Tablature posted on this site or provided in private sessions are based on the format David Barrett uses on bluesharmonica.com, with a couple of my own variations. Briefly summarised it goes like this.
- A number with a + sign following means blow that number hole. For example
4+means blow hole 4,
6+means blow hole 6 and so on.
- A number without a + sign means draw that hole.
- For illustration, the tablature for the major scale in the middle octave looks like this:
4+ 4 5+ 5 6+ 6 7 7+
'indicates a note should be bent a half step.
''indicates a whole step bend, and
'''indicates a three semi-tone bend. For example:
4'= a 4 draw half step bend.
2''= a 2 draw whole step bend
3'''= a one and a half step draw bend on the three hole.
- Two hole numbers together means you should play both at the same time. So
45indicates four and five draw played simultaneously.
- Two dashes
--indicate a slide from the first to second note. For example:
4'--2means to quickly move from 4 draw bend to 2 draw, catching the 3 draw briefly on the way.
- A caret
^indicates a dip. That means you start the note in a bend then quickly release to the natural note. Some people call this a scoop or a slur.
4^means play hole 4 draw with a dip.
There’s more to it but that’s enough to get going with the Music Theory for Harmonica Players series.