Grant Dukeshire

Yesterday — an illiterate student.

Today — a published author.

Who I am is not likely of much interest. But perhaps "how and why" of BeatTab may be.

 From the back cover of a couple of his books:

Grant Dukeshire has been formally educated in mathematics, physics, engineering and business with degrees from Dalhousie and the University of Alberta. Besides working in the energy sector, his real  education came from raising a family, being a Scouting leader and simply hiking, skiing and cycling in the Canadian Rockies. He also plays some blues harp.

How, why and some history . . .

There are plenty of books out there that provide harmonica tab, so why bother to invent yet another method to play? Because

Somewhere around 2004, I got sick and tired of trying to learn and relearn the rhythm of so many pieces. As soon as I would put a piece down, maybe a few weeks — and sometimes just a day even — I would often be unable to accurately duplicate the rhythm. This was particularly so for complex blues pieces. I was really annoyed that too often I had to hear the piece again in order to replicate the basic rhythm. The available music books were just not good enough.

Sometimes Standard Music Notation was supplied on a separate line above the tab — but that was pretty well useless for me as I hardly knew how to read it. Maybe I should have learned the "dots and tails" then, but I was stubborn as it seemed too much like trouble. So I kept messing up and failing. And I knew that I was far, far from being alone my understanding is that 90% of harp players cannot read Standard Music Notation well enough to easily use it. So I started to make lots of notes inside my instruction books . . .

At first, the "system" was just to get the words sorted out for where each of the four beats in every bar landed, and so I just added dashes here and there. Eventually some decent structure and precision emerged whereby I finally realized that I was essentially (unconsciously) using a default value of a 1/4 note and then extending each note or else bracketing them to condense notes enough to make them fit inside of that beat.

And there were many other fixes and adjustments including inventing more compact symbols for use with various chords, trills and all. For instance, I first used underlining for the draw notes but then noticed that it was way more efficient to underline only the blow notes since the blues were using draws 80% of the time. The evolution and tweaking of BeatTab took years to achieve proper functionality, especially  to cover the more complex rhythms, or for when playing chromatic instruments (which ended up with the invention of Alpha Beat Music Notation).

It took a fair amount of time for the full package to come together, but now when I hear a rhythm, I am able to quickly take out a pencil and paper and transcribe what I hear — and very accurately. So whenever I practice or teach complex pieces, it is now dramatically easier. And best of all, since I am a writer as well, I can share it with you. So enjoy — I did the years of headaches for you to simply use it.

The BeatTab series of books was mainly written to demonstrate that the notation works by providing sufficient tab so that players could see the value for themselves. But certainly, most people will miss that point, and simply enjoy playing where before, they could not. If that is the case, ok but it is sincerely hoped that the usage of the BeatTab Notation will spread over and above for just the songs used in these books. Let's open up a whole new era of learning for the harmonica.

Grant Dukeshire