The Music Staff
The music staff consists of five lines and four spaces
Notes may be placed on any line or on any space of the staff to indicate their pitch. Lines going above or below the staff are called ledger lines and are used as extensions of the staff. They are used in the situation where notes are needed and are too high or too low to be notated directly on the staff.
There are four different clefs used in Western music: treble, bass, alto, and tenor. These clefs appear at the beginning of a staff line to indicate the meaning of the notes on the staff. The two most important clefs are the treble and bass clefs, as these are the ones most frequently used. They are also the clefs used to notate piano music.
The treble clef is also known as the G clef. The reason for this is that the line that the clef spirals around is the line that the note G4 goes on.
The notes surrounding G are as shown below:
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The bass clef is also known as the F clef because the line between the two dots of the clef is the line on which the note F3 is placed.
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The notes surrounding F are as shown in the staff below:
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The grand staff is not a real staff, but is useful in showing the relationship between the treble and bass clef.
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Removal of the middle line leaves you with two normal staves, which can be notated with the treble and bass clefs as shown below:
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When you insert the notes of the two staves, you can see that the treble and bass clef staves are connected by middle C.
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The alto clef is another clef which is not used as often as the treble and bass clefs, but is necessary in the writing of music for instruments like the viola. This clef is also known as the C clef because the clef is centered on the line on which the note C4 is placed.
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The tenor clef is similar to the alto clef in that it looks the same and is also centered on C4, but the tenor clef is placed one line higher than the alto clef is placed.
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Mnemonics for Clefs
There are helpful mnemonics for remembering what notes are notated on the treble and bass clef staves. The notes on the lines are E, G, B, D, and F (Every Good Boy Does Fine) and the notes on the spaces are F, A, C, and E (spells FACE).
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The mnemonics for the bass clef is similar. The lines are G, B, D, F, and A (Good Boys Donít Fight At all) and the spaces are A, C, G, and E (All Cows Eat Grass).
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There are no standard mnemonics for the alto or tenor clefs, but you may try to create some as exercises. The alto notes are as follows: the lines are F, A, C, E, and G and the spaces are G, B, D, and F. The tenor lines are D, F, A, C, and E and the spaces are E, G, B, and D.