Fronimo Quickstart Tutorial
By Kemer Thomson

Starting a New File


Let's jump right in. To start a new file, click on the "New" icon:

Notice that when your mouse cursor remains over that icon for a second you get a popup "tooltip" that describes what it does and includes a keyboard shortcut. Also, a more complete description of what the command does shows up in the lower left corner of the application. (This works for all the active menu icons, and is a great way to learn the program.)

Section PopupOnce you click on the icon you get the Section Options popup window, which you will see has a number of tabs on its top.

A Fronimo file contains one or more sections. Each section has its own attributes, which includes title, tablature style, formatting options and even the kind of instrument the tablature corresponds to. There is nothing to prevent you from having only one piece (section) per file, but sections provide a nice way of packaging a collection of pieces. There are advantages to using sections: you can apply many of the selections to all sections within the file to provide a uniform look and Fronimo can make a table of contents.

In our case, let's go ahead an fill in this first tab with some information. Note that I have checked the "Start on new page" box. This isn't really necessary, since this is the first piece in the document, so it will of course start on a new page. However, this is one of those little things that I always seem to forget about later on and I generally like sections to start on a new page.

Just TitleGo ahead and click on the "Apply" button to see what we have so far:

We aren't done setting up our section, so you have a couple of ways to bring up the Section Options window again: you can press the F5 key (which I can never remember without a cheat sheet), or you can select Options->Section Options... from the menu at the top of program. (Incidentally, if the F5 key doesn't work, look to see if your keyboard has an "<F Lock>" key: pushing that may make it work. Unfortunately, there are many keyboards and lots of overlapping uses for the function keys, which is one of the reasons I usually don't rely on them.

Here's a quick discussion of each of the other tabs :

Style Tab


This sets the style of tablature (Italian, French, Spanish, Neopolitan, or German) and also the kinds of note stems you want. You can always change your mind later.

I happen to prefer French tablature, which uses letters and puts the notes "right side up", i.e., with the highest notes at the top of the staff. Also note that I have checked the "Tablature letters on spaces". These things are personal taste. I also have selected a very conservative kind of note stem. Once you have made your selection, it is very easy to change your mind.

Ignore the "Tablature custom stem style" for now; this is a powerful option that gives you very elegant stems based on historical models, but which depend on which font you use.

Note Spacing

Note Spacing

Historical tablatures generally tried to cram everything into the smallest, most convenient space. You can do that, if you like, and it roughly corresponds to default "Packed" spacing. Personally, I find the "Modern" spacing to be more pleasing in many cases: it gives more space to longer notes. In fact, you can tweak the spacing for each duration, but I find that doesn't work as well as you might think.

You can do further tweaking in the spacing by changing the "Minimum horizontal space." In fact, if you find your notes are packed too tightly (or not enough) this is where to change that.

You can also manually drag notes and barlines left or right to "fine-tune" spacing. Generally, you want to avoid that: Fronimo will do a very nice job at laying things out.



The only thing you need to know about this tab right now is that this is how you change the number of lines on the staff. This is nice if you are dealing with exotic fretted instruments that, say, use 4 or 5 lines.

Actually, there is another thing to make a mental note of here: checking the "Fatter slurs" results in more elegant slurs. Of course, slurs generally aren't used a great deal in the Renaissance literature, but this is very useful with Baroque tablature.


Bar Numbers

I like regular bar numbers in my tablature for reference, so I automatically check the "Number on first bar of every staff."

Incidentally, this is an example of a tab for which you can apply the selections to every section in the file. In our case, there is only one section, so the button is disabled.



Last, but not least, this is where you select the instrument the tablature is for. Fronimo will create tablature for multiple instruments, such as duets, and in that case you have to set the instrument and pitch for each.

In our case, we are setting vihuela music, but it happens to have the same tuning as the Renaissance 6 course lute.

Incidentally, if you are interested in the specifics of each of these tunings, click on the "Modify Custom Tuning" button and you'll get a popup window. If you change that tuning, it will apply only to the current section; this is an advanced topic you don't need to worry about at this point.

Next Step: Entering Notes