The staff as shown above is the basis on which notes are shown. The structure of the staff looks very similar to that of guitar tabs, but the way it is interpreted is completely different. For guitar tabs there are 6 lines, which each represent a string on the guitar. The staff however has 5 lines and 4 spaces, where each of the line or space represent a white key on a piano.
The clef is what is used to assign specific notes to each of these lines and spaces. There are 2 clefs that are usually used, the treble clef and the bass clef.
The treble clef is shown above. It is also sometimes known as the G clef as it wraps around the line which represents G (second line from the bottom). When the treble clef is placed on the staff, the lines and spaces represent notes as shown. To clarify this, let’s look at an example:
The notes on this short piece of sheet music would be ADDGFA. Obviously on real sheet music there wouldn’t be labels like there are here.
If you look closely at the image named treble clef example above, you may have noticed something peculiar about the way the last A is written. It is written on an additional line, which is above the staff. This is in fact called a ledger line, and is used to extend the staff when required.
The bass clef is shown here . It is sometimes referred to as the F clef, for the same reason as for the G clef. When a bass clef is placed on a staff, the lines and spaces represent notes as shown.
Relationship between the Treble and Bass Clefs
There is a theoretical staff called the grand staff, which consists of 11 lines and is shown here. If we remove the middle line we can see the relationship between the 2 staves. Note that the C shown on the right is referred to as middle C.
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