The diagrams are to be used in conjunction with standard notation sheets and are intended to help one learn what chords to use for either rhythm or melody on the autoharp once you have the tune in your head. They are also a great way to remind yourself in the event an arrangement has slipped from your memory. Here is an example of AULD LANG SYNE.


Almost all songs are structured in rows of 4 measures.  The system allows you to see the blueprint of the song in an easy-to-remember format and grasp the structure as a whole.

  1. There is a top shaded row which shows the RHYTHM ACCOMPANIMENT CHORD . Some will be happy to stop right there as the song can be played simply by holding that chord for the requisite number of beats for that measure.
  2. Next is the LYRIC LINE if you are inclined to sing. For instrumental songs, sometimes this is the spelled out beat count.
  3. Below that is the corresponding which MELODY CHORD can be played on the autoharp to correspond to the lyric above. Each block represents a measure and is broken up into beats which fall before and after the forward slashes.
  4. Then comes the NUMBERED BEAT for the duration of the melody note above. Parentheses mean that the note is carried over from the beat before but can be filled with a rhythm stroke.
  5. The bottom line is a simple PICKING HAND STROKE for keeping track of the beat. In general, that is a pinch, a strum, a thumb/bass hit, or a back stroke which allow you strike the melody note (usually a pinch) while keeping a rhythmic fill going so you know how long it is until the next melody note. Here is a key to symbols .

In order to have the table rows and columns line up correctly, and so you can save the summary to your computer, this is a PDF file:


I hesitate to call this "tablature" because the word means different things to different people and because it is not intended as an authoritative direction as to how a song is to be played. It is intended as diagrammed picture of the musical piece as a whole, simultaneously broken down into its component parts. As I said above, a "blueprint" to be used alongside standard notation (which can show melody, dynamics, ornamentation, etc.) in order to learn and memorize, and later to prod the memory. Also, by analyzing the "Numbered Beat" line, you will often see repeated rhythmic patterns, which is an aid in keeping time.

The point being that there are an infinite number of options in performing a musical number, but you never want to lose track of THE BASIC note and beat.