Add violin/fiddle-style tablature.

• Feb 23, 2015 - 17:12
S5 - Suggestion

First I would like to say that I love the changes to version 4 over all.
1) Tablature labels for the violin/fiddle are so different form other instruments.

Guitar and other Fret Instruments are like 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 ... etc.
On the fiddle / Violin players do not have frets they have positions, not to mention they are not marked in anyway what so ever (i.e. There are no frets just one big long smooth finger board and you have to learn where the positions are by feel not by markings), and they are and have been labeled the following way for years. The L stands for Low So 1L is 1 Low 2L is two low. The H stands for High so you have 3H or 3 high. Oh almost forgot there is no 2H or 3L!
0, 1L, 1, 2L, 2, 3, 3H

Not to confuse you even more but they are are also hand position. So you can have position 5,6,7 etc. For instance there is a position 5 on any of the strings.

The nature of the instrument is so different from fret instruments. At position 4 The notes is the same note as the next string.

Violin strings are G,D,A,E at position 4 on the G you playing the same note as open D, at position 4 on the D your are playing the same note as open A, at position 4 on the A String you are playing the same a open E.

I have attached two documents to help you out one is an image that shows the basic positions the second is a PDF the has a sample violin/fiddle tablature showing a good mixture of using 3H,1,0 2L, and 1L for a good variety. Hopefully this can help you get this corrected.



Here is a good right up by Jay Buckey. Other than where he puts the L and H on the Tab this is a good write up. The accepted standard now is to put the H and L up beside the Number instead on below like he does.

Attachment Size
fiddle_tablature.pdf 270.15 KB
Title Violin/Fiddle Tabulature is so very wrong. Support for Violin/Fiddle Tablature

There is currently no violin tablature support in MuseScore at all. So this is more a feature request. I guess you got confused by the fact that one can change the staff type of a violin to tab. I believe this is a bug and it shouldn't be permitted until proper violin tab is implemented.

It would be really helpful if you could link to an actual reference, something that most violin/fiddle players agree on. Maybe they already use a software in particular? Tabledit?

Title Support for Violin/Fiddle Tablature Violin/Fiddle Tabulature is so very wrong.

Here is another one that Shows a double stop at around measure 30 Where you play both the position 4 and 0 position on the next string to give that note more umph.

Attachment Size
westphalia-waltz-fiddle.pdf 46.28 KB

"No 3L?" Hmmmm. How would you play a D-flat major scale in 1st position starting on the G string? Granted there are several different fingerings that can be employed, but many people would play the G-flat on the D string by placing their ring finger in the same spot as the F-sharp, thus creating the nonexistent 3L.

Sorry I 'm surprised with the TAB. png picture for violin: Inside there is "5th" finger, which doesn't exist in violin, moreover on E string, note F # is played with the 1rst finger in first position, as well as note F, >>> what I saw is more close to 1/2 position than a 1rst position.
And in first position, note A on E string is played with 3rd finger

It would be very nice to have a TAB feature for the violin instrument. I'm a beginner and would really need this feature added to Musescore.

Dear webternals,
I am curious to know that
1) how did you find the fiddle / violin Tablature notation? I searched in all versions by installing one by one, but didn't see in any version.
2) where did you find the option "Fiddle" which is written in the left side? No musescore supports Fiddle but just violin. Are you by chance using any other software? :)
I would be grateful to you if you kindly provide me the correct version (and download link) and procedure to add the tablature notation of violin.
Thanks for consideration. Purnendu

You can edit the name of instruments as you like. Fiddle is just another name for violin. So add violin as an instrument, then right click the name, Staff Properties, and edit it to say "Fiddle" instead.

I think you might have missed the nature of my post. I wanted to have a tablature notation displayed under the score for violin for a given piece of music. I know how to change the name of a instrument.

