Learning & Writing New Tunes: A Musician’s Toolbox

Mike Stangeland

Tabledit is a very cheap, simple program that will do just about everything the really expensive programs do. It's the musicians tool box.

For learning or writing new tunes it's the best IMO. I enter tab into it before I attempt a tune, it allows me to hear the tune, I can slow the tune down, change key, change the notes if I don't like a certain part. When I write my own licks, I can put them in so I don't forget them. When writing, you can enter guitar chords, bass, mando chop, etc. and get the full effect of what your tune will sound like played up to speed. Way coooooooool, believe me.

I have everything I'll ever need to study mandolin in my computer in Tabledit. Scales, exercises, arpeggios, licks, chord diagrams, rhythm patterns, from numerous sources, and I entered mandolin and fiddletunes from books I own. At the click of a mouse I can have five different versions of, for instance, "Crazy Creek" playing back at me in midi. After choosing the parts and pieces that are interesting I can cut and paste and build a personal version if I want, or just get down the basic melody and build my own. Then I can use the conversion tools and make GUITAR TAB for my wife Kim and my pickin partner Jem. This is one of the great advantages of the program.

For me it's an incredible time saving tool, with limited practice time (and years left) I hope to reach a level of playing that allows me to be able to hold my own in most situations. This program has really accelerated things. I've built a folder of things I've chosen from different files, first a few scales, then exercises, then the current tunes I'm working on. Every day I open the folder and everything's there, I don't have to REMEMBER what I'm supposed to be focusing on. This disciplined approach keeps me from wandering off into noodleland and I stay on track. As I master something I drop it from the file and add new material that's at my level (the worst thing you can do is spend months trying to learn something that's way beyond you at this stage).

You'll have to put a lot of work into it during the "entering phase" but after that, you'll have quite a learning tool. Many other programs will probably serve just as well but I've chosen TE because it's easy to learn and very effective. BTW, it really helps to have a good sound card and speakers.