How do you convert MIDI to guitar tab? Converting MIDI to guitar tab used to be a laborious task typically lasting for days to complete. But now, it’s a lot easier and faster thanks to apps like Noteflight, Power Tab Editor, MuseScore, and TuxGuitar.
The best thing about advanced technology is that it paved way for the development of AI (artificial intelligence), nanotechnology, miniaturization, and digitalization. In turn, it made life simpler, easier, and wonderful.
In music making, the latest innovations changed the way we create, record, access, share, and use music. It has simplified the way we consume music. Technology in the form of user-friendly software also allowed many aspiring musicians to understand and learn the various aspects of music making.
One area that changed so much is the way we treat musical notation. For example, you won’t necessarily have to know how to read notes to be able to play music like a pro. For one, synthesia makes it easier for some aspiring pianists to learn a song in minutes through a MIDI keyboard (it is recommended you learn how to read notes, though!).
Another is that we can now easily transpose MIDI file to any audio file format or maybe, to a music sheet or tab notation. Many guitarists have taken advantage of this gift of technology. If you haven’t yet and are wondering how it works, read on.
How to convert MIDIto guitar tab – The Lowdown
MIDI in Your Music
Have you seen a drummer make wicked beats using a portable electronic drum set? How about a keyboardist playing a beautiful accompaniment to a song, but instead of keyboards, he uses a laptop? And how does a regular keyboard do more than a hundred different voices, including applause and alien sounds?
Well, all of these and more are possible, thanks to MIDI.
MIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface, is a protocol that makes it possible for digital musical instruments, computers, smartphones, and tablets, to connect and communicate. Think of it like a super-multilingual person in a group of people who can only speak their own language. The polyglot facilitates communication within the group; that’s also how MIDI works.
Take note that MIDI is a digital signal rather than an audio signal. It uses a series of 1s and 0s, or binary digits, to carry 8-bit messages to communicate information like which note or key a sound is, its velocity, vibrato, reverb, and many other variables that make up the audio signal.
The MIDI data is processed and converted into audio that we can hear. And the best thing about MIDI is that it works for any instrument of any brand or manufacturer. Yes, MIDI is their official language!
But since MIDI only carries audio information and not the actual sound, how do we translate it into another format, a musical notation such as a guitar tab, without hearing the whole thing?
From MIDI to Guitar Tab in a Jiffy
Fortunately, we’re living in an era where we wouldn’t have to spend days transposing a MIDI file to a guitar tab. There are now tools available to help convert MIDI to guitar tab, piano sheet, and other forms of musical notation.
It means the labor-intensive process of manually transposing the file is over. We now have a myriad of software to do the job! Here are the most popular and reliable tools that can convert MIDI to any notation, including guitar tab:
For converting MIDI to guitar tab, many guitarists turn to Noteflight to do the job. Noteflight is one of the top choices for converting MIDI and other files to guitar tablature.
This cloud-based notation software features a clean, easy-to-use interface that is beginner-friendly and has loads of options to choose from. You can use this tool on any device that runs a browser. You can either get the basic account for free or unlock the full features with a premium account.
● Power Tab Editor
Power Tab Editor is a great guitar tab editor for Windows. This free software allows you to quickly produce guitar sheet music in minutes! It comes with a variety of elements for notating guitar and bass guitar. It also gives you the option of creating a guitar tab from scratch or importing a MIDI recording and visualizing and editing the notation.
Power Tab Editor has loads of useful features including basic settings, insertion of new notes and rests, the addition of musical and tablature symbols, rhythm slash menu, among others.
MuseScore is another free guitar tab creator for Windows. It is easy to use and it effectively converts MIDI files to guitar tabs. It has plugins that enhance the tool’s functionality, too!
The method of use is pretty much the same as the other similar tools out there, but the interface is easier to follow than most. You can easily export the piece you created into another file, or you can just print the guitar tablature straight away. MuseScore is also popular for being one of the most reliable when it comes to conversion accuracy.
TuxGuitar is an open-source, multitrack tab creator that works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. This free tool allows you to import a MIDI file and convert it to a guitar tab.
It also has useful features like Guitar Tuner, File Format Batch Converter, and Scale List. And just like most guitar tab creator tools, Tux Guitar also has additional plugins for enhanced functionality.
Here’s a great video showing TuxGuitar in action:
Although the software listed above allows you to arrange the composition properties such as key and time signatures, tuning, strings, tempo, and many others, they can sometimes give inaccurate results.
This is observed mostly on complex pieces of music; sometimes, some of the tablatures were notated in the wrong position in places. When this happens, we just have to take it into our own hands and manually edit the misplaced notation.
And if you really must, it’s still possible to convert MIDI to guitar tab with flawless accuracy by getting it custom arranged by a professional transcriber.
MIDI doesn’t really convert to guitar tab well since a guitar can play the same pitch in multiple places. With that said, some tweaking here and there might help with the accuracy issues commonly associated with conversion tools.
Things like this can happen and can’t be helped when it does. It’s just one of the downsides of computerization, and we can only adjust as technology evolves and improves.
But for now, make the best of what is there and learn to adjust the sails.
If you are a guitar newbie and don’t know much about guitar tablature, check out this guide on how to read guitar tabs. And maybe soon, you will experience the magic of bringing to life music converted from non-audio MIDI to guitar tab!
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.