You're welcome to the second stage of your piano  online piano lessons . In the previous section we discussed about piano layout and the arrangement of the black and white keys. In this lesson, we're going to discuss on the Musical Alphabets.

At the end of this lesson, you should be able to know all the alphabets in music and names of each note in the piano keyboard.

Musical alphabets were taken from the first seven letters of the English Alphabet ABCDEFG. These have become universal alphabets chosen by

music philosophers. These alphabets are used in naming the lines and spaces. In the construction of musical instruments such as: Violin strings,

guitar strings, flute, recorder holes, keys of the keyboard instruments, etc.

CLEF: The clef is a symbol drawn at the beginning of the staff to fix the position of letter names of the lines and spaces. The staff cannot be

determined if a clef sign is not placed on it. Generally, there are three  major clefs commonly used, such as:

Treble clef known as G clef

Bass clef known as F Clef

C clef known as moveable clef. C clef will be discussed later.

Example of Clef signs:

Treble Clef Sign

Bass clef sign

Treble Clef Or G Clef

Treble clef is also called G clef. On the staff, this symbol makes a loop encircling the second line which is G line of that clef. This gave that staff

another name "G Clef"

Eg Treble Clef or G Clef

The treble clef or G Clef is fixed on the set of five parallel lines and four equal spaces. These lines and spaces have names taken from the first

seven letters of the English alphabets A B C D E F G. They are known as musical alphabets.

Bass Clef or F Clef

Bass clef is also called F Clef. It is because the symbol is placed on the staff line F, which is the fourth line of that staff.

Eg Bass Clef or F Clef

The symbol of the Bass clef has two dots above and below the fourth line.The symbol rests on that fourth line which is F line, which gives it the

second name F Clef. This clef cannot be complete without the two dots because they guard the fourth line, line F from where the F name is derived.

Uses of Treble clef or G Clef:

1. To write music for high female voices like soprano and alto.

2. To write music for high- pitch musical instruments such as flute,clarinet etc

3. To write music for open or separate scores.

Uses of Bass Clef or F Clef:

1. To write music for low male voices like Tenor, Baritone or Bass.

2. To write music for low pitched insuruments such as Trombone, Tuba,etc.

3. To write music for separate part score.


Musical staff notation is defined as the act of writing down musical sounds on paper by means of special symbols. It contains five horizontal lines, four equal spaces with a clef sign fixed at the beginning of the lines and spaces. The early music philosophers made an attempt at notation by special alphabetical letters. Later, two types of notations were widely chosen as methods of writing down music on paper which are staff

notation and solfa notation.

Functions Of The Music Notation.

1. It is used in writing musical notes which represent sound.

2. It is used to document music writing from generation to generation


                 TYPES OF STAFF

The Great Staff: The great staff Is known as the grand or great staff or great stave. Another name for "staff" is stave"

This is the combination of both the treble and bass staffs or staves or clefs with middle C in the middle. A short line (Ledger).

At the end of every music writing, double- bar lines are used to indicate the end. The great staff lines and spaces are also named serially from downward to upward sequentially, according to the musical alphabets.

Names Of The Lines And Spaces

Thus: Lines of Treble Clef

Lines of Bass Clef

Spaces of Treble Clef

Spaces of Bass Clef

Alphabetical names of the treble Clef

Lines 5-F

         4- D




Spaces 4-E

            3- C

            2- A



Alphabetical Names Of The Bass Clef

Lines 5- A


          3- D



Spaces  4- G



             1- A


The great stave or staff is used in writing music for piano, organ etc. on the organ or piano, the right hand plays the music written in treble clef,while the left hand plays the music in bass clef.

Also, it is used for full- score music writing. Most hymns and some other vocal music written for four parts e.g (Treble, Alto, Tenor and Bass) are

mostily written on the great staff. Treble clef houses soprano and alto parts while bass clef houses tenor and bass parts.

The Great Staff And The Piano.

The great staff or stave and the piano married together. The diagram below explains their relationship better. You can study the diagram carefully.

Musical Notes And Their Relatives Values

The lengths or duration of sound is determined by the different shapes of musical notes are signs used to represent sound in music notation.In music writing, special symbols called notes are used. There are eight different kinds of notes used in notating music on paper. Six of them are

mostly used in modern music writing he longest (breve) 11co 11 and the shortest (Hemidemi Semiquaver) are scarcely used due to their durational values.

1. The breve: = 11 ~ 11: This is known as the longest in value designed in an oval shape with two short lines on each side, not frequently

used in modern writing.

2. Semibreve or Half breve: O: 4 has oval shape and known as whole note by the Americans thus O

3. Minim: It is known as half note= d or p; An Oval shape with a stem.

4. Crotchet: d or P; known as close or shaded note with stem.

5. Quaver: ....Or .....; This has shaded oval shape with stem and a hook.

6. Semi quaver… or ….. It IS known as (One Sixteenth note) an oval shape with stem and two hooks

7. Demi- Semi- quaver.... Or...

known as (one- sIxty fourth note)

8. Hemi- demi- quaver:....Or…. Know  as (one- sixty fourth note)

This has oval shape with tail or stem and four hooks and it is not frequently used in modern music composition because it is too fast and

too short in response to application.