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David's Tip of the Day: Transcribing Series, Part 3 - TAB with Bar Lines and Chords

David Barrett Admin's picture

I've now added what I feel are two important elements to a basic hand transcription... bar lines and chord changes.

By placing a vertical line after the last note of a measure (which in turn is before the first note of the new measure) you're helping to give a basic visual reference of where you are in time. Though you're not providing standard rhythm notation, which would show you exactly where you are in time, this is a good intermediary step when playing by ear.

Looking at the handwritten example I provide you, note how the 2" is before the bar line and 2 is right after the bar line. Now you visually know that the 2" is a pickup. You don't know if the 2" is on beat 4 or the "and" of 4 (upbeat after 4), but listening and playing along with the original recording will most likely direct you into the right timing. If not, then you'll need to dig into the next step, of which I'll provide for you tomorrow.

Placing a roman numeral above the note that lands on the first appearance of a new chord helps to both tell you where you are within the 12 Bar Blues Form, but it also helps you to understand note and dynamic choices by the performer (note selection is largely dictated by the chord being played over and dynamics commonly lead to chord change).

Visit for this handwritten transcription.