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I would appreciate your help in understating the the notation: "Guitar 3rd to F sharp Capo III". I attached a picture of the music sheets.

I understand the idea of a capo and the fact that I should put it on the 3rd fret. However, I'm having trouble in understanding if/how it shifts the written notes.

In order to further understand it, I was looking for tabs but I was unable to find ones for the same notes.

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The instruction means to tune G string down to F# ("lute tuning": see, for example https://www.guitar-chord.org/alternate-tunings.html), then apply the capo. This has the effect of tuning the guitar to G C F A D G, or, more importantly, up a minor third.

Notice that the guitar part is written in E major, but the vocal part is in G major. This means that the guitar must be raised by a minor third.

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  • Thank you! :) The thing which I don't fully understand now is when it's written for example E, should I play E? Or should I change it according to the Capo + new tuning?
    – DJV
    May 30, 2023 at 9:05
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    @DJV You would play as though the capo is the nut. So a note that is normally open would still be open. A note played on the first fret would be played on the first fret away from the capo. The exception is the retuned third string; those notes would have to be adjusted for the new tuning.
    – Aaron
    May 30, 2023 at 13:12
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Third string from G to F♯ is simple - it changes the tuning, slightly, from standard guitar tuning.

Then capo on the third fret then moves all the written guitar notes from where they are on the lower stave, to sound in the same key as the vox. To me that's odd, as they could have been written out in the appropriate new key of G major rather than left in E major. The dots are there - it's not as if it's in tab. So any reader will have to still assume the capo is where the nut should be, but still compensate for the different tuning of that 3rd string. So, seeing a note cluster and recognising it as a certain chord, becomes difficult for a guitarist used to reading dots.

Albeit lutenists may benefit, although tenor lutes are tuned G>G, with the M3 between 4th and 3rd strings (as re-tuning indicates), as opposed to guitars, with M3 between strings 3 and 2.

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  • Yeah, it's Dowland, so it's for lute originally. I'm not sure what the convention is when notating for guitars in non-standard tunings. For some violin scordatura works I'm used to seeing the sort of "half tab" you describe, in which a note is notated at the location that you'd normally place that finger on that string (e.g. if an A is detuned to a G, and you want a C, write a B). Either that or straight up concert pitch. May 24, 2023 at 15:56
  • Thank you! :) The thing which I don't fully understand now is when it's written for example E, should I play E? Or should I change it according to the Capo + new tuning?
    – DJV
    May 30, 2023 at 9:05
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    @DJV - just pretend the capo is the nut, and read the notes appropriately.
    – Tim
    May 30, 2023 at 10:19

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