Attachment Size
tablature.jpg 48.1 KB

Two questions:
- Is this tablature generally accepted in the world of fiddle playing (where the violin is officially called "fiddle")? Or is it this person Buckey's invention (he says "my" tablature at one point in the write up)? In which case it would probably be premature to implement it.
- This tablature is obviously intended as a learning aide. But it is very complicated. I am losing him when he introduces color codes for hand positions. Wouldn't it be just as easy for the kids to learn some basic solfège (I say basic: note reading, scales, keys, accidentals, intervals) along with the first bow strokes and then directly go to standard notation? (Or alternatively: Teach them to play by ear; that would be fabulous listening training too!). If you add full fingerings to it you basically have a tablature of sorts too, don't you think? With the tablature you make them learn all the complicated stuff with high and low fingers (which requires defining a "normal" finger position; there really is no such thing) and then going on to hand positions higher than 1, color coding etc. And when they want to advance beyond the basics of violin playing (for example to choose their own fingerings) they will have to learn to play from standard notation anyway.
The whole thing reminds me a little of the "new math" that was in fashion for a while which was supposed to help kids with basic arithmetic--except it was more difficult than basic arithmetic.

marc and cb3: Thanks you for your interest to reply my question.
I understand that you can edit the name of the instrument. But there is not violin tablature in musescore. I also want to have a tablature notation displayed under the score for violin. Which instrument's tablature did you use to write the violin tablature under the score? (tablature.jpg looks great and that would be sufficient to me) I shall be grateful to you if you kindly explain me the procedure to write the tablature line?

I had to hunt for this info myself and found this link that helped. see I had to use Ukulele tablature to make the fiddle tablature display. You have to right click on the tablature then click on properties to open up a dialogue box to rename the instrument from Ukulele to Fiddle then you have to "re-tune" each string to G3 D4 A4 & E5. After that you have to open the "fingers" palette and manually place the required finger position. As yet MuseScore doesn't have a plugin to automatically place the required finger positions as you create your score. It's difficult I know but right now it's the only way I know of creating a tablature for fiddle.

Yes I know. There was a plugin that gave the string name and finger number under the note to be played but that plugin doesn't work in 2.x

cb3, Thanks once again. I tried to follow your procedure and link. (see the attachments). I did not use the 'linked staff', but two different independent staffs. First I typed the usual score in line one and copied and pasted into the TAB line, which gives the finger positions. Then I re-tuned the strings.
1) But I am seeing all numbers from until 7, I guess. Actually it is counting lower and higher positions as two independent. How did you manage to command musescore to count as 1L, 1, 2L, 2, 3, 3H, 4 etc, which are basically 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 in my file?
2) what would be the number of frets for violin for musescore?
3) How did you managed to write the string names to the left? (I am not seeing any specific options).

Attachment Size
Drink_to_me_violin.mscz 13.04 KB
Drink_to_me_violin.pdf 18.16 KB

The original example I gave was an illustration of a violin tablature taken from a different program called TablEdit
It will let you create scores but it can be a little difficult to use. I only use it to create a tablature for a tune I'm trying to learn. Depending on the key the tune I'm trying to learn is written in, TablEdit will generate the finger position accordingly. For instance, in the Key of G the notes are G, A, B, C, D, E, F#. Correspondingly the finger positions will be D string note G=3, A string note A=0, B=1, C=2L, D=3, E string note E=0, F#=1H, and G=2.
Your fingering number refer to the frets on the Ukulele. Since your tune was written in the key of D the notes are D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D. Correspondingly D string note D=0, E=1, F#=2H, G=3, A string note A=0, B=2, C#=2H and D=3. Please see the attached file of your tune.
I hope this helps.

Attachment Size
Drink to ME.mscz 6.77 KB

Sorry, I am bit lost.
The last mscz file you have just sent were made in musescore or tableedit? (because I am not able to open mscz file on tableedit) . I tried to look at tableedit also, and I didn't find violin there either.
Did you edit my previous attached file on musescore?
If you are kind, would it be possible to make a screenshot of the steps, while doing? (and email me?) Possibly I am not able to understand the key trick. Anyway, here is my email:
Thanks for your kind consideration.

You have completely ignored the 4th finger. On the G string D=4; D string, A=4; A string, E=4; and E string, B=4. These are necessary to maintain tone color in a phrase and to avoid open strings. Occasional use of an open string is okay provided it is of short duration and maintains color. The open E string is almost always avoided, though David Oistrakh uses it sparingly in fast passages in Lalo: Symphonie Espagnole. I've taken the liberty of making minor adjustments to the "Drink to Me" offering that illustrates the above concerns.

Drink to Me.png

In addition, you have not allowed for positions in which there are 7 for each string. These extend the range of each string, maintain tone color, and are always really convenient making the music easier to play.

