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The bass clef notates the lower registers of music, so if your instrument has a lower pitch, such as a bassoon, tuba or cello, your sheet music is written in the bass clef.Lower notes on your keyboard also are notated in the bass clef.They represent the pitch, speed, and rhythm of the song they convey, as well as expression and techniques used by a musician to play the piece.
The treble clef notates the higher registers of music, so if your instrument has a higher pitch, such as a flute, violin or saxophone, your sheet music is written in the treble clef.
Higher notes on a keyboard also are notated on the treble clef.
Sometimes, note heads will sit above or below the five lines and four spaces of a staff.
In that case, a line (known as a ledger line) is drawn through the note, above the note or below the note head, to indicate the note letter to play, as in the B and C notes above.
The direction of the line doesn’t affect how you play the note but serves as a way to make the notes easier to read while allowing them to fit neatly on the staff.
As a rule, any notes at or above the B line on the staff have downward pointing stems, those notes below the B line have upward pointing stems.Learning to read music really does open up a whole new world to explore!Follow our step-by-step introduction to the language of music below, download your FREE tools at the end of this article, and you’ll be playing along in no time at all.The treble clef has the ornamental letter G on the far left side.The G’s inner swoop encircles the “G” line on the staff.We’ll see below how a single flag shortens the note’s duration, while multiple flags can make it shorter still.Now that you know the parts to each note, we’ll take a closer look at those filled and open note heads discussed above. An open note head with a stem is a half note, and it gets two beats.Whether a note head is filled or open shows us the note’s value, or how long that note should be held. An open note that looks like an “o” without a stem is a whole note, and it gets held for four beats.There are other ways to extend the length of a note.Those lines and spaces represent notes named A-G, and the note sequence moves alphabetically up the staff.There are two main clefs with which to familiarize yourself; the first is a treble clef.