1.1 Musical notation


Category: Elementary music theory | Tags: Musical notation

This chapter provides an overview of the main theory from Note Reading, where you learn about natural notes, staff, clefs and where you learn to read notes.

Musical notation is any system used to visually represent aurally perceived music played with instruments or sung by the human voice through the use of written, printed, or otherwise-produced symbols. The founder of what is now considered the standard music stave was Guido d'Arezzo, an Italian Benedictine monk who lived from about 991 until after 1033.

1. Natural notes


natural notes the 7 notes (white keys) with the names A, B, C, D, E, F and G.


Theory and practise

Learn more about natural notes in Note Reading chapter 1. Natural notes.

Note Reading chapter 1. Natural notes

2. Staff


staff the five lines and four spaces on which music is written.
ledger line additional line above or below the staff.



Learn more about the staff in Note Reading chapter 2. Staff.

Note Reading chapter 2. Staff

3. Clefs


F sleutel fsleutel Ch.1.1. Musical notation | Musictheory.education F-clef (bass clef) indicates the location of the F below the Middle C.
G sleutel gsleutel Ch.1.1. Musical notation | Musictheory.education G-clef (treble clef) indicates the location of the G above the Middle C.



Learn more about cleffs in Note Reading chapter 3. Cleffs.

Note Reading chapter 3. Cleffs

4. Grand staff


accolade accolade Ch.1.1. Musical notation | Musictheory.education brace joins the G-clef and F-clef staffs together.


Theory and practise

Learn about and to read smart notes in Note Reading chapter 4. Grand Staff.

Note Reading chapter 4. Grand Staff

Learn to read all the notes in Note Reading chapter 5. Reading All Notes.

Note Reading chapter 5. Reading All Notes

5. C-clef


C sleutel csleutel Ch.1.1. Musical notation | Musictheory.education C-clef indicates the location of the Middle C. The C-clef is is rarely employed, and is not used for the piano.
It is used for the viola, and for the high tones of the bassoon, cello and double bass.


Theory and practise

Learn to read C-clef notes.

Note Reading chapter 8. C-clef

6. Fingering


fingering vingernummering Ch.1.1. Musical notation | Musictheory.education each finger has a number, from 1 for thumb to 5 for little finger (for a pianist).
These numbers are written above or below a note.
This helps you placing your fingers on the keyboard (or your musical instrument).