Editing Notes

The most common action in writing a tab is to edit an individual note, and as such it should also be the simplest.

Rather than having to type the note directly, Taboo allows you to scroll through every note available for the target drum by repeatedly left clicking. By default, the available notes are (in order):

  • Hi-hats: x, X, o, #, g, d, f
  • Crash cymbal: x, X, #, s, g, d, f
  • Ride cymbal: x, X, #, g, d, f
  • Hi-hat foot: x, #, X, o
  • All drums: o, g, f, d, O, x, b, z

The available notes for each instrument, and their order, can be modified in the Configuration Panel.

  • LEFT CLICK : Cycle note through the available characters

Songs generally have very similar sections with slight variations, so you’ll often be copying and pasting large chunks of tab before spending your time editing individual notes. This will involve plenty of erasing of notes that aren’t there this time, an action that is accomplished simply with the right mouse button.

  • RIGHT CLICK : Clear note to a hyphen ( – )

While it’s not really a note, the drum label at the beginning of the line can be modified simply by left OR right clicking on it. This will cycle through the available drum names forwards or backwards, respectively. By default, the available drums are (in order):

CC, RC, HH, SD, HT, MT, FT, F2, BD, HF

This is enough to comfortably accomodate most drum tabs, but if you need more specific drums, you can define them, along with their available notes and order relative to other drums, in the Configuration Panel.

  • LEFT CLICK on drum name : Increment drum name
  • RIGHT CLICK on drum name : Decrement drum name

Editing Lines

Editing individual notes is the most fundamental action you can perform, but the tabbing process is greatly streamlined when you can work with groups of notes at a time.

The most common action to perform on a group of individual notes is to clear them all to -’s. The clearing function of the right mouse button is amplified with the Shift key to clear either bars or entire lines depending on whether you click within a bar or on the drum label at the beginning of the line. This is a quick way to clear out notes from a line whose drum you just changed.

  • SHIFT + RIGHT CLICK within a bar : Clear all notes in the target bar
  • SHIFT + RIGHT CLICK on drum name : Clear all the notes on the target line

While the right mouse button clears, the left creates. Whenever a new drum enters the groove, you’ll need to add a new line to record it. Left clicking within a bar with the Shift key held creates a new, blank line below the target line (the drum is the next one after the target line’s drum by default).

  • SHIFT + LEFT CLICK within a bar : Create a new line below the target line

The Control key is yet a further step up in magnitude of effect. Whenever a drum leaves the groove you’ll want to remove its unused line, and this is done simply by right clicking on a line with the Ctrl key held.

  • CTRL + RIGHT CLICK : Delete the entire line

With the left mouse button, Ctrl has a sometimes complementary effect to Shift – it creates a line break, simply a gap with nothing in it, as if you’d hit return at the end of the target line. When followed up with a few Shift clicks, this can be very helpful for quickly creating a new staff below the target one, since Shift clicking on an empty line will add a new line below it.

  • CTRL + LEFT CLICK : Create a line break


Since many songs have very similar phrases, usually the most efficient method of creating new tabs is to copy and paste existing chunks of similar tablature, and then edit in the details. Copying and pasting is performed with the Alt key.

Let’s start with copying – Taboo copies drum tab in rectangular chunks. You specify the positions of the two opposite corners of the rectangle, and all the notes within the enclosed region will be copied to a clipboard. (TODO: multiple, selectable clipboard items) Specifying is done by holding down the Alt key and left clicking once to select the first corner, and then again to select the opposite corner. You can do anything you like between the two clicks (they do not have to be simultaneous, though they probably will be), but if you try and paste between clicks, the copy will be cancelled (and the paste will fail).

  • ALT + LEFT CLICK : Set Copy rectangle bound (once to start, again to end)

And then there’s cutting which does the same thing as copying (that is, putting text on the clipboard), but also removes the target region from the textbox. Admittedly this tool is probably more use for simply deleting regions of tab rather than to removing them AND placing them on the clipboard, but it works just as well for both functions. It’s also worth mentioning that beginning a cut operation will cancel an in-progress copy operation.

