- Category: Guitarelements Lessons
- Published on Friday, 13 April 2012 12:44
- Written by Administrator
- Hits: 1348
The Notation of Pitch - Staff and clef - By guitarelements.com
Pitch refers to the highness or lowness of a particular note. In physics, this is called the frequency which is the number of vibrations per second (Hz). The greater the frequency, the higher the pitch.
A staff in notation normally consists of five parallel horizontal lines. The position of a notehead on the staff determines its pitch - a notehead can be notated either against or through lines.
Special notation such as percussion can also emplo staves consisting of a different number of lines, even only of 1 line.
At the beginning of most staves, a Clef is used to determine its exact usage and to determine the pitches of notated.
A clef determines which Pitches are notated on the staff.
The pitch of a note created by a stringed instrument is determined by the length, the width and the tightness of the string. The shorter, skinnier or tighter the string, the higher the pitch.
For this reason, a Bass will produce pitches that are much lower than those created by a Guitar.
At the beginning of the stave one must place a ‘clef’ to define exactly which space or line on the stave is going to represent which pitch.
There are several different types of clefs which are used by different instruments in different situations.
Treble and Bass are the most commonly used Clefs. The are used independently by many different instruments and are also combined as a grand staff for some instruments like the piano, and harp.
Two clefs that are also commonly used in orchestral music are the alto and tenor clefs.
There are some other clefs which use this same symbol, such as soprano and baritone clef, however, these are not commonly used.
For each of the clefs displayed below, you can see that middle C, is represented by a different position on the stave.
Also known as the ‘G’ clef, the treble clef is probably the most common type of clef and is used by the flute, trumpet, violin, clarinet, saxophone, piano (as part of a grand staff),
and many other instruments which are generally of higher pitch.
The notes in the spaces on the treble clef form the word "FACE"
The notes on the lines make the rhyme "Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit"
The bass clef is also known as the ‘F’ clef and is mainly used by instruments of lower pitch such as the cello, bassoon, tuba and double bass.
The notes in the spaces of the bass clef make the rhyme "All Cows Eat Grass".
In bass clef, the notes in the lines make the phrase "Good Boys Deserve Food Always".
Accidentals are symbols added before notes (or included in a key signature) which raise or lower the pitch of the note.
These can include sharps (#), flats (b), naturals, double sharps (x) and double flats (bb).
On top the G# in measure 1. This note is a G# as opposed to a G natural because a G# has already occurred earlier in the same bar.
On top of G mesure 2. This note returns to G since it is at the start of a new bar, so any accidentals that occurred in the previous bar are cleared or cancelled.
This note is a F. There has been a F# earlier in the bar, however it was in a different octave so it doesn't apply to the F. See image below.
The direction of the note stem (Up or Down) is determined by several different factors.
The note position relative to the middle line of the staff (for example: 'B' on the treble clef) effects the stem direction.
- If the note is on the middle line of the staff, then the stem direction is UP(although stem down is also commonly accepted)
- If the note is above the middle line of the staff, then the stem direction is DOWN
- If the note is below the middle line of the staff, then the stem direction is UP - See image below.
Where notes are beamed together, their note stems commonly all go in the same direction.
If notes within a beamed group cross over the middle line of the staff, then the stem direction is usually determined by the majority of notes which are above/below/on the middle line.
If the majority of notes in the beamed group are below the middle line of the staff, then the stem direction is UP
If the majority of notes in the beamed group are above the middle line of the staff, then the stem direction is DOWN
If there are an even number of notes above/on and below the middle line of the staff, then the stem direction is commonly UP - See image below.