9.Introduction to the Staff

Staff Lines 

A staff is the device by which we indicate pitch. The staff consists of 5 lines called staff lines. 


In between the lines are 4 spaces. 

Notes may be placed on either the staff lines or in the spaces. 

The note that are placed higher on the staff represent higher pitches. The note that are placed lower on the staff represents lower pitches. For example, the first note in the following diagram will sound lower than the second note. 

Ledger Lines 

Since classical music era, musicians wouldn’t be able to play or sing very high or very low using only 5 lines and 4 spaces. To indicate higher pitches, we add additional lines above the 5 staff lines. And to indicate lower pitches, we add additional lines below the 5 staff lines. These additional lines are called ledger lines.

Notes may be placed on the ledger lines, just as they were placed on the staff lines. And they can also be placed in the spaces.

Clefs 

A clef is a symbol placed at the beginning of a staff, which indicate the “exact” pitches the staff lines and spaces will represent. Without a clef we would not know which pitches the lines and spaces represent. 

The following symbol is called treble clef. When a treble clef is placed on the staff, it indicates that the 5 staff lines and 4 spaces will represent specific higher pitches. The staff itself is now referred to as a “treble” staff.

The following symbol is called a bass clef. When a bass clef is placed on the staff, it indicates that the 5 staff lines and 4 spaces will represent specific lower pitches. The staff itself is now referred to as a “bass” clef.

Type of Movements on the Staff 

There are three basic movements that notes can make on the staff: stepping, skipping, and repeating. Here are some examples of each movements.  

Note: We read from left to right in music just as we do when reading words.  

When a note is on a line and the next note is on the same line, it is called a repeat. Also, when a note is a space and the next note is on the same space, it is also called a repeat.  

(Chapter 9 – Audio Sample 1)

When a note is on a line and the next note is in the space above or below, it is called a step. Also, when a note is on a space and the next is on the line above or below, it is also called a step.

(Chapter 9 – Audio Sample 2)

When a note is on a line and the next note is on the line above or below, it is called a skip. Also, when a note is on a space and the next note is on the space above or below, it is also called a skip.

(Chapter 9 – Audio Sample 3)

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