These are the first letters of the Spanish words for the digits:
pulgar – thumb
indice – index finger
medio – middle finger
anular – ring finger
chico – little finger
These symbols are used only for right-hand fingers.
– first (index) finger
– second (middle) finger
– third (ring) finger
– fourth (little) finger
The circle helps distinguish these left-hand fingerings from other symbols in the tablature. These symbols are used only for left-hand fingerings.
A dash before a left-hand finger number indicates that that left-hand finger has been used on that string immediately prior and has guided along that string to reach the current fret.
A curved line between two different numbers indicates a slur. If the second number is higher, the second note is executed by hammering on. If the second number is low, the second note is executed by pulling off.
A dashed slur calls for the soft articulation of the slurred note, more like a lift-off than a pull-off.
The b indicates a bend, pulling down on the string to raise the pitch. The note in parentheses is the pitch that is created by bending the string.
The r indicates the release of a bent note, letting the string return to its normal pitch.
A curved line between two of the same numbers is a tie; the note is held for the additional note value.
hammer on from nowhere
A short slur before a number indicates that the note is hammered on from nowhere. In other words, the string has not been plucked immediately prior to hammering on. The note is not being slurred intentionally from a previously fretted note or open string.
A short slur is also used at the beginning of a system to show the continuation of a tie or slur from the previous system.
The second note is not plucked except where specifically indicated.
A dashed slide calls for the soft articulation of slide and the slid note.
slide with no termination note
The slid note generally seems to disappear. As you slide quickly up or down, ease up so that your left-hand finger actually mutes the string before leaving it.
slide from an indeterminate pitch
A short slide before a number indicates a fast slide from an indeterminate pitch.
A short slide is also used at the beginning of a system to show the continuation of a slide from the previous system.
length of slide line
The length of the slide line attempts to show, spatially, how long the slide lasts.
notation for use of bottleneck
The vertical blue line shows which string(s) the bottleneck is covering; the bracket above the tablature staff shows how long the bottleneck remains on the strings.
vibrato with bottleneck
The fret number of the harmonic node is shown in an angled enclosure. The left hand creates the harmonic node by touching the string lightly at the fret indicated in the angled enclosure. Touch the string directly over the fret wire, just hard enough to keep the string from vibrating at that point, but not so hard that the string touches the fret.
The fret number of the string is shown first, followed by the fret number of the harmonic node shown in an angled enclosure.
In cases where the right hand both touches the harmonic node and plucks the string, the upper right-hand fingering indicates the finger touching the harmonic node and the lower right-hand fingering indicates the finger plucking the string.
There are three elements to the notation of vibrato. The letter represents the kind of vibrato (vertical or horizontal). The length of the wavy line represents the duration of the vibrato.The speed of the vibrato is shown either fast ( ) or slow ( ).
This symbol is used to show the number of strings held by and the position of a barre. A line with a termination hook shows the duration of the barre. If no fraction is used, all six strings are enclosed. If used with a fraction, the number of strings indicated is presumed to begin with the first string. If used in conjunction with a bracket (below), only strings included in the bracket are barred. An attempt has been made to make the duration line start and stop with respect to what else is happening in the tablature — to make it spatially correct.
Enclosed notes are barred with the finger indicated. Note that a partial barre on the sixth, fifth, and fourth strings is held with the collapsed first joint of the finger.
flopped left-hand finger
This symbol, the encircled f3, indicates that you should flop the left-hand third finger to hammer on the indicated note. This flop is achieved by collapsing the first joint of the finger while maintaining the position of the fingertip on the note previously played on the next lower (in pitch) string.
duration line for left-hand fingering with termination hook
A horizontal line shows how long the left-hand finger remains on the string indicated; the termination hook shows when that left-hand finger lifts off the string.
duration line for left-hand fingering with no termination hook
The absence of a termination hook indicates that the left-hand finger guides along the string to the next position; it is usually associated with guide finger or slide.
dashed duration line for left-hand fingering
Left-hand finger eases up, without leaving the string(s)
length of duration line for left-hand fingering
Length of duration line indicates, spatially, how long the left-hand finger is held down.
This effect is produced by the right hand coming down on the strings hard enough to cause them to hit the frets. The icon is placed on an extended note stem.
This effect is produced by thumping the face of the guitar above the sixth string with the ball of the right hand. The icon is placed on an extended note stem.
An empty box indicates that the string is articulated while the left hand is in motion. This produces an indeterminate pitch or tick sound.
box enclosing a fret number
A box enclosing a fret number specifies the fret at which the muted pitch is produced.
An x indicates a string being muted by the left hand. This notation device is used in circumstances in which no significant pitch or percussion is produced.
left-hand stop (or mute)
The vertical gray line indicates the strings that are muted by the open left-hand finger or fingers.
A staccato dot indicates a note value shorter than written, approximately half of the written note value. It may be produced by the left-hand release of a fretted note or by a left-hand stop.
This accent marks calls for an special stress on the associated note or notes.
accent with staccato
An accent mark combined with a staccato dot indicates a special stress together with a shortened note value.
This time signature signifies a shift from metric to spatial (non-metric) notation. A section written in spatial notation is accompanied by a real-time indication of the number of seconds that section should take to play.
Music inside a rectangle is repeatable. A wavy horizontal line indicates the continuation of a repeatable figure. Notes are sometimes written without stems to remind you that there are no strict conventional relationships between these notes.
