Piano tab notation will help you learn melodies without knowing sheet music. In this piano lesson you will learn to read easy piano tabs. You will also learn to play Happy Birthday To You!
If you do not know how to read piano sheet music I suggest that you try to learn it. If you start with very easy melodies with just a few notes you will not get too frustrated. Learn the names of the keys of your piano. Also, learn the names of the notes as they appear on an easy music sheet, focusing on just a few at a time.
To read sheet music well you have to have the patience and devote time to practicing. This practice time will pay off as you will have an immense amount of sheet music waiting to be played. Until you have mastered the art of playing sheet music you can use piano tabs to help you play melodies.
With the help of piano tablature you can easily learn melodies, chords and other music on your piano. Tabs cannot replace sheet music but you can notate much musical information even with this type of notation.
What is piano tablature?
Piano tab notation is an established system for reading and writing music. Actually there are several systems, some with numbers and others with letters but we will use a simplified form of the most common system on the net.
Sheet music notation shows the actual notes to play but not how to play them on your piano. This task you have to perform yourself. Piano tablature on the other hand is a way of showing which keys to play on your piano. When you have learned the system you will find it easy to play melodies. But, first you have to learn the note names.
The note names
We will use the note names on the piano as the basis for the notation. You will have to learn the names of the notes on the white keys of your piano. The first note we will learn is the middle c. It is easy to understand that the middle c is at the middle of the piano but exactly where?
You have probably noticed that the black keys on your piano or keyboard are organized in groups. You will find groups with two and with three black keys all over the keyboard.
If you take a look at the two black keys at the middle of your piano you will find middle c immediately to the left of these black keys. This middle c is sometimes called c4. The number 4 shows that it is the c in the fourth octave.
What is an octave?
Octave means eight and if you play the note c and the following notes until you come to the next c you have played eight notes. This c note is to the left of the next two black keys one octave higher.
The notes after middle c are d e f g a b and then comes c again. When you play these notes from c to the next c you have played a c-major scale. The next c is sometimes called c5 as it is in the next octave which is the fifth octave of a piano keyboard. The c in the octave to the left of middle c is called c3.
Now we will take a closer look at the piano tablature we will use in the song Happy Birthday To You.
In this article we will use a simplified version of the piano tabs you will find on the Internet. Here are the rules:
1. Lowercase letters show the white keys. That is, c d e f g a b.
2. Uppercase letters show the black keys. The note C means that you shall play the black key to the right of c. This note is written as c# in traditional sheet music language.
3. A number after a note name shows in which octave to play the note. The note c4 means middle c. The following notes to play will not have a number until you change octave.
Happy Birthday To You
Now it is time for you to read the piano tabs to Happy Birthday To You! I will write down the lyrics, one line at a time with the corresponding piano tabs below. It is written in the key of F-major.
The chords to play if someone wants to accompany you are written in brackets before the appropriate syllable. If you already know how to play chords with your left hand you can try to play them yourself as you play the melody with your right hand.
Happy (F)Birthday to (C7)you, happy birthday to (F)you
c4 c d c f e c c d c g f
The number 4 after the first c shows that you are to play the notes in the fourth octave until you find a new octave indication.
Happy (F)birthday, dear (Bb)”Liza”
c c c5 a4 f e d
(Bb)Happy (F)birthday (C7)to (F)you
A A a f g f
Remember, uppercase A is the black note to the right of a.
Remember, the note A is the black key to the right of a.
I suggest that you memorize the melody one line at a time so you do not have to rely on the tab notation. These piano tabs are an introduction to the little more advanced tablature system on the Internet.