martes, 17 de noviembre de 2009

What is a Staff (Music)

Lets find out according to our good friend wikipedia:

Staff (music)

Musical staff
In standard Western musical notation, the staff or stave[1] is a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces, each of which represents a different musical pitch, or, in the case of a percussion staff, different percussion instruments. Appropriate music symbols, depending upon the intended effect, are placed on the staff according to their corresponding pitch or function. Musical notes are placed by pitch, percussion notes are placed by instrument, and rests and other symbols are placed by convention.
The absolute pitch of each line for a non-percussive stave is determined by the placement of an appropriate clef symbol at the appropriate vertical position on the left-hand side of the staff. For example, the treble clef, also known as the G clef, is placed upon the second line (counting upwards), fixing that line as the pitch first G above 'middle C'.
The lines and spaces are numbered from bottom to top; the bottom line is the first line and the top line is the fifth line.
The musical staff is analogous to a mathematical graph of pitch with respect to time. Pitches of notes are given by their vertical position on the staff and notes to the left are played before notes to the right. Unlike a graph, however, the exact timing of the beginning of each note is not directly proportional to its horizontal position; rather, exact timing is encoded by the musical symbol chosen for each note in addition to the tempo.
A time signature to the right of the clef indicates the relationship between timing counts and note symbols, while bar lines group notes on the staff into measures.


An example image with some typical music notation.
The Staff as we know it today originated from musically annotated text, through the Gregorian Chants around the 12th to 13th centuries. Until this time, symbols were used in conjunction with text to represent pitch. However, when the chants were written, people began to use lines to represent pitch, in addition to the pitch symbols above the text. While at first only one line was used, eventually the system expanded to four lines and used mainly dots among those lines to represent pitch. However, different numbers of lines were used throughout Europe for different instruments. France soon began to incorporate five lines into its music, which became widespread by the 16th century, and was the norm throughout Europe by the 17th century.

Staff positions

Staff, with staff positions indicated
The vertical position of the notehead on the staff indicates which note is to be played: notes that are higher in pitch are marked higher up on the staff. The notehead can be placed with the center of its notehead intersecting a line (on a line), or in between the lines touching the lines above and below (in a space). Notes which fall outside the range of the staff are placed on or between ledger lines - lines the width of the note they need to hold - added above or below the staff.
Exactly which notes are represented by which staff positions is determined by a clef placed at the beginning of the staff; the clef identifies a particular line as a specific note, and all other notes are determined relative to that line. For example, the treble clef puts the G above middle Cinterval between adjacent staff positions is one step in the diatonic scale. Once fixed by a clef, the notes represented by the positions on the staff can be modified by the key signature, or by accidentals on individual notes. A clefless staff may be used to represent a set of percussion sounds; each line typically represents a different instrument. on the second line. The

Grand staff

The Grand Staff
When music on two staves joined by a brace (or is intended to be played at once by a single performer (usually a keyboard instrument or the harp), a great stave (BrE) or grand staffAmE) is created. Typically, the upper staff uses a treble clef and the lower staff has a bass clef. In this instance, middle C is centered between the two staves, and it can be written on the first ledger line below the upper staff or the first ledger line above the lower staff. When playing the piano or harp, the upper staff is normally played with the right hand and the lower staff with the left hand. In music intended for the organ, a grand staff comprises three staves, one for each hand on the manuals and one for the feet on the pedalboard. (
A simple grand staff. Each of the staves shown above have seven notes and one rest.

Gregorian chant

Graduale Aboense 2.jpg
The Introit Gaudeamus omnes, scripted in square notation in the 14th—15th century Graduale Aboense, honors Henry, patron saint of Finland.
Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic liturgical chant in Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services. It is named for Pope Gregory I, who ruled as pope from 590 to 604, who is traditionally credited for having ordered the simplification and cataloging of music assigned to specific celebrations in the church calendar. The resulting body of music is the first to be notated in a system ancestral to modern musical notation. In general, the chants were learned by the viva voce method, that is by following the given example orally, which took many years of experience in the Schola Cantorum. Gregorian chant originated in Monastic life, in which singing the 'Divine Service' nine times a day at the proper hours was upheld according to the Rule of St. Benedict. Singing psalms made up a large part of the life in a monastic community, while a smaller group and soloists sang the chants. In its long history Gregorian Chant has been subjected to many gradual changes and some reforms.

