Early Guitars and Vihuela

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Tablature editors... which one do you use for baroque guitar?

There are excellent commercial music notation packages. Some are even able to handle tablature. But since electric guitarists outnumber us by at least two orders of magnitude, most programs tend to focus on that market.

There are many free and low cost editors for historic tablature. Most of them can do a very decent work for many kinds of lute and vihuela. However, when it comes to Baroque guitar, there are many features which would be nice. Alfabeto chords, little marks showing which way you should strum your chords... a better way to mix rasgueado and punteado... well you know what I mean.

What is your experience with each editor? Do you have any tips to share with us?

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Thank you for the very thoughtful and detailed reply which was quite helpful.
Option 1 is what I'm mostly doing on this particular project, with most of the pieces having a separate staff notation transcription separate from the tablature. But in other projects like lute songs and mixed consort music or guitar ensemble, I need to combine the two in one score. Option 2 looks like it will work for me. Thanks again.
Hi everyone!

Has there been any update in the tablature editing software scene for baroque guitar since 2009? i was hoping to edit some lute arrangements of Christmas carol and make them playable on baroque guitar.

i'm on a Mac and i don't edit enough to justify buying either Sibelius or Finale i fear... are the old pencil & paper my only hope?

I have recently created some new tablature engraving software specifically for historic tablature. You can read about it here:


The software comprises as very simple textual tablature language (e.g. 1-4 is course 1 fret 4 etc.) and a range of small compilers to render that in various forms. At the moment, I have compilers for:

1) Gaspar Sanz style tablature notation


3) Lilypond (for modern notation)

Coming soon is a compiler forMEI.

The software is working, but not yet released into the wild. If anyone is interested, please take a look at the site and contact me. I would welcome any comments and feedback from the members of this community.

This looks somehow like the tab that was on www.baroqueguitar.net almost 10 years ago.

¿Is this the same program or a new version of that one?

Hi Pablo - it is a completely new system.

In fact it is not just a single program, it is a simple language for accurately capturing what the composer put in the tablature and then a set of compilers to render that captured information in different ways. 

This (at least for me) is a very important point - that it isn't just a program like some commercial tablature programs that typically have their own proprietary formats.

The STL language captures the tablature information in a simple text file independently of any programs. As such, if there isn't a compiler to generate the specific output you want, then you could commission a programmer to create one for you, or you could write your own (or I guess you could persuade me to do it for free). It is completely open.

Personally, I don't much care for programs that rely on a graphical user interface to create historical tablature. I find it much easier and quicker to just type the information as text and run a compiler.

So, for example, if you create an STL text file for Sanz's Espanoletas, you can render it as Postscript by typing the following in a terminal or command line:

gaspar Espanoletas.sanz

This renders the STL file as Postscript (see examples on www.thegasparsanzproject.wordpress.com)

I'm hoping that the system can get some traction outside of my own little project of typesetting Sanz. It would be pretty neat if we had a simple common way of capturing historical tablature so we could exchange files, run computations and different renderings on the tablature etc.

Alfabeto chords, little marks showing which way you should strum your chords... a better way to mix rasgueado and punteado... well you know what I mean.

The STL language captures all these things:

Alfabeto syntax: e.g. AB-C where AB specifies Alfabeto and C specifies the C chord

Strumming syntax: e.g. R-UDUD where R specifies rasgueado and the pattern UDUD means Up Down Up Down (of course you can have any pattern comprising U and D)

Mixing rasgueado and punteado: Yes, mix and match as you like

The existing Postscript compiler displays these marks according to Gaspar Sanz's conventions.

See examples on www.thegasparsanzproject.wordpress.com.


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