Mike Moxcey ©2005
Music can be written down. Much of it is so learning to read music is a useful skill if you want to learn a lot of songs.
There are many different ways of writing music down.
One of the most basic is Chord Charts. These are just the names of chords (or their numbers) and the number of beats you strum each chord for the song. One variation of Chord Charts shows the chords or beats above the words in a song.
This site starts off with chord charts.
Sheet Music is what many folks think of when they think of having to read music. I will explain how to read sheet music. You won’t have to learn to read it to get through this or to play music for the rest of your life, but knowing how is useful. And it’s easy. It’s not like you have to learn to sightread a contrapuntal bass line. All you have to do is to learn to decipher enough to translate some of the melody lines you can’t get anyplace else. That’s not so hard.
Tablature (or tab) is what many books use nowadays to teach string instruments. It’s written on the same sort of staff paper as sheet music, but it’s a lot more specific. Instead of giving you a melody note to find on the instrument, tablature tells you exactly where to place your finger on which string to get that particular note. The main section of music in these lessons contains tablature for guitar, banjo, dobro, and mandolin.
It also has sheet music because tablature is so precise to one instrument whereas sheet music works for almost any instrument.