Ledger line

Notes in ledger lines above the staff. The right lines might be considered too far above the staff and written, instead, in 8va notation.
A ledger line or leger line is musical notation to inscribe notes outside the lines and spaces of the regular musical staffs. A line slightly longer than the note is drawn parallel to the staff, above or below, spaced at the same distances as the notes within the staff (see Figure 1).
Notes more than three or four ledger lines above or below the staffs are usually considered too hard to read. When there are several measures of notes outside the regular musical staffs it is usually preferable to switch clef8va notation, even though the note placement is not uniform across clefs. Some transposing instruments, such as the piccolo, double bass, guitar, and the tenor voice, transpose at the octave to avoid ledger lines. or use
Players of certain instruments prefer ledger lines to clef changes or 8vaClarinetists, for example, would rather read ledger lines in the chalumeau register than read bass clef notes. Flute players would rather read ledger lines for notes in the third octave than read 8va notation because higher flute notes require different fingerings. Tuba, trombone, and euphonium players in the instruments' lower register generally prefer ledger lines below the bass staff to 8vb notation or an octave-lowered bass clef for similar reasons. notation.


A clef indicates the name of the notes on one line of the staff, in relation to which the notes of the other lines and spaces may be determined. In this case, the G-clef assigns the note G to the second line.
Treble and Bass Clefs shown with names of the notes.
A clef (French: clé "key") is a musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes.[1] Placed on one of the lines at the beginning of the staff, it indicates the name and pitch of the notes on that line. This line serves as a reference point by which the names of the notes on any other line or space of the staff may be determined.

The types of clef

There are three types of clef used in modern music notation: F, C, and G. Each type of clef assigns a different reference note to the line on which it is placed.
Clef Name Note Assign Line
G-clef G above Middle C encircled by the curl of the clef.
C-clef Middle C that passes through the center of the clef.
F-clef F below Middle C between the two dots of the clef.
Once one of these clefs has been placed on one of the lines of the staff, the other lines and spaces can be read in relation to it.
The use of three different clefs makes it possible to write music for all instruments and voices, even though they may have very different tessiturasstaff has only five lines, and the number of pitches that can be represented on the staff, even with ledger lines, is not nearly equal to the number of notes the orchestra can produce. The use of different clefs for different instruments and voices allows each part to be written comfortably on the staff with a minimum of ledger lines. To this end, the G-clef is used for high parts, the C-clef for middle parts, and the F-clef for low parts - with the important exception of transposing parts, which are written at a different pitch than they sound, often even in a different octave. (that is, even though some sound much higher or lower than others). This would be difficult to do with only one clef, since the modern

The positions of the clefs

In order to facilitate writing for different tessituras, any of the clefs may theoretically be placed on any of the lines of the staff. The further down on the staff a clef is placed, the higher the tessitura it is for; conversely, the higher up the clef, the lower the tessitura.
Since there are five lines of the staff, and three clefs, it might seem that there would be fifteen possible clefs. Six of these, however, are redundant clefs (for example, a G-clef on the third line would be exactly the same as a C-clef on the first line). That leaves nine possible distinct clefs, all of which have been used historically: the G-clef on the two bottom lines, the F-clef on the three top lines, and the C-clef on any line of the staff except the topmost, earning the name of "movable C-clef". (The C-clef on the topmost line is redundant because it is exactly equivalent to the F-clef on the third line; both options have been used.)
Each of these clefs has a different name based on the tessitura for which it is best suited.
The nine possible clefs
In contemporary music literature, only four clefs are used regularly: the treble clef, the bass clef, the alto clef, and the tenor clef. Of these, the treble and bass clefs are by far the most common.
Common clefs

Individual clefs

Here follows a complete list of the clefs, along with a list of instruments and voice parts notated with them. Each clef is shown in its proper position on the staff, followed by its reference note.
An obelus (†) after the name of a clef indicates that that clef is now obsolete.


