Re: Whammer-Jammer Tablature


You make some valid points. However, I think tab
transcriptions can be extremely helpful, IF the
author has taken the time to think out a consistent
system that fits into the context of conventional
musical notation.

Have you seen any of the transcriptions produced by
David Barrett? I have a few of his books and the
tab is very clearly written, easily understood and
placed within a conventional musical context. 

Basically, he writes out conventional musical
notation, and then places the tab notation beneath
each line of music -- bar by bar. He also uses some
clearly explained new musical symbols for
harmonica-specific effects (indicating tongue
slaps, warbles, shimmies, lifts etc.)

I've found Barrett's transcriptions to be very
useful in getting inside some fairly advanced
pieces of blues music, including songs I've picked
up from William Clarke and Rick Estrin. It is
entirely possible to pick out a lot of stuff from
his transcriptions without being familiar with the
music, or knowing how to read music. 

I don't hate conventional musical notation, though
I'm no whiz at it either. I couldn't have gotten
through those blues pieces half as easily without
the tab, however. The tab helps me find my place on
the harp, the musical notation helps me see the
flow of the music. It's a beautiful relationship

I'm not sure why the SPAH magazine published that
old transcription of Wammer Jammer, unless it was
because they didn't have to pay for publication
rights. I agree, that particular transcription is
basically unreadable, confusing and a frustrating
mess. However, don't toss out the baby with the
bathwater on harp tab until you've seen it done

Harpin' in Colorado,
- --Ken M

"When you speak of Walter Horton, the first thing you think of is his tone, that big, fat tone."
- ---Li'l Ronnie Owens

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