For your information, I approached this from the BEGINNER'S point of view. What you are describing is much more advanced than what a beginner is exposed to. Since I generated the tablature using TablEdit so that I could replicated it in Musescore for Purnendu, TablEdit generates the tablature as your enter a score, it too assumes that you are somewhat inexperienced with 2nd and 3rd positions. I felt that the method I used was the simplest way to enter tablature from a beginner's starting point.

Most beginning violin students start 2nd position in their 3rd year, and as such, are still considered beginners. It is a very difficult instrument to learn. If you're starting as a beginner, why not just learn to read music? Why handicap yourself with a notation that is very limited? To me, tablature not only looks more complicated, but there's a lot it cannot do. For instance, from the Sibelius Violin Concerto:
If your goal is to play only really simple music, then perhaps tablature is for you. But, if you want to do something more challenging, don't limit yourself.

I second this. However, how many people practice the Sibelius concerto? It is insanely difficult. But tablature becomes very complicated as soon as you leave first position. Hell, half position is not even included in the description quoted earlier. And it is practically unavoidable in certain keys (F sharp Major or B Major for example). One could include half position by creating a signature for double-low fingers (B Major on the A string: First finger on a#, second on b, third on c#, fourth on d#. Second finger would be double-low--low is on c natural). But it would add yet another element and make the whole even more complicated.

So the message is: Tablature will cease to be useful to you long before you start working on the Sibelius (years if not decades before). To my mind it seems genuinely easer to learn to read notes directly (with fingerings as required and adapted to the learner's skill level) rather than waste time trying to comprehend the complicated system that is a fiddle tablature.

However, "Jedem Tierchen sein Pläsierchen" as they say in German. If somebody interested is doing the work I am all for including it in Musescore. I just urgently recommend to skip tablature and go directly to regular notation when studying the violin.

I as the original poster have been patient with watching the comments go by. The statements by some are so miss informed at best.

Tablature for fiddle is much more complex than some here realize. Tablature done right is far better than standard notation. There are some fiddle techniques and bowing patterns that just can not be easily described for a "student" without tablature. Heck some of the advanced fiddling techniques are to describe period but at least tablature allows you to try and describe it.

Fiddling, not violin has some really interest articulation of the bow that you don't see on the violin. Sure the violin has it weird bowing as well but unless you have every seen the technique the standard notation text note about it means a hill of beans.

Both standard notation and tablature have their place. Guitar uses tabs, mandolin uses tabs. Tabs allow students to learn while learning. Someone has to create the tabs for the students.

If you don't need tablature then don't comment that no one else needs it.

Simple analog here is if your next door neighbor who is new to town asked you where the nearest gas station is; Do give them a map or do you give directions, or do you give them both? Same neighbor asked you to print out how to get to from New York to California for them; Do you print out directions, map, or both?

Directions and a map will both get you to your destination, both are valid, some people have a preference, and some use both, some use GPS. When traveling in unfamiliar territory my opinion, it is best to have all the information you can get in any and every format you can get it.

Thank you all for the participation.

Right you are. I used the Sibelius excerpt because it is an extreme example where tablature won't work.

Your comment on half-position will fall upon deaf ears if you're talking to violinists. It is almost never used. In fact, most violinists deny it even exists. (Even some professionals.) Violists use half-position infrequently, and when it is used, it is to avoid sliding the first finger between say, D# and E on the D string, for instance, where for violinists, that movement is much smaller and less likely to create a smear. Viola method books will occasionally include half-position instruction, but I have never seen it in a violin method book.

I would like to offer an additional point of view on the potential usefulness of tablature for violins, violas, cellos, and contrabasses.

For non-players of these instruments who need to arrange or compose music for them, having a linked tablature staff to guide them in avoiding impossible or too-difficult fingerings would be an extemely valuable tool. I routinely use linked tablature staves when I compose or arrange music for the viols, because I play viol very poorly indeed, and do not know the fingerings without 'counting on my fingers', as it were. If I sketch in a certain arpeggio and see from the tablature that the performer would be required to cross two strings to play it, or if I write a double stop and see from the tablature that the player would be required to shift up and play at the 7th and 9th 'fret', I can reconsider what I am asking the performer to do, and try to write something more reasonable.

