Playing the Lisbon Portuguese Guitarra by Ronald Louis Fernandez (continued)

Section 3.  Explanation about Tablature (also known as Cifra)

As an aid to learning the guitarra, we can use tablature notation (which is also called cifra). This system is centuries old, it was used to notate music for lutes and citterns.

 Tablature for the Portuguese guitarra uses a 6 line staff to represent the courses of the guitarra. The top line corresponds to the 1st course, the next to the 2nd course and so on to the bottom line which corresponds to the 6th course. Each course of the Portuguese Guitarra consists of 2 strings. The first course includes string 1 and 2, the second course consists of strings 3 and 4, the 3rd course consists of strings 5 and 6, the 4th course consists of strings 7 and 8, the 5th course consists of string 9 and 10 and the 6th course consists of strings 11 and 12.

By placing a number on a line it is possible to represent the number of the fret to be pressed down for a particular note. Zero (0) is for an open string (a string played without pressing a fret). One (1) represents the first fret. Two (2) represents the second fret and so on. This system is useful for learning the physical position of notes on the fingerboard. By itself it is inadequate because this system does not properly depict note value, rhythm, expression, and other important musical characteristics. However, by using tablature with standard notation we obtain a superior method for teaching and learning music on the guitarra.

Note in the example above that the string can be specified by using a number enclosed in a circle.

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