  • CTRL + ALT + LEFT CLICK : Set Cut rectangle bound (once to start, again to end)


Pasting operates under a similar principle as copying, but you do it with the right mouse button. There are a couple more paste methods in the pipeline (TODO: cropping and tiling), but for now there’s 3 ways you can paste the stuff on your clipboard.

The simplest paste method is the Overwrite Paste, which simply lays the clipboard data on top of the text below it like a patch. Simply hold down Alt and right click on the note that you want to act as the top-left corner of your paste rectangle, and all the copy data will then be pasted exactly the same as it appeared in the copy rectangle, overwriting anything underneath.

  • ALT + RIGHT CLICK : Set Overwrite Paste target (top-left corner of paste region)

As well as the standard Overwrite Paste, there are various other paste methods. By holding both Ctrl + Alt and right clicking, you can use Insert Paste to ‘weave’ the clipboard data into the tab. Basically this is like making a vertical cut in the tab, expanding the gap between the two halves, and inserting the data into the gap. Useful for adding things into a bar, such as columns of -’s to extend the bar’s length.

insert the data on the clipboard as a block, below the target line. Think of this as pasting a paragraph between two others, rather than over the top of them. This is great for pasting entire staffs of tab.

  • CTRL + ALT + RIGHT CLICK : Set Insert Paste target (paste starts to the left of the target note)

Another pasting option you have is the Break Paste. This is like making a horizontal cut between two lines and inserting the clipboard data between the two halves. Even more simply, you could think of it as pasting a paragraph between two other paragraphs, retaining the paragraph breaks. This is most useful for copying an entire staff, and pasting it between two other staffs, as it’ll insert the line breaks to keep them separate.

  • CTRL + SHIFT + RIGHT CLICK : Set Break Paste target (paste starts the line below)


Copying and pasting are important actions, but if you’re creating a new tab from scratch then you’ve got nothing to copy. Sure you could open up another tab and copy something in, or maybe create a new line and edit it into shape and copy that, but there should be an easier way. And there is. And it’s templates.

Templates are pretty much what they sounds like – pre-defined staffs of drum tab that you can easily insert into your tab with just a couple of clicks. Chances are default templates won’t be especially appropriate for whatever you’re tabbing, so you also have the ability to modify the existing templates and define your own. The available templates are listed under the Templates tab in the main window, as well as in the Configuration Panel. You can add new and remove existing templates with the respective buttons, and if you click on a template to preview it, you can edit it in the preview window and save it for later use.

By clicking the name of the template, you automatically copy the text of the template onto the clipboard, so it can be pasted directly into your tab with the standard paste controls. (TODO: backup the existing clipboard data when a template is selected and restore that data when the template is dropped) You can clear the template off the clipboard by right clicking the list of templates or by starting a new copy within your tab.

  • LEFT CLICK on template name : Copy template to clipboard
  • RIGHT CLICK on template list / Alt + LEFT CLICK within tab : Clear template for clipboard

Other Commands

There are a range of commands you can call to simplify otherwise tedious tabbing tasks. This is one area that will undergo continuous expansion and will hopefuly be one of Taboo’s main strengths. Let me know of any commands you’d like to see added, and I’ll see what I can do!

Remove Empty Lines
Edit » Remove Empty Lines

If you’re anything like me, it irritates you when you print off that tab you’ve spent seemingly forever writing and you see one or more lines in the middle of a verse with no notes on them. Usually a CC line. Well you don’t have to worry about that anymore, since calling Remove Empty Lines will do exactly that – look through your tab and remove any line that has only -’s (or spaces) for notes.

Add Count
Edit » Toggle Count » Add Count

Add Count is simply a batch operation that finds every staff of tab and adds a line of count ( |1e+a2e+a3 and so on) below it if there’s not one already. This is probably most useful if you’ve either just added a new line and want a count to help you edit it or you’ve just finished the tab and you’re cleaning it up to be submitted somewhere.

