Ukulele Lessons

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How to Read Tablature

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The example above shows the first four measures of the melody of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in the key of F. Here is a breakdown of what the tablature is telling you to play: Since you already know what this song sounds like it will help if you play along while reading this so you can hear it.

 Measure 1 -- On the first two notes you will hold down the 2nd string 1st fret. You know this because the number 1 is on the second line. The second line represents the 2nd string and the number 1 represents the 1st fret. Because of the long stem descending from the 1 you know that it is a quarter note, receiving 1 beat. The second note is a repeat of the first one: 2nd string 1st fret. On the third beat you will play the 1st string 3rd fret and on the count of 4 you repeat that same note. All of the notes in measure 1 are quarter notes, receiving 1 beat each.

 Measure 2 -- The first two notes in measure 2 are quarter notes: 1st string 5th fret. The next note in the measure is a half note (you can tell because of the short stem) and is the 1st string 3rd fret. Be sure to give the half note two beats.

 Measure 3 -- The third measure is very easy to play and should be easy to understand by looking at the tablature: the first two notes are played at the 1st string 1st fret and the last two notes are the first string open (the 0 means you don’t hold any strings down). All of these notes are quarter notes.

 Measure 4 -- On the fourth measure you once again play the 2nd string, this time holding down the 3rd fret for the first two notes, then the 2nd string 1st fret for the final note. Notice that the first two notes get 1 beat and the final note gets 2 beats.

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