Simple Steps To Reading Tabs For Flamenco Ukulele
The first thing to understand is how the tabs relate to the strings of your ukulele.
The diagram above shows the tab diagram on the left and on the right is the strings diagram rotated to the left (the tuners and head of the ukulele would be pointing to the left).
- The A string is the top string of the string diagram and the top line of the tab diagram
- The G string is the bottom string of the string diagram and the bottom line of the tab diagram
Flamenco naming convention for fingers
- p - pulgar (thumb)
- i - indice (index finger)
- m - medio (middle finger)
- a - ãnular (ring or third finger)
- e - meñique (little or fourth finger)
The use of p, a, m and i is widely used in guitar music. The 4th finger is used in Flamenco for rasgueos and there is no standard symbol so I have used 'e' because that was the letter used when I was taught.
The numbering of the left hand fingers is quite straight forward and is sometimes used in tabs to explain further details.
Arrows are used to show the direction of the stroke when strumming.
There are downstrokes and upstrokes.
- An arrow going from the top to the bottom string is an UPSTROKE
- An arrow going from the bottom to the top string is a DOWNSTROKE
- A wavy arrow shows that the strings (usually a chord) should be struck individually with each string sounding in quick succession
The straight arrows are used to show the strings are struck rapidly and the sound is a single beat.
The image of the ukulele with the arrows overlaid should help with any confusion about the direction the stroke should be played.
The bar starts with the time signature, which in this instance is 4/4 time (4 beats in the bar).
The chord used is Gm - 1st fret A string, 3rd fet E string and the 2nd fret C string are all stopped while the G string is played open - and it is played 4 times, the first and third beats are played with a downstroke while the the second and fourth beats are played with an upstroke.
The sound clip below will give you an idea of the overall sound of both bars played together.
The first beat is the F chord and because of the wavy line it is played with each note of the chord sounding individually in quick succession.
Note that the chord shape is retained by the left hand for the next three beats but this time the notes should be played individually on the half beat. Letters are used to show which fingers to use while plucking or striking the strings.
The right hand fingering is my preference and can be altered to suit your style of playing, however, the use of the thumb on the base string can give emphasis to rhythm (not very noticeable here).