ColorTab Guitar Notation
Hello guitar players, musicians, friends, family, whoever, I’m announcing a new app that I just published. It’s a simple idea, why not use color to greatly condense guitar tablature notation. I was inspired by the colored metal ball ends on D’Addario guitar strings and the ridiculous number of pages or screens conventional tab needs when it is mostly single notes and a whole lot of ———- that just tell you nothing is there. So I created a notation. I created a web page tabconverter, with lots of code and a Help page that explains how to use it. It still has some bugs and room for features to add later but it works right now.
What the web app does is convert plain old ASCII tab into a new format with color that is very compact, making it more convenient on devices or even paper. My elevator pitch is why are we using notation from the Middle Ages with feather quill and black ink on parchment while we carry computers with color screens in our pockets? Even back in 1554 they used red ink for the vocal part.
I have no love for tablature notation but it can be useful for learning, composing and sharing. I don’t expect anything in return for the hours of work it took to transform my invention into functioning software, but it is now real and there must be some players who will like it and actually use it. Like anything new, it takes some effort to learn, and many won’t bother. But there are companies making money with tab web sites and software so this could have a significant audience. There are 19 million views for the Stairway to Heaven tab, with the comment “did you know that it takes 13 pages to print this out?”. And 12 year old prodigies are shredding on YouTube and Instagram, they are quick learners and just might recognize this app as useful..
Anyway, for now I’m giving it away, no strings, no registration, no cookies, no tracking, no advertisements, no monetization, and absolutely no bullshit, free for anyone who wants to try it, as is of course. I might claim copyright if the Russians at Ultimate Guitar pretend they invented it, but hey, who needs lawyers anyway? Just pick up your guitar and play. The music publishers left a lot of scorched earth in the online tab community, but it is far from gone.
Share this with anyone you know who might possibly be even a little interested. I am open to feedback and suggestions, but if guitar notation doesn’t interest you or your friends just ignore this, no worries. If ColorTab actually does get some traction I’ll be happy and inspired to spend even more time on it, such as make demo videos and add more code. Six strings only for now, other instruments is one of the maybe later features. Lyrics and timing text along side is another possible addition. But it is completely usable now for the curious guitar player or bored web surfer.
Check it out! http://colortab.org Try copying the entire Stairway to Heaven page, select all, copy, then paste into the ColorTab page. Click some check boxes and see what happens. Or just try the Help button. It will work on your phone in Chrome or Firefox, but it’s much nicer on a desktop or tablet. And even if you can’t play or don’t like the idea, it makes pretty colors and isn’t contagious.