Clefs



A Cleft is a symbol or sign at the beginning (leftmost side) of a staff. This is a sign that fixes the position of a note on the staff and gives it its alphabetical name. Clef is also place on the staff to designate what pitches are to be represented by its lines and spaces.
Thus, e.g., the G clef shows us not only that the second line of the staff represents G, but that the first line represents E, the first space F, etc. The F clef similarly shows us that the fifth line of the bass staff represents the first A below middle C, the fourth line the first F below middle C, etc.


The word clef is derived from GLAVIS -a key- the reference being to the fact that the clef unlocks or makes clear the meaning of the staff, as a key to a puzzle enables us to solve the puzzle. We should note that these clefs are merely modified forms of the letters G and F, which (among others) were used to designate the pitches represented by certain lines when staff notation was first inaugurated.

The two clefs that most often used are the G-Clef and F-Clef. G-Clef is also called Treble Clef and F-Clef is also called Bass Clef. G-Clef is use for high pitches and contains female voice of the treble and alto. This is also use by musical instrument of higher pitch such as violin, flute, oboe clarinet etc. The second most often used clef is F-Clef, it is use for low pitched and contains male voice of Tenor and Bass. Musical instrument with lower pitch such as Double Bass, Viola, Cello, Trombone etc. use this clef.

When the G clef is used the staff is usually referred to as the Treble staff, and when the F clef is used, it is refereed to as the Bass staff. Such expressions as singing from the Treble clef or “singing in the Treble clef,” and “singing in the Bass clef are still frequently heard, but are preferably replaced by singing from the Treble staff, and “singing from the Bass staff. The diagram above shows the permanent names of lines and spaces when the G and F clefs are used.


Treble Clef or G Clef

On the staff we start to write this clef on the second line for it to take the name G. This means that G Clef makes the second line from the bottom of a staff represents the pitch of G above middle C.

The sign for treble clef is as show above, and by looking at this clef it looks like letter G. On the staff we start to write this clef on the second line for it to take the name G. This means that G Clef makes the second line from the bottom of a staff represents the pitch of G above middle C. When G clef sign is placed on the staff, the staff automatically becomes treble staff. 


Letter Names in Treble or G clef

The first seven letters of the alphabet A, B, C, D, E, F and G are used in naming the lines and space of the staff. The alphabet is repeated in sequence; we begin again on A after reaching G. The distance between any note and the next on of the same letter name (i.e A to A or G to G), either upward or downward is called an OCTAVE that is an Eight.

The lines and spaces of the treble staff (G-Clef) have names. They are reckoned from bottom to the top and counted as 1-2-3-4-5 for lines and 1-2-3-4 for spaces.



The letter names of the lines are E-G-B-D-F for 1-2-3-4-5 respectively. This means that first line (i.e. line 1) is E, second line (i.e. line 2) is G, third line (i.e. line 3) is B, fourth line (i.e. line 4) is D and the fifth line (i.e. line 5) is F. For easy memorization the sentence ‘Every Good Boy Deserve Favour’ can be used.


As regards the spaces, there are four spaces in between the lines as shown above. The letter names of the spaces are F-A-C-E for 1-2-3-4 respectively. This means that the first space (i.e. space 1) is F, the second space (i.e. space 2) is A, the third space (i.e. space 3) is C and the fourth space (i.e. space 4) is E.  To aid memory, thee single word ‘FACE’ helps one to remember the letters names of the spaces.


The letter names of the notes are shown above on the staff using semibreve notes with their corresponding alphabetical names outside the staff.


Bass Clef or F Clef

 On the staff we start to write this clef on thee fourth line for it to take the name F. This means that F Clef makes the fourth line from the bottom of a staff represents the pitch of F below middle C.

The sign for the Bass of F clef is shown above, and by looking at this clef it looks like F but not really as F. On the staff, we start to write this clef with a dot on the fourth line, starting from the bottom to fix the fourth line name as F. When F Clef sign is placed on the staff, the staff automatically becomes Bass Clef.


Letter Names In the Bass or F Clef

The lines and spaces of the Bass staff have names. They are reckoned from bottom to the top and counted as 1-2-3-4-5 for the lines and 1-2-3-4 for the spaces.
The letter names of the lines are G-B-D-F-A for 1-2-3-4-5 respectively. This means that first line (i.e. line 1) is G, second line (i.e. line 2) is B, third line (i.e. line 3) is D, fourth line (i.e. line 4) is F and the fifth line (i.e. line 5) is A. For easy memorization, this sentence ‘Good Boy Deserve Food Always’ can be used.



As regards the space, there are four spaces in between lines as shown above. The letter names of spaces are A-C-E-G for 1-2-3-4 respectively. This means that the first space (i.e. space 1) is A, the second space (i.e. space 2) is C, the third space (i.e. space 3) is E and the fourth space (i.e. space 4) is G.  For easy memorization, this sentence ‘All Cows Eat Grass’ can be used.


The letter names of the notes are shown on the staff using semibreve notes with their corresponding alphabetical names outside the staff.


OTHER CLEFS

We have other clefs besides G and F clef because each instrument has a range of notes that it can play. There would be a lot of ledger lines for lower instruments, which would make the music very difficult to read if every instrument read from the treble clef, for example. Different clefs are assigned to different instruments based on the notes each instrument is able to play thus we have Alto and Tenor Clef which are also refer to as C-Clef.

Alto Clef (C-Clef)

This has two curves that meet in the center. The line on the staff that these curves meet is the note C. As with all C-clef, this line indicates the position of middle C. When the C-clef is placed on the third line of the stave, it is called the alto or viola clef. This clef is most commonly used for the viola (Alto clef is often called viola clef), and other instrument like the viola da gamba, the alto trombone, and the mandala.

The name of lines in Alto Clef from below are F-A-C-E-G, and name of the spaces from below are G-B-D-F.

Tenor Clef (C-Clef)

This is very similar to Alto Clef. It has two curves that meets in the center, but it is positioned on the second line from the top and that becomes the note C. Where the C-clef is placed on the fourth line of the stave, it is called the tenor clef. This clef is used for the upper ranges of the bassoon, cello, euphonium, double bass, and trombone.

The name of lines in Tenor clef from below are D-F-A-C-E and name of the spaces from below are E-G-B-D.

Neutral or Percussion Clef

This is a special clef used for pitch-less instruments, such as percussion instruments. As we know, many of the percussion instruments that are used in music are pitch-less. For example, the instruments in the drum set, kick drums, snare drum, tom-toms, and cymbals, or hand percussion instruments, like the shaker, tambourine, or congas are pitch-less.

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 stave with a comment placed above as to the appropriate rhythmic action.


The neutral or percussion clef is simply a convention that indicates that the lines and spaces of the stave are each assigned to a percussion instrument with no precise pitch. Staves with a neutral clef do not always have five lines. Commonly, percussion staves only have one line, although other configurations can be used.