Strums are notated using two types of arrows. The direction of the strum is always indicated by the direction of the arrow head.
An arrow with a straight stem indicates a fast strum. The strummed notes sound like they occur simultaneously.
An arrow with a wavy stem represents a slower strum. You can hear each note in rapid succession. The last note of the chord falls on the beat unless otherwise notated.
With respect to strums executed by the left hand, sometimes the left-hand finger strums down directly, and sometimes it tilts toward the body of the guitar as it strums down.
Right hand strums up from previously held right-hand notes.
Left hand strums down from previously held left-hand note.
The right-hand thumb and middle finger are held loosely together — almost as if they were holding a flatpack. The arrows indicate the direction of the strum, even if only one string is being hit. In this technique, the thumb nail always strums up and the middle-finger nail always strums down.
This is executed by curling the right-hand middle finger into the palm of the hand. Then, using the flesh of the palm as a release point, the middle finger flicks down, striking the strings indicated.
The flying rest-stroke is a special variety of rest-stroke. Prior to executing it, the right-hand thumb swings up and out about four or five inches from the strings. From this elevation the wrist snaps down to execute the rest-stroke. Snapping your wrist down provides additional acceleration. This produces a strong accent on the note. Note that this can be a difficult move if your right-hand thumbnail is too long.
The right-hand finger indicated comes down on the strings indicated, bouncing off the fingerboard and producing some percussion in the process. If a harmonic node is shown, slap at the fret. Unless otherwise indicated, the right-hand finger should be parallel to the frets when the slap is executed.
This technique produces a harmonic if you are slapping a harmonic node; it sounds the open or fretted string (tambora effect) if you are not slapping a harmonic node.
Hedges uses the flat of his index finger for slapping — not the side.
Instead of being just a strum from a previously held left-hand configuration, the finger or fingers in the previously held left-hand configuration curl up, begin to pull down and then release, sometimes strumming one or two strings below as well (as indicated). This produces a surprising articulation.
A line with downward termination shows the duration.
Ossia measures are used in both tablature and standard notation to show an alternate way of playing a measure the second time through.
There are two types of grace notes: one that borrows time from the following note and one that borrows time from the preceding note.
grace note borrows time from the following note
A grace note borrows time from the following note unless otherwise indicated. This type of grace note is not placed correctly visually; it is placed to the left of where it actually occurs. It happens where the principal note is written. Musically, the principal note with which a grace note is associated receives all of the weight. Because a grace note is displaced visually, other notes or actions which actually occur at the same time will not be vertically alighed. Remember that it is the grace note that is incorrectly place visually.
grace note borrows time from the preceding note
This type of grace note is correctly placed visually. It occurs just slightly before the note that follows.
left-hand finger placement only
Parentheses enclose a note that is fingered but not played.
In Hedges’ fingerstyle playing, one of the techniques which distinguish his sound is right-hand string-stopping. By carefully controlling which strings are ringing and which are not, the lines have extraordinary clarity — they seem super-real.
A pink horizontal line in the tablature indicates right-hand string-stopping. Your right-hand finger should be resting on the string fro the time the pink line begins until it ends. In other words, the length of the line indicates the duration of your finger resting on the string. This does not tell you why you are stopping the string. It merely shows when you put your finger on the string and how long it remains on the string.
Right-hand string-stopping is a technique Hedges began using a long time ago — before he began studying classical guitar. While classical guitarists use right-hand string-stopping, it is generally done to stop bass notes with the thumb or to prepare for an arpeggio (planting). Hedges’ sensibilities demand more careful attention to durations: “I’m not saying that it’s bad if you let all ring,” he says. “It’s just, why let it right in default of any thought? Be responsible! Don’t let things just go on because you started them.”
The use of right-hand string-stopping can bring stunning clarity and definition to your fingerstyle playing. It requires accurate left-to-right-hand coordination and needs to be practiced slowly and carefully. While it may take a long time to integrate this into your playing if you have never tried it before, it is one those techniques that can make the difference between sounding good and sounding great.
The type of right-hand string-stopping we are focusing on here has always been used by sensitive players to add nuance to their music. But methods for guitar have rarely even mentioned this technique. A notable exception is the new edition of Aaron Shearer’s method for classical guitar, which mentions two reasons for string damping: 1) to observe musical rests, and 2) to stop an open string from ringing which would, unless damped, cause problems in musical context. Shearer mentions three basic methods of right-hand string damping: 1) damping with the fingertips 2) damping by placing the side of p against a string or strings, and 3) damping individual strings with p.
Regarding the visual space between two notes in the tablature, an attempt has been made to have the horizontal right-hand string-stopping lines start and stop correctly with respect to what else is happening in the tablature — to make it spatially correct.
A vertical pink line is used when the right-hand thumb stops more than one string. The tip of the thumb is always planted on the highest string shown, the side of the thumb stops the lower strings.
notation of tunings
Tunings are indicated with a different set of characters for each octave. The letter indicates the name of the pitch, the numeric subscript indicates the octave.
Standard tuning on a six-string guitar would be indicated as follows: E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4.
Standard tuning on a 12-string guitar would be indicated as follows: E2 E3 A2 A3 D3 D4 G3 G4 B3 B3 E4 E4.
measure numbers on repeats
Measures in a repeated section have two sets of measure numbers: the first for the first time through, the second for the repeat. In this way, the total number of measures in the composition is correct.