Keyboard tablature
Keyboard instrument
A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument which is played using a musical keyboard. The most common of these is the piano. Other widely used keyboard instruments include organs of various types as well as other mechanical, electromechanical and electronic instruments...

/ Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

is a system of tablature or musical notation
Musical notation
Music notation or musical notation is any system that represents aurally perceived music, through the use of written symbols.-History:...

 written using letters and numbers that designate the timing and keys to hit on a keyboard or piano. Modern piano tablature is based on scientific pitch notation
Scientific pitch notation
Scientific pitch notation is one of several methods that name the notes of the standard Western chromatic scale by combining a letter-name, accidentals, and a number identifying the pitch's octave...

, a variation of letter notation
Letter notation
In music, letter notation is a system of representing a set of pitches, for example, the notes of a scale, by letters. For the complete Western diatonic scale, for example, these would be the letters A-G, possibly with a trailing symbol to indicate a half-step raise--, or a half-step lowering...

 which has roots going back to the 11th century when Italian Guido of Arezzo
Guido of Arezzo
Guido of Arezzo or Guido Aretinus or Guido da Arezzo or Guido Monaco or Guido d'Arezzo was a music theorist of the Medieval era...

 developed Solfege
In music, solfège is a pedagogical solmization technique for the teaching of sight-singing in which each note of the score is sung to a special syllable, called a solfège syllable...

An example of modern piano tab notation - the scale of "f" played on 2 octaves:


  • The numbers on the left (3, 2, 2 and 1 in the above example) indicate the octave. All octaves start on the "c" key. Octave 4 is in the middle of the keyboard (starting on c4, or "middle C
    Middle C
    C or Do is the first note of the fixed-Do solfège scale. Its enharmonic is B.-Middle C:Middle C is designated C4 in scientific pitch notation because of the note's position as the fourth C key on a standard 88-key piano keyboard...

  • Lowercase letters (a,b,c,d,e,f,g) indicate the note names as natural (white keys).
  • Uppercase letters (A,C,D,F,G) indicate the note names as sharp (black keys), ie: A#,C#,D#,F#,G# (There is no "B" (B#), nor "E" (E#), since there are no sharps (black keys) between b and c, nor between e and f).
  • The "|" symbols separate measures / sections of notes.
  • The "-" symbols are used for spacing.

This is what the system looks like on an actual keyboard:

Another Example of Piano Tab Notation - the chords E, F, and G:

e f g


An alternative version of keyboard tablature (though less frequently seen) is based on a periodic system of numbers, like most modern tablatures, although incorporating negative and positive numbers assigned to the clefs (as positive for treble, and negative for bass). This particular method uses the middle C
Middle C
C or Do is the first note of the fixed-Do solfège scale. Its enharmonic is B.-Middle C:Middle C is designated C4 in scientific pitch notation because of the note's position as the fourth C key on a standard 88-key piano keyboard...

as the reference point. Unlike many tab forms the keyboard tab has far different placement values, meaning, regardless of the arrangement of the numbers it can still have the same value, but is displayed differently.
Visual Sample

12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12
07 07 07 07 09 09 09 09
04 04 04 04 04 04 04 04
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
-12 -8 -7 -5 -3 -3 -3
P-----------X P-----------X

(a basic C, Am/C, progression)

How to Compile

The numbers are projected and arranged by value. The particular number is placed in the corresponding column; however, columns are "pushed upward" when notating chords. This "column" system is not affective of the tab itself, more so the appearance, thus it is basically irrelevant.

Col.4=Double digit positive numbers(10+)
Col.3=Double digit positive numbers(0-09)
Col.2=Single digit negative numbers(-1,-9)
Col.1=Double digit negative numbers(-10+)

Special Notations

"Grace note"
Shown using smaller numbers as the grace notes, relative to basic music notation.

A "gliss", or "slide". Shows the start location of the gliss and the stop location.
Rapid alternating between two notes.
"Pedal Use"
Shows when the pedal is held (---) and when released (X).

"Inaudible Note"
An inaudible or hard to hear note.

External links

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