Paul Hawthorne's Web Site

The tablatures are no longer available. Excessive dependence on tab is part and parcel of the banjo paradigm today, at the expense of musical skill and understanding. Need a tune? Find a tab somewhere, and slog through trying to learn it so it can be played back like from a juke box. Tablature, written or verbal, easily slips into the equivalent to the paint by numbers set. I have decided to cease supporting this. Yes, you will still find lots of tabs elsewhere... not here.

It is not that tab is inherently bad, it is a tool... only one of about a half a dozen that are needed to morph the banjo and playing it into one's consciousness. As the single tool is now obsessively used, it is a trap to learning to become one with the instrument, to play. Sound is all important and comes first in music, not the notes on paper, not being a 'banjo player'.

Neglecting to learn to hear better, to be able to tab out stuff, is ossifying. Anyone can learn to decipher licks, breaks. They will not be very good at it at first, babies roll over before they crawl. Needing to get quick results, like play an entire tune after one hearing is a totally unrealistic concept, and it will justify not doing anything. Bluntly put, ego can get in the way of learning.

Tablature is by nature very incomplete, learning only tab without listening to absorb the motif is like trying to learn German or Chinese without listening to a lot of it in order to grasp the structure, cadence, inflections. The over dependence on tab is a spin off of the public school model....getting it right, and quickly, efficiently....only it is incomplete, containing 10% or 12%, maybe 7% of the information needed to actually play similar to the originator. People are trained to underrate their abilities, it is the reason why they claim to only want to play a few tunes, even though may they give lip service to wanting to play their own bits, etc. etc... they still dream, and are self limiting in action.

The learning system is fundamentally flawed when 95%+ of those who start quit, fail. Trying to play arrangements without developing a better sense of hearing (which anyone can do, I can prove that in under 15 seconds) and understanding of how the music works is a big catalyst to these failures. It comes of a society where the end goal (playing Foggy Mountain Breakdown or being the musician) is more important than knowing what you are doing, being one with music and it being an expression of you.

There is also the point that most of the tabs were of tunes written since 1923, and courtesy of the (outrageous) Sonny Bono Law, are still in/ now back into copyright protection. Exceptions to the copyright problem that I had posted previously were the Flight of the Bumble Bee, Nola and Humoresque as well as Frères Jacques......

I've been asked if Paul's tablatures will be returned to his site. Paul was very specific about this - the answer is no. I am not able to publish or distribute the tabs. His words above explain this better than I could.

Paul was not opposed to tablature per se. One of his projects was transcribing 1,050 fiddle tunes into banjo tab. He did this by hand, with paper and pencil, not with MusEdit or TablEdit. He did it as an exercise to better understand both the music and the banjo. He finished the work in late 2005.


Last updated 15 Jul 2006 by PJH

Editor's note 15 Apr 2007 by WF