The treble clef

Treble clef
When the G-clef is placed on the second line of the staff, it is called the "treble clef". This is by far the most common clef used today, and the only G-clef still in use. For this reason, the terms G-clef and treble clef are often seen as synonymous. It was formerly also known as the "violin clef". The treble clef was historically used to mark a treble, or pre-pubescent, voice part.
The lines on the treble clef staff correspond to the letters E G B D F, and can be remembered with the help of such phrases as "Every Green Bus Drives Fast", "Every Good Boy Does Fine", "Elvis Goes Belly Dancing Fridays" or "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge". The spaces on the treble clef staff, from bottom to top, correspond to the letters F A C E.
This clef is used for the bagpipes, violin, flutes, oboe, English horn, all clarinets, all saxophones, horn, euphonium and baritone (occasionally), trumpet, guitar, vibraphone, xylophone and handbells; for the upper part of the harp and of keyboard instruments like the piano, organ, and harpsichord (with the lower part usually written in the bass stave); for the highest notes played by the cello (the old convention was to write an octave higher, unless preceded by a tenor clef), double bass, bassoon, tromboneviola (which otherwise uses the alto clef); and for the soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, contralto and tenor voices. The tenor voice is often written using an octave clef (see below) or double-treble clef. (which otherwise use the bass and tenor clefs), and
The notes from the first (bottom) line to the top line are:
E4, F4, G4, A4, B4, C5, D5, E5, F5 (g' in the illustration refers to Helmholtz pitch notation)

The French violin clef

French clef
When the G-clef is placed on the first line of the staff, it is called the "French clef" or "French violin clef".
This clef is no longer used. Formerly, it was used by the flute and violin, especially in parts published in France in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Its placement causes the note names on the staff to be identical to those of the bass stave, though the actual pitches are two octaves higher.



The bass clef

Bass clef
When the F-clef is placed on the fourth line, it is called the "bass clef". This is the only F-clef used today, so that the terms "F-clef" and "bass clef" are often regarded as synonymous.
The lines on the bass clef staff correspond to the letters G B D F A, and can be remembered with the help of the phrase "Good Boys Do Fair Always" or perhaps a more grammatically correct option would be "Great Big Dinosaurs Fly Airplanes". The spaces on the bass clef staff correspond to the letters A C E G, and can be easily remembered by saying the phrase "All Cows Eat Grass."
This clef is used for the cello, euphonium, double bass, bass guitar, bassoon, contrabassoon, trombone, tuba, and timpani; for the lower part of keyboard instruments like the piano, organ, marimba and harpsichord (of which the upper part is usually written in treble clef); and for the lowest notes of the horn; and the baritone and bass voices. The contrabassoon, double bass and bass guitar are notated in bass clef an octave higher than the sound they make.
The notes starting on the bottom line bottom to top line are:
G2, A2, B2, C3, D3, E3, F3, G3, A3 (or when used for Double Bass/Bass Guitar: G1, A1, B1, C2, D2, E2, F2, G2, A2)

The baritone clef

Baritone clef
When the F-clef is placed on the third line, it is called the baritone clef.
This clef is not used. Formerly, it was used to write the baritone part in vocal music.

The subbass clef

Subbass clef
When the F-clef is placed on the fifth line, it is called the subbass clef. The use of this clef gives the same note names as the treble clef, but the actual notes are two octaves lower.
This clef is no longer used. Formerly, it was used to write low bass parts, e.g. in the works of Heinrich Schütz.



