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Visualinear tablature is a simple single-line system for notating guitar music. It is based on the beats of the musicís meter. The beats are represented along the line of tablature by Roman numerals.
The notation for melodies is simpler than for rhythmic (chord-based) guitar music. Notes are represented solely by means of numbers. The six strings of the guitar are numbered from highest to lowest in pitch (from thinnest to thickest). Fretted notes are represented by a string number followed by a parenthesized fret number. Open (unfretted) notes are represented by a string number followed by a parenthesized 0. The rhythmic timing of a note is given by the exact placement of the string and fret notation along the line of tablature. Most melodic notes, and especially for simple melodies, are timed either on beats or halfway between beats. Damp signs (apostrophes) are used to indicate the exact point in time at which notes must be damped (silenced).
Unlike melodic tablature, rhythmic tablature is governed by a specific chord fingering. Chord symbols representing specific chord fingerings are placed beneath the line of tablature at the exact points in time at which changes of chord must be made. The most common chord fingerings and the simplest barre chords are identified solely by means of chord symbols. All other specific chord fingerings are diagrammed at the bottom of the page of tablature score.
The notation for flatpicked guitar music is simpler than for fingerstyle music, since there is no need to show playing hand fingerings. Basic downstrums and basic upstrums are represented by Ds and Us. The exact placement of these strumming symbols along the line of tablature shows the correct rhythmic timing of the strums. Basic strums, and the symbols by which they are represented, can be modified in a number of ways (including damped strums, arppeggiated strums, muted strums, and strums over specific strings). Individually flatpicked notes that are notes of the specific chord governing the tablature are represented solely by means of string numbers. Individually flatpicked notes that are not notes of the specific chord are represented with string and fret notation.
For fingerstyle guitar music, the tablature shows the playing hand fingerings above the line, and the corresponding string numbers below the line. As with flatpick tablature, non-chord notes are represented with string and fret notation to show the exception to the specific chord fingering. In either flatpick tablature or fingerstyle tablature, two-note techniques (hammer-on, pull-off, and slide) are represented with string and fret notation. The two fret numbers between which the technique must be executed are separated by a hyphen. For slides, an S is placed above the hyphen to show that the second note is sounded by means of a slide rather than a hammer-on or pull-off.
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