What Is Mandolin Tablature?


Quick Answer

Mandolin tablature is how music is written for the mandolin. Tablature for mandolins and other fretted string instruments is written by using one line for each string, resulting in the use of four lines with the mandolin, one for each pair of strings on the instrument.

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Full Answer

The top line on mandolin tablature does not represent the top string on the instrument, but rather the string with the highest note. In normal tuning of the instrument, the top note is tuned to E, the next highest to A, then D, and finally G. However, this changes if the mandolin is tuned differently, as occurs with DGAG tuning.

Specific notes are indicated by number, indicating the fret at which the player holds down the string. If there is no number, then the string is not played. A zero indicates an open string, meaning the string is played without being held down. Chords are represented by groups of numbers, starting at the top and going down, all underneath each other. The duration of notes is indicated by the horizontal spacing between them. Notes that are evenly spaced apart are played for the same duration, while those that are spread further apart are held for a longer duration and those closer together are held for less duration.

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