The alto clef

Alto clef
When the C-clef is placed on the third line of the staff, it is called the alto clef. As with all C-clefs, this line indicates the position of middle C.
This clef (sometimes called the viola clef) is currently used for the viola, the viola da gamba, and the alto trombone.[2] Formerly, it was used for the altooboes, recorders). It occasionally turns up in keyboard music to the present day (Brahms's Organ chorales, John Cage's Dream for piano). voice and for instruments playing a middle part (such as
The notes from the bottom line to the top line are:
F3, G3, A3, B3, C4, D4, E4, F4, G4

The tenor clef

Tenor clef
When the C-clef is placed on the fourth line of the staff, it is called the tenor clef.
This clef is used for the upper ranges of the bassoon, violoncello, euphonium, double bass, and trombone (which all use the bass clef in their lower and middle ranges, and in their extreme high ranges, the treble clef as well). Formerly, it was used by the tenor part in vocal music but its use has been largely supplanted either with an octave version of the treble clef when written alone or the bass clef when combined on one staff with the bass part.

The baritone clef

Baritone clef
Occasionally in the past, the C-clef was placed on the fifth line, and it is called the baritone-clef, like the baritone F-clef on the third line, to which it is exactly equivalent. Because of this equivalency, it was rarely used in the past; the baritone F-clef was used instead.

The mezzo-soprano clef

Mezzo-soprano clef
When the C-clef is placed on the second line of the staff, it is called the mezzo-soprano clef.
This clef is no longer used. Formerly, it was used in vocal music to write mezzo-soprano parts.

The soprano clef

Soprano clef
When the C-clef occurs on the first line of the staff, it is called the soprano clef.
This clef is no longer used. Formerly, it was used in vocal music to write soprano parts. The soprano trombone uses this clef too. Although this trombone is seldom used today, some works of J.S. Bach call for it.

Other clefs

Octave clefs

Three types of suboctave treble clef showing middle C
Starting in the 18th Century treble clef has been used for transposing instruments that sound an octave lower, such as the cello, guitar and especially the tenor voice. To avoid ambiguity modified clefs are sometimes used, especially in the context of choral writing; of those shown the C clef on the third space, easily confused with the tenor clef, is the rarest.
This is most often found in tenor parts in SATB settings, in which a treble clef is written with an eight below it, indicating that the pitches sound an octave below the written value. As the true tenor clef has generally fallen into disuse in vocal writings, this "octave-dropped" treble clef is often called the tenor clef. The same clef is sometimes used for the baritone horn. In some scores, the same concept is construed by using a double clef -- two G-clefs overlapping one another.
At the other end of the spectrum, treble clefs with an 8 positioned above the clef is often used in piccolo, penny whistle, soprano recorder, and other high woodwind parts and is sometimes known (informally) as the "sopranino clef".
The F clef can also be notated with an octave marker. The F clef notated an octave down is sometimes used for contrabass instruments such as the double bass and contrabassoon and, as the traditional subbass clef has fallen into disuse, that term is sometimes[citation needed] used to describe this clef. The F clef notated an octave up is used for bass recorder and sometimes, though seldom, used for countertenor parts and called the countertenor clef, as it is easy for a bass or baritone to read while singing the part in falsetto. However, both of these are extremely rare (and in fact the countertenor clef is largely intended to be humorous as with the works of P.D.Q. Bach). The unmodified bass clef is so common that performers of instruments and voice parts whose ranges lie below the staff simply learn the number of ledger lines for each note through common use, and if a line's true notes lie significantly above the bass clef the composer or publisher will often simply write the part in either the true treble clef or notated an octave down.

