BeierTab – Lute tablature editing software

BeierTab version 2.15
Build 5 – December 2017


What is BeierTab?

A computer program for MS Windows in which to edit and print lute tablature. It also transcribes lute tablature into staff-notation (in MusicXML format which can be used with music notation programs such as Finale and Sibelius).

Why so many builds?

Some of the underlying structure of the program was rewritten and improved in version 2.15, but, inevitably, a few bugs crept in! I release new builds as I correct these bugs, which are usually quite small. In this build, I corrected an error that arose when printing or exporting the tablature file, and I made this process a little faster than it was before.

The nice part is that I sometimes add new features with new builds. This time, I completed the new ornament signs found in the Capirola lute book. These can be found on the “Fingering/Ornaments” menu.



Tablature Style

Fonts and layout based on historical sources. Convert instantaneously between different styles:

  • French Tablature – Renaissance: Besard 1603, Dowland 1610
  • French Tablature – Baroque: Gautier 1669, Breitkopf 1750
  • Italian Tablature: Gardano 1550, Piccinini 1623
  • Spanish Tablature: Luys Milan 1535
  • German Tablature: Newsidler 1536
  • Baroque Guitar: Murcia

Tablature signs

  • All kinds of left hand ornament signs.
  • Upward and downward slurs, vertical and diagonal lines.
  • Right hand arpeggio squiggles and separée signs.
  • Right and left hand fingering signs and numbers.
  • Rest signs, dynamics, fermatae, coda and repeat signs.
  • Add text with choice of font, size and color.
  • End of piece arabesques.
  • Grace notes


  • Transpose tablature up or down.
  • Convert tablature from one instrument tuning to another.
  • Transform rhythm signs by doubling or halving their value.
  • Format rhythm signs to appear at bar lines or at a particular rhythmic interval.
  • Instantly add vertical lines connecting chords to diapasons throughout the tablature.
  • Instantly add right hand index fingering dots throughout the tablature at the appropriate places.Convert tablature from one instrument tuning to another.

Multiple Staves

  • Add, delete and arrange the position of multiple staves per system, creating scores for lute duets, trios, etc.
  • Merge two or more staves of a system into one. You can perform the contrary operation of splitting tablature into two staves by selecting individual voices (see MIDI below).
  • Select the style of bracket (curved, square or none) to use with multiple staves.
  • Make parts – each staff in a separate file.

Page Layout

  • Portrait and landscape orientation.
  • Paper sizes include US Letter and Legal, A3, A4, A5, B4, B5, B6.
  • Control spacing, margins, indents, etc.
  • Adjust the size of the tablature and how it fits on the page.
  • Captions and page numbering options.


  • Assign independent voices to tablature characters, for polyphonic rendition.
  • You can select voices and delete them, or copy them to a new staff.
  • Listen to the tablature file, control tempo and volume.
  • Export tablature to a MIDI file.
  • Export tablature to MusicXML, transcribed to piano score format.

Import and Export

  • Import Wayne Cripps “Tab” lute tablature files.
  • Export tablature as graphic files in various formats.
  • Print files.

New in “Version 2.15”

The main novelty in version 2.15 is the addition of “Movements”. For instance, if you have a baroque lute suite, the movements might be an Allemande, Courant, Saraband and Gigue, or they could be the individual pieces of a concert program or collection. Movements are arranged on consecutive pages and contained in a single BeierTab file. Measures can be numbered consecutively across movements.

After adding this feature to what was originally to have been version 2.14, I found that there was a problem when creating very large files with many movements. Because of this, version 2.14 never saw the light of day, and version 2.15 was dedicated to solving this problem. The solution involved changing the way pages were displayed in the main window: pages are now shown only one at a time. Page scrolling with the scroll-bar on the right side of the main window still works; pages are changed when the scroll bar reaches the top or bottom of the page.

Numerous small changes were made in this version. Here is a list of a few of them:

  • On the File menu: new buttons for New Movement, Delete Movement, Insert Movement (this allows you to load an existing BeierTab file as a new movement) and Movement Label, which allows you display a title for each movement.
  • On the Bars menu: new buttons for Upbeat (allows you to set the first bar of a movement as an upbeat or anacrusis), Left Edge Bar Line and Justify Last Line
  • On the Insert menu, horizontal brackets were added. These can be stretched over multiple columns, for instance, to indicate hemiola beats in a galliard.
  • The Layout menu has been substantially reorganized. On it you can now increase or decrease bars-per-line and lines-per-page, as well as assign global values to these functions. There are a new set of buttons for adding, deleting, merging and labeling multiple staves.
  • A new button on the Quick Links menu lets you quickly start, copy and paste blocks of tablature, and select the whole file.
  • The following keyboard shortcuts have been added: Alt-1 through 4: left hand fingers; Alt-B: barée; Alt-P (thumb), Alt-I (index), Alt-M (middle), Alt-A (ring) for right hand fingers.