Widespread in the world of string instruments, tablatures are useful and practical supports. They allow the musician to play a song without knowing the notes.
The tool corresponds to a visual representation of the handle of the instrument. The notation system is made up of characters and numbers that have been designed to make it easy for the user to read, understand and interpret.
In the particular case of the ukulele, the tablature system has certain specificities that every player must know if he really wants to master the instrument.
Reading a ukulele tablature: indications and landmarks to remember
Ukulele tablature is similar, in a simple way, to that of a 4-string bass guitar. The 4 lines represent the strings of the instrument. The lowest line corresponds to the 4th string, the highest string. The highest line, on the other hand, coincides with the very first string (the lowest string).
Each number represents a fret of the ukulele. These numbers are essential information, because they indicate on which frets and on which strings to play the notes. The letters displayed above the tablature are used to give the name of the chord (or its fundamental). Elements are read from left to right. And in the case where several notes are one above the other, it will have to be concluded that they must be played simultaneously.
The tablature also indicates the notations of effects and techniques. By interpreting these supports, the player will be able to make effects with his fingers (vibrate the string, slide from one fret to another or create a percussion effect by hitting the ukulele). Among the main symbols to remember, you have:
- B (or represented by an arrow): for the bend which is widely used in solos.
- V (or represented by a small wave): for vibrato.
- H with a small slur between two notes: for the hammer-on.
- P: for the pull off.
- The "/" (for a slide down the neck) and "\" (for a slide up the neck) slides. The slide can be rated S in some cases.
- X: for “dead notes” and percussion or chac effects.
The rhythmic symbols
The rhythmic symbols (the famous black, round and white) are also indicated on the ukulele tablatures. However, notation systems are generally very imprecise with respect to note duration and rhythm.
The player will therefore have to know the music to be able to identify the right rhythm to adopt and, thus, know when to play the notes and how to play them. In any case, the trick will consist in knowing how to count the beats.