Sitar Tabs


Reading sitar tabs, also known as notations or Indian classical music notation, can be a useful way to learn and understand the compositions and melodies played on the sitar. Sitar tabs consist of various symbols and markings that represent different musical elements.

Free Sitar Tabs

The Beatles:

The Brian Jonestown Massacre:

The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black

How to Read Sitar Tabs

  1. Understand the notation system: Sitar tabs use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols to represent specific elements of the music. Each string on the sitar is assigned a letter, and numbers are used to indicate the fret positions on each string. The symbols represent various techniques, ornaments, and nuances specific to the sitar.
  2. Identify the letters representing the strings: The sitar has multiple strings, and each string is represented by a letter. The most common string notation is as follows:
    • P: Pa (thickest string)
    • S: Sa (second thickest string)
    • R: Re
    • G: Ga
    • M: Ma
    • D: Dha
    • N: Ni (thinnest string)
  3. Read the numbers representing the fret positions: The numbers in sitar tabs indicate the fret positions on each string. The number 0 represents an open string, while higher numbers indicate the position of the fret along the neck. For example, “S0” means the open Sa string, and “S5” indicates playing the Sa string on the 5th fret.
  4. Understand the symbols for techniques and ornaments: Sitar tabs incorporate symbols to represent various playing techniques and ornaments. Here are some common symbols used in sitar tabs:
    • ^ : Meend (glide or slide from one note to another)
    • / : Gamak (hammer-on or pull-off)
    • \ : Krintan (plucking the string while bending it)
    • ~ : Vibrato (sustaining a note and creating a slight fluctuation in pitch)
    • . : Staccato (playing a note briefly and sharply)
  5. Pay attention to duration and rhythm: Sitar tabs often include symbols or markings to indicate the duration and rhythm of the notes. These can include dots, dashes, or other symbols to indicate longer or shorter notes, or specific rhythmic patterns.
  6. Study the composition structure: Sitar tabs are typically written in a linear fashion, with each line representing a specific section or phrase of the composition. Pay attention to the order of the lines and the overall structure of the composition.
  7. Listen to recordings and seek guidance: While sitar tabs provide a valuable reference, it is essential to listen to recordings of the composition being played by experienced sitar players. This will help you understand the nuances, ornamentations, and overall feel of the music. Additionally, seeking guidance from a sitar teacher or an experienced player can greatly assist in interpreting and understanding sitar tabs correctly.

Remember that reading sitar tabs requires practice and familiarity with the instrument. As you gain more experience, you will develop a better understanding of the notations and their relationship to the sitar’s fretboard, enabling you to play and interpret compositions more effectively.

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