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I was reading a songbook by Richie Kotzen, and in the song "Shine" (which he played with Mr. Big), there's a rythm guitar part that goes like this:

Verse part of Shine on guitar

What do the symbols M, C, D and P mean? I'm pretty sure "M" is for "palm-mute" and "P" is for "pull-off". But I'm not certain as to what C and D mean. Maybe "D" is for "don't play", since there's a bow line from the same note, but what about C?

By the way, it's probably not a slide or a hammer-on, since those are noted in other ways. Check out an excerpt of the solo part of the same song:

Solo part of Shine on guitar

Notice the presence of "C" and "D" again, but now alongside "H", "P" and "S", indicating that they are something else.

So, what do these symbols mean?

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If you've got the book there should be a section at the front of it explaining the terms and notations. –  Anonymous Jan 17 '11 at 19:43
    
If you got the songbook explanation translated (as expressed in vstoyanov's answer comments), you should add your answer or validate Alex Basson's answer if he's right. –  Julien N Aug 16 '11 at 13:16

5 Answers 5

up vote 21 down vote accepted

I don't know for sure, but I'm fairly certain "C" means a string bend and "D" means a release. Here's why I think so:

Notice the tab in the rhythm part. Where the "C" occurs, you play the D-string, 4th fret---that's an F#. And sure enough, the standard notation shows an F#. But then the standard notation shows that note becoming a G, while the tab continues to show D-string, 4th fret. The only way to play a G at that string/fret is to bend the string a half-step.

And then the standard notation shows the note going back to an F# at the same place where the "D" occurs, which makes me think the "D" indicates releasing the bend.

If you look at the solo, you'll see the same thing occur. At the beginning of the solo, the tab shows B-string, 12th fret -- that's a B. Then it's marked with that "C" marking. The standard notation shows a B grace note going up to a C, which again could only be achieved on the 12th fret of the B-string by bending it a half-step. And then the pitch of the note goes from that high C back down to the B, while the tab stays on the 12th fret, but this time marks it with "D".

Basically, wherever C is notated, the pitch of the note goes up, but the fret stays the same, and when D is notated, the pitch goes back down again. Notice, too, that "C" and "D" seem to come in pairs.

So again, I don't know for certain, but this is my educated guess: "C" means "bend the string" and "D" means "release the bend".

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1  
It's a really good explanation, but I'll leave the question open just a little more to see if other/alternative explanations come up =D –  Rafael Almeida Jan 14 '11 at 18:24
1  
Good explanation. Note how the bend (="C" action) is used to produce an appogiatura (the little grace note before the main one, first bar of second extract). You should play on position not-bended the first B and bend quickly do C before releasing in the next bar. I am surprised to find these "C" and "D" letters though. In contradiction to the other letters, I do not find an easy mnemonics. I have seen a "Z" for bend sometimes. –  ogerard Apr 19 '11 at 6:56
2  
I know that 'C' stands for Choke: a quick bend, I've also seen it spelled as CH on some tabs not sure what D stands for though –  Smugrik Aug 15 '11 at 18:28

I would agree with what Alex said above about M, C, and D -- the other symbols are most likely:

H => Hammer-on

P => Pull-off

S => Slide

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That's true, but what about the other symbols in the title of the question? –  Rafael Almeida Jan 14 '11 at 22:35
    
I believe he was adding to Alex's answer. –  Anonymous Jan 14 '11 at 23:12
    
Yes, I updated my answer to indicate that -- thanks for the feedback –  Anonymous Jan 15 '11 at 17:08

Consult this Wikipedia article on tablature symbols. It contains an extensive chart of commonly-used symbols and their meaning.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tablature#Guitar_tablature

But the bottom line is that there are no universally-agreed-upon conventions for notation. You must consult the individual book that this example comes from.

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It was the first thing I tried... although a good reference overall, this Wikipedia article unfortunately doesn't cover this particular "corner case". –  Rafael Almeida Aug 16 '11 at 23:20

There is no such thing as standard guitar tablature notation - everyone uses his own version. In the beginning of the song-book there should be an explanation to the symbols.

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I didn't really imply that there was a "standart notation", but there are some conventions that are true more often than not. In fact, there's an explanation for the symbols in the songbook, but I only noticed it after I posted the question and it's in Japanese. While I did ask for a friend to translate it for me, I think that the question is still useful to keep the answer as a public reference, since some people can find this page via a Google search, for example. –  Rafael Almeida Jan 15 '11 at 0:57
    
I just noted that tab notations are very different from each other - I had never seen one similar to that used in this book and thought that it is worth noting that the best place to lookup the notation used in a given songbook is the beginning of the songbook itself. offtopic: Have you gone to JUB by any chance? –  Anonymous Jan 15 '11 at 18:26
    
I don't really know what JUB is, but if I understand it correctly it's a university? Then no, I'm from Brazil and the college I go to is called UFMG =D –  Rafael Almeida Jan 15 '11 at 20:21

C - Crescendo - Move Pitch, or volume, UP D - Descend - Move Pitch, or volume, DOWN H - Hammer-On - Hit note to produce a sound P - Pull-Off - Remove Finger to allow note, of lower pitch, to sound S - Slide - Raise/Lower Pitch, while maintaining sounding note, & changing Finger Position

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Welcome to Music SE! Thanks for your answer. –  American Luke Oct 27 '12 at 1:18

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