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

A keyboard tablature is a tablature for a keyboard instrument such as the piano. The most common keyboard tablature is 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, a variation of letter notation which has roots going back to the 11th century when Italian Guido of Arezzo developed Solfege.


Piano tab notationEdit

An example of modern piano tab notation, the scale of F played on 2 octaves:


Some of the rules for this keyboard tablature are:

  • 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).
  • 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). Using the hash symbol # is also acceptable (A#, C#, D#, F#, G#) but not recommended because it takes extra space.
  • The | symbols separate measures or sections of notes.
  • The - symbols are used for spacing.

Another example of piano tab notation, the chords E, F, and G:

   E   F   G

Periodic systemEdit

Another 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 the treble clef and negative for the bass clef). This particular method uses the middle C 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 exampleEdit

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 compileEdit

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.

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

Special notationsEdit

  • A grace note is shown using smaller numbers as the grace notes, relative to basic music notation. Example: 0 05 12
  • A glissando is shown with the start location of the gliss and the stop location. Example: 32------0
  • A tremble, rapid alternating between two notes, is indicated with equals signs. Example: 5=====12
  • Pedal use is indicated with the P and X characters. This shows when the pedal is held (---) and when released (X). P-------X
  • An inaudible or hard to hear note is indicated with parenthesis. Example: (12)

DecPlay systemEdit

Another keyboard tablature that has been awarded a US patent[1] is the DecPlay method, which uses a series of numbers, patterns and colours to enable users to play chords and melodies quickly, has been featured on the BBC and is used in over 70 different countries. [2]

Ftab notationEdit

Fortepiano tab (ftab) - another easy form of piano musical notation. It based on 3 principles: 1) The table consists of 12 columns in the sequence C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B(H) (like octave of the piano) 2) The sequence of lines corresponds to the sequence of keystrokes on the piano 3) One line displays the numbers (symbols) of octaves in the cells of the columns corresponding to the notes played at the same time

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bryne, Brendan (1 October 2016). "A dream invention turns into a business". Bank of Ireland - Think Business. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Decplay hits the right note". Manchester Evening News. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2018.

External linksEdit