Tablature wish list from a 5 string banjo player

• Sep 23, 2014 - 19:21
S5 - Suggestion

Musescore Beta 1

Tablature Wish list

1. The stems are too long. Right hand fingerings (T, I, M) are usually written under the stems -- this pushes too far down into the next line's chords.

2. The stems should reach up to the notes, not the bottom staff line. Maybe this could be an option.

3. Hammerons, pulloffs, slides, etc should be marked with a 'h', 'p', 's'... A great place would be similar to what you do with dotted notes in tab -- attached to the bottom right of the stem of the first note of the slur.

4. The stems would look nice if they were a lighter shade of gray. Today the stems are drawn with the same pen as the staff lines. Maybe this could be an option

5. Slurs are drawn from the first note to the last note of the slur. If the last note is in a chord, the slur will go from first note to top of chord. Slurs in tab should go from first note to last note of slur (not top of chord).

6. 5 string banjos have a capo on the 5th fret and a normal capo. It is common to capo the 5th and nothing else. Need some way to show this.

7. Every tab staff should have tuning info somewhere. Some programs write the note names just before the first measure on the appropriate lines. I know you can pull up menus and dialogs to see this -- I would like to see the tuning right out front and in your face.


Could you attach an actual banjo score created with another software?

1. Which stem option did you use? Can you attach a screenshot of how it look and how it should look?

2. Again, it would be better with a screenshot but if I understand correctly, the option is already there.
Capture d'écran 2014-09-24 09.18.38.png

3. I never saw this notation. A screenshot?

4. It's possible to change the color of stem and beams. Right click one, select all similar element, open the inspector (Display -> Inspector) and change the color.

5. A screenshot? It would be better to file a separate issue for this one. I guess the notes are sorted by pitches and the slur goes to the lower or higher pitched note. In some cases, that might cause the bug you are describing, but it shouldn't be systematic?

6. What is the standard way? A screenshot?

7. There is a discussion about this here Please add your voice and expertise there.

In any case, this discussion would have been better suited for the forum since there is no way we would fix all of this at once. The issue tracker is better suited for bugs or targetted feature request.

Attachment Size
Capture d'écran 2014-09-24 09.18.38.png 27.31 KB

I have attached a bunch of screenshots. Banjonews.png is the format used by the banjo newsletter which is what everyone is used to. Tabrite and Tabledit are the two programs used the most on other banjo sites. I also included some PDF versions.

I think you'll find they all have good points and bad. I like the PDF way to show tunings. I like the banjonews way of doing slurs (pulloffs, hammerons, etc). Notice that almost all the tabs have the right handing fingering (T,I,M) under the staff. This is very important for any finger picking tabs for guitar or banjo.

I hope this helps.

Attachment Size
banjonews.png 186.8 KB
tabrite.png 23.5 KB
tabledit.png 79.07 KB
pdf.png 34.82 KB
pdf2.png 28.46 KB
Unknown.png 213.79 KB
Unknown2.png 96.72 KB

For your information, you can get the desired result, with a little preparation for your scores of banjo, and a small correction at the end. I am inspired myself with your example on TablEdit.

- For the RH fingerings (I, M, T,) and others indications for LH ( P.o, H, etc.,) you simply enter this text in a score (or via the F2 key, for special characters). Then you drag them from your score, and drop in a palette of your choice (fingering, for example!), with the Ctlr + Shift keys.
Then you can reuse them as you see fit.

- The only slight limitation is that these letters are placed by default above the Tab staff. To get the result as attachment, I simply used the Inspector (F8). I select firstly "All similar Elements" then I chose in "Vertical Offset" the 15esp positive value.

For the H and Po (less frequent in this score), I replaced them manually (with the mouse or the arrow keys) above the Tab staff - or closer the numbers if you make this choice.

The whole takes a few minutes or less, but it's really feasible.

fingering banjo.jpg

Attachment Size
fingering banjo.jpg 27.31 KB

Thank you! I had no idea you could use the palettes like this. It really helps. However, I'm doing my best to get the powers that be to support pulloffs, hammerons and slides in version 1. The current tablature system in Musescore is excellent but skipping the p, h, s is like getting dressed up nice and forgetting to put on shoes.

I just found out that musicxml supports both left and right hand fingering. The [pluck] tag handles the picking hand and the [fingering] tag handles the fingerboard hand. The only program I've found that supports these tags is Sibelius and it tries to ram everything above the staff which looks really strange. After all how do you play a 'T' chord :-)

lasconic -- how did you change the stem options to create the tab in the attached png. I have looked everywhere and couldn't find the dialog that lets you change stem options. Thanks!

Wow! I don't know how I missed all that -- Musescore is an amazing product. I just spent a few days in Sibelius and Finale tablature (importing musicxml). Sibelius seems to always draw the guitar staff (6 lines) for banjo music. One thing I like about Sibelius is it displays rests in a very light gray font so you can see them but they're not in your face. Finale Notepad doesn't support banjo at all (guitar only) however it will import banjo musicxml correctly. The problem with Finale Notepad banjo tab is it crashes all the time and thus is unusable. So in the end, the open source (free version) is already competitive in it's tab in it's first release. 10 points Gryffindor.