The Musical Staff

The staff or stave notation is the most common way of written music down in modern world. This made use of five horizontal lines and the four equal spaces within the lines. These lines and spaces represent pitch on which musical symbols or marks such as notes, rest, clef signs, sharp and flat are placed. While lines and spaces represent the pitch, the note symbols has specific beat that they denoted. Thus the notes are on the staff in accordance with their corresponding pitch or function.

ALSO READ: Musical Notation

The five horizontal lines and the spaces between them is known as staff. The staff is the template for all musical symbols used in music. In order for a musician to read music on the staff fluently, he or she must know the order of pitch and the duration in term of beat that each symbol of the notes represent. Also he must know what other musical symbols and mark means and how to use and place them on the staff.

The Staff
The Staff

Be aware that the musical symbol for a note can be either on a line or in the space. In short, each line or space of the staff is for musical notes and other musical symbols. When a note is on the line, the staff line will run through the middle of the note. On the other hand, a note in a space will sit between the staff lines.

Pitch and the staff

You read note on the staff in a particular order from left to right. Notes represent sounds in duration and placed on the staff according to its pitch. A less musically specific phrase for pitch is frequency, which is also has low or high attributes.

ALSO READ: Cadence in Music

The note with higher frequency or pitch will be on the upper line or space. Likewise, a note with lower frequency or pitch will be on the lover line or space.  In like manner, the higher the note on the staff, the higher the pitch of the note. This rule is not clef specific, it applies to all clefs the staff used. (NOTE: we will discuss about clef later)

Higher and lower pitched notes
Higher and lower pitched notes

So we can say that if the notes are higher on the staff, they are higher in pitch. Also, if the notes are lower on the staff, they are lower in pitch. To notate very well on the staff, the lines and spaces of the staff are numbered from bottom to the top. The bottom line has lowest pitch and is the first line while the top line has the highest pitch and numbered as the fifth line. The various pitches of the music are referred to by the first seven letters of the alphabet (A B C D E F G) called musical alphabets.

The Grand Staff

The Grand staff is the combination of G-clef and F-clef. It is also known as Great Stave (as staff is also a stave). The picture below shows what the Grand staff looks like. The middle C lies between the two staves that comes together to form a great staff.

Grand Staff
Grand Staff

Keyboard instrument like piano and harpsichord are majorly utilized great staff for notation. To play notes scored for these instruments, you should be able to read the treble and bass staff with ease. To achieve this, you must be competent in reading each staff fluently. And this will make you to read them together without difficulty.

Ledger (or Leger) Line

Ledger line can be called an extension of the staff. It helps us to expand the staff to go beyond the range of pitch it contains. Consequently, the staff takes in more notes that are higher or lower in pitch than what it can accommodates.

Ledger Lines
Ledger Lines

Ledger line are short lines that looks like dash in nature and always above or below the staff lines. They are always around note that will take them with same distance as that of the lines in the main staff.

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