I got this book "The Neo Soul Guitar Book" and they have audio files and videos, all helpful. But I just can't understand how musical notation or guitar tabs should be read here. Just the first few exercises, we are suppose to do some hammer-ons. From the video or audio file, it sounded exactly the same but the notation provided by the book isn't the same. Please let me know how I should do the hammer-ons. Besides the tempo, the audio for both were same, 3 notes played then hammer-on to Emaj7. Thanks in advance!

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  • Computer-generated guitar audio, especially MIDIs using a guitar soundfont, generally does a terrible job of making hammer-ons sound accurate. I suspect the audio for this book is computer-generated, not from a recording of a human (or, heck, a Compressorhead-style robot) playing a guitar.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 15:16
  • Audio file is generated but they do have a video as well of someone playing it. In slow motion, its exactly the same. That also got me thinking why they have to have a different notation for the second picture if its exactly the same move. Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 15:29

2 Answers 2


In the first tab (score) you are playing the chord E6 on the down beat then hammering on the maj 7 on the up beat. In the second tab it looks like they are trying to express the same action with a grace note. The idea there being that you borrow a little time from the beat to play that note then play what is on the beat. This can be a little confusing. The notation is really meant to be interpreted the same way as the tab in pic 1. You play the full chord with the leading grace note on the beat and quickly hammer on the second note.

  • Oh wow its called a grace note! As a beginner, how on earth am I suppose to know this. But thanks for clarifying! Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 15:34
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    So you are a beginner, but how are you learning? Self taught, youtube, lessons? You can only learn one thing at a time. A good book will provide an explanation of the notation as you go, or at least a legend in the back or front of the book.
    – user50691
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 19:43

In music language as in any other language you have the written version and the spoken version.

What you're seeing here is a grace note which basically tells you to steal a little bit of time from the original note in order to play this "non-essential" note.

How to interpret it is subject of debate. It depends on the period or composer.

When it comes to modern music I try to listen the audios and learn it as an idiomatic element. In other words, I listen repeatedly the audio or watch the video in order to accurately imitate the desired effect.

My recommendation is: Use the audio as a reference too. And imitate a lot. This way you'll be able to develop your own criteria as well.

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