Tab Contributor Guide

This page describes how to contribute to the Theory Tab library. If you are looking for a general description of Theory Tabs and their features, please visit the about page.

Public Theory Tabs are created collaboratively by the people that use this site. Every Theory Tab can be revised at any time by any registered user. Each Theory Tab has a full revision history and discussions, similar to Wikipedia.


Adding / Editing Theorytabs


Our songwriting software, Hookpad, is used to create Theorytabs. Songs are transcribed in sections, which are self-contained parts of a song like the verse, the chorus, or the intro. Each Theorytab page contains all unique sections of the song that have been analyzed. The following drop down contains a list of available section names.

You can contribute by doing any of the following:

  • Edit an existing Theorytab
  • Add a new Theorytab
  • Discuss and comment on any Theorytab
  • Request to rename or delete TheroyTab

Fair Use Policy

TheoryTabs of copyright-protected works must conform to certain standards to ensure the use of copyrighted material falls under fair use.

  1. TheoryTabs should not be longer than 30 seconds or 10% of the length of the original song, whichever is shorter.
  2. The length of a Theorytab should be the shortest length necessary to understand the musical idea that is being conveyed.
  3. Contributing multiple harmonically redundant parts of a song for the sole purpose of having a larger portion of the song in the database is prohibited.

It is Hooktheory's policy to respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement that comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). It is also Hooktheory's policy to terminate the use of Hooktheory's products or services of subscribers and account holders who infringe copyrights. TheoryTabs that do not fit these criteria will be flagged for removal and repeat-offending users will be prohibited from contributing to the database.

Editing an existing Theorytab

To start editing from the current revision hover over the "hamburger menu" and select the "Edit" link from the dropdown menu.

To start editing from an older revision:

  1. Select the "revision history" link from the dropdown menu.
  2. On the revision history page click the revision you want.
  3. On the revision page click the "Edit from this revision" link.
You will now see a page that looks this:

When you click "I am ready to proceed" you will be directed to Hookpad loaded with the revision you have chosen.

Make your edits. When you are finished editing, click "Save". A dialogue box will appear. Take a moment to describe the edits you just made. Be as thorough and descriptive as possible. Your comments will help other members of the Hooktheory community understand why you did what you did and can help seed discussions of your revision. After agreeing to the Terms of Use, click "Save" once more to commit your changes. You will be redirected back to the Theorytab page.

Adding a new Theorytab

Before adding a new Theorytab, search to make sure it does not already exist.

If you find the Theorytab you have several options:
  • Edit the Theorytab if you think you can make it more accurate
  • Add a new section of the song
  • If you think people are likely to look for the song page under a different name or spelling, you can request to rename the Theorytab (artist and/or song)

Our songwriting software, Hookpad, is used to create Theorytabs. The "Theorytab" part of the Hooktheory website is for Theorytabs of "real" songs, transcribed by members the Hooktheory community. All Theorytabs in the "Theorytab" part of the Hooktheory website have a synchronized YouTube video, so the original audio can be heard alongside Theorytab's visual display.

The basic workflow for creating a public Theorytab is:

  1. Open Hookpad and create a new (private) Theorytab
  2. Transcribe the song
  3. Attach / synchronize a YouTube video (instructions below)
  4. Save your Theorytab
  5. Click the "send to Theorytab" link that appears below the project. This link only shows up after you save a Theorytab that has a YouTube video linked to it.
  6. Fill out the song/artist name on the "Transfer" page.
  7. At this point, your Theorytab is copied and it becomes the starting point of the publicly editable Theorytab in the "Theorytab" part of the Hooktheory website.

Synchronizing a YouTube video

Instructions for synchronizing a YouTube video with a Theorytab are included below. Before you read them, it may be helpful to watch this (slightly outdated) video that demonstrates the general process.



