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How transcribe a tab to a midi program?

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TuxGuitar allows you to write tabs directly and export them as MIDI. If you're not a musician, using a piano roll will be much harder.

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Agreed with dk, in 2020 with all the programs out there you would save yourself a lot of time to just use a program that transcribes it for you. If, however, you were looking to learn to do it by hand, then you'll have to learn how a musical staff is structured and how it is different than tabliture. Most of that is just learning where the strings of a guitar fit into the staff, but there is an important distinction between tab and the staff: tab treats every interval as the same while the musical staff takes the key into account and essentially simplifies the scale down to 7 notes with accidentals noted, as opposed to the 12 notes being treated equally. Tab also tends to be less structured in general, so tab from one person could have a great sense of its timing whereas tab from another person could mostly be showing the order of the notes played. In other words tab doesn't always stand on its own.


From there, tab follows the structure of a guitar (while the staff follows the structure of a piano) so you simply find the string the number is on, go to the fret matching the number, and there is your note. There is no distinction of whether this note is in-key or an accidental, or how it fits into the whole picture. This is both a strength and weakness to tab, as it is typically more intuitively accessible for somebody just looking to learn to play a particular riff or song but doesn't give the full picture whereas the staff takes a bit longer to learn to read, but once you know how it becomes a quick and succinct way to learn and analyze every facet to a piece of music. Really both notations are cool for their own reasons.


To stop ranting tho, let's go back to considering how the guitar fits into the musical staff and maybe that'll show where to go from here:




The bass staff's top line is the 2nd strings open position. The bass staff being denoted as (going up) (lines) GBDFA [Good Boys Do Fine Always] and (spaces) ACEG, which puts the bass staff's top line (A) at that 2nd strings open position. You can see how the other stings fit into the treble clef. I forgot to mention this so editing this part in: the singular line between the bass and treble clefs is "middle C;" the treble staff is (going up) (lines) EGBDF [Every Good Boy Does Fine] and (spaces) FACE.


Let's take a look at a scale:




This scale is a bit wonky as it's written in dorian mode and tbh I'm not happy with this as an example, but it is a free picture for me to use so I'll roll with it, I'm not here to teach scales anyway. The main takeaway from this picture is to notice the differences between how the staff accounts for only 7 notes (without using accidentals) whereas tab accounts for all equally. As you likely know already, each tab fret is a half step, 12 of those and you'll hit an octave. The musical staff is arranged by keys/scales which is why it only shows 7 different notes without noting in accidentals. If you look at the first 2 notes: E is on string 3, fret 2, which corresponds with the bottom line of the staff. The next note in this particular scale (note not a standard scale you should learn for a while) is an F, which is a half step above E so that makes it the 3rd string, 3rd fret. As I'm sure you know being a guitar player, the 5th fret of all but one of the strings corresponds with the open position of the next higher string, so the 3rd note of this scale (G) can be played on the 4th string, open position (or alternatively the 3rd string, 5th fret). Notice that we are skipping frets without skipping lines/spaces on the staff. The 3rd string, 4th fret would be written as an accidental on this staff if it were played because its key does not account for a Gb/F#. Hopefully you can follow the rest of that picture.


A general tip that I prolly could have more poignantly noted elsewhere: when picturing the staff, consider that it is laid out like a piano; this is extremely useful and important.


The final thing you really prolly should know when reading sheet music is how it differentiates from the different keys one could play in. The progression of how sharps and flats are noted is exemplified by the circle of 5ths (or 4ths) which you should absolutely learn if you plan on reading music, but also should learn to be anything beyond a dumb drummer (I say this as a percussionist; much <3 to my fellow drummers ;p).




(Outer letters are major keys and the ones every musician should learn; don't worry about remembering their relative minors for now)


As a random, not too particularly useful example, let's say I wanted to take that E dorian scale (half-whole-whole-whole-half-whole-whole in terms of intervals) on that 2nd pic I posted and make it instead note the E major scale (whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half; sing along ;p), or more relatably let's say that we were trying to write an E major scale and wrote the notes (leading to our 2nd picture), but now we have to establish the key it is to be played in so a reader knows to play the E major scale instead of any other interpretations of the written notes. The first step would be looking to our circle of 5ths to figure out how many sharps or flats we have. Also, since this goes from an E to the sharp/flat between F and G, we can sanely note this as using sharps, not flats, so that's an E to an F#, (as opposed to an E to a Gb) which logically makes alphabetical sense (although the funny thing about music is that it is so relative; maybe that's actually an Fb scale). Ignore that though it's not important for now, what is important is to look at the circle of 5ths; the E scale is in the position corresponding to using 4 sharps. The sharps (and flats) always get placed on the staff in the same positions and in the same order, so our first sharp goes on F#, next C#, then G#, then D#. Now our picture looks like this:




(Pay more attention to the staff than the piano roll)


Hopefully this hodgepodge of a crash course helps give you some understanding and set you off on the right path; good luck as you continue to learn :D


As I'm typing this I see you've posted a thing; I really dont feel like transcribing all of it. Matter of fact itd be good homework after reading this to try to transcribe at least that first line; they're all minor chords from a quick glance.

Edited by Fonze : Added a couple things to be more complete

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Just look for a program that will do it for you :)


You don't have to know how to read a staff to make midis anyway, it just helps to see the big picture. As long as you can tell what notes correspond with what string and position (the numbers) then you can use a piano roll, but again there are midi softwares that accept tab so if that's all you know then you should still be ok.

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1 hour ago, Fonze said:

Just look for a program that will do it for you :)


You don't have to know how to read a staff to make midis anyway, it just helps to see the big picture. As long as you can tell what notes correspond with what string and position (the numbers) then you can use a piano roll, but again there are midi softwares that accept tab so if that's all you know then you should still be ok.

I looked one and is hard to use (is called Transcribe!) Tomorrow ill check more ty

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I agree, but I suggested TuxGuitar since it's a free and open source version of the same thing that runs on more platforms! I used to use Guitar Pro 5 but TuxGuitar has completely usurped it. It even loads GPX files, such a breeze.

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