Alto Saxophone Tabs - Are they effective or worthless?

Alto Saxophone Tabs

Musical tabs, or tablature is generally a system of notation that uses numbers, symbols and letters to indicate how a particular song should be played. This is sort of like a helping hand coming in addition to the standard notation of a musical piece, and tablature is often used in the process of learning how to play an instrument. Regarding tabs however, there is a long, oftentimes intense discussion as to whether they can be used effectively or not.

The problem with alto saxophone tabs is quite strange actually. Whereas all tabs are made to simplify and help out the performer, a tablature system aimed for wind instruments (thus for the alto saxophone) is likely to become hindering more than helpful at times. Most experts agree that alto saxophones (and all other saxophones for that matter) can’t be “read” properly and you’re better of if you use your ears rather than your eyes for every particular musical piece.

This is partially true, in the long run, learning to figure out the music “by ear” is far more rewarding and effective than using alto saxophone tablature (this goes for any other musical instrument actually). But oftentimes, at beginning and even intermediate levels, players require these tabs for short notice on learning a song. So where to get these tabs you ask? It’s quite difficult to think that most composers write out tabs behind their songs to help out beginners (mainly because most composers and writers are part of the side of the barricade that says alto sax tabs are worthless, they damage more than they help, etcetera). The Internet is a good place to start.

If you take a look at www.horntabs.net, you will find a collection of alto saxophone tabs that could prove to be exactly what you need. Of course, if you’re looking for a particular song, it might not be in there, but you should at least practice with the ones you find there.

In the end, whether you choose to use saxophone tabs or not is entirely your choice. A general, objective and moderate tip would be that even if you do use these tabs, try not to use them for too long. If you have a hard time playing a song right, sure, saxophone tabs could work. But if you plan on singing in a band, orchestra or any other form of organized musical setting, you will need to learn music “the hard way”.

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