  1. Open a new Hookpad project
  2. Add the YouTube video:
    • Go to YouTube and find the video you want to use.
    • Copy the URL
    • Back in Hookpad, click the "Load" (YouTube) button located beneath the chords area click the "Options" button in the top right and select "Attach a YouTube video".
    • In the popup window, paste the URL and click load
    • You should now see a second play button with a track and sync start/end markers below the main project.
  3. Set YouTube start/end markers:
    • To start the YouTube video, type "p" or press the lower play button.You can click anywhere in the track to rewind/fast forward the video, just like you would do on YouTube.
    • Use the arrow keys to skip ahead or behind in the music.
    • During YouTube playback, type "[" when the video reaches the starting point of section you want to analyze. This updates the position of the start marker.
    • During YouTube playback, type "]" when the video reaches the ending point of section you want to analyze. This updates the position of the end marker.
    • Type "p" or press the lower play button to stop the YouTube video.
    • You can type "[" and "]" as much as you'd like during playback - they will always update the position of the start/end markers.
    • The section you choose must be an integer number of measures (i.e. 4.5 measures will not work.)
    • It's often helpful to tap your foot along with the music and hit [ or ] right on the downbeat of your foot tap to get a precise start/end time for your markers. The better job you can do with the start/end markers, the more in-sync the notes will light up with the melody of the music video.
  4. Adjust the number of measures in your project
    • The project must match the number of measures that are in the YouTube clip you defined. For example, if you set the start and end markers for 8 measures of YouTube video's music, you must set number of measures in your project to 8 as well.
    • You can drag the black square on the right of the melody area to remove/add measures from a track. TODO: add a gif showing this process
    • Click the "+" or "-" track buttons to add/remove tracks
  5. Test the YouTube syncronization :
    • To see how accurate your sync is, click the "test the sync" radio button above the YouTube track
    • Type "p" or press the lower play button to play the YouTube video.
    • In "test the sync" mode, the YouTube video plays from the start marker to the end marker and Hookpad's scrubber moves from the start to the end of your project during playback.
    • If everything has been set correctly, the scrubber will move in time across each measure.
    • You can use the << and >> buttons on the start/end markers to nudge them left/right for fine adjustment, or drag them with the mouse for larger adjustments. If you're way off, you can click the radio button to change the mode back to "set sync start/end". This will allow you to again use "[" and "]" as you play the YouTube Video to set the markers and you tap your foot.
    • Repeat these steps, as necessary, to syncronize your project with the portion of the YouTube video you wish to analyze.
  6. From now on, YouTube playback should remain in "test the sync" mode
  7. Transcribe the song
    • As you transcribe the song, it is useful to play both the piano arrangement (type spacebar or click the upper play button) and the YouTube video (type "p" or click the lower play button) so you can double check your work.
    • You are free to analyze the song over time, saving and coming back to it as much as you'd like.
  8. Transfer your private Theorytab to the "Theorytab" part of the Hooktheory website:
    • Once you are finished with your Theorytab, click "save" one last time to make sure the latest version is saved to our servers.
    • Provided your have saved your project and it has a YouTube video attached, there will be a link below the project that says "add my analysis to Theorytab". Click that link.
    • In the transfer form, fill in the artist and song information and pick the section from the pulldown menu. Please take the time to make sure the artist and song are spelled correctly, and are accurate. The artist's website and Wikipedia article are generally good resources for spelling.
    • Once the form is complete, click "Transfer". This copies your private Theorytab and makes it the starting point of the publicly editable Theorytab in the "Theorytab" part of the Hooktheory website.
  9. Pat yourself on the back!

Renaming or deleting a Theorytab

To rename or delete a song, please leave us a message on Facebook with a link to the song page and the revised artist and song names.

Page Descriptions

The analysis area of contains four types of pages as described below:

Artist Page
A list of the artist's songs that have been analyzed on Hooktheory.

Song Page
The current revision of each analysis (section) of a song. Analyses are listed in order of their appearance in the song, for example: Intro, Verse, Chorus, Outro, etc.

Revision History Page
A list of all revisions of an analysis.

Revision Page
A revision of an analysis. In addition, it contains the editor's comments and a discussion thread for discussing the revision.

Copyright & Legal

Fair Use Supplemental Notes

Fair use is a doctrine that provides a complete defense against claims of copyright infringement in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides a list of purposes for which reproduction of a given work may be considered fair, including criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research. The Copyright Act sets forth a four-factor test to determine whether the use made of a work is a fair use: (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit, educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

In 1994 the U.S. Supreme Court held in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. that the commercial nature of a parodic song that borrowed extensively from an earlier copyrighted work did not prevent a finding of fair use. The Court determined that the commercial nature of a work is only one element of the Act's first factor inquiry into the purpose and character of the use.

Hooktheory's use of copyrighted materials constitutes fair use under Section 107 of the Copyright Act. First of all, the purpose and character of Hooktheory's use of copyrighted sound recordings is educational in nature, and when accompanied by the explanatory text of the digital book, it also adds original criticism and commentary. Moreover, the integration of a YouTube clip, a graphical representation of the chords, and the music engine, combined with Hooktheory's written analysis constitutes a transformative use because it transforms a sound recording into an audiovisual work and provides critical analysis of the underlying music composition. Thus the purpose and character of use fall well within the understanding of what constitutes fair use, despite Hooktheory's commercial purpose.

Second, Hooktheory uses only short excerpts of popular songs. The Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia, prepared by the Conference on Fair Use, advise that the use of 10% or 30 seconds of a sound recording is presumptively fair use. While this recommendation is not binding on courts, it supports the conclusion that Hooktheory's limited use of excerpts of copyrighted songs in the previously described form constitutes fair use.

Finally, Hooktheory's use of popular songs in its music theory instruction adds value to those works, much like inclusion of a sound recording in a musical encyclopedia. Rather than replace the market for the music it uses, Hooktheory may actually enhance that same market, benefitting the holders of the copyrights to the music. Further, Hooktheory's visualizations and instrumental playback mode only plays generic renditions of the chords that make up the underlying songs. As such, it does not provide a full written musical score or guitar tablature, so there is no risk that its products would compromise the essence of a song in permanent or fixed medium. The ephemeral and transient nature of the information Hooktheory provides enhances its claim to fair use because it does not serve as a substitute for the underlying music itself.

For the foregoing reasons, Hooktheory disclaims that its use of copyrighted materials for educational, illustrative, commentative purposes constitutes infringement, and a court is likely to uphold its assertion of fair use.

Complaint Procedure

If you believe that your work has been used in a way that constitutes copyright infringement, please leave us a message on Facebook that includes the following following information (as required by the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. sec. 512):

  1. A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed
  2. Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site
  3. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit Hooktheory to locate the material
  4. Information reasonably sufficient to permit Hooktheory to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted
  5. A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law
  6. A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.