Remove Count
Edit » Toggle Count » Remove Count

Remove Count is the same as Add Count, except that instead of adding lines of count below staves, it removes them if they’re present. Perhaps not as practical, but it means there’s not cost for using the count to write a tab for a song with relatively simple rhythm as it’s so simple to clean up.

Insert Triplet
Insert » Tuplet » Triplet (Ctrl + 3)

Insert Triplet is the only Insert Tuplet command at the moment, and it does exactly what it says – inserts a triplet into the tab starting from where you click. You can click on either a line of tab or on the count below the tab if you find it easier to target the right beat that way. It simply adds a triplet marker above the line of tab and inserts an extra hyphen to the right of where you clicked.

When you select Insert Triplet, the cursor will change to a cross when over the textbox. To cancel inserting the triplet, simply right click. Currently you can only insert triplets where they will fit (e.g. not on the last not of a bar or within another tuplet), and there may be some instance where you can’t add them when you should be able to. Hopefully there’s not too many of these.

Application Controls

Note: For simplicity, I use the word ‘tab’ here to refer to drum tablature, and ‘tab page’ to refer to the tabs you click to see a new page.

Textbox Modes

The textboxes in which the drum tabs live have two ‘modes’, or states of functionality. The default is Input mode, which allows you to enter/modify data just as you would in Notepad. The primary application for this is initially pasting in tabs to work on in Edit mode.

Edit mode is the one you’ll be spending the most time in. In Edit mode, the textbox becomes read-only so you can’t enter characters with the keyboard, and it refuses focus so you can’t select characters or even place the caret. This may sound rather restrictive, but it’s necessary to allow the features Edit mode provides, which are the editing features in the previous few pages, particularly modifying the characters with the mouse.

You’ll probably need to toggle between these states at least a couple of times, so you should know that the Toggle Edit option in the Edit menu performs this function, as does the (deprecated) Toggle Edit button in the Controls tab page.


Many of the menu controls are yet to be implemented, but many of the basic ones have at least some effect. These items include:

  • New (Ctrl + N) – Creates a new tab page with a blank text box, ready to receive a new tab.
  • Open (Ctrl + O) – By entering a file path (full or relative) to a .txt file, you can import a .txt tab document into the currently active tab page. Generally you’ll be better off just pasting the tab into the text box in Input mode.
  • Save As (F12) – By entering a filename (full or relative), you can export your tab data to a .txt file. Again, you could just open up Notepad and copy the data out of your Input-mode textbox, but this should be easier to maintain.
  • Save (Ctrl + S) – Currently the same as Save As. (TODO: If not previously saved, this does the same as Save As. If working on a saved tab, this just overwrites the working file with the current state of the tab.)
    (TODO: support for reading/writing .doc files)
  • Close Tab (Ctrl + F4) – Closes the currently active tab page (or simply clears it if it’s the only tab page open).
  • Exit - Closes Taboo.
  • Undo (Ctrl + Z) – Reverts the text of the tab back to the way it was before your most recent edit. Note that the default undo history of 10 can be modified in the Configuration Panel.
  • Redo (Ctrl + Y) – The undo undoer. Redo simply steps you forwards through the undo stack. Note that if you edit the tab while within the tab stack (i.e. you’ve pressed Undo at least once), your otherwise possible redo’s are lost.
  • Select All (Ctrl + A) – In Input mode, selects all the text in the active tab page.
  • Toggle Edit (Ctrl + E) – Toggles the active tab page’s textbox between Input and Edit modes.
  • Configuration (F8) – Opens the Configuration Panel to give you finer control over Taboo’s inner workings.
  • Help (F1) – Opens up the help file.
  • Welcome - Shows the Welcome message that otherwise only displays the first time you run a new version of Taboo.
  • About - Says very little.

The Logs are purely for development debugging, so feel free to ignore those entirely. However if you hit an error, you may want to check them out and report what went wrong, as they’ll probably hold some pretty helpful information (for me, anyway).

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