If a highly experienced violinist (violist/cellist/contrabassist) were to collaborate in writing the algorithm for producing such a tablature, the resulting tool in MuseScore would be formidable indeed. It would help us non-string players to write music that real string players would be able to play without cursing the idiot who wrote it. ;o)

The reason for half position is not so much to avoid the "smear" (sometimes objectionable, but mostly not) but because the constant shifting up and down of the first finger makes the intonation unstable--a major problem in the keys in question anyway.
Though I admit that often it is smarter to use third position (or another position) instead where the problem mostly goes away. But as I was taught and in my daily practice half position is indispensable.

My main point though was that violin technique (including fiddling I very much suspect) is so complex and so flexible as to defy the creation of a simple, easy to use tablature. I read Jay Buckey's piece and found the system confusingly complex while not covering bowing at all and not covering anything left hand that is outside positions 1 - 3.

That special bowing: Why couldn't you just indicate it by an articulation sign (like staccato dots; there is a whole bunch of them)? If someone wants to learn it they will have to observe a competent player--there is no way to describe it sufficiently in words--and for most learners a teacher / coach who helps with the practicing is the best method; learning fiddle playing from a book with no other resources must be hard indeed.

As far as I know, I have not been plagued by unstable intonation. I don't know what that is. My decision whether to use 1/2 position or some other is determined by what comes before and what follows:


I can testify to your assertion about learning without a teacher. I lived in a town of about 3,000 when I first wanted to learn the violin, but there was no teacher available. I used a book titled "Teach Yourself the Violin" and acquired the instrument sometime later. Once I had the violin in hand and tried out my new found knowledge - well, you can imagine my disappointment. I was already into the positions when two years later we moved to a town where I was able to get lessons. My teacher was impressed with how much I had taught myself, but I don't recommend anyone following my example. A teacher is vital. I did have one thing going for me, though: I already knew how to read music because I had learned the trumpet, trombone, saxophone, oboe, piano, and organ, all of which I dropped once I started on strings.

1 - Tablature is generally not accepted in the violin world, especially not professionally. The reason is simple, violins don't have frets, and thus the rules of tablature aren't applicable in the same way to violin, as they are to guitar and bass. You need to change how the tablature works in order to use them for violin.
There's another, bit more abstract reason as to why it's not used professionally, and that is due to the fact that it's quicker to read notation than tablature. It's faster to see the shape of a chunk of notes than to read the numbers in tablature.
2 - as learning aide I would instead recommend to find normal notation music with fingers and strings written down. You can see the notation, and it says which finger to put on which string. When you get to a higher level it will also tell you how high up you put the finger, and the better you are the less fingers are written down. So what you're saying I completely agree with.

I learned playing cello with fingerings written down, and with each book I played, I got higher and higher up the neck of the cello, and needed less and less fingerings written down. Now I can play G-clef without fingering, on cello (wow cool yea i kno) !!!

Yes I know violins don't have frets but the one word that you used repeatedly is "professionally". When a violinist has reached that level of skill, a tablature is not helpful and not needed since the violinist has mastered 2nd, 3rd and 4th position as well. However, I'm a beginner (trying to understand 1st position) and I've found that tablature is helpful in that it shows what finger should be placed on what string when learning a new tune. Your suggestion to use string & finger nomenclature (G1 2 3, A1 2 3...) requires the student to manually write it down on the sheet music if the tune in question is an obscure tune not readily available. A graphical representation that is a tablature schematic of what finger to put on what string is very easily referenced (visually speaking) by the beginner until such time the beginner transitions to more skilled performer.

I can see why you find it useful, and yes, in the beginning you will learn the specific song quicker with tabs than with standard notation if you can't read it. What I think though is that you'll learn standard notation quicker if you, instead of tabs, have fingerings added to the notes. When you reach the level to where you'll be in more than one position you will find tabs unhelpful, or even obstructing, and then already knowing how to read standard will be really helpful.

My tip is aimed more for teachers than students though, so the teacher would write down the fingerings. If you learn without a teacher though, you will easily be able to find music on musescore with fingerings already written down for students. There are other sources as well, not to mention actual books written for beginner students.