Neutral clef

The neutral or percussion clef is not a clef in the same sense that the F, C, and G clefs are. It is simply a convention that indicates that the lines and spaces of the staff are each assigned to a percussion instrument with no precise pitch. With the exception of some common drum-kit and marching percussion layouts, the keying of lines and spaces to instruments is not standardized, so a legend or indications above the staff are necessary to indicate what is to be played. Percussion instruments with identifiable pitches do not use the neutral clef, and timpani (notated in bass clef) and mallet percussion (noted in treble clef or on a grand staff) are usually notated on different staves than unpitched percussion.
Staves with a neutral clef do not always have five lines. Commonly, percussion staves only have one line, although other configurations can be used.
The neutral clef is sometimes used when non-percussion instruments play non-pitched extended techniques, such as hitting the body of a violin, violoncello or acoustic guitar, or when a vocal choir is instructed to clap, stomp, or snap, but more often the rhythms are written with X marks in the instrument's normal staff with a note placed above as to the appropriate rhythmic action.


For guitars and other plucked instruments, it is possible to notate tablature in place of ordinary notes. In this case, a TAB-sign is often written instead of a clef. The number of lines of the staff is not necessarily five: one line is used for each string of the instrument (so, for standard six-stringed guitars, six lines would be used, four lines for the traditional bass guitar). Numbers on the lines show on which fret the string should be played. This Tab-sign, like the Percussion clef, is not a clef in the true sense, but rather a symbol employed instead of a clef.


The clefs developed at the same time as the staff, in the 10th century. Originally, instead of a special clef symbol, the reference line of the staff was simply labeled with the name of the note it was intended to bear: G, F, or C. These were the 'clefs' used for Gregorian chant. Over time, the shapes of these letters became stylized; eventually resulting in the shapes we have today.
Two other clefs have been used as well, the D-clef and the Gamma-clef, indicating the notes now represented by the fourth line of the treble clef[citation needed] and the first line of the bass clef, respectively; but these fell out of use.
Several variant shapes of the different clefs persisted until very recent times. The F-clef was, until very recently, written like this: Oldbassclef.svg.
The C-clef was formerly written in a more angular way than now, and many people still use this, or a further simplified K-shape, when writing the clef by hand. Old C-clef.png
The flourish at the top of the G-clef probably derives from a cursive S for "sol", the name for "G" in solfege.[3]. In other words, the reason that the G-clef looks the way it does is likely that it is a drawing of a very fancy letter S, pointing to the position of the "sol" (which is a G note) in the "do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si-do".
Vocal music can be contracted into two staves, using the treble and bass clefs
C-clefs were formerly used to notate vocal music, a practice that dwindled away during the late 19th century. The soprano voice was written in 1st line C clef (soprano clef), the alto voice in 3rd line C clef (alto clef), the tenor voice in 4th line C clef (tenor clef) and the bass voice in 4th line F clef (bass clef).
In more modern publications, four part harmony on parallel staves is usually written more simply as:
  • Soprano = treble clef (2nd line G clef)
  • Alto = treble clef
  • Tenor = treble clef with an "8" below or a double treble clef
  • Bass = bass clef (4th F clef)
Alternatively, this is reduced to two staves, the soprano/alto staff with a treble clef, and tenor/bass staff marked with the bass clef.

Further uses

One more use of the clefs is training in sight reading: the ability to read in any clef is useful for being able to transpose on sight (see sight transposition), although in that case the tessitura implied by the given clef must be ignored. It is then only necessary to use seven clefs, so that any written note can take any of the seven different names (A, B, C, D, E, F, G). Students in French and Belgian conservatories and music schools, amongst others, are thoroughly drilled in this kind of exercise and solfeggios meant for use in those institutions are about the only scores where one will find nowadays a 1st line or 2nd line C clef or a 3rd line F clef. For some reason, the 3rd line F clef (the baritone clef) is preferred in the French and Belgian pedagogical tradition to the equivalent 5th line C clef. This may have something to do with the fact that very early medieval scores had only 4 line staffs, hence possibly the avoidance in some particularly traditionalist circles to write a clef on the 5th line, though this is arguably more likely due to the visual impact of the fact that the 3rd line F clef is contained entirely within the staff whilst half of the 5th line C clef protrudes above it.

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