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Preliminaries

Draw five horizontal lines equally spaced. You have a stave.

stave

Draw ellipses over the lines and in the spaces. The higher the ellipse the higher the pitch. Music rises and falls on the page as it does in your ear.

melody

Clef

Which instrument would you choose to play these notes? High pitched instruments and voices use treble clef. Low pitched instruments and voices use bass clef.

The clef is an ornamental symbol drawn far left of the stave.

Treble Clef

Bass Clef

You may meet many clefs in your travels. Let us introduce two more.

When you write for viola and alto voices you use alto clef. In classical music the alto clef is also used by trombone.

Alto Clef

When you write for tenor voices you use tenor clef. Cello, bassoon and trombone use tenor clef occasionally.

Tenor clef

Have a listen to the range of notes in each clef. Press the MIDI button.


Music Theory


"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.