The Staff, Clefs, and Ledger Lines
(Music Theory Lesson


The staff is the foundation upon which notes are drawn.

The modern staff comprises five lines and four spaces.

Every line or space on the staff represents a white key on the keyboard.

Clefs assign individual notes to certain lines or spaces.

Two clefs are normally used: The Treble and Bass clefs.

First, we will discuss the Treble Clef (also called the G Clef).

The staff line which the clef wraps around (shown in red) is known as G. Any note placed on this line becomes G.

The note on the space above G is A. (Remember, there is not an ''H'' note).

The note on the line above A is B.

This process continues.

Uh-oh. We just ran out of room to place notes, what happens now?

Ledger Lines will solve our dilemma.

A ledger line is a small line that extends the staff when we run out of room.

With the ledger line drawn, we can place the A.

Next, let's discuss the Bass Clef (also called the F Clef).

The staff line in between the two dots of the clef is F.

We can now fill the rest of the staff with notes.

Finally, we will discuss the Grand Staff, a theoretical staff consisting of eleven lines.

Watch what happens when we eliminate the middle line -- we end up with two regular staffs.

By adding a Treble Clef to the top staff and a Bass Clef to the bottom staff, we can see the relationship between the two staffs.

Notice how the two clefs are ''joined'' by the C.

This C is commonly called ''middle C'' since it corresponds to the middle staff line on the Grand Staff.

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