The absolute only time it's recommend tabs for beginners is when the beginner is a young child in kindergarten, then I can see where the graphical representation of the strings would be useful, but even then, children who are taught by teachers usually have already learned the loose string's position in notation in the clef mostly used for that instrument. Because standard notation technically is more graphical than tabs you are usually really quick to learn where the fingers in first position fit in relation to the notes.

@cb3: Even as a beginner in first position only, you've surely already realized it's not as simple as what finger to put on what string. Play a G major scale, and your second finger on the A string will be in a certain place to play a C; play a D major scale, and the same finger on the same string will have to go in a different place to play a C#. That's the first reason why violin tab is a bad idea.

Before I start my rant there are always exceptions!

People, There is one instrument, and two classifications of the same instrument. There is the violin and it's classical teachings and sounds. There is the fiddle, named so because you are encouraged to "fiddle around" to find what works for you! These two styles are so different in fact that I you can take the best violin player in the world and ask them to play a folk tune and it will not sound like it is supposed too, it just want (There are some exceptions). You can take the best fiddle player in the world and they will struggle to play a classical piece with accuracy, or precision.

The problem is violin players classically trained only want to play what is on the sheet and are taught that 4 finger is better than an open string, they are taught 3rd position has a better tonal quality, first position is for toddlers. Fiddle players taught by hard core folk teachers are taught to express the music with their feelings, and to use their interpretation of the sound of the music, and that playing an open string is ok. Playing everything in first position is ok. What ever you feel the sound needs this time, do it, it is your interpretation.

Violin players will play very robotic and play almost the exact same thing the exact same way every time. Fiddle players will almost never play a tune the same way, and they tend to bend, and slide, and run, and trill when they fill it needs it, not because it is on some bar. Long bow violin versus choppy short bow fiddle players has been around forever!

The language is different, violin people say piece, fiddle players say tune. Leggato vs long bow, tremelo vs short bow. Spiccato vs bouncy bow. I could go on and on.

Folk, bluegrass, country players my never learn to read music rather they learn to play by ear mostly, they play what they hear! Violin players learn to read music before learning an instrument, and can't pick out sounds from their heads. (Again there are exceptions)

Music should not be so limited. A teacher should have what ever tools they feel comfortable using. To say well learn sheet music, that is the answer, the only answer. To be honest I play on a regular basis, have played with some recording artists, and to be honest I can't read music very well. It might take five minutes to read one measure, but I can sight read tabs for fiddle.

Don't say well fiddle tabs aren't standard, well neither is mandolin tabs, or guitar tabs, people should just learn to read music right. One standard applies to all. You can't cherry pick it, just because you want to either. You are trying to reach as many people as you can with a piece of software, then reach and try to meet everyone!

Look my point here is that stereo typing should not be the focus here, The focus should be whether or not you as developer of a piece of software will accommodate a reasonable request made by a portion of your user base!!!!!!

See my comment immediately above. Even for fiddlers, even in first position, C and C# are the same finger on the same string in a different place. Tab doesn't work for finger numbers, you need fret numbers.

Since you address me by name:

I agree with both your points. It seems however that teaching by tablature is quite common among fiddlers (i.e. in folk music). So why not let them have it? There is no way we can convince them, though they would indeed be wise to abandon it and use standard notation because tablature is by necessity much more complex than for instruments with frets.

As to buying music with fingerings you will hit a snag soon though: A lot of fingerings in sheet music are worthless: They are there where the solution is obvious anyway and they are missing where we would appreciate some help. And sometimes (often!) they are far from the best or even the easiest solution.

It seems a few misstatements or oversimplifications have made their way into your rant, webternals:

- "The problem is violin players classically trained only want to play what is on the sheet and are taught that 4 finger is better than an open string, they are taught 3rd position has a better tonal quality, first position is for toddlers". Only bad teachers tell their students stories like this. 4th finger is better than open strings sometimes and sometimes not. The third position sounds different from the first, not better; it depends on what you want to express with your music. More over "what is on the sheet" is only the notation, not the music. Classical players have to do tempo, phrasing, rhythm (i.e. strong and weak beats etc.), rubato and other elements to turn what is on the page to music. And, yes, they do that "out of their heads"!

- "Violin players will play very robotic". There are such players but you don't have to listen to them. There are plenty others (the good ones!). Try Gidon Kremer for an extreme example.

