5-string banjo tablature wish

Hey,

I downloaded the demo and I like that you’ve re-thinked it from the scratch. Seems very very promising even though it’s unusable for me at the current state. I’ve been mainly using Sibelius and tried other softwares like Finale and Guitar Pro and although they have their strong points, I ended up getting frustrated with them. Especially when it comes to the banjo tablature.

I know this might not be your priority any time soon, but when you get to the tablature for fretted instruments, please make sure to get this right! The 5th string of the banjo doesn’t have frets 1-5, because it starts from the middle of the neck. Furthermore, if you built the whole tab engine so, that it included an option for customizing the starting fret for every string, that would make it easier to tab for a banjo that has a capoed 5th string which is used a lot. Also it would make it possible for guitar players to make tab for partial capos and such without having to make a ton of different instruments for different tunings.

Feel free to contact me, if you need a banjo/guitar players opinion or beta test when you’re developing the tablature feature! :slight_smile:

Thanks for your post. Don’t worry, we have already designed the data structures for handling tablature for fretted instruments in such a way that strings can start further up the neck, and indeed they can also increase in pitch by intervals other than semitones or half-steps. So when we come to work on tab we will hopefully get this right, not only for banjos but also for other interesting instruments like dulcimer.

Hi, first of all thank you for including my favourite instrument in Dorico! I finally made the jump and while I’m still figuring out how things work, I’m already happy how things are arranged within the program and looking forward to see what further improvements you’ll come up with.

A couple of questions/requests related to banjo:

  1. What’s the best way to change a tuning of a banjo in the middle of a score? Do I need to create different instruments with different tunings and change them somehow or is there a more elegant way? On a banjo this can happen when using the scruggs/keith tuners or with a capo.

  2. Fingerings when transformed from standard notation to tabulature are favoring open position by default. Is there a way to adjust it for position playing and melodic style? So, for position playing you’d have them ranging between certain frets and Sibelius was already doing that 10 years ago so shouldn’t be impossible. For melodic style (or campanella on classical guitar) you’d have the position and open string preference and that was also possible in Sibelius. Also with melodic style you’d be trying to get all of the consecutive notes on different strings, but maybe that’s too complex?

  3. Chord symbols for banjo only have one option. What is called standard here is the standard tuning for 5-string banjo without the 5th string. Even Earl Scruggs was using chords with all 5 strings fretted not to mention all the modern players and you can find both 4- and 5-string diagrams on his book which has been the corner stone for learning the 5-string banjo for decades. I understand you had the 5-string diagrams on Dorico before, so why not add a tick box somewhere?

  4. Dorico has the 5-string banjo and Tenor banjo, but seems to have forgotten Plectrum banjo. I guess this is no biggie as it’s fairly easy to modify from the tenor banjo, but maybe consider adding that as preset.

  5. Changing the show Notation/Tablature setting for a player in the middle of a song would save space in some occasions. This applies to guitar and other stringed instruments as well.

#2. Finale has this “minimum fret” capability too, and it makes it easier for someone with virtually no guitar experience such as myself to adjust TAB realizations as players ask for them.

I suspect Dorico has some rudimentary (or perhaps more than rudimentary) solution to this, but if so, for guitar novices such as me, it is opaque.

  1. Yes, you should create a second banjo instrument with the appropriate tuning, and assign it to the same player. In due course we plan to add explicit support for capo, which will not force you to use a new instrument.

  2. There’s nothing you can do at present to influence the choice of fingering that Dorico comes up with, though again we may return to this area and provide some additional options for where on the neck you would prefer the fingers to be placed.

  3. We looked at a decent amount of banjo literature and couldn’t find any examples that showed the fifth string. Obviously including the fifth string complicates things because then the chord diagram may sometimes not be drawn as a simple rectangular grid, so on the basis that we couldn’t find any examples in the literature, we elected not to support them – again, we may revisit this in future. We’ve had a look online for some Earl Scruggs music but haven’t been able to find any that show chord diagrams. Perhaps you could point us in the right direction?

  4. I confess I’d not heard of the plectrum banjo, and nor had my guitar-playing colleagues, but if I understand it correctly from the point of view of Dorico, it would be the same as the regular banjo, but with the fifth drone string removed? Please let me know if not.

  5. We don’t have any plans to allow you to hide or show tablature or notation for a given instrument in the middle of a flow.

  1. Okay, that answers the question about the capo, but how about using the Keith tuners like here on Randy Lynn Rag: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1YhXI7CX98 ? This is similar to pedal steel so if you’re planning to include that in some point, please allow this feature to be used on other stringed instruments as well.
  2. Please do! It would save a lot of time for tabbers.
  3. Well, actually if the fifth string would be played outside of the rectangular grid, it would be either open or muted so I don’t see a problem there. Usually the 5th string is fingered when playing up the neck anyway. Still it would be useful to be able to show if the open 5th string is available when playing open chords. I’ll include a screenshot from the Scruggs book.
    IMG_6913.JPG
  4. Yes, that’s pretty much how the instrument was created in the first place. The standard tuning for that however is little different with the 4ths string dropped to C (cgbd). For guitarists doubling on a banjo there’s also the so called “Chicago tuning” (dgbe) that is commonly used. Also the playing technique/aesthetics are little different. If you haven’t ever heard of plectrum banjo, listen to Eddie Peabody. It’ll make your day, I promise! :slight_smile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KESgZT4aYSA
  5. I understand. I guess there might not be that much use for the feature in general. For me it would serve the purpose of making notes that wouldn’t take a lot of space for something where there’s only short passages here and there that would require instrument specific information. Not a deal breaker, though.

With regard to the five-string grids, how does it look if the shape starts at, say, the third or fourth fret?

IMO it should look the same regardless of the fret so five strings all the way. That way you can put the fingering there when possible, but also are able to indicate an open 5th string. If you left the 5th string out or cut it halfway, how would you be able to indicate whether the open 5th string is played at all. The diagram should follow the Starting fret settings of the Strings and Tuning- window.