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Review: Tabular – A Top Notch Tablature (Tab) App for Mac

Rating: 5/5

Posted in Apps, Mac, OS X, Reviews on 24/04/2013 by Ian Fuchs

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Musicians, for the past several years, have flocked to the Mac for it’s robust collection of audio production tools, real-time effects processing, and vast array of composition tools.  A new composition tool, called Tabular for Mac, is a robust music writing and tablature app that will make tabbing your next hit a breeze.

Overview:

Tabular ($19.99 in the Mac App Store) is a tablature editor and composer that allows its users to read and write music for nearly all stringed instruments, as well as drums.  Using a simple composer, Tabular allows users to create rich musical tracks and learn to write music more accurately.

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Tabs, being one of the easiest way to learn and share music for guitar, consist of showing the strings of a guitar (or bass, etc.) and the finger positioning on the strings to play a specified note or chord.  For many guitarists, myself included, tabs were essential in my early development as a musician – Tabular for Mac now puts the power of Tab writing under my fingers.

Writing Your Tab:

When you initially launch Tabular, you are greeted with a very well made (and interactive) tutorial, which teaches you the basics of adding notes to your score.  The beauty of Tabular is that it can be (almost) entirely keyboard driven, which can save you loads of time when composing your song.  The ability to change note duration, add additional notes to your chord, or even tweak the entire arrangement without the need to jump to you mouse or trackpad and back to the keyboard allows for a faster, more unified experience (similar to many high-end audio and video production tools).

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Once you’ve gathered the basics (and don’t worry, the tutorial is available whenever you need it under the Help menu), you’re taken to your library.  The library comes preloaded with seven sample exercises which are great for beginners or as a warm-up, and three classic guitar songs (Malagueña, anyone?).  These are also great as reference pieces down the road when you’re composing your own music. At this point, you can either select a preloaded piece, or begin to write your own.

As with any song, you can select the tempo, time signature, and key of the song (which can be changed later if needed.  You can also edit your instrument (track) to change the tuning of the guitar to any customized tuning imaginable (A little Drop-D, perhaps?).

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Once you have your score and track ready, you’re off the the races, writing whatever you can come up with into a beautifully designed tab.  While tabular does require some musical knowledge, this isn’t like other composition software that require you to understand true music to write.

Tabular gets even better for those that understand musical scoring, though.  Not only does it write out your tabbed notes, but also gives you an true musical staff, which can be helpful if you are working with a piano. Unfortunately, for those that are more comfortable writing on a musical staff and want the tabbed version to be produced, this may not be the app for you.

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Verdict:
Rating: 5/5

Tabular for Mac is one of the easiest and most feature-right tablature programs available (for Mac or Windows).  While the $20 price-tag may seem steep to some users, in comparison to other “comparable” applications, it’s significantly cheaper, and doesn’t fuss around with unnecessary bells and whistles.  The ability to create multi-part arrangements, quickly change timing, tuning, or notation without extensive musical knowledge makes it a stand-out app for novices and professionals alike.

Pros:

  • Simple, intuitive, keyboard driven interface
  • Ability to export as text file (for quick, easy sharing)
  • Full printing support, for publishing your work.
  • Built-in exercises to improve playing abilities

Cons:

  • No ability to edit notes directly on the music staff

Tabular for Mac is easily the best in it’s class (price, quality).  If you’re a guitarist looking to pen some of your ideas into full-fledged songs, pick up Tabular, $19.99 in the Mac App Store.



Author

Ian Fuchs

Ian, Senior Review Editor at MacTrast, has been an Apple enthusiast for years, starting in 2000 with an iMac and iMovie. In college, Ian developed skills and further interest in all things Apple. Ian's expanding skill set increased his love for Apple's products. Now the owner of "the new iPad", iPad mini, iPhone 5, Apple TV, MacBook, MacBook Pro, numerous iPods, and a classic G5 Mac Pro, he is "pretty familiar" with Apple's products. Ian resides in Chicago, works as a Programmer & Systems Analyst at a college, loves his dog more than most people and plays drums & guitar.