbols also needed?

Can you post an image of what pedal steel TAB looks like?

Regards, and good luck re-learning pedal steel.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Thanks! Pedal Steel is quite a challenging instrument...or at least it is for me anyway :-)

What I'm really after is the ability to load a song in standard notation, open an 8 string pedal steel tablature staff below it, then copy the standard notation piece to the pedal steel tab and see how to play it! Sounds simple right? Well...not so much ;-)

So a quick background...I play an 8 string with 4 pedals and 2 knee levers, though the most standard configuration is a 10 string with 3 pedals and at least 2 knee levers. There are almost as many tunings and setups of which pedal(s) alter which string(s) as there are players (this setup is what pedal steel players call a "copedent" which is an acronym of sorts for ChOrd PEDal arrangmENT).

Next, for your questions.

1) I've tried to add an 8 string pedal steel tablature to the instruments.xml setup file and run into a problem. According to the docs, It appears the StaffTypePreset values do not include an 8 or 10 string tab option, only 4, 5, and 6:

◦staffTypePreset A staff type preset among "stdNormal", "perc1Line", "perc3Line", "perc5Line", "tab6StrSimple", "tab6StrCommon", "tab6StrFull", "tab4StrSimple", "tab4StrCommon", "tab4StrFull", "tabUkulele", "tabBalajka", "tab6StrItalian”, "tab6StrFrench". Default to “stdNormal”.

Is there a way I can create an 8 or 10 string tab that I'm not aware of?

2) Yes there are special symbols required to notate pedal steel. When a note is played with any of the pedals or knee levers engaged, the letter representing the pedal or lever is displayed next to the fret number (ex: "11a" would be fret 11 with the "a" pedal, etc...). There are also common situations where a player is holding down multiple pedals/levers so the notation must be able to display each string with the proper associated pedal/knee.

3) Pedal steel is also notated in standard notation which doesn't require adding the pedal/knee symbols. In those cases, it's up to the player to know/decide which string combinations and pedal/knee engagements would work best. Similar in approach to a guitarist seeing a middle C in standard notation and decided which middle C to play on the neck...but more complex due to the possible pedal/lever alterations that also enter into the thought process.

I've attached a couple pix...one of my 8 string D15 pedal steel copedent and the other of the pedal steel tab for Jerry Garcia's pedal steel solo from Dire Wolf. Hopefully these can get across the world pedal steelers live in :-)

Attachment Size
My Copedent.jpg 46.9 KB
DireWolf_pg1.jpg 92.44 KB

@ WytchCrypt...
I hope you were able to set up your 8 string pedal steel for tab in MuseScore.

I also looked at your tab example and was wondering how a note like 12A, 12B actually translates to standard notation. Also, the tab you show has 10 strings. Presumably that's for a different instrument than your 8 string pedal steel - maybe it even has a different copedent?

Anyway, you wrote earlier:
1. What I'm really after is the ability to load a song in standard notation, open an 8 string pedal steel tablature staff below it, then copy the standard notation piece to the pedal steel tab and see how to play it.

It's possible to link the standard notation staff and the tablature staff so that changes made to one staff are reproduced in the other.
See:
https://musescore.org/en/handbook/tablature#multiple-staves
and:
https://musescore.org/en/handbook/tablature#linked-to-unlinked
Be advised that with linked staves, when MuseScore 'translates' the notes from the standard notation staff to the tab staff it selects the string and the fret: always the highest possible string is selected. So, it favors the lower positions on the fret board. In other words, a basic one octave C major scale in guitar tab would start on 3rd fret 5th string and end on the first fret 2nd string, using open strings D,G,B along the way. So, for a given song in standard notation, MuseScore will not necessarily show in tab the 'best way' to play it. (As you said about the guitarist being able to choose where to play a middle C)

2. Pedal steel is also notated in standard notation which doesn't require adding the pedal/knee symbols. In those cases, it's up to the player to know/decide which string combinations and pedal/knee engagements would work best.

Since the standard notation staff doesn't require them, and if you want to add them to the tab - to show exactly how the song is played - then you might want to unlink the staves. Since use of the pedals/levers change the tuning of strings it changes the fret numbers from the basic tuning setup which was initially created. Using linked staves, there may be a conflict between standard notation and tab when the same note is on the same string but different frets, depending on the lever/pedal position. You are essentially changing the tuning of the instrument, and MuseScore doesn't recognize pedal/knee symbols.

Finally, to represent the 'A' and 'B' symbols that I see in your tab attachment, you might try adding some type of text (or edited palette fingering) to the note.

Regards.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Jm6stringer suggested :
Finally, to represent the 'A' and 'B' symbols that I see in your tab attachment, you might try adding some type of text (or edited palette fingering) to the note.

--------------
Can we edit the fret number text that appears in the tab staff to make it show anything besides a number? I would like to put # or ## or b or bb (actual flat sign would be better than letter b) after the fret number to indicate that a pedal has raised or lower the pitch of the string by 1 or 2 semitones. (..actually up to 5 semitones to be safe.)

In reply to by DwayneKong

You wrote:
I would like to put # or ## or b or bb (actual flat sign would be better than letter b) after the fret number...

Use an unlinked staff... Do you mean something like this?

fret_modifier.png

While the actual fret number cannot be edited, you can add a symbol from the Master Palette (View -> Master Palette -> Symbols).
(and of course, playback of the TAB staff would not be supported.)

Regards.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Yes, thanks very much; that's exactly what I mean. How did you cause the # or flat symbol to appear after the fret number? The fret number text is not editable, and when I drag a symbol from the master palette and drop it of the number, the number changes to 0 and moves to a faraway string.

In reply to by DwayneKong

1. Use *unlinked* staves so that, for example, a G - normally at the third fret of an open E string - can be notated in TAB as 1st fret with a trailing double sharp symbol (without affecting the other staff).
See: https://musescore.org/en/handbook/tablature#multiple-staves

2. Obtain sharps/flats from the Symbols Palette accessed via menu item: View -> Master Palette -> Symbols. See: https://musescore.org/en/handbook/master-palette#symbols
These are not the same as the sharps/flats from the workspace palettes (normally located on the left side of the MuseScore window). They are symbols, and do not affect pitch. Drag and drop after the fret number - OR - click the fret number and double click the symbol and use the inspector for exact placement.

3. For playback, the TAB staff should be muted, so the standard notation can be heard over the 'kludged' TAB.

Regards.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

OK, thanks again, my mistake was getting my sharps & flats from the "Accidentals" palette in Master Palette. Now instead I try the last palette in Master Palette, which is "Symbols" as you said, and of the 3 fonts in the drop-down font menu, I choose "Emmentaler" which includes sharps and flats which I can drag and drop anywhere on my score.

This will do the job even tho they are a bit too large and I haven't found how to make them smaller.
ptab.JPG

In reply to by TheStetsons

I don't know a lot about what is traditional in pedal steel guitar tablature, but you can see examples on b0b's Steel Guitar Forum at

http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewforum.php?f=8

As you can see, most people use pencil and paper, then scan it. There is also a program TablEdit that does tablature very well, and unndestands how the pedals work on a pedal steel guitar.

So it looks like there are 2 different ways to indicate the pedals/levers.

One way is to write the name of the pedal after the fret number on the chart; for example 10B on a G# string would indicate that the bar is on the 10th fret, and the B pedal is pressed, raising the pitch from F# to G.

The other way is to indicate the pitch change after the fret number; for example 10#. At the same time you can write the pedal names under the staff is if they were lyrics. This is what I have tried to do in the example above.

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