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How to read musical notes: Clefs

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In classical music, there are seven note names which correspond with the first seven letters of the alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F and G.

If you play or sing the notes in order, beginning with A, you would restart with "A" after "G," only at a higher pitch. For example: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E and so on. Eight notes in a row (in this case, from "A" to "A") are called an octave.

Since notes can range in tone from a deep bass (very low) to a high soprano, they're separated in written music by two different clefs:

Treble Clef  , also called a G clef, encircles the G line.    
Bass Clef: , also called the F clef, has dots surrounding the F line.

Each clef has a stave. Staves are made up of five lines and four spaces. Each line and space represents where a particular note will fall.

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You might wonder why there are 2 different clefs. The reason is that most instruments using the Bass Clef usually have a lower pitch (sound) and regularly play low notes. If they were to use the treble clef the notes would appear so far below the staff it would be hard to read.

Here are the names of the notes for both clefs. Although you only really need to know 1 or the other, it is good practice to know both.  

The Treble Clef notes:
 
 
The Bass Clef notes:

 

In most written music, the Treble and Bass staves appear concurrently on the page, with the treble stave above the bass stave, separated by an open space:
 
This is because the treble and bass lines are played simultaneously but written separately. On a keyboard, for example, the bass line is played with the left hand and the treble is played with the right.
 
Short lines that appear with notes written above or below a stave are called ledger lines. For example, middle C (the key that falls approximately in the center of a piano) appears on the first ledger line below a treble stave, or the first ledger line above a bass stave.
 

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