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In a melody I am composing, there are 4 E notes in a row, like this:

  ♪   ♪   ♪   ♪




(the length of the note is 1/8)

I think it sounds best when I play them 3 times on the first string, and the last time on the first and second strings, like in this tablature:


How can I express it in the standard musical notation?

In addition: If I want the additional note to be performed with a hammer-on (and let the open string ring):


How can I write this in a standard notation?

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I too am writing a piece where I play notes on the 5th fret and open strings and was wondering how to notate it! So great question! – MrTheBard Apr 25 '14 at 14:13
up vote 22 down vote accepted

To express the fact that 2 notes are sounding, you should use beam direction. It's as if one instrument is playing two parts simultaneously. See the picture, and note how each part gets its own "swimming lane" on the staff. Please also note that each bar on the staff that uses multiple parts should, in principle, make sure all timing for each part is accounted for. Hence the 1 1/8 rest beneath the 1/8th notes in the upper voice (beams up) - that rest needs to be there to indicate that the lower voice (beam down) is silent at that point.

To remove any doubt as to how to play it you can use circled numerals to indicate the strings that are to be used. (see picture). I think in this case, a single 0 (not circled) to indicate an open string at the upper voice would also work.

enter image description here

Letting the other string ring is easy with this notation, since you're essentially writing two parts on the same staff. The hammer is denoted with a + if google serves me right. Probably can't hurt to include a legend to express exactly what you denote by the +

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You'll find the '6' is a '1' and the '5' is a '2'. – Tim Apr 25 '14 at 12:16
Tim, thanks! I always mess that up. – Roland Bouman Apr 25 '14 at 12:19
+1 for "include a legend". Always best to be clear about anything which might be misinterpreted. – Bob Broadley Apr 25 '14 at 12:24

1st question - you can't on a single melody line. I am reticent to admit it, but in this situation, tab comes up trumps ! Rather like slurs : on the stave, it's a curved line; on tab it could be hammer/pull, or slide, bend up/let down, or R.H.tap.

2nd question - it could be written out as two parts, top - 2 crotchets and a minim (to ring on), bottom - three one beat rests and a slurred crotchet, which a guitarist would have to guess was played on another string to the 2nd part. Also depends where you're hammering from. I'm guessing nowhere, just hitting 5th fret ? N.B. you wrote quavers, I've used crotchets, but the concept remains the same.

I always feel that it's useful to use 16 dashes per bar, to show more accurately how long a note lasts. As in your sample :0---0---0---0--- because, unless 1) you know the tune, and 2) it's written with 'proper' music above, it's difficult to read. And - if you know the tune, why bother with tab...

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