Chapter 3. Clefs

 

In the previous chapter, you learned about clefs. Without this clef, it is not possible to read music. In this chapter you'll learn more about clefs. You learn how clefs look like and their names.

1. What is a clef?

 

In order to read the notes, we have to make two decisions.

 

1 We choose one of the five lines, and decide on which natural note goes through this line.

2 We indicate (for example on the piano) which tone we mean exactly.

 

A capital letter is placed at the beginning of the staff, indicating which tone we are referring to. We call the (capital) letter at the beginning of the staff a clef.

2. The capital letters C, F and G

 

The capital letters used are C, F or G. A, B, D and E are not included.

Capital letter C

 

We place a capital letter C at the beginning of the staff. This means that the note on the middle line is a C.
We then play the Middle C.
The capital letter C is placed at the beginning of the staff: the C-clef.

 

Capital letter C at the beginning of the staff.

note example

Capital letter F

 

The capital letter F at the beginning of the staff indicates that the note on the second line from above is F.
We then play the F tone below Middle C.
The capital letter F is placed at the beginning of the staff: the F-clef.

 

Capital letter F at the beginning of the staff.

note example

Capital letter G

 

The capital letter G at the beginning of the staff indicates that the note on the second line from below is G.
We then play the G tone above Middle C.
The capital letter G is placed at the beginning of the staff: the G-clef.

 

Capital letter G at the beginning of the staff

note example

3. The C-clef, the F-clef and the G-clef

 

Clefs have changed their form over the years. This is how they look today.

Capital letter C: the C-clef

 

The C-clef indicates that the note on the middle line is the Middle C.
The C-clef is also called the alto clef.
The C-clef 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.

 

The C-clef looks like this.

note example

Capital letter F: the F-clef

 

The F-clef indicates that the note on the second line from above is F.
We then play the F tone below Middle C.
The F-clef is also called the bass clef.
Lower tones are notated using the F-clef.

 

The F-clef looks like this.

note example

Capital letter G: the G-clef

 

The G-clef indicates that the note on the second line from below is G.
We then play the G tone above Middle C.
The G-clef is also called the treble clef.
Higher tones are notated using the G-clef.

 

The G-clef looks like this.

note example

When notating music for the piano, two staffs are joined together, one above the other. The upper staff uses the G-clef, the lower staff the F-clef. The C-clef is not used for the piano.