Back to index of guitar tablature pages by Donald Sauter.

NOTE: The ASCII tablature presented here has been made more or less obsolete by a graphic tab version in pdf format which looks a little better and doesn't need any hand touch-ups. But remember that pdf is a proprietary format, and as such, is guaranteed to become obsolete sooner or later. You may also want to see some other guitar pieces in this same "Saxton System" tuning in my 19th C. American Guitar in Sordatura page.

"April Showers" for 2 guitars

I found "April Showers" in the Library of Congress collection many years ago - probably the mid-1980s. Here are my reasons for putting it up on the web in modern tablature.

1. Add a guitar duo to my tablature pages.

2. Give American guitar music a plug.

3. Original was published in tablature, so nobody can complain.

4. Written in a very unusual scordatura, C G d g b d'.

5. Original was rotting away in 1984; may be dust now.

6. Nobody else has.

Click here for the First Guitar part.

Click here for the Second Guitar part.

I hope "April Showers" isn't too high-brow for you.

The LC copy is missing the cover page, which is unfortunate since I can't tell you the composer or the year. The main suspects, as seen in my 19th C. American Guitar in Sordatura page, would be Johnson Bane or J. W. Herrington.

The original was set with movable musical type, using numbers rather than note heads, of course. To my non-authoritative eye, it looks sort of 1880-ish. (But is that a touch of ragtime in measures 65 and 69, placing it in the mid 1890s, at the earliest?)

For what it's worth, Johnson Bane composed and arranged some pieces in this tuning in the 1890s. I'm not sure why, but Bane calls this the "Spanish Tuning". He calls the regular tuning, EADGBE, the "Natural Tuning". Bane calls his tablature a "simplified figure system" and admits that "many teachers have given this simplified system a "black eye" so as to speak." But Bane will not knuckle under: "A student may rest assured that this simplified system will do him no harm, if at any future time he may desire to take up music in regular notation."

The manner in which the rhythm information is notated in "April Showers" is unusual, if not unique. (View the original tablature.) The rhythms are supplied above the staff, but not using beams, stems or noteheads. A curved line, that is, a "(" rotated 90 degrees clockwise, serves as both the beam and stems. So,

    1.    |   |

would be handled by a single curve, and

    2.    | |-|

would have a curve over the 16th-note pair and a greater curve over the whole group.

You hardly need to know this except for one little nagging problem. The dotted rhythm, which appears frequently throughout, is always notated using example 2 above, not

    3.    |. -|

Under the first 16th-note stem in example 2, Mr. or Mrs. TBD placed a rest symbol. The problem is, there are so many distinct rest symbols that you wonder if there weren't specific performance instructions for each type. They all take the form of a heavy block, but some sit above a staff line, some hang below, some slant up or down toward the next note. In some cases, 4er- and half-note rests are drawn with with a leading vertical line, like a "T" rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise. It's hard to image there could be so many ways to interpret a rest, but at least one concern is whether some of them mean to sustain, rather than kill, the previous note. The same uncertainty applies to the dotted-4er/8th-note combination:

    4.    |  | |

Should the rest under the first 8th-note stem be taken literally? You'll have to decide for yourself whether you want to sustain or cut off the preceding note in these spots.

THE MODERN TABLATURE: Click here for general comments on the modern tablature, including some tips on printing it out perfectly.


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