The argument here is not that any genre is superior to any other, the argument is that the details of violin/fiddle playing do not lend themselves easily to tablature. Hence violin tablature that covers more than the simplest beginner's needs is going to be very complicated, much more complicated than standard notation with fingerings. Plus for bowing you will need additional signs regardless. I am convinced that teaching with tablature makes progress harder, not easier in the long run.

Note also that tablature for fretted instruments translates to any fretted instrument, the only adjustment to make is the number of strings (and their tuning) and the number of frets. Violin tablature on the other hand works only for violin and viola (and only for some of the technical options). Cellists finger differently and would need a modified and even more complicated system (4th finger is not equal in pitch to the open string and in higher position the thumb is used a lot).

However, since tablature appears to be widely used even among established fiddle players it ought to be covered in Musescore.

Violin players can comprehend folk music fine, thing is they usually play in orchestra, where that genre doesn't appear. Folk music is usually written for small ensembles. In the same way though, "the best fiddle player in the world" will probably be able to play a normal baroque piece for example, because being a good musician also means being a versatile musician. Of course they'll have preferences though.

In baroque, open string if preferred. Violin players usually learn both. You are wrong. Violin players do not only learn to play closed string vibrato and shit, and I don't know why you believe that.

Robotic? What kind of hate do you have? Sure, I play cello, but dynamics are the most important things ever when playing an instrument, especially strings. It's more important than playing the correct tune a lot of times.

It's called a puce because it's usually a piece of a suite, a sonata, a concert etc. It's not the full thing. That's a non argument, you've got your facts wrong.

Music isn't limited, toy just don't like classical music.

In reply to by Martin78B

If you load a string quartet template there is string data attached. You can add a linked staff and change the type to an appropriate 4 string tablature type. From there you can add or delete other instruments, unfortunately 2 violins,1 viola and 1 cello are the max using this method.

Reported version 2.1  
Regression No
Workaround No

How do I know when to play G# on E, vs G# on D? I’ve been playing tab my whole life, and as I’m trying to learn sheet this is my biggest questions I’d live it if i could get some clarity.

Type Functional Development
Reported version 3.0

Hey everyone. I am a fiddle player.... hmm... lets clarify a bit... an experienced beginner and an experienced software developer (just not in C++). I am not going to re-hash the discussions in this thread. I see a need for both options.
What I want to try to do is address the request.

However the question is how and where does it need to be implemented.... I could use some advice from both users on how you think it should work and if any experienced MuseScore developers would be willing to point me in the right direction in the code base, both would be a huge help.
I will start digging around the code to see what I can find.

Here are my thoughts to get this started:
1. This feature should be implemented similar to how the current tablatures work for the plucked instruments but we add this under the Violin as say "Fiddle Finger Position" (vs tablature).

  1. On the scale it should list the string number vs TAB

  2. The flat and sharp should be indicated with a Finger number and "L" for flat and "H" for sharp. (ie. 2L)

A. How should the finger position be indicated? Dots, or dashes above the note? Say nothing for standard home position, and add a dot / dash for each position after that... I have no idea how this would be implemented in code yet... but lets think about it. (@@webternals is that how you note the positions and @@Bruce A Pearce is the bracket 3 under the note notes how the position is indicated in standard notation?)

I know this only scratches the surface. I know there are a million ways to address this.
My request is that if you don't use finger position or haven't used it then please step back and assist when we/I need some help with the correlation / trying to match the standard notation with something.
Fiddlers... deep breath I know it will be impossible to get 100% consensus on everything. I am going to start with Jay Buckey's fiddle tablature (thanks @webternals for posting) as a frame work and and go from there. If you have experience with something that worked lets discuss it. And in the end, if you don't like what is finally implemented, I plan to take a lot of notes so maybe you can duplicate, and create your own system too.

I did find the Fiddle Fingering for musecore that lalov posted here:

I have it working on my MuseScore 3 right now. It is a step in the right direction...

Here we or at least I go...

Workaround No Yes

the above template as well as the String Quartet template can serve as a workaround (as they do contain string data), just delete the instruments you don't want and add a linked staff to the ones you want, then change type to one of the 4-string ones

Reported version 4.0

There are actually fretted Violins like the Viper & another good update is to have the Musescore Tablature Note Symbols show every note value from 1024th up to Quadruple Whole (and even Octuple Whole note which is waiting)